Notes: Web 2.1: Making Web 2.0 Accessible

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Moderator: James Craig Sr Design Tech, Frog Design Inc


SH: Focus on accessibility in the field has been on the developers. We need to shift some of the responsibility. Web content accessibility guidelines. Text images application forms everything that comes under content. People use authoring tools like dreamWeaver but there are also many other authoring tools. Flickr, blog CMS etc.

Some people use evaluation/validation tools to assist in accessibility. People use user-agent to access content and assistive tech to access content. E.g. screen readers. All of these thing shave to work together for accessibility to be successful. In the past some tools stripped out accessibility info. Tools now can help us e.g. prompting for alt text. This is especially important for those that are adding content.

What's the main difference between WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0?
ATAG authoring tools accessibility guidelines. UAAG user agent accessibility guidelines. Other issues aside from blindness, screen magnification people can't use a mouse and physical impairments. 2.0 as an update is to make it tech independent and to make it testable and easier to understand. It has failed on being easier to understand. The other two took priority.
WCAG1 said that sufficient contrast should be use when viewed with someone how has colour deficiencies. WCAG 2.0 refers to a specific luminosity contrast ratio of at least 5:1. Go to a document called understanding WCAG 2.0. It explains the intent and the key terms involved. What techniques you can use to meet this. Don't develop to WCAG 2.0 develop to have a site that accessible.

It does need to be difficult because it needs to be tech agnostic and testable.

Q: Testable because of law?
SH: Yes

Q: What did you come across with accessibility for bank of America.
VV: WE needed to show good faith and we had a few issues that we needed to fix such as JavaScript for a login.
FA: I had trouble with the translations of the WCAG

DF: WCAG 2.0 is supposed to be tech agnostic what does this mean?
SH: The intention is that it will be about working across all platforms and technologies. Including PDF and flash.

Q: WCAG 2.0 does not discourage the use of JavaScript does this mean we should encourage all user to have JavaScript on?
DF: Worrying about JavaScript on or off is what everyone seems to worry about. for example is that users of Screen readers have IE with screen readers on top and the screen reader might not know that the page has changed. It needs to work under all conditions.

Q: Web 2.0 the name given to.. Ah screw it the money's back the money's back. What's so great about web 2.0?
FA: Where to start. How can we make the user more in control and it's a new way that as developers we have to think about our development.
DF: Adgio? is an aggregator of tagged content. So you can tag a job on your site and this software will pick up this job post as it is appropriately tagged.

Q: Is web 2.0 mainly for developers.
DF: No it's good for both users and developers. Frameworks are helping consistency. When my colleague trys to use basecamp as a blind user it doesn't work. Because it uses different conventions it becomes in accessible if it had a regular upload form it would be fine.

SH: the basics are the same accessibility is the same there is more JavaScript support. We still need to do the basics we need to more education on the basics.

CIF I cover a base level is that enough

VV: You should consider when to use a technology like AJAX.
C: Tech should be a means to an end

Q: What's wrong with web 2.0?

DF: The biggest thing we need right now is testing. It's built into the frameworks. The frameworks need to be tested for accessibility. For example: CSS only tooltips that don�t work when you are trying to access it through the keyboard.

Q: What does Derek mean by testing.
SH: Don't blog this or quote it out of context. Go test with users - forget the specs! It's amazing to see someone struggle with your site or even succeed. If you can learn and interact with people who have disabilities then this is the best policy rather than just worrying about the specs.

Q: Matt you have testers at the bank of America.
MVV: The web team has over time become much more user focused.

Q: How is face accessible?
FA: It degrades and the user doesn't see the enhancements if JavaScript is turned off.

Q: How should we fix it today?
DF: Keep it simple and get back to basics. HTML has to be pristine as a rock solid foundation you go a long way to setting the baseline for making it accessible. What we are trying to do with AJAX flash actually does it a lot better. Macromedia/Adobe has put a lot of time to make Flash accessible. For example you can check to see if a screen reader is running, this means that it has a lot of helpful features that Ajax libraries just don't have.
FA: Flash people are less away of flash being accessibility or they just accept it's inaccessible by nature.
MVV: At the BoA we have spent a lot of time making the online banking being accessible.

SH: It's about having the right attitude. I would encourage you to have the right attitude in your job.
We need to make accessibility cool. We need examples of beautiful sites that are accessible. how many of the sites that are going to win awards are going to be inaccessible.

DF: Using Ajax to validate a username the user fills in the form and the Ajax script goes off and check top see if the username is valid. Use em within the label to show the error message so that the error is explicitly referencing the label and the input.
If you use AJAX there are issues detecting the content has changed. If you focus back on the form field the updated content is read out (thanks to test by Brothercake James Edwards)

Q: How can we fix this tomorrow?
SH: WCAG 2.0 is going to go to last call. The fundamentals of accessibility don't change go and look at the working draft and see what issues are being debated.
FA: There are very few universities across the world that are teaching accessibility. In contrast a lot of large companies are beginning to build in web standards.
C: IBM gave a load of code to mozilla to make Firefox accessible. Is web 2.0 what Tim Berners Lee envisaged with the semantic web.



SimonWillison: Are the screereaders doing anything to make it possible to tell a screen reader content has changed.
DF: The next versions of screen readers may do. They have their own DOM tree and some elements that do get updated some don't.
C: This is something that the webAPI group is trying to fix.

Q:Are there any frameworks that can be recommended?
DF: All of the frameworks have some problems.

Robert Nyman: Do you believe in laws enforcing accessibility?
MVV: the law got the BoA to use Accessibility so it's a good thing.
FA: the laws are not often very well put together as the people coming up with laws don't necessarily understand the medium.

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