Ebsco Accessibility Interest Group

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

All Meetings/Teleconferences

Meeting/Teleconference Details

Date: 2007-02-02

Time: 9:00 AM CST


  1. 9:00-9:10 Introduction participants
  2. 9:10-9:30 EBSCO presentation on current web accessibility design practices and quality assurance procedures
  3. 9:30-9:40 University of Illinois Web Best Practices to implement Section 508 and W3C WCAG Accessibility Requirements
  4. 9:40-9:50 Tools and resources to help developers implement best practices
  5. 9:50-10:00 Discussion of next steps and future meetings


Minutes, February 2, 2007, EBSCO Accessibility Interest Group Teleconference


Action Items

  1. (Ron, EBSCO group): Create demo accounts on development servers (might take longer than two weeks) and get HTML template code out to potential testers.
  2. (Hadi, Jon, Ken, Penny) Hadi and Jon meet on campus with users, go through interface and prioritize issues; Penny and Ken to get screen reader users for testing at OSU.
  3. (All who can) Use UIUC best practices to review three most salient EBSCO pages (main search page, results pages, page with article abstracts). From this, build initial issues list of things that need most immediate improvement.
  4. (Ron) Provide group with statistics on pages most used within EBSCO

Next Meeting

February 16, 2007, 10 AM EST. Scribe to be determined.


EBSCO on current web accessibility design practices and quality assurance procedures

Jon: What do you do in regards to design and QA for accessibility?

Ron: EBSCO started with text only interface 4-5 years ago. It served its purpose but has usability issues, will probably stop development on it a year from now We started making EBSCO Host 508 compliant; working from new platform. As a start, all navigation elements are text links and have more enhancements this year; Use Bobby for testing in QA, have a JAWS screen reader, which currently use mostly on the text-only interface; but will do that sort of testing for EBSCO Host in the futre. That said, we don't have expert screen reader users and will rely on this group for help in evaluation.

Jon: Do you have any coding standards that developers use to ensure accessibility?

Yuri: We are following 508.

Jon: What does that mean? For example, skip navigation. In our "best practices" we recommend using headings for navigation. Navigation bars should have headings on them (hidden maybe); this allows for speech users to know what the various navigation features and contents and organization of a web application.

Yuri: This is not implemented in the EBSCO interface, have started making a list of improvements and setting timeline; We started using UL/LIs for navigation. But it is a problem, since the code doesn't validate.

Jon: So in your current development environment you are using .NET and it doesn't support creating valid markup?

Ron: It is a technology that we are wrestling with.

Ron: We have about 200 databases that we are supporting, and each has slightly different APIs that we support.

Christie: I am not an expert in HTML, but I use a screen reader; I commend EBSCO since they are the only of the database vendors that has decent accessibility. However, I spend a lot of time trying to find stuff: there are a lot things that slow me down. For example, after running a search, it takes a long time to find results--a heading would be very useful; also once I executed a search I could find no way to move to next page of results after even a lot of looking around--searching for "next" or "page" or the number "2", but I couldn't find anything that appeared to be a link to the next page of results.

Hadi: I have experienced the same problem. When using a web page all content must be linearized, so if there are 7 columns with 500 results you have effectively 3500 cells to move through to find information you are looking for (much of this is in Hadi's report). We would be glad to share techniques with you to fix these sorts of things.

Ron: This has to do with paging. Was this the regular or text-only interface?

Christie: I avoid text-only. I find that they are hard to use. I tend to search for a word in text. So I'd search for something called "next" or "page" or "2" and couldn't find anything.

Jon: We applaud the work you have done, but just having a screen reader available and then having someone who relies on a screen reader, you get a very different perspective. And you also get two approaches represented here: either you know a page and have idiosyncratic means for getting through it because you've tried to use it many times in the past; or you have a well designed interface and it is more universally accessible. Also most companies don't have a strategic plan for how to address accessibility--maybe we can help you develop a long term approach. For example, you have templates that are hard to retrofit. Maybe we can help you with how you might approach that and what can you plan for the future so that newly developed templates have high accessibility. The comments regarding text-only versions in 508 says, create a text-only only if no other solution exists, But as Christie says, these text-only interfaces tend not to be used very much and are not always as easy to navigate as HTML pages.

Penny: we are using IBM Home Page Reader and have tested it with EBSCO but HPR wouldn't read all the interface elements on the main page but would read them on subsequent pages.

Hadi: I have also found some inconsistencies. Are you using image maps?

Ron: No.

Jon: I think this points out a problem; it's very hard to tell as a sighted user what screen reader users understand from a page.

Hadi: Another big problem is you may have 500 links on a page and if they are not structured in HTML, it makes it very very difficult to move through the page. Search is usually a last ditch effort to find a thing. We should be able to rely on the structure of the page to find what we are looking for. We want to work with you so that your product works out of the box.

Review of current accessibility evaluation of EBSCO by Hadi and UIUC

Jon: Have you looked at the report?

EBSCO group: Yes, we have both of those reports, and have made some modifications and hopefully a few months from now will be further along.

Hadi: My background is as a developer, and I have dealt with many very talented programmers, but many don't know accessibility. We would like to work with you to help with your page level architecture and help make sure your techniques are accessible. How can we help in your design process?

Jon: We can go through the issues list and prioritize vis a vis user need; For example, labels in forms, headings to signify the top of the results list.

Ron: Yes, prioritizing would help a lot.

Jon: Are you planning on using DHTML techniques?

Yuri: Yes, and we are planning using AJAX techniques. Using Atlas from Microsoft.

Jon: You may want to become part of the ARIA group at the W3C. IBM is a leader in the group and Mozilla has implemented much of this in Firefox, with more to come out in version 3.0 of Firefox.

Hadi: You are working on a new release?

Ron: There will be two minor releases prior to a major new release around the June time frame.

Hadi: Can you set up a demo server we can access as development progresses?

Ron: Yes, we can do that, that's an excellent offer, and we will take you up on it.

Hadi: It helps for us to work with you as it undergoes development.

Tools and resources to help developers implement best practices

Jon: Are you using Firefox for testing? It has better tools for debugging.

Yuri and Ron: Yes we are using Firefox.

Jon: We have a tool, the Mozilla Accessibility Extension, that can allow you to capture the DOM and send it to FAE (functional accessibility evaluator) and have it give you a report back as a web page. Another feature allows you to look for headings and form elements that have no labels, etc. You can attend our webinars and trainings so that we can update you on new tools and trainings. Can we add you to our email list.

Ron: Yes, add us.

Discussion of next steps and future meetings

Jon: So how do we move forward? Should we meet within the next two weeks to prioritize issues?

Hadi: The search result page and pages with the abstracts and the main search page--these three page should be the highest impact pages. Should we concentrate on these three pages?

Jon: Do you have statistics on usage of pages?

Hadi: Are the interfaces different from campus to campus or do campuses have to upgrade to get the newest features?

Ron: Everyone gets the same interface, but there are various features that can be turned on or off depending, so it could look different.

Penny: I am local EBSCO adminstrator. The local library makes the decision. The default search form is chosen by us but can be configured by user. The general display of results we don't have any control over.

Hadi: Can we get access to development interfaces?

Jon: Do you do full usability testing on new UIs?

Hadi: We would be happy to be at your disposal on this. Accessibility problems are often indicative of general usability problems.

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