This article has a great deal of significance to me because I’ve been preaching Web Accessibility since the inception of the Internet, having even served on the W3C’s original Web Accessibility Initiative, and having built HTMLHelp.com around educating people about standards compliant Web development.
Heck, I even built the theme for OneMansBlog.com from scratch to try and insure accessibility among other things… But can you believe that in the last decade, I’ve never actually seen real users navigating the Web like this? Wow. It is refreshing to see that people can do it after fighting so hard for so long to build accessible standards.
I believe every person should watch these videos, whether you are a designer or not, to understand the challenges that some visitors face when they come to your Web site. So please take 5 minutes out of your day and give this article a little attention. Thanks!
In April, I was preparing material for a workshop about complying with version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and thought it would be useful to include a video of someone using a refreshable Braille device. I contacted Bruce Maguire as I know this is his preferred way of accessing the web and asked if I could video him using his device. Bruce, whose contribution to improving the accessibility of the web extends well beyond his famous complaint against the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, willingly agreed to help.
I hoped the refreshable Braille video would provide viewers without any experience of the technology, with both a basic understanding of how the device is operated and a feeling for what it might be like to access the web without relying on the senses of sight and hearing.
After we had completed the basic filming, Bruce and I talked about shooting a short segment with the audio turned off. Without any more planning than that, Bruce turned off the audio, I turned on the camera and Bruce announced he would show us how he goes about buying a book from Amazon.
In addition to this video of a blind user navigating the Web, Roger also shared a video of a woman who is wheelchair bound which shows what it’s like when you can’t access a keyboard or mouse.
I feel there is value in giving people involved in developing websites a greater understanding of how the web is accessed by users of different assistive technologies. During the last two weeks, I have shown both the refreshable Braille video and another video, â€œWheeling in Second Lifeâ€, which features a woman with Cerebral Palsy to over 100 people at workshops.
If you’ve got other videos or stories about Web Accessibility issues, please do share in the comments! I’d love to hear them!