Accessibility: It's for Everyone and Everything”-a Shawn Henry session overview

Seasons Greetings WOW Members and Web Professionals Everywhere!

For today?’s podcast, I?’d like to read from the notes that I gleaned from Shawn Henry?’s Web accessibility session that took place at Web Design World last week in Boston, MA. The hour long session entitled, Accessibility: It’s for Everyone and Everything” provided a few interesting walk a ways, and Id?’ like to share with you a few of them.

I’ve known Shawn for a decade or so dating back to the Comdex conference days. She is among handful of strong advocates for accessibility that I?’ve met over the years. She?’s written a book on the topic that?’s available as a download. She?’s also sought after speaker as well. As a result of her efforts in this area, Shawn now works for the W3C where she leads worldwide education and outreach activities promoting Web accessibility for people with disabilities.

For session starters, Shawn reminds the audience that anyone of us could become disabled in one way or another and at anytime. It?’s important to note that when Shawn speaks about accessibility, she?’s not just talking about addressing the needs for those that are blind or deaf. She also points out that that “accessibility is about people. In fact, “It’s about people with disabilities, and older users and people using mobile devices and people using new technologies including people with low bandwidth connections, and people with older technology.” This is a huge issue according to Shawn and if you’ve been following this podcast for awhile then you know we couldn?’t agree more.

If you?’ve been practicing in the Web profession for awhile, then chances are then you also agree that designing with accessibility in mind is a good idea and makes its makes great business sense. All of that said, I?’m surprised when I hear from industry colleagues like Shawn suggesting how many are not implementing even some of the most basic principles into the mix and its cause for concern. The reasons vary of course and will drill into a few of them in future podcast.

For today, I?’d like to share a few bulleted highlights from her session:

•Older people (ok yours truly are among that group) can have issues with color contrast. That?’s an issue because many older cell phone with limited color palettes have issues in bright lights.
•Accessibility is an issue because many people around the world simply don?’t connection. For example, low bandwidth connections is a huge issue in the US
•Also, included in the mix are people with low literacy and people who are not fluent in certain languages grapple with these issues.
•Last but not least, people who are either new and or infrequent users of the Web can experience issues.

One other walk away was Shawn demo using a screen reader. If you?’re not familiar with screen readers, screen readers provide individuals with access to everything on your computer from documents to spreadsheets and of course websites. It?’s worth learning more about this topic and how they work and I?’ve provided a couple of links for you to review.

Check out the three minute podcast on today’s WOW Technology Minute website.

Today’s WOW Technology Minute is brought to you by the Web Pro Community Challenge.
Sponsored by the WOW and the Adobe corporation, the Web Pro Challenge offers an opportunity to showcase your talent, gain industry recognition, win prizes and benefit the community by designing and developing a site for a non-profit organization.

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