Establishing Web Accessibility in the South East Asian Region: An International Collaboration for More Accessible Websites in South East Asia
On June 6, 2008, a pioneer web accessibility course was concluded at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB). This course was conducted by Even Grounds, an accessibility consulting company based in the Washington DC area. The course was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Overbrook-Nippon Network on Educational Technology (ON-NET).
Evidence of the significance of this course to the area was the prestigious ceremony held at the MAB, where participants were presented with course certificates. Many department heads of the Malaysian government, including the Deputy Secretary-General of the Social Welfare Department, joined the entire MAB administration and staff, including president of the MAB, Senator Ismail Md. Salleh, in attendance at the ceremony.
Mr. Tom Babinszki, accessibility consultant for Even Grounds, worked closely with the MAB and ON-NET to identify the needs of the area and create an effective solution. The course was constructed to train participants from South East Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, in web accessibility, providing them with the skills needed to work with web developers in their native countries. The goal of the course was to provide the resources needed to increase accessible websites in these countries while providing job opportunities within the country. The two-part course consisted of online classes held weekly from February to May of 2008 followed by an intensive one-week face-to-face course June 2-6, 2008 at the MAB in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
During the course, participants learned how to properly assess the accessibility of a website. They were instructed in the principles and techniques and then required to demonstrate their knowledge in practical application. Before completion of the course, participants were required to create plans to promote accessibility in their countries. Even Grounds gave its commitment to provide continuous support to the participants and to each accessibility-related endeavor they would undertake. Similarly, ON-NET will in turn provide support to the said collaboration between Even Grounds and the South East Asian advocates of web accessibility.
Even Grounds, a firm believer in the numerous benefits of web accessibility, reports that having seen great potential and skill in the participants of the course it will continue with its commitment to help the participants to succeed in their noble goal to promote web accessibility in their countries. Both Even Grounds and all participants expressed sincere gratitude toward ON-NET for their support in this ground-breaking project as ON-NET continues to live up to its mission to enhance the educational and employment opportunities of the blind and visually impaired through assistive technology.