John Slatin AccessU 2009

Building on the incredible experience of John Slatin AccessU 2008, the 2009 conference keeps on giving. I ran across a comment by a colleague from the UK who was a little puzzled about accessibility in the US. This gave me the opportunity to synthesize the phenomenal amount of information from the conference.

Hmmm. Little Conscious Awareness Seeds planted in JSAU 08 focused my complete attention on how we live in the world. I found myself evaluating everything in my path for that year on the basis of "will this meet my needs as I age?" By the time JSAU 09 rolled around, I was in full-blown, cataclysmic paradigm shift. We have to meet the communication needs of every human being to preserve freedom and quality of life for as long as possible. I want that. I need that, and so you. We all need that. And "that" is a basic human right.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973 addressed accessibility in the analog age. When the Internet came into being, the act was amended to include equal access to electronic communications (Section 508).

The really cool thing about equal electronic access is that it benefits persons with learning disabilities, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, the elderly, et al, AS WELL AS people with physical disabilities. That extends the benefits to a much broader population.

Here's the kicker: if you design for accessibility--alt txt, good headers, skip to nav--it also boosts your SEO. Not only is output from assistive devices such as screen readers infinitely more listenable, Google, for example, crawls sites just like a screen reader does. Two birds with one stone.

Think "curb cuts for computers" as well as "curb cuts for sidewalks," and you get a better idea of how useful accessibility is for everyone. You can design for both beauty and accessibility.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 came out last December--incredibly useful, encyclopedic tool.

Not to mention Plain Language. Say it clearly, concisely, and you just hit a third bird with that stone.

Note to self: ditch "incredible" or find a more interesting word.

Off to visit Mr. Meno.


Kay Dennison said...

Ohhhhhhhhh my God!!!!!!!!! I can leave a post!!!!! Hallelujah and Amen!!!!!

That said with great amazement, I really love this post!!!! I'm going to see what I can do to make my blog more user-friendly.

Glad to see that you're feeling a bit better.

kokopelliwoman said...

Loooove the photo, girl. I think my latest PC tune-up may have rooted out the comments gremlin. I am so happy to see you here! Learned a lot of useful stuff at JSAU09, mainly that I've changed my way of thinking drastically about how to make it easier for all of us to communicate. It's a vital necessity, inscribed in my viscera. Ooooooh goody--pass along the resources to friends and family, if you wish--planting seeds.

joared said...

Glad to see so much emphasis on communication -- especially making certain these new tech tools are available to all, that they learn how to connect with whichever ones work for them.

I'm genuinely concerned there are a large number of people who are going to need a great deal of assistance to be integrated into this digital world. I believe we'll see a significant number emerge with the switch to digital TV from analog. Will they be visible, or lost in the backwaters of anonymity?

kokopelliwoman said...

I'm wrestling with the same concerns. I find that even though I use a LOT of high tech at work, I have zero patience for making it happen at home. I lost my TV remote, can't figure out how to make the converter work, and am tempted to just give up TV altogether. What I care about most--connecting with family, friends, and information, will become more difficult, even for those of us who have some experience with the tech. I sincerely hope that none of us get lost. But there are going to be so many of us....!