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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



Enhancing accessibility for visually impaired users: the Munch exhibition
Nicoletta Di Blas, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Paolo Paolini, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Marco Speroni, University of Lugano, Switzerland
Angelo Capodieci, MEDÌ, Italy

Mini-Workshop: W3C Guidelines

The Web enhances the role of visual communication: users look at pages to get content and to select links and operations. The visual nature of the Web involves at least three aspects: content (images, graphics and text are all meant to be looked at), page organization (e.g. locating different pieces of content, with their relationships) and navigation (e.g. locating links, and guessing their meaning from the label or icon, the hint, the position, etc). The most widely used technique for allowing visually impaired users to access the Web is based on screenreaders, i.e. SW tools capable of reading HTML pages. The W3C (http://www.w3.org) has published important recommendations, under revision right now, to help designers to develop readable Web pages. This paper will argue that W3C recommendations and also screenreader’s technology are not sufficient to ensure an efficient - even less satisfactory - Web experience.

It is, in fact, possible to develop Web pages fully compliant with W3C standard, yet hardly manageable through screenreaders. The HOC laboratory of Politecnico di Milano and the TecLab of University of Italian Switzerland are developing a new set of guidelines, expanding those of W3C, based on the assumption that a Web experience can be compared to a dialogue between a user and a machine. The first exploitation of this research is a Web site developed in cooperation with the Staatliche Museen of Berlin in Spring 2003. Unsolicited user reactions show that the research’s effort is moving in the right direction, but also that we are still far from a fully satisfactory solution.