Latest Accessibility News on Accessify


One For The Calendar

Conrad Taylor of BCS Electronic Publishing SIG has organised a 1-day accessiblity conference in central London on 3 December. There are still places available and there are discounts for voluntary sector attendees.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Doing the Rounds

Fairly shortly I shall be heading off on a round-the-world trip. Along the way, I’m planning to meet up with people whom I know from the web in one way or another but it would be great to bump into a few more. If you are from the following places, and if we’ve conversed in the past by e-mail (or perhaps we haven’t but you’d like to) drop me a line and let me know your location. Perhaps we could meet up too? Here’s the itinerary as it currently stands:

  • San Francisco - 9-12th December
  • Los Angeles - 12th-15th December
  • Fij - 16th 29th December
  • Australia
    • Cairns - 30th December onwards
    • Brisbane - (date TBC)
    • Sydney - (date TBC)
  • New Zealand - (cities/dates TBC)
  • Australia
    • Melbourne - (date TBC)
  • Tasmania - (date TBC)
  • Australia
    • Adelaide - (date TBC)
    • Perth - (date TBC)
  • Thailand
    • Chiang Mai - Arriving 27 July
    • Bangkok - (date TBC)
  • Malaysia - (cities/dates TBC)
  • Singapore - (cities/dates TBC)

If you are in any of these locations and fancy showing Manda and I the local haunt/brew, drop me a line using the contact form.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Bob Talks Up Macromedia’s Commitment to Accessibility

So writes Usability News editor Ann Light in her write-up of Bob Regan’s keynote talk at HCI2003.

With 8 slides, he talked engagingly for an hour about the challenges of introducing accessibility to a product line that has become associated in the informed public�s mind with inaccessibility and lack of usability. But the world has moved on, and Flash with it, and it is a testimony to Macromedia�s commitment to addressing these shortfalls that someone of Regan�s vision and enthusiasm is working with designers, developers and engineers to communicate accessibility strategies and develop new ones.

Admittedly, this is not a recent event as HCI 2003 took place in September - hello, Ann? What kept you ;-) - but there are some encouraging words contained in Ann’s write-up that show that Macromedia are apparantly very committed to accessibility (”accessibility problems are treated like other bug reports and given to the engineers to be fixed”).

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Mobile for the Blind

Readers of this site may be interested in this article on BBC news - UK Debut for Blind Mobile. I’ve often wondered how useful - if at all - standards mobiles are for the totally blind. Most seem to be able to use a standard mobile (albeit with some difficulty and with fingers crossed that they have punched in the correct number), but this phone, which has no visual display, just audio feedback, is a long time coming.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Visionary Design Awards 2003 - Nominees
Announced logoThe National Library for the Blind has announced its shortlisted websites for the Visionary Design Awards 2003, and I’m pleased to report that Nationwide Building Society’s site is amongst them in the ‘Corporate - Large Organisations’ category‘ (for those who don’t know, Nationwide is where I work full-time, or at least for the next few weeks). I will be attending the ceremony on the 2nd December with both my Accessify and Nationwide hats on (which will be interesting given that it’s supposed to be business wear, heh!), so if you are coming along too, track me down and say hello. Depending on whether we win or not, you might get a sober response.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Thursday, November 20, 2003


Don’t Let Captchas Catch You Out

Captchas Suck

Spotted over at Mark’s place today - a link to a piece written by W3C WAI guy Matt May - Inaccessibility of Visually-Oriented Anti-Robot Tests. There’s nothing necessarily new about the piece (a working draft, actually), but it’s essential reading for anyone who is even thinking about implementing a ’solution’ that aims to stop automated submissions. As Matt points out, your best efforts will still be for nothing on the basis that many people who have the will to circumvent these tests will simply pay someone to do the menial tasks:

It is important to note that, like seemingly every security system that has preceded it, this system can be defeated by those who benefit most from doing so. For example, spammers can pay a programmer to aggregate these images and feed them one by one to a human operator, who could easily verify hundreds of them each hour. The value of visual verification systems is low, and their usefulness will diminish rapidly once it is commonly exploited.

Mark Pilgrim spells it out more fully on his weblog:

Spam works and it is big business, and spammers are increasingly organized and increasingly business-savvy. It�s not some guy in the garage who bought a CD of email addresses from MicroWarehouse (yes, they used to sell them, I have old MacWarehouse catalogs to prove it) who thought it would be �cool� to tell a million people about his Beanie Baby collection. It�s organized crime rings who hire programmers to automate everything they possibly can (domain registration, ISP registration, free email account registration) and hire menial workers for pennies an hour halfway around the world to do all the manual things they can�t automate (like get past image-based login systems). They hire virus writers to write extremely sophisticated viruses that exploit all known holes in everything, install spyware, malware, adware, and remote control programs with which they can both send more spam and launch distributed denial-of-service attacks… against anti-spam advocates.

The bottom line? Accessibility and security are always going to be somewhat at odds with each other. There are real issues to address here, and it’s encouraging that the W3C are at the very least recognising this, although Matt May’s draft document only really confirms that there is no single good solution at present. At what point does the need for security and usabilty for the majority become greater than the need for a solution that is accessible for all. Now there’s a conundrum for you …

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Research Based Accessibility Guidelines

The National Cancer Institute of America have released a set of Research Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines. The guidelines are available for download as PDF files as either one whopping 32 Megabyte file, or in seperate easier to swallow sections.

Whilst these are not widely acknowledged standards such as WAI or section 508, they do offer a valuable insight into accessibility methods based on extensive research.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Monday, November 17, 2003


Joe Clark Spells it Out, Doug Contemplates

Joe Clark writes in A List Apart that web accessibility is under threat from its own guidelines:

An upcoming revision to the Web Accessibility Guidelines is in danger of becoming unrealistically divorced from real-world web development, yielding guidelines that are at once too vague and too specific. Your expertise and input can help create realistic guidelines that work.

In this piece Joe runs through his issues with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines - currently a 14,000 word document if you exclude markup examples which makes the prospect of reading it akin to ‘an anaconda trying to swallow a Range Rover’. Go read it now.

Stop designing with your CSS head on
Meanwhile, Doug Bowman says exactly what I myself have been thinking recently - that we’ve been thinking of design only with our CSS heads on, which is limiting creativity. I am guilty of this too, and on a recent project really had to force myself to use Photoshop for wireframe mockups instead of just diving straight in with the CSS layout. It’s hard to get out of the habit, but going cold turkey might be a necessary evil to see things in a new light. As it happens, I’ll be having a different dose of cold turkey very soon as I (temporarily) say goodbye to my everyday toolbox. I don’t recommend this last option, though!

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Friday, November 14, 2003


Catching Up With the Email

Well, the heading says it all really. There’s no rhyme or reason for this post
- other than I have been going through a small backlog of mail and had some
people tell me about their sites, a few others ask questions that I was unable
to answer and so on. So, I thought I should just post this mish-mash for all
to see.

    - "Well, we’ve tried to make out site accessible. We thought it was,
    then the RNIB audited it. A month or so later, we fixed what they found and
    the result is on-line. But we do use tables and things!" - David King.
  • Paul Weddell wrote to us: "Gez Lemmon and Jane Wilcock’s study of UK
    Government web sites
    is not actually a survey of UK Government web
    sites. It is a survey of LOCAL Government web sites. It would be interesting
    to see something similar for Parish Councils and National Government web sites.
    For instance, the DWP, Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to name but 3
    and also the Dept of Health." - Any takers?
  • Many people write: "Your list-o-matic
    creates broken links and are reporting them on a regular basis."
    No - the broken links are coming from yourselves. Let me explain - you need
    to include the ‘http://’ part when you enter the URL. If you leave it out,
    you will create a link that looks like this: <a href="">
    in the source code but, because you are testing it within the context of this
    site, the browser interprets it as ‘’.
    Add in the http folks, and your links will work. Besides, how dare you suggest
    something on this site doesn’t work properly ;-)
  • Finally, Matthew Lindop from Webprojects
    got in touch to let us know about some work that they recently completed that
    readers of this site might want to take a look at. First up the Associated
    Board of Music (ABRSM), the world’s largest music exam board, which you’ll
    find at .  The site
    aims to be accessible, standards-compliant and usable (Accessify contributor
    Dennis Kessler was involved in the usability side of things). One area of
    the site that Matthew admits they were not able to ensure was fully accessible
    was the network of message boards (so he should be interested in Nigel’s post
    below regarding AccessifyForum). The other site Matthew brought to our attention
    is City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    which has just been relaunched with better use of CSS and a new colour switcher

That is all, people. Nothing more to see, please move along …

Discussion of: Catching Up With the Email

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Ian on Wednesday, November 5, 2003


Accessify Forum: Forum Index

After making a lot of changes to the forum index I now consider it to be accessible. Tables have been disposed of completely and the page passes as WCAG/Bobby AAA. I am of course open to suggestions for further improvements, the other pages of the site still need work to bring them up to this standard.

Discussion of: Accessify Forum: Forum Index

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments Off Posted by Accessify on Monday, November 3, 2003
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