Tag Archive for 'WAI'

Us & them

BEV shopsWhile others are offering an API or are working on even free access to public geodata, we are releasing a new portal with 5 different shop versions for public tax funded geodata.

Let alone that the world record attempt for using the smallest possible font size in an unlucky Cheetah UI rip-off isn’t quite state of the art in the year 2008. Especially not in times were public agencies are asked (by law!) to fulfill basic WAI requirements.

Cynthia Says “no”

A discussion yesterday made me think of how you can possibly prepare a mapping site to fulfill WAI standards.

Naturally any map produced by a map server comes as image. So the focus on improving accessibility on a mapping site will be to make images better accessible. One step is to improve map graphics and visualization such as contrast, color saturation, color scheme, strokes, etc., something cartographers are well aware about.

In addition to graphic qualities, another WAI requirement is to provide text equivalents for any non-text element, such as images are. A descriptive list, containing the main map elements like places, roads, rivers, mountains, etc. or even a statistical layers could be given as alternative output easily from any map server I’d suppose.

A more advanced solution would be an intelligent textual map output. Not only listing map elements but describing topography, relations among map elements and thematic layers. As if you would give an interpretation of the map to somebody else.

A quick research regarding mapping and accessibility didn’t lead me to much information. Besides, every mapping site I tried, failed Cynthia really badly (even this simple text-based site btw, maybe I should switch templates).

I know, SVG always has been the next big thing and never really took off, but in terms of web accessibility and mapping it offers the important ‘desc’ element:

Each container element or graphics element in an SVG drawing can supply a ‘desc’ and/or a ‘title’ description string where the description is text-only.

The ‘desc’ element basically allows you to provide textual information attached to every map element and deploy that way an (hidden) alternative textual map in addition to every map image. Clearly a major advantage of SVG over raster graphics regarding web accessibility.

Google Textual Maps UI

Web accessibility is a big issue for public authorities’ IT services. Since eEurope 2002 every new developed web content must claim conformance to Conformance Level A, which means quite a challenge for public webmapping services.

Now Google has added text output to Google Maps too: depending on your search and how much textual information is available in your results, the map is becoming smaller in favor of more textual information. Searching for a place won’t give you any text information at all (how would you seriously describe the result of a place search?), while searching for directions results in 100% speech-friendly textual routing information. (via Official Google Blog)