Transcription: Web Axe Episode 88 (Quick Start to 2011)

[Introduction, woman's voice over music] Welcome to Web Axe, practical web accessibility tips. Web Axe dot blogspot dot com. Web Axe. Web site accessibility. Web standards. Web Axe dot blogspot dot com.


Dennis Lembree: Hello, and welcome to Web Axe podcast number 88: "A Quick Start in 2011." I'm your host, Dennis.

Ross Johnson: And I'm Ross.

Dennis: Hello, Ross.

Ross: Hey, Dennis. How was your New Year?

Dennis: Pretty good, pretty good. New Year's Eve was pretty tame, just some time with the neighbors and then hung out with the family after and stuff.

Ross: OK. Are the neighbors web people, too, or just neighbors?

Dennis: Just neighbors. Good neighbors.

Ross: That's important to have.

[beeping sounds]

Ross: That's my dishwasher in the background, [laughing] for anybody wondering.

Dennis: I thought that was your beeper.

Ross: Yeah, that, too.


Ross: Yes, my beeper is fully accessible, for those wondering. [laughs]

Dennis: And then I tried to watch a lot of football on New Year's Day, of course.

Ross: Oh, yeah.

Dennis: How was yours?

Ross: It was good, also low-key. I guess when you get older, you do less. Yeah, went out to dinner with friends, which was fun. Watched the ball drop. But, yeah, didn't go out or do anything major.

Dennis: On January 1st, I did publish something on Web Axe. I thought this was timely: an "Intro to Web Accessibility Resources" blog post. So it just has a listing of several real good introductory or basic information about web accessibility. So, if you're newer in that arena or if you know somebody, send them that link. And the first few I think are the best that I listed, the one by WebAIM, of course, most people know. And it's now translated in 10 languages.

Ross: Oh, fancy.

Dennis: Yeah.

Ross: [laughs]

Dennis: And then Dev.Opera has a good one, and WaSP. Let's see. Just some miscellaneous others.

Ross: Yeah, so it's nice. You can kind of start your new year right. Maybe somebody's resolution is to be more accessible in 2011.

Dennis: Yeah, let's hope so. [laughs]

Ross: If that's your resolution, please let us know. We'll give you a shout-out or something, because that would be cool.

Dennis: One thing I'm not going to do, at least at this time, is do the monthly link archives, like in 2010. So, in lieu of that, you can check out some weekly roundups by Denis Boudreau. He's calling it the AccessiWatch Weekly RoundUp on his Posterous blog.

Ross: Yeah, OK. I'll have to check that out. I actually hadn't come across it before.

Dennis: Yeah. So I'm glad [laughs] I saw him start doing that. Because I'm like, "OK." Good somebody's doing the roundups because, until I get an intern, I'm not going to have time for that. [laughs]

Ross: You mean you don't have endless amounts of free time?

Dennis: No. No. Actually, I've been busier than ever, and starting to get a little worried about myself.

Ross: [laughs] Yeah, you tweet a lot. I've noticed, you do a really good job keeping up on social media. It always reminds me that I never, ever tweet.

Dennis: [laughs] Yeah. I guess I'm a little addicted, I guess you can say.

Ross: No, I think it's good. It's always good resources. So yeah, if anybody doesn't follow on Twitter, or any of Dennis's Twitter accounts--you've got, what, three now that I know about. [laughs] Yeah, you've got a lot of good resources. Maybe that should be my new year's resolution, to actually provide value to Twitter.

Dennis: All you need to do is just re-tweet Web Axe account and re-tweet the Accessible Twitter account.

Ross: [laughs] I wonder if I can set it up to auto re-tweet. [laughs]

Dennis: [laughing] Yeah.

Ross: That'd be nice.

Dennis: Anyways. Let's see. So you came across this "Hardboiled Web Design"? What is this all about here?

Ross: You haven't heard of it quite yet?

Dennis: No.

Ross: OK. Do you know Andy Clarke?

Dennis: Yes, somewhat.

Ross: So he's written a couple books. He's more of a designer/CSS guru, I would say. But he recently wrote this book "Hardboiled Web Design," released it under Mark Boulton's publishing company, Simple Steps. It was an e-book first, and it had a limited-edition print run, and I was one of the lucky few to get a print copy. And it's actually a really cool book. It's a lot about CSS3 and HTML5, and it goes into a lot about ARIA and accessibility and then shows you a lot of the cool stuff you can do in HTML5 and CSS3 now and why it's OK. I think a lot of people are still hesitant to do the rounded-corners thing, because it won't look like that in IE.

Dennis: [laughs]

Ross: But he does a good job of explaining, "Yeah, it's OK. Don't worry about it. Here's how you tell your clients or your boss that it's OK." It's got some cool ARIA stuff and cool HTML5 stuff. I would recommend it. I might actually write a formal review at some point, but I wanted to mention it on this podcast.

Dennis: OK. And looks like he's doing a workshop, too.

Ross: Yeah. He's been doing workshops for a bit now. I haven't heard much about them.

Dennis: It's in the UK.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: So it's 299 pounds plus VAT, in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester--Monchesta--and at Web Directions in London.

Ross: Yeah. So there might be something cool to check out there.

Dennis: Yeah. That's all in the coming months this year.

Ross: That's good. I would recommend checking it out. If you haven't started playing with CSS3 or HTML5, or even if you have, there's some stuff in there that I was like, "Oh yeah, that's how you do that."

Dennis: What else is going on so far this year? Lots of stuff happening. Been blogging a little more lately on Web Axe, which has been helping the RSS subscription rate continue to climb and continue our readership. So one thing that I put up is I responded on some comments on this article, "A Quick Web Accessibility Checklist." And it was published several months ago, but it was going around Twitter a lot. So I read the article, and it was so-so. So I thought, like I do sometimes, to write a blog and to respond on some of the comments, because there were a few things that definitely needed some clarification. I got a pretty good reception on that and got some good comments on that, so that was all good.

Ross: Then there was the "25 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible."

Dennis: Yes. It's been almost a year since I started this article. And it's been nearly six months I've been waiting to publish this article that I wrote, and it was supposed to be published on a really, really large online magazine. It went through a big review and everything, and then it was supposed to be just in-queue. So for a few months, I've been waiting for it just to be published. They said it was in-queue, was going to be published. And the next thing I know is I get an email with some more feedback, like the second or third round, and almost every point in there was completely frivolous.

Ross: [laughs]

Dennis: There was nothing wrong with the content. They just had a suggestion here, maybe thought this about that. But it wasn't really that pertinent.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: It really made me upset. So I've decided to scrap it, forget that giant online magazine, and I'm just going to publish it with this in-between person that I was working with. So there we have it: "25 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible." Finally. So it published about a week ago and got a lot of great reception. So thank you, everybody, for tweeting and re-tweeting it.

Ross: Yeah, I really liked it. It was a really long, detailed, well-thought-out article, so I don't know what the deal was there. I had a similar experience with a different large online publication, where they published one of my articles, again, using kind of this intermediary person. And a couple days later, I guess they got into a fight with that intermediary person and took it down. And it never got republished.

Dennis: What?

Ross: Yeah, I kind of don't know. I feel like there's...

Dennis: That's not very professional.

Ross: Yeah. I don't know who these in-between people are who facilitate the writers in these publications, but I feel like there's something weird that goes on there.

Dennis: [laughs] Yeah, I think I'm going to work directly with the publisher next time. And I do have a different very large online magazine that I might work with, but just making the time is not the only issue.

Ross: Right, right. We just need some way to clone ourselves, and I think we'll be all set.

Dennis: Yeah. The 25 ways got a good reception, and even made it into Laura Carlson's weekly newsletter. She's from the W3C. So that was encouraging to see. She put it very first in her newsletter, so I was happy.

Ross: Oh, that's great.

Dennis: And just to refresh everybody's minds, and to get us just thinking about some of these points, I'm just going to read them all off. Because sometimes you forget about some things, if you're concentrating more on Flash one day or you're doing more CSS for a couple weeks. I like to keep it fresh, right?

Ross: Right, right. Never want to forget one of the important 25 ways. [laughs]

Dennis: That's right. So, I'm just going to quickly go through them. Number one, consistent layout and structure. Number two, add alternative text to images. Some of these are so basic, but it's just...

Ross: A lot of people don't do them.

Dennis: Yeah, don't do them, or forget about them, or whatever. Number three, use page headings. Number four, use headings properly. Number five, skip links. Number six, link content, like the actual text of your hyperlink. Number seven, link awareness, such as focusing or hovering. Number eight, be careful with title attributes. Number nine, keep the underline. Number 10, forms--make them accessible is the implied connotation there. [laughs]

Ross: So is that in parentheses? [laughs]

Dennis: No. Number 11, make all links accessible to keyboard. Number 12, show link focus. 13, add ARIA Landmark Roles, or other ARIA. Number 14, validate your markup. 15, the three tiers in progressive enhancements. That's a pretty big one; I'll conglomerate it into one.

Number 16, use list elements for lists. Number 17, use more than color to convey meaning. Number 18, use a sufficient color contrast. 19, mark up data tables correctly. 20, make changes to content clear, i.e., Ajax. 21 is about Flash. 22, provide transcriptions. 23, add captions. 24, use appropriate language. And 25, test through multiple methods. Yeah. So that covers what I feel are the basics.

Ross: Yeah, very good. I think if you just had that list next to you while you were doing development, it would really help a lot of people. It doesn't cover everything, but it kind of keeps you thinking about it.

Dennis: Yeah, it covers all the different areas.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: Covers the bases. [laughs]

Ross: Yeah. Yeah. There's been some good articles lately, too.

Dennis: Yeah. Let's talk about Terrill Thompson's first: "Testing Accessibility of Pre-populated Input Fields." He just came out with this about a week ago or so. A good little article on testing pre-populated input fields, and a couple examples, and he explains a popular JavaScript remedy where you unobtrusively add in default text in an input field.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: Yeah. So that method works most of the time, but I guess there's cases in screen readers where there's issues. So he's proposed a fix for that, and there's some good comments on the blog.

Ross: This is something I see more often lately. I think from a design perspective sometimes it's nice if you have a search box, rather than having it say "search outside the box" people put "search" in the text box. You click it and it disappears. But that has all sorts of potential accessibility issues, like now you no longer have a label. And, yeah, the text box says search and how supported is the JavaScript and stuff like that.

Dennis: Yeah. It's fun to get a little tricky and clever, but you have to be careful, yeah.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: Like there's tricks where you can take the label and then dynamically hide it and then dynamically insert the content inside the input field, like what you were saying.

Ross: Right. Right. Yeah, with JSON it's not terribly hard. Unless I was testing it, I'd be worried about how is this behaving in the Screen Reader?

Dennis: Right, because a lot of people forget. I mean almost all Screen Reader users have JavaScript enabled.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: So you have to be careful.

Ross: Exactly.

Voiceover: Web Axe.

Dennis: So another thing going on recently is this big HTML5 logo.


Ross: Yeah. [laughs] It's been really the last week, right? That everybody's been upset more or less?

Dennis: Yeah. Oh, man! What a mess!

Ross: [laughs] What's your take on it because I have my definite opinion, but I'm curious.

Dennis: I'm for part of the idea and against part of the idea. So if you haven't heard by now if you've been in Mars, the WC3 released a new HTML5 logo, and I think that's fine. In their branding they're trying to promote it. They came out like, you know, you can order the t-shirt and stuff and that's all good. The issue I have is with the other part of it, where they say "The logo is a general purpose visual identity for a broad set of open web technologies, including HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, and others.

I think they're going too far with this marketing thing, and they're saying that it's OK to conglomerate all these, to mix all these technologies together and call it one word, HTML5. Frankly, it's confusing because then how are you supposed to determine what's HTML5 the markup between the rest of these standards, you know?

Ross: Yeah, I mean I agree. I think ultimately on some levels I agree. A lot of people are upset because yeah, they're combining these different technologies under one term. Essentially, CSS3 is not HTML5. They're different things. I do wonder if people are making a bigger deal out of it than it really needs to be. Like my complete guess is that they did this as a way to get maybe people who are not building websites a little more excited.

I think back when people say, "Oh, I want a Web 2.0 site" and nobody really knew what Web 2.0 is. But now people can say, "Oh, I want an HTML5 site," basically mean that you use the most recent web technologies. And a layman can understand that better than, "Well, we should use HTML5 and CSS3, and I really like that idea of SVG."

That's my interpretation of why they may have done that. Then in that sense it kind of makes sense even though it's not really accurate. So I'm not completely upset about it.

Dennis: OK. Yeah, I think some of the more hard-core folks are upset because they worked with the standards. They want the terminology to be clear, you know?

Ross: Right.

Dennis: So there were posts, some pretty heavy stuff, from the HTML Doctor about it. Our friend Jeremy Keith wrote "Badge of Shame."


Ross: I actually kind of like the logo.

Dennis: I just came out with a blog post about this. Not really extensive, but I list some of these commentary articles. But I also list a lot of the fun stuff that came out with this...


Dennis: ...including flash animated HTML5 logo.

Ross: [laughs] Ironic.

Dennis: And a really cool... Have you see the spinning logo with HTML5? You can flick it?

Ross: You know, it's been sent to me a couple times and I just haven't. I can't still actually open it. But it's good?

Dennis: Yeah, it's pretty cool.

Ross: [laughs] Oh. Wow.

Dennis: It only works with WebKit browsers.

Ross: OK.

Dennis: And then this HTML5 Pants is pretty funny.

Ross: [laughs]

Dennis: You can get boxer shorts. You can thank Chris Heilmann for that one.

Ross: [laughs]

Dennis: Bruce Lawson, of course, has some thoughts about that, too. And crap, I can't remember the name. He came up with the phrase that I thought might be good instead of HTML5 for talking about the newer technologies, and now it escapes me. So if you remember, please leave a comment on the show notes.

Ross: Yeah, I'd be curious to hear what that is, too.

Dennis: All right. Enough about that.


Ross: It was funny to read about that if you want to read more, but...

Voiceover: Web Axe.

Ross: I did come across two articles. They're not terribly new but they are by one of my more favorite bloggers, Jonathan Christopher, at Monday By Noon. He recently did a roundup of his blog where he said, "You know, here's some of my more interesting posts from this past year" and reminded me that those two were there. It's pretty interesting.

He's kind of playing devil's advocate on the first blog post which he called, "Is it now acceptable to require JavaScript?" which is an interesting look saying that potentially if we're too worried about people not having JavaScript, could it be holding the web back from all the great things that we could do?

And gave some examples of incredible web applications that are completely dependent on JavaScript. Like Gmail and, I think, the MacMe, the MobileMe site, completely dependent on JavaScript. Kind of follows that up later with we haven't forgotten about accessibility have we? Where he kind of talks about the other side of things, where you can't just discount it and sort of the different mindset to go through when you're considering how dependent your site is on JavaScript.

So, they're worth reading. It kind of keeps you thinking.

Dennis: Yeah, I remember the we-haven't-forgot-about-accessibility-have-we article, that was circulating. I can't remember the JavaScript one. But I went through the article before we got on the call and it definitely looks worth reading. And that's something that I've been thinking about for a while and maybe having a podcast about it or something. So, it never happened, but I guess we can always do that in the future.

Ross: Yes.

Dennis: Because that's becoming a bigger issue.

Ross: Yes, it would be worth talking about. Maybe we could get some of our JavaScript guru friends like Chris Townsend up.

Dennis: Yes, definitely. I think that would work.

Voiceover: Web Axe.

Dennis: So that was a good quick article roundup. I just want to discuss some conferences coming up. I'm not sure if I could get the podcast out quick enough, but January 26th to the 29th in Orlando, Florida, is the ATIA Conference, the Assistive Technology Industry Association. I had a presentation accepted there, but I bailed because it would be too expensive for me to pay out of pocket to go.

Ross: Oh, they wouldn't get you there?

Dennis: No.

Ross: Oh, OK.

Dennis: So, I used to live there and I have a friend I could stay with. But still, I don't know.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: I think maybe I'll try next year, because I have a few things planned already in the first half of this year. Yes, and one of those things is I'll be making a quick trip to Seattle for the first time. And that's March 11th or 12th for a conference the Josephine Taylor Leadership Institute. That is put on by the AFB.

And the reason I'm going there is there is a special thing happening that I can't yet announce, but I will surely let everyone know around that time when it happens.

Ross: Very exciting. [laughs]

Dennis: [laughs] So there's the teaser. Yes, I am paying totally out of pocket to go to that. But it should be worth it.

Ross: Excellent, wow. That's not quite as far, Seattle, and a neat place.

Dennis: Oh, yes, the plane ticket was only $150 on Southwest.

Ross: That's a good deal.

Dennis: From San Jose. And then, I guess it's about the same time, March 11th to 15th is South by Southwest Interactive, in Austin, Texas.

Ross: Yes.

Dennis: And I will be failing to attend that one again this year.

Ross: [laughs] I might, I might.

Dennis: Yes?

Ross: I am heavily considering it. Of course, we've talked about going for so long and I feel like it's become much more of a party than a place that you really learn stuff.

Dennis: OK.

Ross: And that's kind of why I would want to go.

Dennis: [laughs] Yes.

Ross: So, we'll see. I might go, despite it not being so much about the panels and presentations just because it's good networking and you got to go sooner or later, right?

Dennis: That's right. Hopefully I'll make it next year. But I always say that. But I know what you mean. I'm going to go to CSUN again, instead, this year. So, I'll be there Tuesday through Saturday, I think March 15th to 19th or something in San Diego, which is also a $150 Southwest flight in the other direction for me.

But yes, I'm going there to learn and attend. But honestly, I'm going more to network. I've gotten to know a lot of people much better over the last year and everything. So, it should be a great time.

Ross: Yes.

Dennis: And I'm planning on doing another CSUN Conference preview with Jennison, so stay tuned for that. And the last day of CSUN, Saturday morning, if you haven't scheduled yourself yet and you're going, try to save Saturday morning. There are going to be activities going on and sessions.

And I was asked, I was honored, to be on a judges panel for a college student contest, a Code-A-Thon Challenge, organized by the Project Possibility Organization, where I'm going to be a judge with a few other folks, including Mike Paciello. It's a contest for college students to create accessible websites.

Ross: Oh, that's great.

Dennis: Yes, so that should be real cool. So that's happening the Saturday morning at CSUN.

Voiceover: Web Axe.

Dennis: All right. I think that's all I have to say. Do you have anything?

Ross: No, I think that's it. A lot of conferences going on, so maybe I'll actually attend one of the four listed here.

Dennis: I hope you get to go to the South by Southwest. And there will be some good accessibility sessions there and I'm sure lots of good design, of course.

Ross: Yes, for sure. People seem to like it. So I'm sure it's worth going.

Dennis: Yes, I need to look up some friends on Facebook and see who is in Austin.

Ross: [laughs] Not a bad idea.

Dennis: I think I know - there's one guy I was on the wrestling team with in high school. I think he lives in Austin. I'll have to look him up.

Ross: Reconnect?

Dennis: He's a partier, too.

Ross: So he can be there for you after the conference.

Dennis: All right, Ross.

Ross: All right.

Dennis: Well, another good podcast. And we'll talk to you all next time.

Ross: See you next month.

[exit music]