Web Accessibility Interviews with Shawn Henry, WAI and W3C

Greetings WOW Members and Web Professionals everywhere! Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) and the WOW Technology Minute.

Today’s podcast is a continuation of the coverage of the topic of Web Accessibility and the second in a series of interviews with Shawn Henry of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)and Chair of the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group.

Shawn holds a research appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and is the author of */Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design at: UIACCESS.

For the complete four minute audio interview with Shawn on the topic of the W3C’s work on Accessible Rich Internet Applications check out today’s podcast at the WOW Technology Minute..

Today s podcast is sponsored by the Webmaster Survival Guide. Check out all of the great resources and links at: WebmasterSurvivalGuide.

Transcript: WOW Technology Minute Web Accessibility Interviews with Shawn Henry, WAI and W3C

BILL CULLIFER: Greetings WOW Members and Web Professionals everywhere! Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) and the WOW Technology Minute. Today?’s podcast is a continuation of the coverage and the topic of Web Accessibility with Shawn Henry of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) World Wide Web Consortium W3C and Chair of the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group. Good afternoon Shawn and thanks again for the continued support of the web accessibility topic and this podcast.

SHAWN HENRY: Glad to be able to take this opportunity to continue sharing information about web accessibility.

BILL: Excellent. Thank you so much Shawn. Can you provide the listeners and the viewers of this podcast an overview of the W3C?’s work on accessible-rich Internet applications?

SHAWN: Absolutely. So this work applies to, largely to, dynamic html, sites with AJAX and other so-called Web 2.0 applications. And basically the issue is that Midas functionality is not available to some users with disabilities, mostly people who can?’t use a mouse and people who can?’t see and use a screen reader. For example, when websites use tree controls for navigation, that is often either not accessible or very tedious to access. So it may be accessible, but it?’s not very useable. Things like drag-and-drop, obviously, very difficult to do without a mouse. And then issues with updating the DOM, with AJAX Live Regions, with updating content on a page based on user actions. So these are some of the areas that we?’re focusing on.

So we have this specification called WAI AIA. It stands for Accessible-Rich Internet Applications. And this specification defines a way to make these user interface controls and dynamic content accessible. It primarily focuses on the, this level of technology. It has some features that are useful for simple sites, such as specifications for marking up regions of a page, like menus, primary content, secondary content, browsers and things like that. It is currently a draft. Many browsers, assisted technologies, Java Script tool kits and others have already begun to implement it. So we recommend that Web developers start now to learn about ARIA so that they can implement it appropriately and be ready and ahead of the game when that is finalized and when it comes out.

And one of the new bits of information, even for those who heard about ARIA several months ago, is that we previously had just the technical specifications and now we have material that developed, for developers. So there?’s a primer and there?’s a best practices guide. And all those are available from the WAI ARIA view, which you can find on the WAI website or if you just go to any search engine and type W-A-I dash A-R-I-A overview, it should take you right there.

BILL: Excellent. Thank you Shawn. Sounds like a terrific resource and we certainly thank you for continued support. Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters and the WOW Technology Minute on the phone with Shawn Henry WAI W3C. Thanks again Shawn.

ANNOUNCER: Today?’s minute is sponsored by the Webmaster?’s Survival Guide. When you need professional resources be sure to check out www.webmastersurvivalguide.com. There?’s something there for all skill levels and disciplines. And be sure to ask about advertising opportunities with this PR6 website from the World Organization of Webmasters.

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