Liberated Accessibility


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My presentation at the A-Tag in Vienna about lack of communication between the development and the accessibility world.

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Liberated Accessibility

  1. Liberated Accessibility Or: Why isn’t anybody listening? Christian Heilmann | | A-Tag, Wien, November 2008
  2. Hello there...
  3. I’m Chris.
  4. “International Developer Evangelist” at Yahoo.
  5. Author of several books, including the JavaScript chapter of “Web Accessibility”.
  6. I spend a lot of time on conferences.
  7. And I am sick of seeing accessibility being treated as the redhead stepchild at conferences.
  8. People talk about “the cloud”, “the semantic web” or what marvels and wonders CSS3 will bring and the room are packed...
  9. ...and attendees are inspired, blog and write about it and generally go nuts.
  10. However, even if there is an accessibility talk (which is seldom enough), things look different.
  11. Why is that?
  12. Accessibility has a bad reputation as a topic for conferences.
  13. This is mostly our own fault.
  14. It is very hard to guess how you really come across and what people think of you.
  15. The most common accessibility talks are:
  16. The consultant, explaining that accessibility is the law and that you will get sued if you don’t follow the guidelines.
  17. The screenreader user showing lots and lots of sites that fail to work and complaining how expensive Jaws is. (after spending 20 minutes setting up the reader and the computer to use for the presentation).
  18. The web designer telling people that when you want to be accessible, you need to change your design drastically.
  19. We sell accessibility as a gigantic problem.
  20. Lots of bloggers make the same mistake.
  21. And that creates a bad example
  22. To threaten people with laws is pointless.
  23. Two weeks ago I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  24. They have a law that you need to check if the lift arrived before you enter it.
  25. Sweden had a similar issue, but coped with it in a different manner – by showing you the consequences.
  26. You cannot change the web by dragging people to court or threatening with law suits.
  27. Someone with the same family name as me learnt that the hard way last week.
  28. You cannot sell anything by showing that it doesn’t work.
  29. What we need are positive examples in a language the target audience understands.
  30. I already started with some of them.
  31. Collaborating with designers.
  32. Others also show the way it should be done.
  33. Last week at Paris Web in Paris, France:
  34. Praesentation by Aurelien Levy and Stephane Deschamps.
  35. Other steps toward accessibility world domination:
  36. Instead of condemning technologies, show how they can be fixed to work.
  37. Instead of simply demanding that a certain idea should be followed, show why using real life Blackberries suck examples. with JavaScript and are used by a *lot* of managers.
  38. Most of all it is time that we realise that web development is constantly changing and evolving.
  39. Accessibility Web Development “Everybody “You need has Flash and Jaws and JavaScript and Internet we are almost Explorer 5” ready to ditch IE6!”
  40. Using Firefox, Firebug and GreaseMonkey I can access and fix any web site.
  41. And all of these are free!
  42. Developers love to play with technology and create something cool and new all the time.
  43. The results are always interesting, but not always useful.
  44. The prime number shitting bear.
  45. We have a lot of real problems of real people that need solving.
  46. Developers have the time and dedication to fix those.
  47. ...if we talk to them in a language they understand and have an open mind to other ideas...
  48. ...rather than talking in parallel.
  49. So...
  50. We need much more information about assistive technology that is open source.
  51. We need to work with web developers and not stop them from evolving.
  52. Assistive technology has to become cheaper and much easier to use and install.
  53. And I am 100% sure that this will not happen in the commercial market.
  54. Developers need to get more *real* and *up to date* information about accessibility.
  55. In the channels that developers use and read...
  56. ...and not only the “accessibility” publications.
  57. Shared Items in Google Reader.
  58. Bookmarks in
  59. Large groups on Facebook.
  60. What we need are inspiring presentations, videos and podcasts.
  61. Here’s an example.
  63. Well then, ladies and gentlemen..
  64. ...get off your butts and go and tell the web what we want.
  65. Thanks! Christian Heilmann | twitter/flickr: codepo8