If life hands you an empty toilet roll, …

It’s mid-February, this is my first blog post of 2013, and I decide to write about empty toilet rolls.

Yup.

A picture on Facebook had me drop the tidying-up-so-I-could-work project and rush to the keyboard. The artist, Yuken Teruya, has cut delicate, beautiful trees out of toilet paper rolls with the base rooted in the roll and the branches reaching out to the world. A picture of his toilet-paper-roll tree is circulating on the internet, and it made its way to my friend’s Facebook page. (I’m not posting an image here to avoid copyright issues.)

Flashback to my time in Nairobi, Kenya and my son’s nursery school years. I saved all sorts of “garbage” for their arts and crafts classes. Art material was expensive because it was imported, and there was plenty of good material available right at hand: egg cartons, silver and gold linings from cigarette packages, and… empty toilet rolls. I used to take a bag of that sort of thing to the nursery school, and it was appreciated.

Then we moved to Denmark where art material is not so expensive. I had the saving-up habit, you know, so I show up at the kindergarten one day with a bag of toilet rolls and such. They gave me very blank looks and a definite “no, thank you”. They probably wrote up a note to watch out for that crazy mom.

I was annoyed and frustrated. All that trash going to waste. It’s just raw material and the sky is the limit with the imagination, right? But no, I had to go back to throwing out that stuff just like everyone else.

And now, today, I see that a real live artist also sees the potential in toilet rolls! Hurrah for Yuken Teruya! He turns them into a delicate forest. And honorable mention goes to Anastassia Elias and her dioramas, although she “just” uses the rolls to hold her dioramas. I found her in my search for the source of the meme, which didn’t identify the artist of the first photo I saw.

Sometimes it is nice to have that “I told you so!” feeling. 🙂

My point? Don’t be quick to judge! Open your mind to potential. (She says, staring at the pile of paper that needs to be tidied up so she can work…)

Getting Down and Dirty with Accessibility and Usability – #TCUK12 Workshop

These are the notes from my workshop on 2 October 2012 at the Technical Communication UK (TCUK) 2012 conference. I called it “Getting Down and Dirty with Accessibility and Usability”. Unlike the slides for my keynote presentation at the same conference, the slides in this workshop were text heavy. (Slides are at the bottom of this post.) They were meant as notes – talking points – for the workshop. Each slide covers areas where technical communicators can begin to apply accessibility and usability right away.

The workshop was called hands-on, but I ended up talking for most of the session because many attended out of curiosity and had no actual projects for hands-on practice. There were many great discussions and questions and answers during the 2.5 hours of the workshop. (If any my TCUK12 workshop attendees come to TCUK13 and want to discuss accessibility “hands-on”, we can always hack in a corner of the bar! My treat!)

Due to the poor accessibility on Slideshare – presenter notes aren’t pulled out for the transcript, I am posting my own notes here (with the slide text for context). Other presenters express frustration about the downside of sharing slides. There is often little context and image-heavy slides can be meaningless even to people with sight.

I had extra slides so I wouldn’t run out of material. These are marked as such.

Introduction – Slides 2, 3, 4, 5

Today’s workshop. The pretty pictures are on your screens, not in these slides! What can be fixed right away and how? Where can you find more resources? We’ll look at what accessibility and usability tricks you can put in your toolkit. We’ll also discuss ways you can apply your new skills – I used the logo of TCUK to symbolise the field of technical communication. Finally, I had to be slightly corny and mention “enlightenment” – the dawning of new knowledge in the minds of many more technical communicators. I used a personal photo of a winter sunset to illustrate this point.

I mentioned how it all just takes one step at a time to implement accessibility. Here’s an article that demonstrates the one-step-at-a-time approach.

BAD Demo – Slide 6

The Before-and-After Demo from W3C: http://www.w3.org/WAI/demos/bad/

. This is an excellent training/teaching resource. I had it downloaded on my laptop in case the wifi didn’t work. It demonstrates a site without and then with accessibility improvements. I referred to it a few times during my presentation. Kudos to the people in the Education and Outreach Group at the Web Accessibility Initiative who developed this great resource!

Good examples of accessible websites – Slide 7

For inspiration.

Alt text – Slide 8

I always point everyone to these links. They explain everything. Written by smart people!

And remember alt="" (Read the links to find out what that means.)

I had one more reference from @vdebolt with tips on using appropriate alt text that some of you might enjoy.

Title attribute – Slide 9

<title> is a misused attribute. Get the low-down in this excellent link:
Using the HTML title attribute

Longdesc – Slide 10

The <longdesc> is going through turbulent times, but I say go for it. There is a good article on longdesc from WebAIM.

I listed tables on my slide, but that was a mistake. Just read the article and you’ll get it straight. For more food for thought, read RNIB’s article on longdesc from 2008.

Jim Thatcher made a marvelous favelet tool for checking web accessibility. You can try it for checking longdesc, too. (I haven’t tested that.)

Headings and Structure – Slide 11

This should be an easy one for technical communicators. Use headings! Use structure!
My talking points were

  • Logical!
  • Skip to main content links (blind and keyboard users)
  • Sequence and patterns (non-linear navigation – reading order)
  • Style guides (for consistency)
  • ARIA

My support notes:Note that screen reader is only interested in HTML, not CSS, therefore structure (web standards) is important. Headings are the easiest way to identify structure. Proper structure and good use of headings aid navigation. Use semantic markup and good navigation. Keep things logical. Visual readers interpret the graphic presentation for navigation: headers, location, etc. A screen reader needs similar info because screen reader users need the same thing for navigation.

ARIA is especially helpful (more links later). There are 8 document landmark roles to help screen reader users navigate and identify purpose of content as explained in article on WAI ARIA document landmark roles.

Skip to main content links – beneficial not only to blind, but to keyboard users who want to get to a link in the main article and want to avoid all the navigation and advertising links. This is a useful article about skip to main content links.

It’s a myth that vision impaired users access everything in a linear fashion or listen to everything on the page. They can skip around on a page (if the structure lets them) and it helps if there is a pattern. Vision-impaired users access things sequentially – learn layout and become familiar. Frequent layout changes must be a pain! VI (vision-impaired) users listen to all on-screen text – they can skip around, too, listening to just enough to decide whether to stay or go. Source on VI reading patterns.

BBC has a standards and guidelines semantic markup guide they use. You can base your own in-house style guide on that, for example, to ensure that everyone uses markup correctly and consistently: BBC guidelines for semantic markup.

Lists – Slide 12

Lists: <ol> , <ul> , <li> , and CSS styling

Always use <li> , <ol> , <ul> , and style with your CSS. Why people don’t do this, I don’t know. It’s clean! Rumor has it that this is a problem so I mention it to make sure you don’t make this mistake! Reference: WebAIM article on lists.

Keyboard-only access – Slide 13

Can you do everything with a keyboard? Everything? I use Hootsuite.com for scheduling tweets, but I am unhappy with certain inaccessible aspects of the product. I must use a mouse or I cannot complete the login procedure. Same problem with Tweetdeck (which I don’t use). I cannot log in with a keyboard. This is crazy when social media is proving to be a great and growing community for people with disabilities – mouse-only means many are excluded. I’m told only onClick works with both keyboard and mouse. Why not use classic HTML where possible? This can solve your mobile needs, too. Making everything keyboard accessible is a basic improvement that can go a long way.

Color – Slide 14

Remember that color and color contrast and alternate indicators play together. Never use color as your only delimiter. In Denmark, it’s estimated that 8% men are colorblind and 0.5-1% women are colorblind. (Danish resource on colorblindness stats in Denmark.) Moral: consider what colors you are using. This color contrast check from snook.ca is fantastic and very popular. Helps you determine whether you comply with standards, too. A keyword is contrast – watch out for color contrast. wearecolorblind.com is a great resource about color issues.

Labels – Slide 15

Labels need to be made correctly. Always identify the form field with an id attribute. Then, create a label element for each field. Connect it to the input field’s id using the ‘for’ attribute. I took the images on the slide from this video demonstrating coding labels for accessibility. Using placeholder in form fields is optional, but read this article for an opinion on why placeholder is a bad idea with labels.

Link text – Slide 16

DO NOT USE CLICK HERE OR READ MORE.

I rant the reasons why in my blog post I don’t want to read more or click here.

Plain Language – Slide 17 and 18

  • Design to Read
  • US: Center for Plain Language
  • US: Plain Language in the Federal government Plain Language in the Federal government and a Plain Language checklist
  • UK: Plain Language Commission
  • "How to Write Clearly" in 23 languages

    Text Size – Slide 19

    Tables – Slide 20

    Tables are for data. Not layout. Data. Make sure your tables are accessible. Because I don’t make tables regularly, I forget how to code them properly. I always have to look up the code, but I do look it up and make it accessible. Not doing so seems so wrong. The two resources here are a great help. Remember: use <summary> where you can also list number of columns and rows. Learn to love <th> element and <scope> attribute!

    Captioning – Slide 21

    I’ve given talks about captioning at TCUK10 and at the first a11yLDN unconference. I’ve pointed people to my presentation for captioning guidelines. Download the slides to get my presenter notes. They are vital – and not visible otherwise in Slideshare.

    Note: from slide 22 until my thank you at slide 35, I went very, very fast. I was running out of time and did want to close with the image on slide 34 and my closing credits. The slides are now getting heavier text-wise. They are meant as starting points for the topic in the slide header. I had so many resources for many topics. It was painful culling them!

    Video – Slide 22

    These are resources for accessible media players. Some are standalone players made to be accessible. The first link is a way to make YouTube accessible. The issue is that screen readers cannot access the controls for the typical media players, which means that they cannot access the video. And yes, blind people want to access videos to hear the information. Even a blind and deaf person could enjoy a video if it was captioned properly so there was an interactive transcript.

    Autoplay – Slide 23

    <autoplay="autoplay">
    DON’T USE AUTOPLAY! It’s hard or impossible to stop using screen reader. If a page is opened in a different tab, the sudden noise can be confusing, startling, or conflicting. I.e. cognition issues. (And that applies to everyone and anyone. DON’T DO IT!!

    ARIA – Slide 24

    These articles do all the explaining about ARIA.

    Testing and Evaluation – Slide 25

  • WAVE
  • Color Contrast and more – a Mozilla add-on
  • Fireeyes from Deque
  • Functional Accessibility Evaluator
  • Web Developer Extension from Chris Pederick
  • Web Accessibility Toolbar for IE from The Paciello Group
  • W3C WAI Tool List
  • There are many tools out there to help you evaluate your site. It is good to try them all at first and get a feel for what works best for you. Having a couple installed is not a bad idea. They can back each other up. These can catch the major bloopers. Use these tools to catch the low-hanging fruit. But… Never uninstall the best overall evaluation tool you have – your brain!! If testing excites you, consider joining the Browser Testing and Tools Working Group.

    In a comment on the page for the Web Developer Extension, I found this helpful video/article about using the tool. See also articles in the accessibility testing category from Karl Groves. And, finally, the achecker testing tool.

    PS WebAIM has a new WAVE in beta. Check it out at http://five.wave.webaim.org/.

    Screen reader testing – Slide 26

    Standards – Slide 27

    WCAG 2 at a glance – Slide 28

    Perceivable

    • Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
    • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
    • Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
    • Make it easier for users to see and hear content.

    Operable

    • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
    • Give users enough time to read and use content.
    • Do not use content that causes seizures.
    • Help users navigate and find content.

    Understandable

    • Make text readable and understandable.
    • Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
    • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

    Robust

    • Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

    This one of many WAI teaching resources.

    WCAG 2.0 – Slide 29

    • Understanding WCAG 2.0: A guide to understanding and implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
    • How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques.

    Learn-more resources – Slide 30 and 31

    Get to know how a screen reader works by reading the first article. The "Just Ask" link is an online book that is also available in print form. It is also a great way to start your journey into accessibility.

    The first two links are teaching/teach-yourself resources.

    The third link is an excellent newsletter that comes out every week. It comes highly recommended.

    The last link is the number one link I’d recommend to any technical communicator – along with the “Just Ask” book mentioned elsewhere here.

    10 Principles – Slide 32

    • Be equitable
    • Be flexible
    • Be simple and intuitive
    • Be perceptible
    • Be informative
    • Be preventative
    • Be tolerant
    • Be effortless
    • Be accommodating
    • Be consistent

    These ten principles were written by Sandi Wassmer and are in people-speak and another way to get the mindset for building accessibly. View the 10 principles of inclusive web design online where there is also a link to download a PDF.

    My favorite quote – Slide 33

    When universal design processes fail to include, consult with, and listen to the people we are actually designing for, we also fail to design effectively.
    – Lisa Herrod

    The source of this quote is http://scenariogirl.com/inclusive-design/the-social-model-of-disability. It has been broken for a while due to ISP issues. I keep referring to the link until it works or a new one replaces it.

    Image of man taking a photograph reflected on a metal surface – Slide 34

    In summary, think about how your work reflects back on you. The man in the photo sees his reflection on the shiny surface of a button on a lamp post in the city. Think back to the starting thought about quality – what quality will you see in your work?

    Official closing slide – Slide 35

    Thank you for listening! Questions?

    @kmdk / @stcaccess

    https://www.mardahl.dk

    http://about.me/kmdk

    Extra – Slide 36

    All of the following slides are extras that would have been used as I saw fit on the spot. They are “as is” for interpretation.

    Mobile – Slide 37

    User diversity – Slide 38

    Test with real people!

    Users are different. But are you aware of the variety? When you test your systems, test with real people who have real disabilities. Personas can be a substitute in some cases. Personas can help teach accessibility. Developers are more likely to respond if they can see how people can be affected by their inaccessible web pages.

    Demo of an accessible infographic and alt text – Slide 39

    I (heart) WebAIM.org

    (Slide 39 through 44 show screenshots that illustrate good use of alt text and an accessible infographic. It is meant for situations where there is no wifi.)

    Confession: I love WebAIM. They have so many resources I can learn from. Let’s start the discussion with an example from WebAIM: an infographic of web accessibility tips for designers (and developers). A pretty .png picture. Useless to someone with little or no vision.

    Slide 40

    The pretty picture is available on their site – ALONG with a text version…

    Slide 41

    The text version is the text that is in the image we first saw. All the text was pulled from the picture and put into this alternate form. At the top of the screen shown here is a link to an accessible version of the .png file…

    Slide 42

    Someone else – Chris Throup – made an accessible version of the picture. Looks the same.

    Slide 43

    But the code reveals how there is no image in what looked like an image on the previous slide. It’s just code – machine-readable code.

    Slide 44

    This slide shows Chris Thorup’s code with – at the bottom of the slide – a sample of the WebAIM code for the text version. The same message gets across, but in 2 different ways. The WebAIM sample showed icons echoing the original image. However, those icons use alt text to tell a person using a screen reader what that icon represents. All in all, a lovely real-life example of making something accessible to many different needs.

    Twitter+ Resources – Slide 45

    People are probably the best resources of all. This is the tip of the iceberg here. I could talk for hours about the people I think you should follow. It caused me pain to not include some people. Some may be at a far higher level of coding knowledge than you are comfortable with. Break out of your comfort zone! Or share these links with your favorite developers. They are people well worth following. Note that the last one also has a forum where you can ask all sorts of questions related to developing accessibly.

    Coding resources – Slide 46

    Great coding resources for anyone wanting to get down and get real dirty! The Mozilla ARIA resource is huge and growing. Start your ARIA explorations there.

    Postscript

    Special thanks to John Kearney and Neal Dench for helping me finish this blog post. October has been crazy busy for me so the posting process got a wee bit too delayed.

    Thanks to the people of the WebAIM discussion list – especially Birkir! – who have been an inspiration for other presentations that led up to this workshop.

    Thanks to TCUK (and dear David Farbey) for inviting me to be a keynote speaker. That led to me daring to give this workshop.

    Material in this workshop builds on material from past presentations I have given. There are some messages (for example, the one about alt text) that still bear repeating. As long as there are things out there that are broken – and shouldn’t be, these messages need to be repeated.

Musings on accessibility and usability – my TCUK12 keynote

I had the pleasure and the honor of giving the closing keynote at the recent TCUK conference in Newcastle for the ISTC. I called it “Adaptability: The True Key to Accessibility and Usability?”. This is a short write up to accompany the slides that I have posted from my presentation. For several months, I scribbled notes and dictated ideas into my iPhone. I went to Wikimedia for Creative Commons images (I recommend that). When it came time to do the presentation, I let the photos lead the way and spoke from my heart. I felt I was in the flow, so I really don’t remember all the details of what I said! This is a from-memory text to accompany the text photos for my slides (link at the end of this blog post). It may also be slightly altered from what I said last week. There will be audio at some point. Then we’ll know the truth!

An apology

I apologize for not posting a text version at the same time that I posted the slides. I feel I must practice what I preach and provide all versions at once. No one should have to wait their turn. I partially blame SlideShare. I’m frustrated at their not showing notes in the transcripts. They only pluck out text from the slides and not from the notes where you can have much more substance. Not everyone downloads slides, and that means not everyone can see the notes. I omitted notes from this set, which meant I had more work in preparing this transcript. Not smart. I wish SlideShare would fix this issue.

This is my transcript

Whenever technical communicators gather in a restaurant, menu editing ensues. The night before TCUK12 began was no exception. The menu offered Roast Guinea F o u l. Of course, we were all amused. We technical communicators cannot help editing every single word we see. It’s in our nature. We see writing mistakes everywhere. I feel the same way about accessibility and usability. I see accessibility and usability issues everywhere.

Across the street from where I live, there is, to me, the most annoying walkway. There are decorative cement strips laid across an asphalt base. These strips are raised, so there are curb cuts in some places. I feel there is little smooth transition between the asphalt and the cement, so there are plenty of places to trip for anyone who is not walking carefully or who uses a cane or walker. I am surprised this was approved by the Danish disability society. At least, I was told they approved it. In the winter, it is even worse. The snowplow is not accurate, as shown in my fourth slide, where the plow crossed part of the curb cut and part of the raised cement. The path is not smooth for a wheelchair, a walker, or a baby carriage. This galls me. And it is just one example of how I see accessibility and usability issues in my environment. I want to talk about that and encourage you to do the same.

I am truly standing on the shoulders of giants as I speak to you today. I thought the photo of the Giant’s Causeway illustrated that nicely. I have learned so much about accessibility from people on Twitter in the four years I have been there.

In fact, I have learned that disability is a universal human experience. That is what it says in the WHO quote. If we are all disabled at one point or another in our lives, why don’t we make our world – the physical and the virtual – accessible? I found a series of slides to illustrate how this can be done.

I found a picture of a picnic table where the table extends beyond the length of the benches. This is perfect for a family outing where one person uses a wheelchair. The wheelchair can fit against the table quite nicely so the person using the wheelchair can sit close to the table like everyone else.

The picture of a wheelchair with inflated tires illustrates how someone with a disability can also come out and romp in the snow with friends.

Engineering for Change from MIT has designed a wheelchair that is better suited to places with a rough terrain, such as rural areas.

I love this picture of a young boy doing his homework just like any other young child does today. The chemistry book on his desk indicates the material can be demanding. This boy is able to do his homework because he has a refreshable Braille display so that he can perceive what is on his computer and prepare the required homework. He is realizing his potential regardless of the quality of his eyesight.

The Yahoo! accessibility laboratory displays assistive technology. A monitor shows very large text which is a necessity for some people with certain levels of low vision. A large red button can be used to send commands to the computer by someone who does not have the motor skills to manipulate a mouse.

The photo of @Jennison, a well-known person in the accessibility community on Twitter, shows him listening to something on his laptop. However, the laptop is partially closed. How can that be? He is blind and is using a screen reader. He is listening to the screen reader commands through his earphones. I think this could be a smart trick in a meeting where you can “read” an article with a screen reader when the meeting gets too dull! I think Jennison looks like he is ready to smile, so he is probably up to some similar trick!

All of the slides have shown examples of inclusion where technology has been used as an enabler. It is possible to design from the beginning so that the experience is well done in every way. It should never be slapped on as an afterthought as this ramp seems to be. Someone has ripped up part of some steps and poured cement for a ramp. I think it looks dangerous and would not want to be pushed up the ramp. Sure, it looks accessible, but I don’t trust it.

How would you feel if you did not have access and were excluded from whatever you wanted to do? It’s like coming to payphones in pre-mobile days and finding the telephone ripped off. The device is completely useless. That is what lack of accessibility can mean.

That is when I bring out this favorite quote from Lisa Herrod. “When universal design processes fail to include, consult with, and listen to the people we are actually designing for, we also fail to design effectively.” Design is something we all do – designers, technical communicators, developers. All of us.

That seems to be what happened with the original Twitter.com. It was simply not accessible. However, one person voluntarily set out to make an accessible Twitter client. This person, Dennis Lembrée, created EasyChirp.com. And guess what? A tool that is accessible for people who are blind turns out to be usable by everyone. I find the site is far less cluttered and more pleasant to use. The site is totally keyboard accessible, which is something I pointed out in my workshop on Tuesday. It does not require a mouse. Oh, for anyone who dislikes Twitter.com and the endless page, note that EasyChirp has the newer and older page controls. Give it a try even though you are not blind.

Another person who set out to fix something that was broken is Dana Chisnell. She spearheaded a Kickstarter project for making ballot instructions understandable by all. I think is a fantastic project, and I encourage you to visit the field guides site. One lovely example from the field guide illustrates the point “write short sentences”. You see a block of text as the Before, followed by a short sentence that is the After. Cutting away the excess words!

W3C. WAI. WCAG. UAAG. ATAG. There are lots of guidelines out there to teach you and guide you in making accessible material. Some of it can be overwhelming. WCAG 2.0 is supposed to be the equivalent of 800 printed pages! Because it can be overwhelming to some, it may never be read by those who actually need it.

That is why some people in the UK have worked on the British Standard BS8878 to provide guidelines, or a framework that is easier to comprehend and implement. Professor Jonathan Hassell, one of the lead authors behind BS8878, gave a workshop on Tuesday that illustrated how it could be applied in a workplace.

When more people start incorporating accessibility into their work, great things can happen. A picture of a smiling high school graduate turns out to be the beginning of an illustrious career for a multiple award-winning technical communicator who became blind and deaf around the age of twelve. Thanks to the technology made available at her workplace in the space and defense industry, she produced deliverables just like any other technical communicator (the award-winning kind, that is!)

Most people here should know about Dame Evelyn Glennie, who recently performed during the Olympics opening ceremony. By insisting that she could learn music despite her deafness and gaining a place in a music school, she opened the doors for anyone to come and learn, regardless of any disability.

A young deaf man receiving his doctorate was able to appreciate the ceremony in his honor because a sign language interpreter was present. All of these people were gaining access to knowledge thanks to technology and awareness of the need for inclusion.

And this is not all for serious, hard work. A poetry performance has one person reading poetry into the microphone while another person interprets the poem using sign. For me, sign becomes art and is a thing of beauty.

And that brings me to a lovely quote from Lao Tzu that I heard at an AccessU presentation by Molly Holzschlag this past May. “The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.” This is about the web. It is a vehicle. It gives life to the possibility of communication.

So how do we engage people in making the world a more inclusive place? I like these Attitude Adjusters from Australia. These are cards similar to many cards used for brainstorming that can be used for teaching and implementing accessibility.

Because all this makes a difference.

I wanted a starfish photo at this point, and I went looking for pretty starfish photos. I fell for this photo of a starfish on its back and covered in sand. It looks awful, but the note made it the ideal candidate. You see, the AccessAbility SIG of STC has a tale about a starfish. A man walks along a beach strewn with starfish and meets a little girl who is picking them up and throwing them back in the ocean. “What are you doing?”, the man asks. “I’m saving the starfish,” the little girl replies. “With so many, your efforts cannot make a difference”, said the man. “It makes a difference to that one”, said the little girl as she threw another starfish back into the sea. And the description of this photo said that the photographer threw this dead-looking starfish back in the sea where it soon revived…

Making a difference – but what does it cost? I show a diagram of the cost of adding accessibility from Day 1 of planning a project or adding it after the product is completed. The cost is nil at the beginning and very high at the end. Whitney Quesenbery has the numbers. 1 unit (say, 1 dollar) in the definition stage and 60 to 100 units (say, 100 dollars) after release!

So… we need to get out there and make things accessible. I had to share a photo of a tireless advocate for accessibility who is no longer with us, William Loughborough. But oh to be like him, agitating about accessibility well into his eighties and all the way up to his death. What a role model.

We need to get out there and stop the absurdity. Lisa Herrod’s photo got a big laugh. How can anyone post a notice at the bottom of the stairs stating that those with accessibility needs can get help at the top of the stairs. It’s absurd.

Karl Groves has a great quote about how to tackle this job. Focus on the quality. “So long as a web-based system is inaccessible, it suffers from quality problems and we should focus on quality.” The focus on quality may be an easier-to-understand approach to some.

You see, some balk at the terminology. Some don’t even know what it is. This is where I get to use my favorite term, cognitive scaffolding, and show a photo of scaffolding! It’s about mentoring and education. We who are somewhat in the know, need to continuously develop our skills. Then, we must turn around and mentor others – spreading the knowledge and raising awareness. We can learn from each other. I learned the real story about cognitive scaffolding from a tip from Linda Urban, a popular past presenter at TCUK. She recommended the technical report from January 1987 called Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching the Craft of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics (opens a PDF). Now I recommend it.

Perhaps another difficulty is that we learn at different levels and have different needs. The concept of this talk is very inspired by a 2009 paper called “From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability”. [A tl;dr summary of the Web Adaptability paper can be found on Brian Kelly’s blog.] This is also an inspiring read of how we can make accessibility for the web become a reality so that we can provide so many more opportunities for everyone to participate in the Web. I think we can work together to adapt nicely like the chameleon – with all of us blending together maintaining our uniqueness and yet making one beautiful picture.

The slides

You can view the slides here or on SlideShare.