[NLedu] Researching accessibility of Silverlight-based websites

Jan Stedehouder jan at stedehouder.org
Thu Nov 24 18:58:09 CET 2011

Hi everyone,

>> We would like to ask a few people to test Silverlight-based websites
>> with various accessibility tools that are available for users with
>> visual impairments: screen readers, braille readers, read aloud tools,
>> et cetera. Yes, I am aware that this might necessitate working with
>> Windows, Internet Explorer en Silverlight as well ;-).
> I have some doubts about this: if we start with the usability argument,
> it is very easy to counter it by showing us websites which are not
> working for this group which else are Free Software friendly. They can
> also say "yeah we have to improve this, but you just have to give us XY
> EUR, and the sivlerlight solution will take care of that".
> Yes, it is a way to attack the current system. But in our experience it
> was not good to get people to use Free Software or to buy Free Software
> with arguments like cost, usability, etc. So I would like to focus on
> the arguments which are specific to Free Software / Open Standard.
> What do you think?

The accessibilty argument might work in our favor. In 2010 a study was
done about the accessibility of websites of tertiary education in the
Netherlands. A similar study was done in 2006 and the 2010 study
showed that no progress had been made in making the websites easier to
use for students with visual impairments. As a consequence the then
minister of Education decided to change the law for higher education
and make accessibility one of the items on the inspection list. I'll
be talking to one of the lead researchers next week and see what
possibilities there are to expanding the study to all educational
institutions in the Netherlands.

But it isn't essential for the legal campaign. The question came up
whether we could strengthen our case if Silverlight also hinders
people with visual impairments. That way we have a larger group that
runs into issues with online schoolbuildings due to the use of
proprietary webtechnologies like Flash and Silverlight. But we already
have doubts about it as well. I just wondered if it would be possible
to do some tests and check whether the issue has substance at all,
before we throw it out ;-)



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