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Web Accessibility – Overcoming Obstacles

Yesterday I was at an interesting presentation on accessibility of websites, by Namics, internet specialists from Zurich. For many a handicapped person present websites offer difficulties, in navigation, in transporting the content to screenreader-softwares or in the contrast used for the sites. There exist definitions of the web-consortium about accessibility, which are in a process of updating, because many new technologies have appeared in the last years. Somebody of this consortium hold a talk at the meeting, explaining what they are talking about, when they try to define how a website should be for disabled persons to have free access to it.
Very interesting was a presentation of a deaf person from Gebärdenwerk in Hamburg, giving a 30 min talk about the special problems of deaf persons. At my table there were two translators transposing the talks into sign language (which in Germany is recognised as a separate language besides German) for a few disabled persons in the audience.
There exist a number of aids for disabled persons, but when the site is not well done, it is hard to get the right access. The Swiss Government websites have t be barrier-free until the end of this year, and for my office we are also thinking of making our site accessible. I wonder I find the time and know-how to renovate the good-will website according to the accessibility standards…
Most impressive for me was a talk I had at the end of the meeting with a blind man, who had been a high school teacher and later lost his eyesight and now is teaching again, and he is publishing a tape newspaper together with pupils and volunteers. He had such a commitment to sensitise organisations and people to the needs of visually handicapped or blind people and to render help to persons concerned.

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