I came across an announcement from Google the other day regarding enhanced web accessibility features on some of their applications, including Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. Having worked with advocacy organizations for the blind over the past few months, Google declared that it has "significantly improved keyboard shortcuts and support for screen readers."
I've learned about and certainly tried out Microsoft's accessibility features [from a random exploration of the Control Panel no less], but I had not looked into accessibility on the web before this, and I decided to do a little research.
Notably one of the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - of which the Philippines is a signatory - the general term "accessibility" is used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service or environment is available to as many people as possible. Web accessibility, particularly, refers to the practice of developing websites that are usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.
Wikipedia provides the following useful summary of the needs that web accessibility aims to address:
- "Visual: Visual impairments including blindness, various common types of low vision and poor eyesight, various types of color blindness;
- Motor/Mobility: e.g. difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine muscle control, etc., due to conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
- Auditory: Deafness or hearing impairments, including individuals who are hard of hearing;
- Seizures: Photoepileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.
- Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), and cognitive disabilities of various origins, affecting memory, attention, developmental "maturity," problem-solving and logic skills, etc."
Another Wikipedia page details the web accessibility initiatives in the Philippines, which then led me to the website of an apparently "privately-led association of Filipino web designers and advocates" called the Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG). It doesn't seem to be updated [the latest post is dated November 15, 2008], but I also happened to find this Facebook page that appears to be updated and gives me a sense that the group is somehow still active.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything else useful online.
I might probably be not looking properly or perhaps not moving in the proper circles, but I think it'd be great to hear more about PWAG or other groups, as well as the government, looking into taking a more active role in pushing for web accessibility for Philippine websites and adding more to this rather short list of "awardees."