From: Patrick Douglas Crispen
Subject: TOURBUS -- 28 MAR 03 -- SHUTTLE UPDATE / SECTION 508
Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, hog butcher to the world.
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On with the show ...
If you've been following the investigation into the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, I have one more site to add to your bookmarks list: SpaceFlight Now's Columbia Investigation Status Center at
I've found the information on SpaceFlight Now's page to be a little more in-depth than the investigation information on either http://www.space.com/columbiatragedy/ or http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/special/03/columbia/index.html (although Space.com and the Houston Chronicle beat the living pants off of SpaceFlight Now when it comes to coverage of general, non- technical Shuttle news and information.)
How technical is SpaceFlight Now's investigation coverage? Well, take a look at
SpaceFlight Now has collected data from hundreds of sources and created a 40+ page timeline showing Mission Control and Shuttle activities between 08:10:39 AM and 09:20:10 AM on the morning of the disaster.
And that alone warrants a mention in today's TOURBUS post.
If you design or are thinking about learning how to design your own Web pages, the next couple of stops are absolutely essential.
One of the hottest topics in the Web development community over the past four or five years has been something called "508 compliance." In the late summer of 1998, the US government amended section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to require all federal agencies (with the exception national security systems) to ensure that electronic and information technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities. In other words, federal information must be disseminated in such a way that accessing that information does not pose an "undue burden" to people with disabilities.
You can find out more about section 508 at
To give you an idea of how popular this topic is, do a keyword search for "section 508" (with the quotes) at Google. You'll be SHOCKED at how many hits you get.
One reason for the "popularity" of section 508 is that even though it only applies to electronic and information technology that is procured by a *FEDERAL* department or agency, most companies and educational institutions around the world have elected to comply voluntarily with the rules of section 508, especially when it comes to those companies' or institutions' Web sites. Why? One word: traffic. If you can make your Web pages more accessible, especially to people with disabilities (like, say, Auburn University alumni), more people are going to be able to visit your Web pages.
How do you make *YOUR* Web pages 508 compliant? Well, subpart B of section 508 has 16 Web design rules, and you can find those rules at
If I were you, though, I'd skip that page and head over to
instead. The folks at WebAIM took those 16 rules and converted them into an easy-to-read checklist, showing you the standards and what you need to do to pass those standards.
And, if you're involved with *TEACHING* Web design, let me also put in a plug for Fresno State University's Web Access project at
The folks at Fresno State recently created two wonderful videos that I highly recommend to ALL classroom technology teachers or corporate IT trainers. The first video, titled "Web Accessibility: Access for All," is about 10 minutes long and introduces the concept of Web accessibility from the disabled users' perspective.
You can find a presenter's guide and order form for this video at
The video costs US$22.50, *INCLUDING* shipping and handling. But before you fill out the requisition order, but you might want to pay a visit to
This page contains open captioned, Real Player format video segments of the entire "Web Accessibility: Access for All" video [minus the pre-roll title and credits] that you are more than welcome to view online.
Oh, and the clips are free. Neat, huh?
Fresno State's "Web Accessibility: Access for All" video is a GREAT introduction to the topic Web accessibility and why it is important. But what if you want more than a 10 minute introduction? Well, that's where Fresno State's second video comes in.
"Know Your Users: Web Accessibility from the User's Prospective" is a 27 minute video featuring computer users with disabilities discussing and demonstrating the tools they use to access the Web -- Dragon Naturally Speaking, WindowEyes, Zoom Text, JAWS, and a refreshable Braille display -- as well as the common problems these users with disabilities encounter when they try to access different Web pages.
It's not often that something comes along that completely changes the way that you approach Web design. Watch this video and I promise you that you will change your practice.
Now for the bad news. "Know Your Users: Web Accessibility from the User's Prospective" is so new it isn't yet available either online or for purchase. But it will be available soon, so keep checking
from time to time. I'm sure the folks at Fresno State will be posting both a presenters guide and order form any day now. :)
Oh, and to answer your question, even though the "Know Your Users" video isn't publicly available yet, Fresno State recently gave free copies of the video to every school in the California State University system ("Fresno State" is actually the "California State University, Fresno.") I saw one of the CSU's copies earlier this week. Trust me. This video is WELL worth the wait.
That's it for today. Have a safe and happy weekend, happy Cesar Chavez Day, and we'll talk again soon. :)