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A11yLDN 2013 workshop

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Unfortunately the Acessibility London (a11yLDN) 2013 mini-conference was cancelled. However, here is the abstract and proposal for the workshop that I almost ran!

a11yLDN ’13 Call for Speakers Edit

Web Accessibility London 2013 (a11yLDN’13) mini-conference is a one day event that will take place at Mozilla London Spaces on 26th October 2013 from 11am to 5pm.

  • Theme: “Creativity, Innovation and the Future”
  • Formats: short presentations (each slot will be 1 hour), and lightning talks (each slot be 10mins) that have ‘longer’ discussions.

Makayla Lewis and Jim O’Donnell. 1 A4 page. By 4th October.


Title: Edit

Accessify Wiki: a collaborative band-aid for Web accessibility? Edit

Suggested topic(s): Edit

I suggest that this presentation/ workshop comes under the topic heading(s) "1.3. The future of accessibility?" and/or "2. Creativity and Innovation in web accessibility".

Abstract Edit

We have a lot of components on the Web today to improve accessibility for all - we have laws, standards, outreach and educators, consultants and lobbyists. We also have some direct-action projects like Fix the Web (http://fixtheweb.net). However, many Web sites still put up barriers to equal access. Do we need new approaches?

Accessify Wiki (http://accessify.wikia.com) is a new project, that aims to complement the current approaches to solving Web accessibility. It is a collaborative project, where anyone (*) can write accessibility "fixes" for a Web site or Web app. An ordinary user can then employ browser add-ons and similar tools to integrate the fixes in the site during their normal browsing experience. There are also tools to allow site owner/ developers to integrate the fixes directly in their Web site.

We will look at the current work-in-progress system. Specifically, we'll break Accessify Wiki down into its core components, and look at how you write accessibility "fixes". We'll also look at the limitations of the system, as this is not a panacea for Web accessibility!

There will then follow demonstrations and opportunities to try out Accessify Wiki.

And, we'll round off with a discussion. I would like your input to help shape the project.

Accessify Wiki uses existing open sources components and standards, and all code is released under a free/open source license.

Note, I will also give a brief update on a project I presented at a11yLDN'12, OU Media Player (http://mediaplayer.open.edu).

(*) "Anyone can write … fixes". Caveat: at present, you need some programming knowledge and problem-solving ability. The hope is that in the near future we can lower the bar, so that anyone who has a passion for Web accessibility can help write fixes!

Presenter Edit

Nicholas Freear is an open source developer, who during the day works as a Web developer in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) (http://iet.open.ac.uk) at The Open University.

He has contributed accessibility improvements to the Moodle open source project, developed an accessible online media player for The Open University, and written a book ("Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds"). Find him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/nfreear).

(Note: Accessify Wiki is NOT an Open University project, hence the wording above.)

Proposed format Edit

I'd like to run this as a short-ish presentation (15-20 minutes), followed by a hands-on session for those that have a laptop (or tablet?) with them (15 minutes), and free-form discussion. As I'm presenting a new idea, I'd like to give the "audience" the opportunity to try creating/ using accessibility fixes, and get as much feedback as possible from my peers.

Note, if you wish me to fit it in as a lightning talk, I can do that instead.

Pre-requisites Edit

For the hands-on session you'll need a laptop (possibly a tablet), running a recent version of Firefox or Safari browsers, and Internet access. We'll be installing some browser add-ons and extensions (Greasemonkey, Firebug & Juicy Studio Accessibility toolbar for Firefox; .) You don't need programming or "power-user" experience.

However, if you don't have a laptop or tablet there will still be plenty to see and to say. Come along regardless!

Keywords Edit

Web accessibility, progressive enhancement, augmented browsing, collaboration, wiki.

Questions Edit

I'd like to put questions like these to my peers:

  1. First impressions. Given what you've seen today, do you think that Accessify Wiki can realistically help reduce barriers to the use of the Web in the wild?
  2. Do you feel Accessify Wiki distracts/ detracts from other Web accessibility efforts, for example, developing standards/ guidelines, outreach and training, lobbying, consultancy, projects like Fix the Web etc. Or do think it will complement these efforts and projects?
  3. Are you concerned that a project like Accessify Wiki can be used as an excuse by site owners to not fix accessibility? (Even if we point out the limitations of Accessify Wiki?)
  4. To move the project forward, what do you think should happen next? Possible next steps could include:
    1. A big push to get people involved? (Yay, we're ready for the "big-time".)
    2. Switch from Wikia hosting, to self-hosting? (Ughh, that advertising needs to go!)
    3. Some design work? (Yuck, too cluttered, needs organizing...)
    4. Fix "X" in the current system?
    5. Programme a native add-on for Internet Explorer or Firefox? ("Replace" the existing user-Javascript - it's not usable)
    6. Better documentation, more screen-casts/ videos/ how-tos?
    7. Better tools for authors to write fixes? (For example, syntax-highlighting for the fix editor, validate fixes "as you type"...)
    8. Better tools for Web-site owner/developers to integrate fixes..?
    9. Multi-language support?
    10. Support for specific user groups? (For example, those with dyslexia…)
    11. Apply for a grant (The project will need funds soon, won't it?!)
    12. … You propose!
  5. How would you pitch this project? Do metaphors like "band-aid for the Web" work for you?
  6. Would you consider getting involved as...
    1. An end-user beta-tester? (Note, you may or may not use an assistive technology like a screen-reader - that's fine)
    2. An end-user, when its stable?
    3. A "publicist", spreading the word about the project?
    4. A writer/ editor/ tester of accessibility fixes?
    5. A writer/ creator of documentation/ screen-casts/ how-tos?
    6. A programmer/ developer?
    7. … Another role?

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