Oracle APEX Accessibility

Oracle APEX Accessibility

VPAT, Section 508, WCAG all deal address improving access to software. Oracle APEX has the tools; developers should include the techniques. What do we need to steer closer and closer to the various guidelines that deal with improving Oracle APEX accessibility?

  • Why write this blog in January 2017
  • Let’s look at some of the references, definitions and link to literature.
  • A few quick steps in Oracle APEX

Why write this now?

Oracle APEX 5.1 was released in the recent month. The 5.1 release takes a number of strides towards greater compliance with accessibility laws and guidelines. I was in the process of having to change a series of icons and links. This upgrade gave Storm Petrel the opportunity to improve our posture and position on these standards. I am making the changes anyway. It is all copy/replace anyway. Adding the extra bits is good for the world and cost us nothing.

Links and Lit

The terms and definitions for “accessibility” are captured in a variety of acronyms in the United States. Some reference specific US law.

Term: VPAT

Definition: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template

Link: https://www.state.gov/m/irm/impact/126343.htm

A VPAT is a vendor-generated statement that provides information on how a vendor’s products conform to the Section 508 standards. For software developers who develop applications used by federal, state, or local governmental agencies, compliance is required. Compliance is likely required by all sorts of quasi-governmental organizations too. And compliance is likely required by any customer who is a governmental contractor. Such regulations often flow through contracts.

Term: Section 508

Definition: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Link: https://www.section508.gov/content/learn/laws-and-policies

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others. The United States Access Board discusses the Section 508 law and its responsibility for developing accessibility standards for EIT to incorporate into regulations that govern Federal procurement practices.

Term: WCAG 2.0

Definition: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Link: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.

Term: ADA

Definition: Americans with Disabilities Act

Link: https://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm

Oracle and APEX

Oracle does evaluate APEX for compliance with these laws and publishes a VPAT. The link for the 2015 VPAT statement (which is based on APEX 5.0.1) is here:http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/accessibility/templates/t2-5214.html

A Few Steps

I love the modern looking links that include icons. On their own, they are not compliant with the rules described above. Screen readers need something to read: “eff-ay-pencil” is not helpful. A reader that says “edit” is a bit more helpful.

Improve your icon links with alt text and even titles.

<i class="fa fa-pencil" alt="Edit" title="Edit"></i>
<i class="fa fa-copy" alt="Copy" title="Copy"></i>
<i class="fa fa-eye" alt="View" title="View"></i>

Screen readers will read the business that follows ‘alt’. A nice short action verb describing the action is more helpful.

Color Contrasts

Within the Theme Roller, there are small check marks next to the color pairs. These check marks tell part of the WCAG story. The check indicates that the color contrast is minimally passing. Click on the Check Mark, and you will get a description of the Color Contrast Information. The more A’s you get the better you are: AAA has better contract than AA.

WCAG Color Contrast Information

Oracle APEX Accessibility

The Universal Theme seems to have AAA ratings. When we, developers, get all fancy, we may go astray.

-/qed