Archive for the “accessibility” Category

Guest Lecture on Accessibility

Last week I was invited to hold a guest lecture at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz about accessible websites. After the successful barcamp at the University of Mainz in November the executive director of the institute for informatics at that time, Prof. Dr. Herbert Göttler, had the idea to continue that contact. So now there is a small series of talks about current Internet practices. […]

HTML 5 Accessibility at SXSW Interactive

SXSW is an enormous web conference in Austin / Texas with hundreds of panels squeezed into four days. The panelpicker application opened today and yours truly is hosting a panel on HTML 5 Accessibility. Please vote for me and twitter about it! If the panel is chosen I’d like to invite a few people (will […]

HTML 5 Haiku Contest

When I saw this picture of Bruce Lawson taken in a very poetic pose at London’s Standards.Next meetup, I remembered a haiku contest my favorite record label Bloody Fist hosted during the 2000 Australian Summer Olympics. People were asked to write haikus about the Olympic Games, and I almost wet myself reading some of the entries. […]

Enhanced Keyboard-accessible Google Maps

Patrick H. Lauke wrote an excellent article about keyboard-accessible Google Maps on the Opera Developer website. Still I was able to improve it slightly when I implemented an accessible map myself. I would like to share these modifications with you.

Please Provide Padding

There are other websites were you can buy train tickets, but if you live in Germany it's most likely that you will book a ticket on the website of Deutsche Bahn (German railways). Much has been said about accessibility on that site, and sure there's room for improvements in future updates. But some things just work well […]

European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt

So it’s been a little quiet here, the reason is that I’ve been busy organizing the European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt on March 27th. The main idea is to present leading innovators and their perspectives on eAccessibility from the technical, political, and economic side. Experts on seven panels will briefly describe their own work and their view of accessibility and then discuss the issues. […]

Accessibility Day in Vienna

Last week I talked at the Vienna Accessibility Day (“A-Tag”) about the emerging W3C standard for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). I half expected a crowd of suits as the event was co-organized by the Austrian Ministry of Health, Family and Youth, instead there were many young faces and a fair percentage of women. […]

The Accessible iPhone Cometh

One flaw of the iPhone is its inaccessibility for visually impaired users, despite some built-in accessibility features for other users. Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel: a few days ago Apple filed a patent for multi-touch in combination with features such as voice commands and speech recognition, facial recognition, gestures, fingerprint input, body temperature, heart rate, skin impedance, and pupil size. […]

Accessible Drop-Down Menus

A few days ago a co-worker asked if DHTML drop-down menus pose a problem with accessibility. Since the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) declared all JavaScript evil in 1999, assistive technologies (AT) have made significant progress. So we cannot condemn pull-down menus altogether, but there are various reasons to keep an eye on them buggers. […]

Upcoming Talks: ARIA and Canvas

Allow me a little self-promotion while pointing you to interesting conferences where I will hold presentations. […]

Better Foreground Sprites

A while ago I wrote about using CSS Sprites in img tags — Foreground Sprites. Thus you avoid HTTP requests, but the page turns really ugly when CSS is switched off because the sprite image will be displayed in its full size. Now Google’s accessibility specialist T.V. Raman explained their idea of using sprites for foreground images — a much better solution!

@media 2008

I had the chance to visit the @media conference in London again, for the third time. Again it was different than the last times. Perhaps less spectacular, a little less people, no real revelation. There were excellent talks inside the halls, but the best talks happened outside. Like speaking with Nate Koechley about […]

A Revision of the Federal Ordinance on Barrier-Free Information Technology

At the BIENE award ceremonies in December 2006 the Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Franz Thönnes, announced that the Federal Ordinance on Barrier-Free Information Technology (BITV) will be revised in accordance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). Ever since I was trying to find out who would be participating in that working group, to no avail. […]

W3C Mobile Web Best Practices Course

In what is to my knowledge the first W3C online course, the Mobile Web Initiative offers a free introduction to mobile web best practices starting May 18th 26th. […]

Crowdsourcing YouTube Video Captioning

When Chris Heilmann had the splendid idea to add captioning to YouTube videos with Google’s JavaScript API, I asked myself if there wasn’t a better way. There is, but to my surprise neither YouTube nor Yahoo! Video take advantage of that capability. […]

Death in the Social Web

John Slatin is dead. In more than two decades he published numerous articles about making digital information accessible to people with disabilities. As co-chair of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group and as founding director of the Institute for Technology and Learning at the University of Texas in Austin he contributed greatly to web accessibility as we know it. […]

Accessible Rich Internet Applications Update

Gez Lemon and I had our core conversation at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday, and it went really well. No wonder, we had Shawn Henry from W3C WAI in the audience as well as Lisa Pappas who is one of the authors or WAI ARIA, plus Becky Gibson from IBM who initiated the whole thing with Rich Schwerdtfeger a couple of years ago. […]

Accessibility Tools for Quality Assurance: Color Contrast

Accessibility testing tools are great for quality assurance (QA), even when the website doesn’t have to be accessible. For example, color contrast is a very subjective thing. It depends on technical factors like the quality and settings of the screen, environmental factors like glaring sunlight, and the physical abilities of the person viewing it. It’s literally subjective in the eye of the designer. Color contrast analyzers give us an impression how fore- and background colors are perceivable by other people. […]

The XHTML Access Module

I would like to introduce the XHTML Access Module, a new working draft released by the XHTML 2 Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The module is intended to improve accessibility and extend XHTML Roles. […]

Web Accessibility Toolbar 2.0 for Internet Explorer

A couple of days ago the German version of the Web Accessibility Toolbar 2.0 for Internet Explorer was released. It was developed by Steve Faulkner and translated by Benjamin Grießmann from Web for All with contributions from your humble host. Which reminds me that I also translated Gez Lemon’s new and improved Colour Contrast Analyser for Firefox earlier this year.

The Dalai Lama and Microformats

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits the Hessenpark near Frankfurt on September 22, and as our agency is involved in the organization of that event, we sponsored the website Friends for a Friend. […]

SXSW 2008: Get Rich, Remain Accessible

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a huge conference for interactive media as well as a film and music festival in Austin, Texas. Every year it attracts the best designers and developers, and there is an immense number of panels to choose from. Exactly 128, out of which 80 are chosen from an open submission process. Gez Lemon and I plan to run a panel about WAI ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). Please vote for us. […]

Foreground Sprites

Most rollovers have become obsolete because they can be performed on background images with CSS sprites. However, there are those rare cases when there is just an icon without text, like a “play” or “pause” button. This article discusses how to apply CSS sprites for foreground images. […]

Cost-Effectiveness of Accessibility

Last week I talked at a geek meeting about the cost-effectiveness of accessibility. Inspired by Dave Wilton’s talk at the European Accessibility Forum about their most impressive redesign of the Legal & General website, I decided to do some research and adopt it to the German market. The presentation is now available in German or English. […]

Anti-Fascism 2.0

Several groups of out-of-town neo-Nazis have called for a demonstration in Frankfurt tomorrow. To my surprise the website of the Anti-Fascist Coordination Frankfurt features a clean design with a tag cloud-like navigation, sliding animations with jQuery, YouTube videos, and a very basic microsite for mobile access. What rocks most is the creative use of twitter to keep protesters informed through their mobile phones. Brilliant! […]

“Euracert” European Accessibility Label

Accessibility organizations from three countries agreed on the mutual recognition of their respective labels. That will lead towards a harmonization of accessibility in Europe. So far AnySurfer (Belgium), Technosite (Spain), and BrailleNet (France) partnered to create the “Euracert” label. If a website is already certified with one of their labels, an additional review grants the European level. […]

@media 2007 Wrap-Up

Sum-up of the @media conference in London that I attended June 7th-8th, 2007. Read about Jesse James Garret’s keynote, passionate evangelists, and how to get great design ideas on the loo […]

When Accessibility is Not Your Problem

Joe Clark’s talk at London’s @media was the most controversial today. To add insult to injury, there was no time for comments or questions from the audience. […]

Raising the Standards: European Accessibility Guidelines

At the dawn of a new version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the inevitable ensuing updates of national anti-discrimination laws and eAccessibility guidelines, it is time to review the state of current accessibility legislation. There are two generations of models: one that sticks to the book, and another with a more holistic approach. […]


Web 2.0 applications can enhance usability, alas a lot of issues remain to make them accessible. Gez Lemon has come up with scripting solutions to inform screen readers about the change of content, but when I talked with Jan Eric Hellbusch he deemed it rather confusing because the user’s work flow is interrupted. The W3C’s standards draft for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) addresses those limitations. I held talks about the upcoming standards in Cologne and Frankfurt, which resulted in writing a blog entry about the topic that eventually became an article for A List Apart. […]

First European e-Accessibility Forum

The First European e-Accessibility Forum in Paris was organized on January 29th by the French accessibility initiative BrailleNet in cooperation with the European Design for All e-Accessibility Network (EDeAN). Some 270 participants attended the conference. There were some remarkable presentations and a couple of things I would like to share with you. […]

5th Conference “Accessible e-Government”

Yesterday I went to a conference near Frankfurt with the title “Accessible e-Government: Current Trends in Web Development,” because some of the speakers were competent people I met in London at the @media conference. To my disappointment it seems the target group were in fact IT professionals working for local municipalities. Most lectures focused on rather basic principles of accessibility although their topics would have had the potential for more advanced details. […]

To Hell with Joe Clark

Joe Clark’s article “To Hell with WCAG 2” was an eye-opener. It raised critical awareness for the last-call W3C working draft, which lead to the extension of the comments period. Still the degree of concern and fear didn’t need to be raised. He exaggerated many issues, distorted them by omission, or in some cases he’s plain wrong. […]

My @media 2006 Day Two

Day two of the @media conference included talks about microformats, Yahoo!’s new technical strategies, browser memory leaks and performance tweaks, some information about accessibility, the mobile web, and meeting Molly Holzschlag. […]