Friday, 18 January 2008

Discapnet Observatory Recognises Achievement in Web Accessibilty in Spain

The "infoaccessibility" observatory managed by Discapnet (ONCE Foundation's disability web site) staged a public event yesterday at the city hall of Pamplona, Navarra.

Commemorative silver plaques were awarded to the web sites with the highest compliance and those that had done the most to improve since the previous edition of the report. The awards were presented by Vice President of the ONCE Foundation, Alberto Durán. Blanca Alcanda, managing director of Technosite was also present.

The event was also an opportunity to present the Observatory's newly-published inter-sector Web accessibility report. The previous eight reports had covered different sectors including Spanish universities, national government online services, regional government, city and town councils, travel agencies and transport, banks, and online newspapers. The latest study was carried out by Technosite evaluators and covered 19 websites and 93 pages (hardly big sample when you're giving out prizes). An interesting aspect is that the overall accessibility score has not improved since the last report, and that while some sites have improved significantly, this has been counterbalanced by a deterioration in others that previously had done well. In spite of recent legislation that mandates accessibility of government websites, seven of those that had deteriorated were government-owned.

Those awarded for their efforts were: Seguridad Social (Spanish national social security), Generalitat de Cataluña (Catalan regional government), Bankinter (a leading Spanish bank), Pamplona City Council. Of course it is rather ironic that two of these were only doing what they are obliged to do by law.

The worst performers were Ceuta city Council (the Spanish city enclave in north Africa), and the regional governments of the Basque Country, Murcia and Madrid.

Discapnet, is the leading Spanish-language disability web portal. It is jointly funded by ONCE Foundation, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). It started its Infoaccessibility observatory in 2004. The observatory uses a methodology developed by Technosite that integrates W3C/WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and usability tests with people with disabilities. The latest report is available (in Spanish) and there is an English translation of the introduction (not by me). Previous reports are available from the Observatory section of Discapnet.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Technosite Ten Years Young

It's just ten years since Fundosa Teleservicios started life on 15 January 1998, with just four employees. While existing initiatives to create employment for people with disabilities had focussed on areas such as crafts, secretarial and administrative work, it had become increasingly evident that there was a growing number of people with technical qualifications that could benefit from the greater accessibility of the computerised work environment.

The company had been formed as a collaboration between ONCE Foundation's Fundosa Group and the Spanish telephone giant Telefónica, and its first contracts reflected this emphasis on telecommunications: managing the call centres for the 112 emergency service; managing tele-assistance and home help services for the elderly and disabled; telemedecine research projects; consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises on teleworking, and with a view to how our strategy would develop in the coming years, services to help businesses use the Internet for marketing.

You can see our first web site at the WayBack Machine, complete with a text-only version. Web accessibility did not become a line of business until several years later, when I joined the company around 2002.

In 2006, to reflect its changing strategy, Fundosa Teleservicios changed its trade name (but not company name) to Technosite, and its domain name to technosite.es.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Social library networking site LibraryThing

Although it's been in existence for some time this site was new to me. LibraryThing is intended as a social networking site based around books; not e-Books but real good old-fashioned paper ones. I catalogued our humble library of web development, usability and accessibility books. On the subject of bibliography, here at Technosite we maintain the Discapnet bibliography database of disability-related books, in Spanish.

Unfortunately it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility (main content in a a frame with no description, for example). On the other hand I can't pretend there isn't room for improvement in the Discapnet bibliography.

As I say, our catalogue is on the site now if you want to take a look: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/technosite.