After a little bit of pain with video editing and writing transcripts (man that’s hard work) Shawn’s video of her talk at Yahoo’s offices London is now available. She talks about the new version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and some of the other W3C accessibility standards. You can see the video and the transcript on the YUI blog.
Shawn is in town for @media. She presented for the RNIB about the updates to WCAG 2. It was a really great talk. There were masses of questions. Stu recorded it all, so the podcast will appear. I have about 40 minutes of video which starts late and gets choppy towards the end, but I’ll post it here soon anyway.
Good to see some well known accessibility faces there as well as a lot of unknown ones. I now have a copy of Shawn’s book Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design. I’d already seen the online edition and it seems really awesome. It’s different from most accessibility books in that it’s not wedged full of code.
Well done all involved for another good accessibility night.
The “final” draft of the WCAG 2 got knocked back for revisions. The working group has released its first draft after making revisions which it says address all the comments. I got an email from Judy Brewer who heads the WAI asking for comments by 27th April 2007. If you haven’t already seen this draft of WCAG and commented please do so.
I’ll be posting my thoughts on the current state of this document in the next week or so.
Kestrell posted something that made me really sad. Why I wish Yahoo would just stop trying to b***s*** me that they care about accessibility expresses her frustration using the Yahoo groups product.
As someone who’s spent a lot of time trying to improve the state of accessibility on the web, I find it especially disheartening that the company I work for has an upset frustrated user. However in order to fix a problem you have to know that it exists. I regularly read Kestrell’s blog, and when I saw this post I was both surprised and upset. The first thing I did was reach out to a couple of people who also work at Yahoo. I expected that same surprise and upset I had felt. Instead, I was told that they had already seen this, and were looking in to it.
Without wanting to talk about internal goings on too much, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Yahoo does care. I am part of a group of people who actively promote disability needs within the company. We admit we aren’t perfect. Our products aren’t either. However, by gum, we do care. If you need to find the right person at Yahoo contact me and I’ll find them for you.
Looking further at the points of the post CAPTCHAs are a tricky subject. My good friend Matt May wrote something a while back for the W3C about the inaccessibility of CAPTCHA. While we can’t do away with CAPTCHAs completely because of spam Kestrell notes that other forms of CAPTCHAs are ok.
Matt’s article highlights that CAPTCHAs will always exclude some people, but it’s about making that group as small as possible and improving the email/phone support we give to those users. An effectively implemented standard solution that everyone plugs into could work really well here. For example, login is a standard across all Yahoo products. The login is not something each product does differently they all just add a little branding to an existing, optimised solution. It seems like CAPTCHAs would be an excellent candidate for this as well. Whenever someone’s identity needs to be validated a standard well tested service would be employed.
This has been a bit of a random collection of thoughts and responses. However, I just want to summarise. Yahoo people do care, I am here caring right now. Yahoo have some issues that need to be sorted out, but I am recognising they exist and that Yahoo can improve. CAPTCHAs are something we need to deal with as a company and find a solution to which is massively more inclusive.
These opinions are my own, and I am not speaking for Yahoo in any official capacity.
I was trying to think of what to write for BADD 2007. I’ve been trying really hard to avoid some trite comments from the Accessibility advocate that I am.
Then it occurred to me that my dyslexia is a disability as real as any other. It’s certainly something that gets a few laughs in the office. Lots of people talk about having a
dyslexic moment as if it’s something you can turn on and off. While I don’t really find that bothers me it’s still an interesting idea that it propagates. It’s almost like that offhand comment implies that dyslexia is just about taking a lack of care.
It isn’t entirely far from the truth. Most people don’t realise I am dyslexic, I’m pretty smart, literate, and I read faster than a lot of people I know. I’m also great at Maths. I don’t sound very dyslexic yet do I? However the more tired I am the more noticeable it gets. I think my brain is compensating pretty well most of the time, but tired robs it off enough ‘cycles’ that it has to let slip just so I can function at all.
I can’t actually read long words, or I find it very difficult. When I was in primary school they thought I just was a normal kid doing normal kid reading. In fact I was doing what I’ve always done, I guessed long words from the first and last couple of letter based on context. It turns out I find it really hard to break a word down and then assemble it from it’s pieces. Strange eh?
I think the point I’d like to make is even very capable people (if I can call myself one) may be disabled in some way. Disability is not about how much you are able to do something benchmarked against the rest of humankind, it’s about how much of your potential is being restricted from you. Many, many ‘disabled’ people live full and wonderful lives. What we need to do is make sure people look to remove barriers so that people can reach whatever their potential is, and enjoy their many varied capabilities.
For more info on Blogging Against Disablism Day see the post on Diary of a Goldfish.
Diary of a Goldfish has a post about BADD 2007. BADD is happening on the 1st May which is next Monday. The general idea is to write about the discrimination faced by people with disabilities in the community.
I think ideas like this are excellent. Getting bloggers to raise awareness is the key to removing some of the stigma around supporting accessibility. By highlighting the troubles that people with disabilities face on a day to day basis we can help people understand why accessibility is so important.
I asked the totally awesome Niqui Merret about how to check the basic accessibility of some Flash without using a screen reader. She pointed me to the Microsoft Active Accessibility 2.0 SDK Tools. These allow you to interact with the Flash plugin and find out what Accessibility features have been enabled for the movie.
While I know this isn’t exactly a demo, it is a starting place. Hopefully I’ll find time to write up a tutorial or do a screencast in the near future.
Number 10 has issued a response to the petition to make government sites more accessible (or at least comply with WCAG 1.0). In typical political fashion it’s vague, skips the point and talks about stuff that has already failed as if it’s working. It’s a bit like Prime Minister’s question time then.
I’d like to see a more solid answer than this, with a goal of a more transparent process for the commissioning of government web sites. At the very least using PAS 78 needs to become a de-facto part of the process for all government sites.
The main reasons cited are searchability on your site, and SEO rankings. Chris Onstad has previously said he doesn’t care about accessibility and historically used alt attribute for adding ‘hidden’ messages to each comic. With the advent of IE7 he has switched to a title attribute instead.
I’m going to write to Chris and Ryan and see if this new service can be used to make their highly amusing comics available to everyone. It seems like the transcriptions would be a perfect use of the longdesc attribute. This would not only help their search engine rankings but also open up their work to a whole other section of society.
¹Dinosaur Comics is the comic with the same picture of dinosaurs every time but with different text. It’s pretty funny, and actually lends itself to non-visual readers since it’s basically a conversation anyway. The picture joke is less funny after the 955th time (current comic at time of writing).
Desert Skies has a post about the new GW Micro Blog. I met Doug recently at an internal Yahoo! developer conference. It’s really great to see an Assistive Technology vendor take steps to engage with the community. Doug is a really great guy and it’s going to be really interesting to keep an eye on what they are doing.