2001 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2001 Table of Contents


Richard R. Jones M.Ed., Assistant Director
Arizona State University, Main
Disability Resources for Students, 873202
Tempe, AZ 85287-3202
Phone: 480-965-1234

A-Prompt is a program that can be downloaded from the Special Needs Opportunity Window, SNOW program at the University of Toronto, (http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca). The application is the best free web tool available to evaluate and correct web pages. As of this writing, the final version has not been released. The software will currently evaluate the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Access Initiative (WAI) accessibility priorities one and about half of two and three (http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/full-checklist.html). The final version should do all objectives for all priorities. The University of Toronto says the final version will be released in January of 2001. But even the beta version of this software is so sophisticated that it out performs available commercial software.

The user can change the software settings by clicking on the "Settings" button at the lower left corner of the window. The Settings features to include or exclude specific accessibility objectives from any level. From the Settings menu the user can set to automatically correct some accessibility issues. The settings menu will place "d" links in you web page if you wish to use a compromise for Longdesc element. The software, however, is not clairvoyant. It requires the user to know the intent of the various elements of the web page. If the user correctly answers the A-Prompt questions displayed for each inaccessible element, the software will enter HTML code to make the element accessible. A second exception is A-Prompt cannot change a poorly designed web page into an efficient one. If the web page was confusing before the user runs A-Prompt, it will be just as confusing after A-Prompt. The final exception is if the web page was created with software that does not use "clean" HTML, A-Prompt will not be able to correctly review and/or edit the file.

A-Prompt is meant to be included as a part of standard web editors. For this discussion, A-prompt is used as a stand-alone application. After the user has used Settings to set the priority level, any automatic corrections the user wants the software to performed, the method of saving the corrected version. It is time to load a file.

First, the user saves a web page to a computer hard drive and opens the file with A-prompt. The evaluation of a web page is very quick and understandable. If the page fails A-Prompt, the computer screen shows the objectives that are in question and a note saying that the page has failed. There is no multi-page summary with little relevant information. Accessibility objectives that are not met on the page have a check box with a red 'x". The user can click on each objective to see the specific instances on the web page where accessibility is in question.

As the user goes through each instance of each accessibility objective, A-Prompt will display a description of the W3C objective, which caused this element to be questioned by the A-Prompt. A-Prompt then displays a series of questions the help the software determine how best to treat the HTML element. Some questions are designed to determine the intent of the element on the web page. Some questions ask for a location of long description or a printed narrative of an audio file. A-Prompt combines the answers to these questions to "fix" the HTML code.

To go further that this would require a description of each objective. This short summary is just meant to convey the ease of use this software provides. It is a tool that every web master should download. Again, the "fix" that A-Prompt creates will only be as good as the answers the user provides. Any page that is pronounced "accessible" should be tested with several screen readers to verify that it is navigable.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2001 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.