Report from WDN 09: Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals, IV

Live blogging the 2nd afternoon session . . .

Chris Mills returned for the education implementation part of the talk about JavaScript and what Derek had shown us.

The accessibility session

Derek Featherstone lead this session. He began by playing the audio from a screen reader reading a web page at full pace. A powerful demonstration for someone who had never heard a screen reader before, which included quite a few people in the room.

He showed a slide of a sign for deafblind literacy that demonstrated concepts of best practices such as high contrast lettering, the angle of the plate that the braille was on, the raised lettering on the words. Every aspect of how people might use the sign had been taken into consideration. Accessibility isn’t just about the web site. It’s about every other aspect of that business: the support line, customer service and everything else. Accessibility isn’t just about screen readers.

He showed some low vision magnifiers and keyboards. He showed someone typing one character at a time with a head wand. A good teaching idea related to the keyboards was to show students a particular type of keyboard or headset or switch and ask them who would use it and how. What does the hardware tell you about the person’s disability?

The spectrum of disability includes visual, hearing, motor, speech and cognitive.

He repeated his previous statement that JavaScript can be used in accessible solutions. Used correctly, JS and Ajax and actually help people with disabilities. It helps maintain context and doesn’t require a full-page refresh.

He talked about Universal Design. If things are better for people with disabilities, they are more useful for everyone.

Outdated techniques that are no longer needed: access keys, tab index, place-holder characters in text boxes, text-only versions, use onkeypress with onclick.

New things we do that we shouldn’t do: put content in CSS as background images, focus entirely on the JavaScript on/off scenario.

Testing techniques: expert review, automated testing, technical testing with assistive technology and other tools, user testing. Do them all if you can.

Talk to students about the legislation around accessibility. Legislation is good motiviation.

Steph Troeth did the education applications follow up about accessibility. She discussed the education challenges in getting across the message that accessibility isn’t just one thing, and that it benefits many people.

Glenda Sims talked about the Target accessibility case.

Steph outlined the core competencies: understand various disabilities, understand issues around assistive technologies, learn how to evaluate accessibility compliance, identify tools used by disabled people.

Finally, she went through the assignments handout and talked about the accessibility assignment.

During the session, Leslie Jensen-Inman sent me the URLs of three YouTube videos that can help students “get” the whole idea of accessibility.–Oo

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