Simulacra are prominent sponsors this year of the Jodi awards.
Web accessibility is much more than just a technical challenge, say cultural web experts involved in the 2006 Jodi Awards. "It's not just a technical aspect of web publishing, of interest only to experts," said Matthew Cock, new media content manager at the British Museum, who is part of the steering committee for the 2006 award. Matthew was speaking as the February 24 deadline for nominations approaches.
"It's also about making content truly, easily, accessible for people of all abilities, liguistically, in terms of usability, and so on. We're also interested in sites that take on challenges with new audiences not often catered for, like, for instance, site users with learning difficulties."
Matthew is keen to get the message across that the award judges recognise the constraints that many museums and galleries work under. "There are always limitations: content management systems specified three or four years ago may not allow triple AAA level access compliance, but we're looking to reward those who make a sincere effort."
The winners, selected by a panel of judges with wide experience of the cultural new media sector, are set to be announced at the British Museum in London on April 5 2006.
For the first time the awards - developed and sustained by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the 24 Hour Museum and the British Museum - have been extended to welcome entries from Wales in partnership with Cymal (Museums, Libraries and Archives Wales).
"MLA’s report Accessibility of museum, library and archive websites: the MLA audit highlighted the need to keep improving web accessibility in the sector," explained Marcus Weisen, health and disability adviser at MLA.
"The Jodi Awards promote high technical web accessibility standards and this year the judges are also keen to celebrate sites that use practical and imaginative ways of making cultural resources accessible to disabled people."
The 2006 Jodi Awards will be presented at the British Museum in spring 2006. © 24 Hour Museum.
Formerly known as the Jodi Mattes Web Accessibility Awards, the Jodi Awards were launched in 2003, European Year of Disabled People.
They were created and named in honour of Jodi Mattes (1973-2001) who as part of the team that built the British Museum's COMPASS website worked to ensure it was as accessible as possible.
She later worked for the Royal National Institute for the Blind and when she died aged just 28 some of her former colleagues sought to establish a lasting memorial to her work.
With support from MLA, the Museums Computer Group (MCG) and the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, the awards were created to recognise websites that demonstrate commitment to meeting web accessibility standards.
"The museum sector has always done its best to fulfil its public sector remit and cater for as wide an audience as possible," explained Jon Pratty, editor of the 24 Hour Museum. "The Jodi Awards will help keep that commitment alive."
MLA Chief Exective Chris Batt presenting the 2005 Jodi Mattes Excellence Award to Andrew Lewis of the Web Words project. Courtesy Duncan Phillips Photography.
Nominated sites are examined by an experienced panel of judges, which in 2006 will consist of Marcus Weisen; Nina Baptiste, Access and Audience Development Manager at Yorkshire Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; Ross Parry, lecturer in Museums and New Media at the University of Leicester and Rebecca McGinnis, access programme Manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Each nominated site is tested by disability experts and disabled users.
Previous winners include the National Maritime Museum (2003), Pewsey Heritage Centre (Excellence with a Low Budget, 2005) and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s Library and Information Service for Web Words, which allows users to listen to audio extracts of books (Excellence Award, 2005).
The 2006 awards are sponsored by new media consultancy Simulacra and led by an organising committee of Marcus Wiesen, 24 Hour Museum Editor Jon Pratty and British Museum new Media Content Manager Matthew Cock.
Matthew explained that the overarching objective of the award is to "keep accessibility at the forefront of the sector's consciousness when creating or commissioning websites and their content."
Full information on how to apply is available on the MLA website where nomination forms and the organising committee’s three-year plan can also be downloaded.
The Jodi Awards 2006 are supported by Simulacra