Raising the White Cane toward a More Accessible Internet

Today, a historic forum on web accessibility was held by several agencies of the Philippine government. This event was held at the training room of the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City. The Web Accessibility Forum was held as part of the celebration of this year’s White Cane Safety Week—the white cane being a worldwide symbol used by persons who are blind to signify their disability.

The event was an inter-agency gathering of leaders and representatives who were truly interested and willing to provide accessible information to persons who are blind and people with disabilities in general. The participating agencies included the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the House of Representatives, and the Philippine National Police. Non-government organizations such as Resources for the Blind Incorporated participated in the forum. The representatives of the government agencies consisted of web masters and web administrators. I was very fortunate to be invited as one of the resource persons during the forum.

Julius talking about web accessibility during the forum

A Glimpse of the Web Accessibility Forum

The event began with opening remarks by directors of the National Council on Disability Affairs and the National Computer Center–two of the main agencies that organized the forum.

I began the forum by providing a brief demonstration of the use of screen readers. A screen reader is a software used by blind persons to access the computer and the Internet. I then gave a concise introduction to web accessibility, providing its definition and its benefits. For my third topic, I gave an overview of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0). WCAG 2.0 is a set of principles and guidelines on how to make online content accessible. The group and I looked at existing websites and identified the commendable features and issues found in the sites. To encourage the participants, I focused on showing the reality that web accessibility does not really entail a huge amount of funds and time to achieve.

Here’s a segment of my WCAG 2.0 talk.

View the video directly in Youtube if you have trouble viewing it here.

Mr. Jojo Esposa, president and founding member of the Philippine Web Accessibility Group, continued the discussion by explaining the important local and international laws concerning web accessibility. Mr. Esposa also provided real-life situations that further demonstrate the importance of accessible online information to both persons with disabilities and non-disabled individuals.

After the discussions, the participants were given ample time to ask questions and raise their concerns regarding web accessibility and its underlying procedures. Several representatives sited a number of very valid points which Mr. Esposa and the rest of the organizers clearly addressed. The entire group agreed that there is a need for more trainings on web accessibility.

group picture of participants, organizers, and resource persons during the web accessibility forum

The Accessibility Allies Behind the Forum

I sincerely thank Mr. Lauro Purcil, founding member of the White Cane Inter-agency Committee, for supporting the idea I shared regarding the creation of an accessibility forum. I also thank the National Council on Disability Affairs and the National Computer Center for making this event possible.

To everyone who attended the forum, rest assured that we are here to help you in your goal to provide accessible information and uphold the human rights of people with disabilities in our country.

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One Response to “Raising the White Cane toward a More Accessible Internet”

  1. Arielle Says:

    I take it that congratulations are in order. Well done, guys! =)

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