508 Compliant Web ApplicationsWhy was “Section 508 compliance” built into the recent Caspio Bridge 6.6 update? Imagine surfing the web with your eyes closed. All of a sudden, those little things you take for granted — like quickly scanning a table for information, making judgments based on color-coded status updates, or filling out a CAPTCHA-protected form — are no longer available to you.

You don’t have to be blind to be affected. Research from the University of Maryland estimates that 8% of men and up to 2% of women are colorblind. And there are others who need high-contrast color schemes in order to read anything at all.

Web accessibility is not only important to building a broader audience for your website. Governments around the world have adopted accessibility standards for their websites to allow for greater inclusion and help prevent discrimination based on an individual’s disabilities.

In the United States, the government standard is disclosed in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was strengthened in 1998 through the Workforce Reinvestment Act.

The United States government has provided a number of web accessibility guidelines that illustrate ways to comply with Section 508 (Penn State University has compiled a summarized version that links to technical details).

How are Caspio Bridge web applications 508-compliant?

Following the appropriate guidelines, we’ve added backend platform features that allow your deployed DataPages to automatically be 508-compliant.

In most cases, there aren’t any visual differences in the DataPage, but the underlying behind the scenes HTML code changes make Caspio DataPages easier to navigate using a screen reader and keyboard commands.

Just released in Caspio Bridge 6.6:

  • Images, including buttons, have alternative text. This way, if people can’t see the image, they still have a written description of what is there.
  • Forms now use label tags to identify form fields. These tags tell browsers what text goes with what form fields.
  • Tables can now use table header tags. Screen readers will read information back to the user in the proper groupings, announcing what the information is before it is read. To maintain backward compatibility with some applications using custom JavaScript, we’ve made the use of table header tags optional.
  • Styles have been tested when zoomed and in high-contrast modes. Now, Caspio Bridge DataPages can be seen more easily by people who need larger magnification or bolder color differences.

CAPTCHAs are notoriously difficult for the visually impaired to enter. We’ve had an audio version of a CAPTCHA for a number of releases, and provided an automated way for mainstream browsers to find the right plugin if the one wasn’t already installed. For 508 compliance, we added an optional direct download link for an audio plugin that can be used to read the CAPTCHAs.

Many people who are blind or visually impaired use WebbIE, which was first published in 2001. It has a number of features that make navigation easier for people using screen readers and uses a large high-contrast display for people who have difficulty seeing traditionally-formatted web pages. Here is a sample of a web form with 508-compliant CAPTCHA and the corresponding WebbIE screen:

Caspio Bridge - Section 508 Accessible Web Form in WebbIE

You can see how the text would be read back to a blind visitor and how links and form elements would be announced. To enter the CAPTCHA, the user would hit the down arrow key until “Link: Listen and type what you hear” would be read. He or she would hit <Enter> and the audio for the CAPTCHA would be read. The audio played contains some distortion and static to prevent a machine from breaking your CAPTCHA security.

At Caspio, we’re proud to support more broadly accessible web applications, and based on our 508 compliance efforts, we’ve gained approval to be included in the United States government Buy Accessible Products and Services Directory.

Rquest a project consultation to learn more about Caspio’s cloud technology for Section 508-compliant web applications.