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web axe podcast 2 year anniversary

congratulations to dennis lembrée and ross johnson for the 2 year anniversary episode of web axe - practical web accessibility tips.

For a special feature, the following web experts were gracious enough to send me input on their thoughts about recent events and trends in the world of web accessibility:

  • Mark McKay
  • Joe Dolson
  • Roger Johansson
  • Patrick Lauke
  • Jared Smith
  • Ross Johnson

and here's the transcript of my portion of the podcast:

Hi, this is Patrick Lauke for Web Axe.

For me the most significant development of the last year has been the way in which accessibility discourse in general has widened beyond the narrow confines of WCAG 1.0.

Although for very simple sites WCAG 1.0 is still quite valid, it's ill equipped to deal with the reality of today's web.

Rich internet applications, flash sites, complex javascript and AJAX, even widespread use of PDFs...as a developer, if you're just sticking with WCAG 1.0, most of those are simply out of the question.

It's true that in most situations you should really try to offer simple HTML/CSS based alternatives...but it's not an either/or proposition anymore. For instance, it's not purely a case of having a non-javascript accessible version of your site, since screen reader users don't necessarily have javascript disabled by default. And in fact, judicious use of javascript can enhance the usability and accessibility of a site, even for these users...if it's done properly.

I'd say that the development of technologies such as ARIA plays a key role here. As more and more browsers and assistive technologies take advantage of ARIA, we'll hopefully see some of the major problems that javascript and AJAX can cause for particularly screen reader users being mitigated or maybe even completely eliminated.

Underpinning all of these developments, I would say that WCAG 2.0's tech-agnostic, results driven approach, which ditches the "only use W3C technologies" dictum in favour of "accessibility supported technologies" holds great promise. It can provide a solid, extensible framework that's valid today and in the future.

Based on the latest draft, WCAG 2.0 is indeed moving in the right direction...so my wish for this coming year is to see a stable version of the new guidelines.

And to really help web authors understand how WCAG 2.0 can be applied in practice, I also hope that the technology-specific, non-normative supporting documents for WCAG 2.0 will get some much needed attention...as that's what most web authors will need, and refer to, in their practical day-to-day work.

And with that out of the way, I just want to say congratulations on your two year anniversary and keep up the good work. Cheers.

posted:
23/09/2007 at 19:14:16
tags:
webaxe podcast