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Archive for May, 2008

Umbrella Specification For Web Standards Published.

An umbrella specification for website standards, including references to usability and accessibility standards, has been published by the British Standards Institution (

The Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 124, entitled ‘Defining, implementing and managing website standards,’ covers 11 separate categories of website quality, of which accessibility and usability are two. It was commissioned from the BSi by website content management software provider Magus (

Opinion – Regulating Accessibility: Time for a New Beginning

There is an elegant correspondence between the amount of information in circulation and its accessibility which can be expressed in two formulae.

First, that the greater the quantity of information, the lower its cost of production; and second, that the lower the cost of production, the greater is the additional percentage cost of making it accessible.

Take television. When spectrum was limited, the medium was analogue and the labour was unionised, the cost of producing television was high; so was the cost of producing accessibility services such as captioning, audio description and signing; but the percentage cost of these special services was relatively low.

Digital TV Switchover Help Scheme Package ‘Misunderstood’

A lack of understanding of the digital TV switchover help scheme package for the elderly and disabled has been found in the official report into the first live UK digital switchover in Whitehaven in Cumbria.

The Whitehaven report ( is published by Digital UK, the broadcaster-funded body charged with overseeing the switchover from analogue to digital TV signals across the UK between now and 2012.


Workshop Report – Accessible Publishing: Are They Receiving You Loud and Clear?

Public sector bodies should draw up accessible publishing strategies that integrate their approaches to web and print publishing thereby ensuring dissemination of their most important messages to the most relevant audiences, delegates heard at last month’s E-Access ’08 conference.

Launch For Digital TV ‘Easy To Install’ Badging Scheme

A new scheme to badge certain digital TV products as ‘easy to install’ for older people and people with disabilities has been launched this week by the independent research charity Ricability.

E-Learning Access Research Project Comes To UK

A European research programme to improve access to e-learning platforms and courses by people with disabilities, with a special focus on distance learning, is to hold a consultation meeting in the UK next month.

The Accessible e-Learning Platform for Europe (ALPE) ( complements the European accessible learning programme EU4ALL (


Councils Urged To Mix Technical Web Tests With User Tests

Local councils should carry out both technical accessibility testing and
user testing of their websites to minimise exclusion of people with
disabilities, and not just take one or other approach, a new report from
the local government Society of IT Management (Socitm) finds.

Web Accessibility – The Power of Five.

The local government Society of IT Management (Socitm) this week published a report on website accessibility which included a round-up of the five most common accessibility errors.

The society estimates that these five errors account for 76% of all website accessibility failures, and it asked Robin Christopherson, Head of Accessibility Services at the charity AbilityNet, to describe their impact. Robin is blind and uses the popular ‘JAWS’ screen reader software to access the web.


Organisation in the Spotlight – Ricability

With the switchover to digital TV rolling across the UK between now and 2012, blind people and people with impaired vision, who paradoxically are major watchers of TV, have more to cope with than most in finding and installing the best new receiving, viewing and recording equipment.

Although there is a national Digital TV Help Scheme offering (relatively) accessible digital TV receiver equipment and installation support at a low cost and free to people on benefits, people will often still be faced with tough choices about which equipment to choose or use when they want to buy outside of this scheme, or share a household with others.