New York Times Features Web Accessibility and the Advances of Some Google Engineers

Today, the New York Times ran a really cool feature story about two Google engineers T.V. Raman and Charles Chen.  They’ve been developing all kinds of different software which helps users with disabilities access the Web and technology just like someone without the disability.  It’s a good story… definitely worth a read.

The W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Are One Step From Being Completely Finished!

Today, they announced that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 has passed into the Proposed Recommendation phase of the standards process.

Congrats to all my friends at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)!  Judy, Shawn, Shadi, Michael C. and others, I lift my glass to you.

This is the last step before WCAG 2.0 is completely and finally done.  They expect it to reach the final stage of the process and be an official W3C Recommendation (standard) by December.

This is AWESOME!  WCAG 2.0 is set of guidelines for making your content accessible so that regardless of how someone views your content or whether or not that user has a disability.

If we’re going to be in the business of making content on the Web, I think it’s important that we make it in a way so that we can have the biggest possible audience.  Getting the most users is the name of the game.  So… making sure the content is accessible to everyone is crucial.

WCAG 2.0 is a long long long long time in the making.   It’s definitely exciting to see that’s it’s just about done.

Hopefully now starts an even bigger outreach effort to tell the world about WCAG 2.0 and what it has to offer.

Has the Web Standards & Web Accessibility Movement Lost Its Mojo?

Was just reminiscing…  Remember the good old days when it’d be just so much fun to sit around and talk about things like Web standards or Microformats or Web accessibility?

It seems like back in the day every week there was some new article in A List Apart or Digital Web Magazine that just blew your mind.  I remember when the thought of getting something published in A List Apart was talked about like you were getting something published in the Harvard Law Review or the American Journal of Medicine.

I used to eagerly download the speaker audio from all the Web developer conferences (An Event Apart, Web Directions South, @Media) because these titans of industry would unlock the solution to some type of major development problem that I had been having for months.

I remember when I’d go into Barnes & Noble and I’d dart for the Web Development section because there was sure to be some kind of new book by one of these titans of industry.  I can’t remember the last time I got excited about a new Web development book.

I remember when being appointed to a Web Standards Project task force was considered “making it.”

It really seems like all the excitement around things like Web standards, Web accessibility, microformats, and such has stopped completely.  Granted I’m in a bit of a differnet line of work now but I still stay pretty tuned into that scene.

Is this good? Have we achieved success?  Is the world accessible and standards compliant… or have we just become incredibly complacent?

With the innovations in things like HTML 5 and WCAG 2.0, can the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) reinvigorate the whole web development standards movement?

I don’t think we’ve achieved complete success.  I think there is still a lot of work to do.  But how does Web standards get its sexy back?

Michigan State University will Require New Web Sites to be Accessible to People with Disabilities

This is really cool news! My old employer Michigan State University (MSU) has recently enacted a new policy that will require Web pages published after December 31, 2008 to be accessible to people with disabilities.

All new and redesigned University Web pages published after December 31, 2008 must be in compliance with Section I of the WA Technical Guidelines, unless granted an exception under Article IV of this policy. University Web pages published before December 31, 2008 must assess compliance with Section I of the WA Technical Guidelines and submit a review summary and remediation plan to address any areas of non-compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator in the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives by December 31, 2008.

This rocks!  If you know me, you know that making Web site’s accessible to people with disabilities is really important to me.  I’m really proud of MSU.

MSU has always been at the forefront of making their Web site’s accessible.  I’m honored to have played small role in this movement many many years ago.  I raise my glass to the folks that have carried it to this.

Check out the Michigan State University Web site on Web Accessibility.

Browsers Supporting WAI ARIA :-)

Just read on Gez Lemon’s site Juicy Studio that with WebKit’s recent announcement of support for WAI-ARIA, all the major browsers are now doing something to support it.   This ROCKS!

For those of you not familiar with WAI-ARIA, it’s a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard for making all those ajaxy fancy user-interface components (like tree menus or alerts) accessible to people with disabilities.

Last year at a W3C conference, I got to see WAI-ARIA demoed by a blind gentelmen.  It was WAY cool.  I hope all browsers move quickly to suppor this as much as possible.

Start Using WCAG 2.0 Right Now!; Yep, It Advanced to the Next Stage!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that one topic I’m passionate about is making the Web accessible to people with disabilities.  We all depend on the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) guidance via the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help us through the process.

Well… WCAG 2.0 has just advanced to the next stage of the standards development process, Candidate Recommendation. What they need you to do is to go use it.

This weekend, get together with your friends and convert all of your sites and your blogs to being WCAG 2.0 conformant.  It won’t take that much work.  When you’re done, write about how it went.

Have you converted yet?  What do you think?  Let’s make our sites accessible so everyone can use them and access them.

John Coston Presenting on Web Accessibility at Refresh DC This Thursday

This Thursday my buddy John Coston is going to be giving a talk on Web Accessibility at Refresh DC.  The event is going to be held at the  Greater Washington Board of Trade (map) 1725 I Street NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20006.

Make sure you’re there.

Google’s Matt Cutts Explains Why Your Web Site Images Should Have Alternative (Alt) Text

Google’s rockstar search engineer and public figure Matt Cutts has recently posted a really great video that gives an overview of how you can add alternative (alt) text to the images in your HTML web page, how it helps Google, and accessibility for people with disabilities.

Check out the video and then pass it around to your friends.

CNET Shows Leadership By Providing Captions For Their Online Video

CNET TV has recently shown a great deal of leadership in the online video space by starting to provide captions for their video. This is great news! I know it’s not easy to caption video… this is a big move for them. I hope more video shops (like Revision 3) will follow their move and start providing captions.

There is a chunk of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 that deals with captioning. Success Criteria 1.2.1 says…

1.2.1 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for prerecorded synchronized media, except if the synchronized media is an alternative to text and is clearly labeled as such . (Level A)

Let’s Advance WCAG 2.0

Shawn Henry of the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative recently wrote a blog post entitled “Is WCAG 2.0 almost done?!” Well after reading the document, I say let’s advance the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to it’s next stage.

Like Shawn, I’ve been following the development of WCAG 2.0 for a while and I think that this is one of the working group strongest drafts yet.

I’m going to start using WCAG 2.0 when making Web sites.  Will you join me?