Seriously. This should be obvious. Why would you make inaccessible videos about accessibility?

Yet, I have found this happening more and more lately. I has become very frustrating for me, because some of the videos are great, and I would love to use them in the accessibility training materials I am assembling. However, for reasons that should be obvious, I cannot use inaccessible training materials in a course about accessibility.

Some recent examples that come to mind are: Victor Tsaran: “An Introduction to Screen Readers” on YUI Theater, the AssistiveWare videos on computer accessibility, and Using ALT attributes smartly on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Come on guys. Practice what you preach.

Working for a governmental institution in the State of California (please don’t ask me about our future governor…), web accessibility has been on my mind of late.

I am a member of our campus’ Web Accessibility Group, and we a charged with coming up with a plan to make our extensive, and frankly, poorly designed campus website accessible. This is a daunting task, to say the least.

I bring this up because I am in the somewhat privelidged position of being a web designer with access to JAWS. I have the ability to test my sites in a lab on campus set up for use by students with disabilities. I also have the 40 minute demo set up on several machines in our shop, where we have 3 staff an 15 student assistants (all sighted) making websites and courseware for faculty.

I must agree with Kynn Bartlett’s article Maccessibility: A Web Designer’s Guide to JAWS, in that learning to use JAWS would take me at least a week, with my monitor turned off. Listening to a website is a very eye-opening experience, and the first thing I realize is that I have no idea how to follow a link, go back, skip to content, etc. if I wanted to.

That said, I find the 40 minute demo extremely useful if I just point it to a page and read through it, making sure all the content makes sense, that alt tags provide enough information, etc. And I also find that if I code to WCAG specs that my pages usually make sense in JAWS, as David Shea suggests.

The next step is to get a focus group together of students & faculty who use JAWS or other screen readers. Asking them to help us test the sites is really the only way to find out if they’re truly accessible. This is a goal for our WAG group this year.