Talk to Me – Making websites accessible

In 2013, I gave a talk about making websites accessible, at several conferences. The last session was in September 2013 at the jQuery Austin conference. While the conference itself didn’t record videos, I made a local recording myself, which I’d like to share via YouTube. The audio and video of myself are recorded with the laptop microphone and camera. The slides and embedded videos are directly captured, so you can see all them in full detail (I used ScreenFlow 4 for that, its certainly worth the money).

You can also look at the original slides and videos or get the source for the slides and a list of further resources.

The original abstract for the talk was this:

A computer that can talk to us has been part of science fiction for a long time. For a number of people it has been a reality for quite a while: Those with limited or no sight at all, usually referred to as blind computer users.

Making web sites and applications work for people that rely on a screenreader poses many interesting challenges. Usually there is no budget for accessiblity, as the number of users affected is small – exceptions apply wherever websites have to conform to regulations like Section 508 (aka Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Even when there’s a budget, or just a rogue developer who cares, there a barriers in specifications, tools and testing, that make it hard for the average developer to improve the overall result.

At the same time, although the targeted group of users is relatively small, it’s this group that often benefits the most from a web service, since it can give them a form of independence they might not have in their day to day life, often more than able-bodied users do.

This talk will provide:

  • Good arguments to convince your boss or customer of the value of making a web site or application accessible.
  • An introduction to the software and tools to test against.
  • Examples of the challenges involved and how to overcome them with JavaScript, with a look at the autocomplete and menu widgets in jQuery UI, covering both keyboard and screenreader support.

A half hour talk won’t make you an instant expert, but you should get enough of a boost to make a difference on your next project.