What is rich media and how can I learn more about its accessibility?

The term rich media was coined to describe a broad range of digital interactive media. Rich media can be downloadable or may be embedded in a web page. If downloadable, it can be viewed or used offline with media players such as Real Networks' RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, or Apple's QuickTime, among others.

The defining characteristic of rich media is that it exhibits dynamic motion. This motion may occur over time or in direct response to user interaction.

What is audio description?

Audio description is a term used to describe the descriptive narration of key visual elements in a video or multimedia product. This process allows individuals who are blind to access content that is not otherwise accessible simply by listening to the audio. In audio description, narrators typically describe actions, gestures, scene changes, and other visual information. They also describe titles, speaker names, and other text that may appear on the screen.

Is instructional software typically accessible to students with disabilities?

No. In a study conducted by Diane Cordry Golden of Missouri Assistive Technology in 2001, twenty-five "award winning" companies who produce instructional software for K-12 students (preschool through high school) were surveyed regarding the accessibility of their software to students with disabilities. Nineteen companies responded. Two reported that they were aware of accessibility issues and specifically Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. One of these two was beginning work on accessibility issues; the other had developed a planning committee.

How do cascading style sheets affect web accessibility?

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a web markup language, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). CSS accompanies HTML and gives both developers and users more control over how pages are displayed. CSS allows web developers to separate the appearance of a page (CSS) from its structure and informational content (HTML). This is a good idea since users access content using a wide variety of devices and media. The presentation of a document should therefore not be the same for everyone, but content and structure should be.

How can I test my website for accessibility?

An often-cited rule in web design is "Test your website." Typically this involves reviewing your site in multiple web browsers and at multiple screen resolutions, as well as checking spelling and links. An accessibility check should also be included in this process.

Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM), an organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education, recommends the following seven-step process in its document titled The Planning, Evaluation, Repair and Maintenance Process:

Can I make accessible web pages using a web authoring tool such as Dreamweaver?

Educators utilize a wide variety of authoring tools to create web sites. In virtually every category of computer software, if content can be created, it can be saved or exported as HTML. Many web authors simply export the content of their word processing files or of files they've created using graphics applications. Unfortunately, much of this web content is inaccessible to users with disabilities.

What access challenges do people with disabilities face when using a telephone?

As mobile phones are integrated with other computing devices and networks, their role in education is evolving. Many educational entities in both K-12 and postsecondary environments continue to explore ways to integrate mobile phones into the classroom. The telephone, however, is one of the earliest examples of information technology that excluded individuals with disabilities.

What standards exist for developing and purchasing accessible telecommunications products?

"Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, require[s] manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. These amendments ensure that people with disabilities will have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services that were often inaccessible to many users with disabilities" (source: U.S.

What is the Clinger-Cohen Act, and how does it affect people with disabilities?

In the 1996 Amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) was charged with developing technical standards by which compliance with the act could be measured. Section 508 required that the Access Board standards include "a definition of electronic and information technology that is consistent with the definition of information technology specified in section 5002(3) of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (40 U.S.C. 1401(3))."