2 Community-Driven Projects to Independently Improve the Accessibility of Inaccessible Web Sites

I know of two projects intended to improve the accessibility of inaccessible Web sites.  A couple very intriguing qualities they have in common are that:

  • they depend upon the community to report accessibility problems, to fix them, and to share their fixes with the rest of the community;
  • their intention is that the accessibility problems can be fixed even if the inaccessible designs of Web sites do not change!

The projects are:

AccessMonkey, by The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The University of Washington, and funded by a National Science Foundation Grant.

The way it works is that the community reports accessibility problems, AccessMonkey developers create scripts the community can use to ameliorate the problems, then the community shares them with others.  AccessMonkey is based upon GreaseMonkey, the widely-used Firefox extension that allows people to customize the way Web pages look and function.

Note: I am worried about the future of this project because I have not seen any recent activity on its Web site.

Social Accessibility Project, by IBM alphaWorks.

Focused on improving accessibility for users of screen readers (JAWS only at this time), it works in the following way.  Users report a Web site’s accessibility problems to the Social Accessibility server.  Volunteers respond by creating and publishing accessibility metadata. These metadata are attached to the original Web page so all users who visit the page benefit from it.  Users can also make accessibility improvements to a page by submitting landmarks to the server.  They are then made available to all screen reader users.

Note: You can sign in as a guest if you want to just explore this active utility.

On the “Clear Helper” Web site, I may be able to easily and usefully incorporate the community-reporting aspect of these two projects.  Perhaps I could set up a site feature that would enable people with cognitive disabilities to report problems they experience on popular Web sites.  Based upon that information, I could create tutorials on how to use particular features of them.

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