[Media-Access:875] Web Access Symbol Contest
geoff_freed at wgbh.org
Fri Mar 1 08:41:20 PST 1996
Subject: Time:11:27 AM
OFFICE MEMO Web Access Symbol Contest Date:3/1/96
*** PLEASE POST WIDELY *** PLEASE POST WIDELY ***
Could this be the first graphic design competition judged
mostly by e-mail and largely by blind people? Probably not,
but it's our first, anyway. Who are we? We're the CPB/WGBH
National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and today on WGBH
Online (http://www.wgbh.org), the Web Access Symbol design
competition begins. Here's the story:
Only a few weeks ago, Arlene Remz of the Education
Development Center (http://www.edc.org/FSC/NCIP; a big, well-
respected education think-tank in Newton, Massachusetts)
wrote to ask whether we thought it was cool to use the
"person-using-a-wheelchair" symbol to indicate that a web
site was accessible to people with disabilities.
I, for one, didn't think so, and I asked people like Mike
Paciello of Digital, Gregg Vanderheiden of the Trace Center,
and Debbie Kaplan of the World Institute on Disability what
they thought. They didn't think so, either, but it was clear
that a need had been uncovered. It also occurred to us here
at NCAM that the word "access," when referring to the web,
means more than properly written HTML code for people who are
deaf, blind or who have other disabilities. There are still
plenty of people whose access to the web is severely limited
or non-existent -- for many reasons, dollars and hardware
being two big ones.
You're probably thinking, "What makes for an accessible web
site, anyhow?" More on that later.
At about the time Arlene contacted me, NCAM learned we had
received a grant from the Telecommunications Funding
Partnership for People with Disabilities for a project we
were calling the Model Accessible World Wide Web Site
(MAWWWS). For obvious reasons, we just call it the Web
Access Project. I said to myself, "What better way to
generate some good hype about a new project than to have a
contest?" So, we decided to hold a design competition which
would result in a symbol that would indicate a web site is
accessible to disabled web surfers. The symbol, once chosen,
would be made available to webmasters free of charge. Anyone
could download it and use it on their web site (if they met
the standard for web accessibility. Patience, we'll get
The symbols (17 in all) were supplied by WGBH's award-winning
design department and Stormship Studios, the exceedingly
clever design firm from Boston, Massachusetts. Descriptions
were provided by WGBH's own award-winning Descriptive Video
Service(r). Judging will be provided by you, many of whom are
blind. To see the symbols, go to NCAM's new site on the web:
http://www.wgbh.org/ncam. If you don't have access to the
web, you can still participate. Below are the descriptions
which accompany each symbol. Read them and decide if one
evokes an image of accessibility. Then zap your vote to
Geoff Freed at geoff_freed at wgbh.org. Be sure to tell us what
influenced your decision, too. (Please note that these
symbols are black-and-white sketches only and are not
intended to represent a finished product. Once a winner is
selected, that symbol will undergo further enhancement before
being made available to the public.)
Oh, yes - the answer to the question, "What makes a web site
accessible to people with disabilities?" is... "We don't know
- yet." But we have some ideas. If YOU have an idea or want
to participate in this conversation, send a note to me or
Geoff. Draft standards will be circulating soon. Some early
notions can be seen throughout WGBH Online
(http://www.wgbh.org). Some other web sites helping answer
the question include:
Center for Information Technology Accommodation
General Services Administration:
Trace Research and Development Center:
City of Jacksonville Homepage:
So, check out our web site or read the descriptions below.
Send your votes and comments to Geoff by March 15. We'll
announce the winner soon after. The judges' decision will be
final (hey, it's our grant). Web access standards will start
evolving now. And remember: access on the Net will always
be under construction.
1. In a black diamond, four white capital letter As, joined
at their tips, radiate outward in a web-like pattern.
2. The earth rises out of an open box.
3. A light shines at the base of a black triangle, shooting
out rays which cut through the side. The layout forms
the pattern of a web inside the triangle.
4. Two inverted black triangles, outlined in white,
overlap. The white outline forms the letter "W." At
their bases, the overlapping area forms an downward-
5. A globe, marked with a grid, tilts at an angle. A
keyhole is cut into its surface.
6. An angled compass merges with a computer monitor. The
compass needle points to "WWW."
7. Two black upside-down triangles meet at their bases,
signifying the letter W. A third one, right side up,
sits between them, signifying the letter A.
8. An open window looks out onto a section of the planet
Earth, showing the southern United States and Central
9. A web shoots out from the base of a black triangle,
cutting into its side. The triangle signifies the letter A.
10. An arrow circles to form a ring which is shot through by
a jagged bolt of lightning.
11. An S-shaped cord ends at a phone plug in a bright flash
12. Four black capital letter As, joined at their tips,
radiate outward in a web-like pattern.
13. A silhouette of a hand extends its index finger. A
star-shaped flash emanates from the fingertip.
14. A mat lies in front of an open door, leading in.
15. Two black upside-down triangles meet at their bases,
forming a white one in between. The layout signifies the
letter W. Another black triangle, right side up, sits beside
them, signifying the letter A.
16. From the bottom of a black triangle, a small square
slides out like an opening door, leaving behind the letter
17. From the bottom of a solid black triangle, a rectangular
slab swings down as if on hinges, leaving behind the
Larry Goldberg, Director
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
125 Western Ave.
Boston, MA 02134
e-mail: Larry_Goldberg at WGBH.org
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