Latest Accessibility News on Accessify

Can You Help to Make Web Apps Accessible?

You may think that it’s a lost cause trying to get web apps/pages that use AJAX and the like to work on today’s browsers and assistive technology. Sure, it’s a pig of a thing to sort out but you, dear reader, are not powerless. Some time back (September this year), the W3C working group for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) set out plans to address the various issues surrounding these types of non-trivial web pages (in other words, web pages that look/behave more like desktop applications).

Now they are after your help. The draft suite of documents that form the basis of ARIA’s work is up for public review. The three documents for review are:

Closing date for public review is 19th January. So, if you’ve been lamenting the state of play of AJAX and accessibility, now’s your chance to do something practical to help out.

Filed under: Accessibility, W3C, WAI-ARIA
Comments (1) Posted by Ian on Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What’s *Your* Story?

Many times in the past I have been asked “How did you get into accessibility?”, and I often interpret this as “Why do you care about it so much? Do you know someone who’s affected?” Usually, I respond by clarifying that I did not start preaching about accessibility for my own selfish reasons (if selfish is the right word), but that I found out about it almost by accident. I realised that there was a general gap in people’s knowledge about it and it just seemed like the right thing to do to let people know what it was all about. This very site came about as the result of the various tools and wizards that I had created and scattered around the web to help people make their pages more accessible.

Today, as I sit at work pondering how to get other people in the organisation I work for as passionate (or at least half as passionate) abut this thing we know as web accessibility I’ve been thinking about what my drivers were for this again. I have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that I am atypical, and that I cannot expect other people to be interested in it to the same level as I am. Or can I.

So, this post is a bit different - I would encourage you, dear reader, to comment on this post and tell me and all other readers:

  1. How did you get into web accessibility? Was it because you have a relative that is affected and you felt the need to spread the word, or did you do it simply because it seemed like a niche market that you could become an expert in? Go on, be honest. I’d really like to know where we got to where we are in this field.
  2. And if you have found yourself in a similar situation to me - feeling like you’re the guy at the bottom of a pit ranting about accessibility and trying to be heard - what did you do (or are still doing) to get other people as enthusiastic about the topic when they do not have personal reasons for doing so. Because let’s be honest, it’s not the most sexy or exciting topic on earth and many people would much rather be picking their toenails or pulling out belly-button fluff.

Really looking forward to reading people’s responses to this one.

[And before anyone suggests this, yes I have read the chapter about implementing accessibility in the enterprise in the Friends of Ed accessibility 'bible'].

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments (82) Posted by Ian on Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Inspiration to Us All?

Spotted on Jeremy’s blog - his entry about judging some awards at the BIENE Accessibility Awards event. It sounds like Jeremy got to see many fine examples of quality sites with well built markup, something that you can admire in any language (although it helps if you understand some of the lingo, too, as Jeremy does). But it was this part of his posting that really stood out for me (emphasis added is mine):

My personal favourite is the website of the Media Management department of the Wiesbaden Technical College. I like the nice clean design. They also offer material in plain language and sign language. It scales nicely, it’s usable and it’s accessible. But what impressed me most was the story behind the site.

The website was created by students. A small group put the whole thing together in three months. They did this as just 12.5% of their coursework, so there was a ton of other work they needed to attend to at the same time. Under the guidance of professor Stephan Schwarz, they learned about structuring documents with markup and styling with CSS. The end result is something that would put many “professional” agencies to shame. What a debut! An accessible, good-looking site from people who have learned Web design the right way, without ever having to nest a table.

Like the man says, a great achievement and hopefully it’s testamament to changing methods of education. There is a whole heap of bad teaching materials out there that people can learn from, but thankfully I’m seeing more people in the educational sphere who are finally teaching things the right way. Wouldn’t it be great if, a few years from now, reporting on an achievement like this would seem like a waste of words because everone did things the right way? Of course we’re not there yet so, for now, this is something to celebrate. Well done on your award, students of Wiesbaden - go spread the word of good markup even further!

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments (1) Posted by Ian on Monday, December 11, 2006

What Constitutes ‘Reasonable Adjustment’?

A commentor on the previous post (regarding government web site accessibility) wanted to draw Accessify readers ‘ attention to another way of getting involved. His comment (word-for-word, emphasis on date added by me) was:

Campainers might also want to engage in such matters in a more direct way by participating in a public consultation which Becta have recently launched on guidance as to what constitutes a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in creating and using accessible software. While the brief is wider than Websites alone much educational content is delivered via the Browser and the principles of adjustment in the development and procurement process are common across communities. You can get involved up to the 12th of December at http://communities.becta.org.uk/digitalresources/reasonableadjustment/

That’s just over a week away - if you think you can help in any way, please take a look at the page on Becta’s site: Consultation: making software accessible.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Monday, December 4, 2006