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Updated: “Essential Accessibility” is “Not Essential to Meeting the Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR)

By Geof Collis
Badeyes Design & Consulting
April 14, 2011
Updated July 1, 2011

Due to this article I wrote the following information was found on a W3C mailing list(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2011AprJun/0132.html) with regards to Essential Accessibility and its claims:

I am confident that we can all agree that this sort of approach is not necessary for WCAG 2.0 conformance. I am personally skeptical that this approach is sufficient for conformance, so I am glad you raise the issue for discussion!
Bruce Bailey
Accessibility IT Specialist
U.S. Access Board

The Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR) is now Law and some Companies are giving out misleading information regarding Website Accessibility and at its core is a Suite of Tools from Essential Accessibility that is sponsored by March of Dimes.

Miratel states in its Press Release that its site is “Fully Accessible”.

Essential Accessibility makes the Claim on its Accessibility page that it is AAA compliant.

March of Dimes calls this Product a “Browser” on its Home Page.

None of these statements is true.

Fact is, neither the March of Dimes, Essential Accessibility or any of the Miratel sites I checked in the Release, were Accessible according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) Level A, the minimum the IAR requires for compliance.

I have stated this before in my Article Beware the “Enhancement” Masquerading as “Accessibility:

“No where in the WCAG 2.0 does it refer to any of these items as being part of the specifications, the WCAG 2.0 does not endorse any products, they are “Enhancements” and are not needed to satisfy conformance to the Standards.”

In this case the Standards will be the IAR, at minimum Level A.

I have yet to see any Statistics that say how beneficial a product like this is or even how many people take advantage of them, they still require the Person to find the link, download the Product, learn how to use it and then only on sites that have bought into the concept.

Should You Use Products Like These?

Consider this:

Chances are if someone is in need of a Magnifier, it wont be just to view a specific website, they’ll need it for all functions they perform on their Computer. They will probably have one of their own or in Windows XP for example, they have one as part of the operating system.

Most Browsers have “Zoom” or “Enlarging Text” functions as well, however if a website uses a graphic to represent link text, a Magnifier will only distort the text making it unrecognizable., whereas an accessible website would take this into consideration.

Need a different Colour Scheme? Many websites are offering one click options, or you can change it via your Browser for all websites.

Need a webpage translated into another language? Google offers a free Translation tool as do others. These Tools aren’t very good though at translating some languages.

Need a website or anything on your Computer read to you? If you dont already have a Screen Reader like JAWS, you can download a free one like NVDA, an excellent alternative that offers a portable version you can use on any computer.

Need a keyboard with larger keys and print? Try the More Keyboard.

Any way you slice it your first Priority should be meeting the IAS Standards before you Enhance your website in the false assumption that you have somehow made it “Fully Accessible”, many of these Tools will not work unless it is.

If you choose to use this Suite of Tools only and not make your site IAS compliant then you are discriminating against those who need it the most, Blind, Partially Sighted, Deaf, Deaf/Blind and even Cognitivally Challenged and you just delay implementation.

The New York Post calls this Suite of Tools a “Virtual wheelchair” but Accessibility is for more than just Wheelchair users.

What we dont need is Quick Fixes, we need Real Accessibility and now!

Audit Results

The following stats were compiled from the Home pages and the Tools use were:

They did not take into account Manual checks that the Tools cannot pick up and only check for WCAG Level A.

Miratel

Total errors found: 70 (Parsing: 1, HTML: 32, WCAG v2 A: 37)
Total warnings found: 6 (Parsing: 1, WCAG v2 A: 5)

Essential Accessibility

Total errors found: 18 (Parsing: 2, HTML: 14, WCAG v2 A: 2)
Total warnings found: 3 (WCAG v2 A: 3)

March of Dimes

Total errors found: 68 (Parsing: 2, WCAG v2 A: 66)
Total warnings found: 4 (WCAG v2 A: 4)

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