Back-to-Back Web Accessibility Workshops at ATRIEV Computer School for the Blind

ATRIEV, the country’s first and only computer school for the Blind, has just recently concluded two back-to-back web accessibility workshops. The workshop for the first batch of participants was held from December 9 to 11, 2010. This was immediately followed by another workshop for the second batch of attendees, held from December 13 to 15, 2010. I had the privilege of being the workshop instructor during these two accessibility events.

The Force Behind the Web Accessibility Workshops

These accessibility workshops were made possible through the sponsorship and support of the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC). ADOC is an initiative that aims to assist in transforming digital divides into digital opportunities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The ATRIEV Computer School for the Blind served as the venue for the workshops and provided the computers used by the participants. ATRIEV’s dynamic staff handled the vital role of sending the invitations and making follow-ups to the organizations of the attendees.

1st batch of web accessibility workshop participants with ATRIEV's core members and Julius

The participants consisted of web developers and instructors of web development subjects. Other attendees included IT personnel of government officials and teachers of persons with disabilities.

2nd batch of web accessibility workshop participants with ATRIEV's core members and Julius

What Did We Talk About?

The two workshops consisted of the following major topics:

How Do Persons with Disabilities Use the Computer?

I demonstrated the use of assistive technologies, particularly the screen reader. A screen reader is a software that enables blind and visually impaired persons to access the computer through a voice output. I showed how blind individuals create and edit documents and how they surf the Internet, all via the screen reader. Other assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers were discussed and demonstrated. The participants were able to use screen readers during the workshops.

What is Web Accessibility and How Do We Implement It?

We then plunged into the topic of web accessibility. The groups and I talked about what web accessibility is, and why everyone should make their websites accessible. I provided a discussion about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), which is the most important document focused on web accessibility. In this topic, I explained the significance of each principle and guideline contained in WCAG 2.0. I also talked about the Web Design Accessibility Recommendation Checkpoints, a document created by our very own Philippine Web Accessibility Group.

We then did an evaluation of the accessibility of a number of websites. This was to ensure that the participants would have first-hand experience in identifying accessibility issues in web pages. During the first workshop, one of the sites we evaluated was the ADOC website. We focused on government websites such as those by the Office of the President and PAGCOR on the second workshop.

Inspiring Ideas to Advocate Accessibility

The participants in both the first and second workshops provided such promising and inspiring ideas to support web accessibility. One participant decided to include web accessibility in a case study and do further research on it. Others plan to directly implement the guidelines in WCAG 2.0 in their websites. The attendees who teach web development subjects plan to include discussions about web accessibility in their major topics. I in turn look forward to keeping in touch with the participants to help them in any accessibility-related activities.

A Few More Thoughts

I am very thankful to ATRIEV Computer School for the Blind for hosting these two workshops and for making sure that all concerns during the events were properly addressed. I also thank ADOC for sponsoring the two workshops. Last but not the least, many thanks to my brother, Rene “RainMan” Orense for helping me in the topics focused on accessibility for Internet users with low vision.

Move Onward, all ye Allies of Accessibility!

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