Web Acessibility: Interview with Victor Tsaran Senior Accessibility Program Manager at Yahoo

Today’s podcast is a continuation of WOW’s media coverage of the Web Accessibilty Conference that took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign campus last week. For today’s podcast, I’m on the phone with Victor Tsaran Senior Accessibility Program Manager at Yahoo.

Victor was the Keynote speaker at the conference and presented on a variety of Web acessibility topics including the value of accessibility for all. For your information, we are posting an FLV video file with an image of Victor, an audio podcast and notes below compliments of Professor Mark DuBois, WOW Education Director that sat in on the conference as an attendee.

Check out the six minute podcast on today’s Web Professional Minute website.

According to Professor DuBois’s notes, Victor shares his personal thoughts, years of experience on the topic and resources:

* Personal struggles
* Uses assistive technology
* Relies on everyday basis
* Read books, look up menus
* Technology more than just a toy
* Essential for livelihood
* For people who don’t have disability that can do everyday things technology is a choice
* Grab a book, turn on the light decide to read book or computer
* For people with disabilities, technology is essential. Up to point of cooking can’t use microwave if no tactile labels.
* Won’t know if something is charging if no beep to hear it is charging
* Technology makes life easier for everyone, for some people it makes their life meaningful
* Speak every week at new hire orientation ay Yahoo
* Lots of people join Yahoo and think they will be rich
* People talk about security and so forth
* Couldn’t see how accessibility fits into program (orientation) at Yahoo
* Has to do a lot with how we present
* Tests for new hires have them write a bunch of numbers 60 million people with disabilities, 16 million in US. And so forth
* Want to get word accessibility into their mind from first day
* People ask often how many blind people use Yahoo innocent question. Myth is that people want to know numbers before they have done anything
* If don’t build store in accessible way and people can’t get into store, how can you ask how many people with disabilities use store
* How would you know if person is blind using Yahoo. Think about making site accessible first, then focus on how many people use accessible features. Have to invest first.

Myths that exist today

1. People think accessibility is hard to implement. Yes, it is, but a lot of things are not all that difficult. Simple stuff alternate text to images so simple should not talk about it, but people still forget.

2. Accessibility will screw up beautiful design on website. Answer is no, but there are some cases where answer is yes. Design from the start. Think visual design separate from content. Can do what want with visual design, still keep content intact and everyone has great experience.

3. Have to comply with every guideline. Personal view not necessary. Guidelines only get you so far. Lots of websites claim 508 compliance after running through validator. Not every guideline may apply to your website. Less about guidelines, more about functionality. Guidelines are there to keep you on the right track. As long as users go to what you build and love their experience, no worries. Keep users happy. Put people first. They should have fun using what you built.

4. This is all great, but no idea how this technology works. Not a screen reader user doesn’t make much sense not my world. If visual learner hard to work with screen reader. Used to scanning for information visually. Will never feel native to you. Hard to test what you have built. Must involve actual users of the technology. Otherwise, will waste a great deal of time. Grab a couple of users and ask for their feedback. Help us test drive the application. They may tell you things you may never have thought of. Find out what you enjoy about process focus on that. Use that as main driving force for web accessibility. Yahoo is about innovation people don’t like to be told what to do. There are limits, but they want to innovate. Don’t tell them you have to comply with certain guidelines. Developers should be proud of what they have built. Demo one or two things built at Yahoo.

Complicated interactions can be made accessible. Web 2.0 pushing boundaries of user experience. Lot of angry screen reader users who don’t like usdoing what we are doing. Need to educate users as well.
Screen Reader tools NVDA open source screen reader for Windows. Not using JAWS. NVDA is free open source.
Download and play with it. Most precise not forgiving. http://www.nvdaproject.org/

My favorites added recently http://m.www.yahoo.com/ search screen is pretty busy. Did search for origami using NVDA When module expands move focus this goes to top of module and screen reader can announce heading. When collapse, focus is back before. People will not get disoriented. http://developer.yahoo.com/ YUI widgets get accessibility for free. Yahoo Pipes visual programming language for processing feeds. Will this become accessible? Pipes is presently in maintenance mode. Refactoring into other products. Don’t need to rely on new technologies like ARIA. Firebug is now accessible so this may happen. 3rd party vendors don’t often give sufficient metadata so can make it accessible. Ads pushed back to agencies big problem.

A full transcript will follow in twenty for hours.

Today’s Web Professional Minute is sponsored by WebProTraining.org. WOW is pleased to announce the availabilty of the Creating Accessible Web Forms Course. Creating web forms that are accessible to people with disabilities requires understanding of the labeling features of HTML markup and how browsers interpret labeling markup for assistive technologies like screen readers. The online course is being taught by Dr. Gunderson University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. The course also provides great value and is highly reccomended by Web professionals worldwide.

WOW members will receive a discounted rate of $150.00. Check out all of the details on the Web Pro Training website and register today!

Check out all of the great links on the Web Professional Minute Website.

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