Inclusive New Media Design is a project run by the Rix Centre, at the University of East London. The project aims to identify the best ways to encourage web designers and developers to build websites accessible to people with intellectual disabilities. Over several months it was a great experience to work with Men and Women from Ellingham Employment Services who helped us understand how they use the web and the issues they come up against.
Lisa Haskel came up with a great idea for an application that would show pictures of a user’s favorite things. The pictures were pulled from the Flickr API meaning that images were from around the world. The idea worked really well as it was for everyone - not just disabled users. If a user within iBrow had the same favorite thing as someone else a connection would be made through the social networking side of the application. I discovered that other people in the room shared an interest in beer for example. I was able to talk about beer with members of the project team and the people from Ellingham.
This report is from Channel 4 News and you can find an accompanying web page here.
The report seems to be slightly pessimistic about the current status of the web for disabled users. With WCAG 2.0 at candidate recommendation there are a new set of standards coming out. They are not perfect but they are a great step forward. I have said for some while that we really need more definition to legislation. The Disability and Discrimination Act gives no definition and it is unlikely that there will be a successful prosecution of a website based on the current law.
Personally I am optimistic about the future. There are many professionals who see Accessibility as an integral part of their work and moreover as one of the guiding philosophies of a free and open internet. There is a great deal of work to do technically and legally but there is a large pool of professionals with the energy and drive to continue to lobby and take this forward.
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