Compilation of ICT Standards

As per request from a colleague in the accessibility space, I have compiled below ICT standards. If something is missing, please add via comments and will be happy to add them to my list.

  1. WCAG Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. Currently recommendation is WCAG 2.0 and a public working draft of WCAG 2.1 has been published in February 2017.
  2. ATAG Authoring tools are software and services that “authors” (web developers, designers, writers, etc.) use to produce web content (static web pages, dynamic web applications, etc.). Examples of authoring tools are listed below under “Who ATAG is for“.
  3. UAAG The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) documents explain how to make user agents accessible to people with disabilities. User agents include browsers, browser extensions, media players, readers and other applications that render web content. Some accessibility needs are better met in the browser than in the web content, such as text customization, preferences, and user interface accessibility. A user agent that follows UAAG 2.0 will improve accessibility through its own user interface and its ability to communicate with other technologies, including assistive technologies (software that some people with disabilities use to meet their requirements). All users, not just users with disabilities, will benefit from user agents that follow UAAG 2.0.
  4. WAI – ARIA WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies. Currently certain functionality used in Web sites is not available to some users with disabilities, especially people who rely on screen readers and people who cannot use a mouse. WAI-ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining new ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced Web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities.
  5. IndieUI
  6. New Section 508 of Rehabilitations Act (US) On January 18, 2017 the Access Board issued a final rule that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act. The rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT. In fact, the rule references Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 (link is external) and applies them not only to websites, but also to electronic documents and software. For more information, the Access Board has published an Overview of the Final Rule. Over the next several months, the US Access Board, in partnership with the General Services Administration, will provide guidance on the standards and on how to implement them within the federal government. This guidance will be published on the website when available.
  7. Article 9 of UNCRPD To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.
  8. ePub 3 Guidelines: This guide is a complement the EPUB Accessibility specification and techniques. It provides additional explanation of accessible markup practices primarily to help publishers understand the requirements to meet WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.3.1. Other topics, such as scripted interactivity and media overlays are also covered.
  9. Accessible ICT Procurement Standard, Australia The Australian Public Service is committed to employing people with disability and creating inclusive work environments that reflect the diversity of the Australian community. To do so we need to ensure the ICT goods and services we buy are accessible for all employees.
  10. European ICT Accessibility Procurement Standard
  11. US: Buy Accessible ICT Agencies are responsible for Section 508 compliance when they acquire ICT products and services. This is generally a shared responsibility between the Requiring Authority and the Contracting Office throughout the acquisition process. Appropriate Section 508 compliance depends upon the particular procurement method and acquisition procedures.
  12. Accessible Technology – a nice article on PEAT Works
  13. Mobile Accessibility “Mobile accessibility” refers to making websites and applications more accessible to people with disabilities when they are using mobile phones and other devices. WAI’s work in this area addresses accessibility issues of people using a broad range of devices to interact with the web: phones, tablets, TVs, and more.


CAPTCHA on some portals

In the interest of security, CAPTCHA is still commonly used on several portals. Earlier CAPTCHA used to be seen on lengthy forms that collects critical data; but today we see CAPTCHA on login forms too. We have recently asked community to tell us their experience in dealing with CAPTCHA and below is a table that shows portal name, if CAPTCHA has an alternative, if yes, is that usable?

CAPTCHA Survey Results
Name of the portal Is there an alternative to CAPTCHA? User’s experience with alternative
LIC Housing Customer Login No No alternative provided
LIC India No This site has a question based CAPTCHA; it would be difficult for users with cognitive disabilities; hence alternatives should be provided
IRCTC Yes Login screen has option to request a one time password; but CAPTCHA present during ticket booking does not have an alternative
Income Tax India eFiling Yes There is an audio based CAPTCHA as well as a provision to opt an one time password
BSES Delhi No No alternative provided
Vijaya Bank Login No No alternative provided
India Post tracking No No alternative provided
EPFO Login No No alternative provided
Central Record Keeping System of NSDL No No alternative found

Thanks to everyone who has responded to me over social media and through Access India mailing list. Now let’s touch base with each one of the website owners and get best solution for CAPTCHA implemented.

Accessibility Testing Tool list

This list is intended for Windows environment but most of these should work on Mac OSX too.

Related reading: Dynomapper’s post on 25 Awesome Accessibility Testing Tools

WAI – ARIA Landmark navigation extension

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of W3C, a few years ago, introduced landmark roles (also known as landmarks”) for easy navigation of web page. An introduction to ARIA landmark roles:

The purpose of this technique is to provide programmatic access to sections of a web page. Landmark roles (or “landmarks”) programmatically identify sections of a page. Landmarks help assistive technology (AT) users orient themselves to a page and help them navigate easily to various sections of a page.

They also provide an easy way for users of assistive technology to skip over blocks of content that are repeated on multiple pages and notify them of programmatic structure of a page. For instance, if there is a common navigation menu found on every page, landmark roles (or “landmarks”) can be used to skip over it and navigate from section to section. This will save assistive technology users and keyboard users the trouble and time of tabbing through a large amount of content to find what they are really after, much like a traditional “skip links” mechanism. (Refer to User Agent Notes above for specifics of AT support). A blind user who may be familiar with a news site’s menu, and is only interested in getting to the top story could easily navigate to the “main” landmark, and bypass dozens of menu links. In another circumstance, a user who is blind may want to quickly find a navigation menu, and can do so by jumping to the navigation landmark.

If you are a screen reader user, it’s rather easy to use landmarks using keyboard commands provided by screen reader. But what if you are not a screen reader user? Recent post by Matthew Atkinson of The Paciello Group titled Improving access to landmark navigation has introduced a browser extension that works greatly for non-screen reader users to benefit from landmarks on any web page and browse the page in an easy way. I have installed on Firefox and experience is pretty smooth. All user needs to do is load a web page of choice and click on Landmark navigation extension; displays list of available landmarks as shown in below image.

Screenshot of landmarks showing on ServeOM Inclusion Home page
Screenshot of ServeOM Inclusion home page showing available landmarks using Landmark Navigation extension on Firefox

Download and install the landmark navigation extension for Firefox, Chrome and/or Opera to tryout yourself.

Wish to know what are the ARIA landmark roles? Read Landmark roles section on WAI-ARIA spec

Tips for developers: Get your website teted for accessibility – Part 2 – Operable

This is Part 2 of 4 parts on how a developer should get their website or application tested for accessibility. Objective of this series is to provide easy method of accessibility testing to developers so that they can test as they code. This is how we would achive accessibility right at the development and design stage. These tips would not only be helpful to developers but also to interaction designers who decides interaction of elements and those who develop prototypes. This Part 2 is related to Operable section of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.

Question: How to test for keyboard accessibility?
Answer: Load the page. Press CTRL + Home (Windows), this will take focus to the top of the page. Then use tab key to move from one element to another. Use enter or space key to activate an element. One should be able to activity every element including menus, modals, buttons etc.,

Question: When I was browsing a page with keyboard, focus does not move from an element, focus just gets stuck; is there a problem with my keyboard?
Answer: Probably not, this is called keyboard trap and needs to be avoided. When a component recieves keyboard focus, there should be mechanism to move away keyboard focus from same component.

Question: What to consider when there is a time limit for a page?
Answer: Check if there is an option to turn-off timing, adjust as per user’s requirement or extend the time limit. There could exceptions such as activity at real-time, esential time limit such as a test and time limit of 20 hours and more.

Question: What to look for elements that moves, blinks or scroll?
Answer: There should be a mechanism to pause, stop or hide. If content is being updated automatically, there should be a mechanism to pause or set how periodical that an update should happen.

Question: What is bypass blocks and how do we test?
Answer: Bypass blocks is a mechanism to enable keyboard users to skip representative set of blocks such as navigation and jump quickly to main content. This can be achieved by providing “Skip to main content” link at the top, using appropriate heading structure and/or using ARIA land marks.

Question: How to test page titles?
Answer: Look at top bar of browser window and see if page title does exist and is appropriate. For example Page title should be page name along with the company / domain name. It should not be just company name only on all the pages.

Question: What all needs to be considered as Focus order issues?
Answer: Ensure that the tab order is logical, if an element opens a modal, focus focus must be set to modal and must not move out until user closes the modal, When modal is closed, focus should be returned to the triggered element.

Question: Testing for link purpose
Answer: Ensure that all links have meaningful and spell out the context to the users. Avoid links like “Read more”, “Click here” etc., Using automated tools would be effective to test this requirement.

Question: What are the multiple ways required for a website?
Answer: A search functionality or a site map. There should be more than one way to reach a specific page on the website.

Question: How to test for focus visible?
Answer: When you tab through the page, every element should receive an indicator and you should be able to see where the keyboard focus is. It can be either custom focus indicator or browser’s default focus indicator.

Tip for Developers: Get your website tested for accessibility -Part 1 Perceivable

Quite often, I receive emails from non-profit organizations asking if I can help them with accessibility testing for their newly built website. I also see most of them do not get built accessibility in mind though many of them are for organizations who offer services to people with disabilities. This post illustrate a few tips that developers can use while building a website. While we intend to see many developers have knowledge on accessibility, it’s absolutely fine to start with a willingness to build an accessible product. This post illustrates advice in the form of question and answer in reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. This will be series of four articles to cover Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.

Question: Do you have images or any other non-text content?
Answer: When you have images, identify if they are informative images decorative images. If informative images, provide an alternate text. For decorative images, provide empty alt text i.e. alt=””; alt attribute must be present in any form of image; if not provided, path of the image gets exposed to assistive technologies such as screen reader, shown on text only browsers (or when images are turned off in the browser), shown to search engines.

Question: Do you have audio-only conent on the website?
Answer: Provide synchronized captions or text transcript

Do you have video only content?
Answer: Provide audio-description

Do you have a live audio / video event happening?
Answer: Ensure there is voice over when only visual actions are happening and captions are provided for audio. This will aid visually impaired users to know what’s visual actions are happening and hearing impaired users to know what the conversation is happening. If there is only music being played, show captions as “Music being played” and if possible what instrument is being played and some illustration.

Question: How my content should be structured and organized?
Answer: Ensure content is structured in a logical order, Headings are marked up appropriately using Hx values e.g. h1, h2 etc., Do not just decorate content as a heading, mark-up list items as ordered or unordered list, ensure all form fields do have associated labels using “for” and “id” attributes, radio buttons and check boxes have associated with their group label.

Question: My user tells me that my content is not read in right sequence, what could be wrong?
Answer: When content is presented in a sequence that is different than usual, it’s essential to ensure sequence of content is meaningful programmatically.

Question: Can I color code the information?
Answer: Yes, color can be used to convey information but color must not be the only form of presenting information. Example, accept is marked as “green” button and decline is marked as “red button”, same labels i.e. accept / decline must be provided as a text in addition to color code.

Question: Can I play audio or music automatically on my web page?
Answer: It’s a not a good practice to play audio automatically on a web page; reason being it would disrupt users with screen readers and people who do not expect an audio on loading of a web page. However, if audio has to played automatically and length is more than 3 seconds, controls must be provided to pause or stop the audio.

Question: How can I check for contrast of colors?
Answer: Simple way is to use Color Contrast Analyzer tools. See the list on Accessibility Testing tools section of Our Resources page

Question: How to meet resize text requirement?
Answer: User browser’s default zoom option (mostly CTRL and +) and zoom up to 200%

Question: Can I use images of text?
Answer: Where possible, it’s advisable to use text to convey the information rather than embedding onto an image.

Question: What’s graphics contrast?
Answer: It’s a new Success Criterion – 1.4.12 Graphics Contrast of WCAG 2.1. If information is conveyed only in the form of graphic e.g. charts etc., it must have minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 First Public Working Draft has been published – have your say!

It was in 2008, Web Accessibility Initiative Group of W3C has announced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as a candid recommendation. Since then, there has beena lot of of improvements and changes in technologies.

For more than a year now, Accessibility Guidelines Working Group have been working hard to introduce extended version of WCAG 2.0; as part of this effort, task forces have formed to work on needs of mobile, cognitive and low vision users.

Yesterday, Working Group has published Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 First Public Working Draft to see feedback from users across the world.

There are 28 new success criterias in WCAG 2.1; in which 3 have been formally approved by the working group; others are in proposed states. Three new success criterias that got accepted are:

  • Resize content
  • Graphics Contrast
  • Interruptions (minimum)

For this publication, Accessibility Working Group of W3C seeks feedback on following questions:

  • Do the new and proposed Success Criteria address current user needs for web content accessibility?
  • Does conformance to the new and proposed Success Criteria seem achievable and testable?
  • How well do the new and proposed Success Criteria fit with the existing Success Criteria from WCAG 2.0?
  • How completely does the set of new and proposed Success Criteria address current user needs, particularly for users of touch- and small-screen mobile devices, users with low vision, or users with cognitive or learning disabilities?
  • Is the impact of WCAG 2.1 on policies that reference WCAG 2.0 understandable and not disruptive?

So have your say and contribute towards digital more inclusive!

Digital Accessibility – what Non-profit, Corporate and Education sector can do?

This is a presentation I have made at a panel discussion held on 19th December, 2016 at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.


Full Text

Thank you for having me here. Good to see many of my old friends!

Firstly, let’s celebrate the passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill; although it’s not very perfect bill, I’m hopeful, with all of our collective efforts, India will be better than before; there are plenty of opportunities that we can work with. While I’m not so happy that bill does not talk about equal opportunities for education in private sector school and few such things, I’m happy that this bill has included Accessibility and mostly in line with The UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Let’s hope for good implementation and see India becomes more inclusive.

So for next about 10015 minutes, we will be discussing about how Non-profits, corporates and education sector can do to promote digital accessibility. I limit my topic and discussion to Digital Accessibility because I have some amount of knowledge in this area and I absolutely not fit to talk about infrastructure accessibility etc.,

What Corporate can do?

Mindset Firstly we need to set our mindset; as one of my friends Subramanyan Murali says “Fixing the mindset is important”; by having mindset to build accessible products will ensure us that our products will be almost inclusive. Because, when we have mindset, we start thinking about diverse users and then thinking goes towards understanding standards etc.,

Have Accessibility as part of product road map and plan We do not prioritize things unless it is in our plan / road map. Having it as part of product planning will enable us to allocate required time.Often we hear that people what they did not have time to address accessibility, but do they have in their agenda? I keep repeating this in almost every presentation of mine that (not only me, any accessibility advocate) – the early consider accessibility, the better for you. It will be less expensive, can be achieved with less effort if accessibility is considered right at the planning stage.

Have PM led accessibility Because PM is the one who would have full visibility to timelines, product planning cycle etc., He or she would be able to fit in required amount of time to ensure product is accessible. Usually PMs are powerful and can made decisions; so their intervention is critical. Often we hear from developers that I’m OK to make it accessible, but my PM does not give me enough time; while the truth is why not did he or she written code that is accessible? So if PMs could own accessibility, they will have opportunity to discuss in regular meetings.

Have Strategy One needs to have a strategy how to address accessibility for legacy, current and future products. It’s not easy to make all legacy products accessible; but a plan and strategy could help to some extent. I’ll be doing a full talk on this at CSUN Conference in 2017; but will be happy to discuss with anyone who are interested in this topic.

Enable Developers and QA Ensure right training is provided for developers and QA. It’s important teams have knowledge about accessibility standards and techniques to build accessible products. They should also know that accessibility is not a rocket science and it’s more about writing semantic code and using the right techniques.

Raise Awareness Whether we like it or not, still there is not really enough awareness about accessibility in the industry. If you believe in accessibility, talk about it within your company and outside. Raise awareness, let people know the impact of accessibility, address myths that people have about accessibility.

What Non-profits can do?

Sensitize community: You could be the voice for many people that serve. Put in efforts to sensitize community about the needs of your people; may it be people with disabilities, elderly etc., In fact, Non profits can create a lot more impact than corporate organizations. But do it in right way. Specially when you are talking about accessibility, think of cross users and not only the section of people that you deal with.

Review and reach out: Review websites / apps as per accessibility standards and share feedback with respective product owners and then follow-up with them. Make it as your project. This is what my colleague Rakesh and I do on our websites.

Last step: Legal approach: After all of your social efforts, if nothing works out, work with courts to approach product owners in legal way. But all of the legal steps should be as a last option. Do not ever start with legal approach.

What education sector can do?

Education sector plays a critical role. Often when I see an inaccessible application, I do not blame developer, but blame the institution who tought them how to code. Most of the institutions do not teach concepts of usability, standards and accessibility. So if you are an education institution, include usability, standards and accessibility as part of your curriculum. Build ability to think from cross user prospective.

Thank you all!

Idea to spread awareness about Accessibility to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As you all know 3rd December is marked as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and a lot of activities around the world. Here are some ideas to raise awareness about disability and accessibility.

Mini Accessibility Showcase

: We can create mini accessibility showcase absolutely at no cost but will have a great impact. Here is the list of activities and set up:

  • Experience a screen reader:
    • Install NVDA Screen reader a free and open source software on Windows and let users browse website by turning off the monitor. Here is an article by WebAIM on how to evaluate a web page using NVDA Screen Reader
    • Mac users can turn on VoiceOver by pressing CMD+F5; when you turn on for the first time, it will display a dialog for training; press “V” key to continue. (Press CMD+F5 again to turn off VoiceOver). Read Chapter 6: Browsing the internet – an Apple guide
    • Use Screen reader on iOS: VoiceOver comes with all iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) turn on from Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> voiceOver. When VoiceOver is ON, swipe / single tab will announce the app / option focused and double tapping will activate the same. Read VoiceOver guide on Apple website
    • Use Screen reader on Android phone: Android devices comes with a screen reader known as Talk Back. This can be activated from Settings -> Accessibility -> TalkBack. Similar to iOS, talk back announce app name / option by single tap and double tapping with activate. Off late, there is significant improvement in Talkback. Visit Talk Back Help page
  • No Mouse: Ask users to pick one of their favourite website that they usually love browsing (not please!!), and ask them to use it for a few minutes (may be 15-20 minutes) without touching mouse. It would be fun to visit some airline websites and try to search for flights (force them to use calendar picker!!).
  • No sound: Play a video by turning off audio. Pick a video that has captions. First time, turn off captions and then play sae video with captions; this will help users understand how captions are important for people with hearing impairment.
  • Using on-screen keyboard: From Windows Ease of Access Centre, Enable On-screen keyboard and ask users to type a couple of paragraph only using on-screen keyboard with mouse; this will help users understand how people who cannot use physical keyboard would type
  • Using voice recognition: This is a bit tricky on windows but easy on iOS and Android (now on OS X too!). Most of the users would know about Siri on iOS and OK Google on Android. Ask users to open a messaging app and dictate a message either using Siri or OK Google; this will show them how people who can’t use hands would rely on voice recognition software to dictate to computer.

Visit Ability Cube by Ted Drake for great set of set up ideas.

Test websites for accessibility and report

Pick your favourite website, do a testing for accessibility using automated tools such as aXe by Deque or WAVE by WebAIM. Once you are done with testing, either do a blog post or create a readable report; remember your post / report should consist of good practices that went into the website along with accessibility findings. It’s only when there is a positiveness in the post / report, it gets attention. Please visit our resources section for checklists and other documents.

Host a talk

If you are an accessibility professional or a person with knowledge of accessibility, do host a talk on a topic that would interest your target audience. Be sure to make your talk itself inclusive. It would also be cool to invite an inspiring accessibility professional for your session. If you have such a person nearby, do the event in person or host a virtual event.

If you have any other ideas, feel free to share via comments section or by emailing to and we will add them to this post.

Good luck,

Accessibility status of state government websites in India

Today, it’s heartening to see there is so much momentum going on to make India inclusive, I thought, it’s important that websites of all state governments are accessible. As I am a believer that inclusion happens when there is awareness created among the stakeholders. So I have done a quick accessibility test using aXe extension for Mozilla Firefox. This test was run only on Home pages of each state government website and below are the results both in the form of a chart and a table. Data is made available in the form of table as well to make sure that results are available in case chart is not accessible to assistive technologies.

Gujarat Government’s website is found hosted on .com domain instead of and reason is unknown.

Results as a Chart

Results as a Table

State Accessibility Failures
Andhra Pradesh 41
Arunachal Pradesh 59
Assam 27
Bihar 2
Chattisgarh 1
Goa 37
Gujarat 23
Haryana 131
Himachal Pradesh 19
Jammu and Kashmir 27
Jharkhand 24
Karnataka 2
Kerala 26
Madhya Pradesh 8
Maharastra 6
Manipur 44
Meghalaya 1
Mizoram 14
Nagaland 43
Odisha 76
Punjab 35
Rajasthan 52
Sikkim 23
Tamil Nadu 7
Telangana 79
Tripura 23
Uttar Pradesh 37
Uttarakhand 12
West Bengal Unavailable

Website of West Bengal state did not get loaded.

Future posts may talk about frequently seen issues across these websites.