The ATbar, with its user preferences for the way individuals wish to interact with web pages, was originally developed in 2009 as ‘StudyBar’ by a team in ECS (Electronics and Computer Science) at the University of Southampton as part of the Web and Internet Science Research Group.
It came about as a result of comments made by students involved in the JISC funded LexDis project. The research showed that students wanted to change the font sizes on a page but not necessarily the size of the graphics, change the background colour of the text they were reading and the font style. Some wanted to alter the distance between lines of text and others wanted to have text read aloud if there were complex words or to use a dictionary and to spell check comments on blogs and wikis. The students admitted that they often did not have access to their own access or assistive technologies (AT) when working online.
Seb Skuse took on the coding of the open source toolbar that was subsequently funded by JISC TechDis and a year later Fix the Web became involved with the ATBar’s continued development – use the heart on the toolbar if you find an inaccessible website! The toolbar was also added to a Moodle module – Block: Accessibility
ATbar statistics have shown a constantly climbing usage pattern with updates and changes being made as browser versions change. With support from the Mada Center in Qatar the Arabic ATbar is being developed and the idea for an ATkit has evolved, where users will be able to choose the modules they wish to add to the toolbar – personalisation being key. Initial developments will be in English and Arabic. Magnus White has since taken over the development and has added further plug ins and a service section to the ATkit. This includes a wiki for support pages. Nawar has joined the team with Mariam supporting translations. Keep up with the news from our project blog.
The TeamDr Mike Wald and E.A. Draffan with Mashael, Fadwa and Areeb who have helped with the Arabic research.