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We had our first IACG meeting recently, after our break from the summer. It reminded me yet again how interesting I find this web-mapping accessibility “problem” AND the fact that other people find it interesting too!

Two different groups gave presentations on the status of the web-mapping accessibility solution in their groups. It was nice to see that we are all basically on the same track. It was also clear that some departments have certain areas of strength and expertise that will definitely be helpful to draw upon.

We are splitting up into three different task forces to address specific problems regarding web-mapping accessibility:

  1. To establish a set of best practices associated with developing accessible interfaces that deliver web-mapping for use on the World Wide Web.
  2. To establish a set of best practices associated with the accessible description of map content delivered for use on the World Wide Web.
  3. To provide a consultative forum for the federal geomatics community on accessible web-mapping issues.

I’ll be giving a presentation at next month’s meeting to share what EC has done with our web-mapping applications. Everyone seemed very interested in my research at uoft, so I will present that next month as well. It will give me a chance to strengthen my presentation skills…not something I enjoy flexing. I do think that the committee will take a lot from it, and probably contribute greatly as they are all the subject matter experts from various government agencies.


I had a talk with Jeff Stark (EC’s accessibility go-to guy) a little while ago about the issues we are facing with web-mapping accessibility. Currently our development group has only really been concentrating on the map tools. Making sure all of the controls are accessible and usable. The next step I think will be to tackle accessing the points on the map, and stripping out the javascript.

The way we could present the point information will be interesting to tackle. Jeff was saying that Atlas Canada allows a user to enter a latitude and longitude or through entering place and feature names. I checked this out, and it seems to act like more of a quick zoom.  To actually interact with points on the map, you have to use the mouse.  This may be a useful technique to use with some of our maps in the future.  Though, as we use mostly thematic maps, the users of our maps will most likely not know the lat/long of the facility/monitoring station/point they are looking for…it is a nice feature though and something to keep in mind.

I think as users narrow their search, having the available points display in a data grid below the map would be useful. This was discussed within our team as a way to deal with the NPRI information, as in Alberta alone there over 4000 facilities that report pollutant information, and performance-wise that is a heavy load on the map, and also hinders usability.  We will see what comes out of the next iteration of our web-mapping template 🙂

In the meantime though, Jeff and his group will hopefully take a look at what we’ve done so far and ensure we are on the right track.