Transcription: Web Axe Episode 90 (Articles, Events, Jobs, Twitter)

[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 90, "Articles, Events and Accessible Twitter."

Welcome Ross.

Ross Johnson: Thanks Dennis. How have you been?

Dennis: Good. Haven't spoke to you in a while.

Ross: Yeah, it's been a long time.

Dennis: Yeah, it's been a long, crazy winter and spring so far.

Ross: Right. It's finally starting to get warm here in Michigan. Let's see, what's today? 56, which feels amazing.

Dennis: I heard it was like 80 the other day.

Ross: Yes, Sunday, it was up to 80, and that's a lot more than what we were expecting. The day before I was cold and it was nice to go into a warm house. The day after, it was so warm that it was nice to come into the cool house.

Dennis: Yeah. It's been in the 60s here, but it's been sunny lately, so can't complain, in Northern California.

Ross: Yeah, sounds pretty nice. I take it.

Dennis: Yes, pretty nice. It's actually a little cool today. I wanted to take the motorcycle to work. I'll take it, hopefully, Friday or something.

Ross: OK. Hope it warms up enough.

Dennis: Yes. I hear you might be writing a book?

Ross: Yeah. I have started and everything. I was asked by the people at the Manning Publications, who mostly write a lot of technical books, a lot of programming and framework and database-related materials, to write a book about design. This is the same company that published our good friend Paul Boag's book, "The Website Owner's Manual," so that was cool too.

I'm almost to the one-third deadline, so I've got about a hundred pages done, and it's a lot harder than I expected.

Dennis: [laughs] Wow. You're already well into it, then?

Ross: Yeah, yeah. They didn't waste any time getting me started, which I understand. It's like information came just so quickly. It takes time to publish and write. Certainly taking up my time.

Dennis: Excellent. Well, congratulations, and we're looking forward to hearing more and seeing the book.

Ross: Yeah. Well, thank you. We'll see if we can do a giveaway for Web Axe listeners.

Dennis: That would be awesome.

Ross: I'll autograph it too.

Dennis: Yeah, yeah. Stay tuned. That'd be awesome.

Speaking of giveaways, I want to do a quick mention for TweetList, which is an iPhone Twitter application. Before, I guess it was like $3 or something, but now I just wanted to mention that the application is free, with ad support in the application. It's nice that they made it free for everybody.

Ross: Yeah, that's cool. I don't have an iPhone, so I haven't seen this one before. But looking through their screenshots, it looks like it's got some cool features and a nice clean, no-nonsense design. Pretty cool. Do you use it?

Dennis: No, I don't use it myself. I'm a fan of Seesmic on the mobile devices.

Ross: Oh, OK. Cool.

Dennis: Yeah, and Accessible Twitter. We'll talk more about that later.

Ross: It's going to be the best one.


Dennis: Well, that's the power of it because it can run on so many different kinds of devices.

Anyway, I want to do a quick mention about two blog posts since the last podcast on my "Fixing Alt" series, which is a fun series about one of the big issues on the web, and that's missing alternative text for images. I did a couple more comics, "Six reasons bacon is better than true love."

Ross: I love the name of that one.

Dennis: Yeah. Yeah, that's a good one. If you didn't have access to that comic before, now there's a text alternative for it. Check it out, it's hilarious.

There's another, newer one. This comic, "How one decides to build a browser." That's pretty funny. There's three panels, and the last one is slightly vulgar, but it's quite humorous. If haven't seen it, check it out.

Ross: Vulgar but appropriate.

Dennis: Yeah, exactly. So, you've read it? [laughs]

Ross: Yeah. [laughs]

Dennis: Without giving it away, it's about I.E.

Ross: Of course, the third one was good. The second one was good too, the Google Chrome frame.

Dennis: Oh yeah.

Ross: Very appropriate.


Dennis: That's funny.

Ross: Yeah, and frightening.

Dennis: [laughs] Yes. If you don't know what we're talking about, check it out on Web Axe, "How one decides to build a web browser."

Ross: Yeah. They're fun articles, I think that's a really cool idea. I think it's a good example. If you have trouble writing alt text or are never quite sure how to go about writing alt text, I think they're perfect examples of how to start thinking about how to replace images with text, and that sort of thing. I like them.

Dennis: Great. Thanks, Ross. I'm glad you like it. [laughs]

Ross: I'm a fan.


Announcer: Web Axe.

Ross: Yeah. Actually, there's been a lot of really good accessibility articles lately.

Dennis: Oh yeah. There's just so much content out there. I just picked a few for this podcast, but there's so much good stuff out there nowadays. It's great to see everybody writing and becoming more concerned about web accessibility.

One I want to give a quick mention is "How blind people see the Internet," which was actually on MSN or MSNBC, I should say. Did you get a chance to read that?

Ross: Yeah, I skimmed through it. I hadn't come across this until you posted it. It seems really, really interesting, and actually, just to see an article like this on MSNBC is really cool.

Dennis: Yeah, it's just a good article, so check it out if you haven't had the chance.

Ross: Yeah, yeah. I bookmarked it, thinking that the next time I don't do a go job talking about why accessibility is important, I can send clients or people to this site so they can read through it. Having not read the whole thing, it seemed like it would be a good job of explaining how this potentially could affect their website.

Dennis: Yeah. I think for people like me, if you know the why, then that's really the trick. If you know why you have to do something a certain way, or why it has to be accessible for alternative or assistive technology users, then, yeah, it's a great article for that.

Ross: Exactly.

Dennis: Another recent article by Glenda Watson Hyatt is called, is revisiting an old issue, [laughs] "Font resizing widgets: a help or a hindrance to accessibility?" It's an average sized blog, but the comments, I think, is where the bulk of the issues come out on this blog post. There's a lot of good comments for or against putting the little text resizing widget on your site, and if it's needed or not.

I kind of say no, because I'm like a stickler and I think the browsers should do it. It's up to people to educate the users in how to do it. But I can see why people would want to do it, just because in a practical point of view, a lot of people don't know how to increase the text size in their browser, because the browsers didn't make it very user-friendly to do that.

What's your opinion?

Ross: Yeah. I tend to agree that it definitely is the job of the browser, and it should be more apparent and more easy, especially considering how many people have legibility issues on websites. Not the people's fault, but websites that are not legible because of font size.

That being said, I think because it's not designed that way, the browsers, there's a convenience to having the font resizer right on the page, where you don't have to hunt for it or think for it, it reminds you that you have that option. Having observed some people using sites before, I've noticed that they're much more likely to actually resize the font when the widget's there, than not.

It's a monkey pass, I suppose, for poor browser design. I tend not to use them, but I can see how they work, given how most browsers are laid out.

Dennis: I guess maybe, like all sites, a lot of things you do really should depend on your user base, your target market, et cetera.

Ross: Right, exactly.

Dennis: OK. Let's move on. Another great article from Nomensa, the second part of the series, "Accessible tabs." The first part was about the problems and this second article that recently came out is about the solution.

This is by Emily Coward. I don't know her specifically, but I do know one or two other folks from the company. It's a great company and they do great work, so I highly recommend anything they do.

They talk about some great solutions, including accessible tabs, a solution from Dirk Ginader. They talk about ARIA, some of Jason Kiss's work, and a jQuery widget example from Hans Hillen. Great stuff, great stuff.

Ross: Yeah. This sort of mindset approach is only going to become more important as more people use more javascripting jQuery stuff, it's kind of throwing plugins in there. You've got to be aware of how that effects the accessibility, because a lot of them, they're written by people who just want to see this cool effect work, without the thought of what's the impact?

Dennis: Yeah. More like proofs of concept, rather than actual nice final, clean, accessible stuff.

Ross: Right, exactly.

Dennis: Fortunately, I'm seeing more fixes for that kind of thing.

Ross: Yeah. Actually, I think the jQuery UI, a lot of their stuff seems to be pretty accessible.

Dennis: They're doing some great work. I've looked a little more into the jQuery mobile, what do you call it, framework, I guess...

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: ...Which is fully supported with ARIA.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: Good stuff.

Ross: Yes, it's a really cool library. It makes building mobile sites really easy, really quick.

Dennis: Yeah. Nice, clean, accessible ones.

Ross: Great.

Dennis: More good stuff. Let's see, this one from Jonathan Snook, who I met. I sat across from him at dinner at CSUN which was pretty cool.

Ross: Oh, cool.

Dennis: Yeah. Nice guy. He's doing work for Yahoo lately, and he is working on Yahoo mail. This blog is about some work by him and Todd Kloots. "Keyboard Accessibility for Web Applications." They're using Yahoo mail as the example, and going through some techniques. Check that out if you haven't seen it.

Just a real quick mention. "21 PDF Techniques for WCAG 2." This is a great resource from the W3C, which I guess has been out for a little while, but it was going around Twitter and I think, maybe, a lot of people didn't about it until recently.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: So I figured I'd list that here, since PDFs are still important.

Ross: Yes. It's actually the first time that I came across this.

Dennis: Oh yeah.

Ross: I guess I was part of that same group that was like, "When did this show up?"


Dennis: Yeah. I know Adobe has been working with them a lot. I know they came up with slash techniques and stuff. It's great to see.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: Then something brand spanking new, I think, from this morning, if I'm not mistaken. "Web Accessibility: 10 Common Developer Mistakes" by Joe Dolson. He goes through a lot of the things that we discussed. A really good writer and points out some good things.

If you're more of a beginner, then you definitely need to check out this article. It's not really long, but he explains the issues succinctly, very well. Talking about just low color contrast, alt attributes, the "click here" link. [laughs]

Ross: Right.

Dennis: Then he mentions CAPTCHAs, blah, blah, blah.

Ross: Yeah. I love his examples too. He always has really good examples. One in particular that made me laugh is there's this "click here" and the problem with it, it doesn't really refer to text specifically.

He has this example of this table that has 139 occurrences of an image labeled "go" in tiny print, with the alt attribute text of "yes." You look at it, and I feel like I would have accessibility problems with it, like I wouldn't know what to do.

Dennis: Yeah, that table looks like it has a lot of issues.


Dennis: The column headings at the top are sideways and it's hard to read. Yeah.

Anyways. Yes, more good stuff from our friend Joe Dolson. Check that out. I think that's all for the articles.

Announcer: Web Axe.

Dennis: It's been a busy year so far, real busy. I went to the CSUN. Let's talk about some conferences and events. But first, I want to do just a quick mention of the CSUN conference in San Diego. That went really well, and I did make a post, "Post-CSUN Resources" on Web Axe, so check that out.

It lists some resources like presentations and stuff you can read, that I recommend, but mostly why I posted it was for two or three other resources that people have created that have extensive lists of presentations and multi-media and all kinds of stuff coming out of that conference. If you have time, there's a lot of good stuff, so I recommend that you make some time, and read up on what was going on.

I guess there was one or two overlays with South by Southwest this year, one or two days of overlaying. Next year, I don't think there's going to be any overlap, from what I hear. They've separated the schedules. I think CSUN is earlier next year.

Ross: Got you. Are you going to try and make both?

Dennis: I would like to.


Dennis: You didn't go to "South by" did you?

Ross: No, no.

Dennis: [laughs] Neither did I.

Ross: Every year, I say I'll go to the next one. But from what I hear, the actual conference part of it is becoming less and less, and the party part of it becomes more and more.

Dennis: Yeah.

Ross: It makes me wonder, are there better conferences out there? Maybe I should just go to CSUN.

Dennis: That would be awesome, man.

Ross: Yeah. It's good one?

Dennis: Oh yeah. It's a ton of fun. Make sure you're prepared for long days. I stayed off maybe a mile away, and so I was getting up at 7.00 or 7.30 in the morning, get to the hotel like 8.00-ish, and the sessions went through 4.00 or 5.00. Then there's events and all kinds of stuff going on, and then you go out to dinner, and I never got back to my hotel until at least 10 o'clock at night.

Ross: [laughs] Yeah, that is a long day.

Dennis: Then I had to do work, and Twitter, and do other stuff. Yeah. It was fun, but it's crazy.

Ross: Yeah, especially the conference where it's like you're trying to absorb so much. For me, that takes a lot of energy in and of itself.

Dennis: Yeah.

Ross: Minus the actual long days and working and that sort of thing.

Dennis: But, it's fun and I was excited to do all these things, and I found myself actually not that tired. I don't know if it was all the coffee I was drinking. [indecipherable 18:10] I made it through, and by the time I got back home, I was pretty wiped out.

Ross: [laughs] Accessibility adrenaline.

Dennis: [laughs] Yeah. OK.

Let's talk about a few events coming up. Next month is the John Slatin AccessU Accessibility Conference from Knowbility. May 17th through the 19th in Austin, Texas. I will be there. It's funny, that'll be the first time I'm in Austin not for "South by."


Dennis: But I am giving the keynote, so if anybody out there is listening, try to make it. It's going to be a good time.

We've got something going on in London on May 25th, a free presentation, Evolving Standards in Accessibility. That's going to be a half-day event covering the new British Standard for web accessibility that, what do you call it, the BSI8878. They're also going to talk about WCAG two and stuff, with examples.

I think it's more about procuring accessibility. As far as I know, the 8878 is not like guidelines or anything, I think it's more of like procedures, from what I understand.

Ross: Interesting. I'm not too familiar with it.

Dennis: Yeah. If anybody listening is, please give a comment and straighten us out.


Dennis: If was in London, I'd definitely go. I could learn about it.

Ross: Right. It's a free presentation, if it makes it worth the cost of the ticket. Although flying to London is probably several thousand, huh?

Dennis: I have no idea. I imagine it's at least a grand, yeah.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: [laughs] Let's see. July 11th and 12th in Toronto is a jQuery ARIA Hackathon. Now that sounds something that would be worth the money to go to.

Ross: Yeah, that sounds really cool. Here's a chance to really contribute to jQuery accessibility. It sounds interesting.

Dennis: Yeah. So many people use jQuery nowadays, it sounds like a great event to go to, and to learn and share.

Ross: Right. Yeah, jQuery is as great as it is because so many people contribute to it. All the working groups and stuff. [indecipherable 20:48] It would be cool to say that you contribute to it.

Dennis: There's Future Midwest.

Ross: Yes. That's happening over on this side of the U.S., happening in Detroit. The first one was last year, Future Midwest, and they just talked about technology in the future, and how that relates to the Midwest.

One of the cool things that this year's conference has that last one didn't... The last one was very marketing, technology, that sort of thing, focused, almost in some ways like a TEDx. But this time, there's a lot of talk about user experience, and that sort of thing, and how it relates to new media, in the web, and mobile, and all that.

Dennis: That's in Detroit?

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: Is it downtown?

Ross: I believe it's in Royal Oak.

Dennis: OK. My old stomping grounds.

Ross: Yeah.

Dennis: From way back.


Dennis: I'm old.

Ross: Oh, no. Actually it is Eastern Market, Detroit.

Dennis: Oh, it is.

Ross: Cool. Yeah. It seems interesting. One of the aspects of the user experience is accessibility. If people can't use your site because it's inaccessible, then it's not a good experience.

Dennis: Yes. There's crossover there with cognitive issues or just ease of use, et cetera.

Ross: Right, right. Part of the user experience is does it work on my device? If you have an older computer, part of the experience is it built so that it can progressively enhance and work at this smaller level?

Dennis: Right. Cool. That's April 28th and 29th.

Ross: Yeah, it's coming up.

Dennis: Yeah, OK. I'll have to get this podcast out as soon as possible.


Dennis: OK. That's all we have on conferences and events. Let's talk about some jobs.

Announcer: Web Axe.

Dennis: In addition to articles, it's nice to see more jobs out there, job openings relating to accessibility. I want to mention the few recent ones. Deque Systems is seeking a Section 508 Tester on-site in Washington, DC. That mention comes from a posting on WebAIM.

Ross: That's a cool company. We know a couple of people who work for them.

Dennis: Yeah. They had a suite at CSUN.

Ross: Oh, really?

Dennis: Yeah. I can really think they're making a name for themselves. They're showing off what they're doing. They had some good stuff going on in the suite, and that was the place to be, as far as the big suites at CSUN. It was pretty cool.

Ross: Good for them.

Dennis: Yeah. It was very neat. They're doing some great work.

Oh yeah. In Australia, there's an opening for WCAG2 Content and Compliance Officers. That's a neat title that somebody mentioned on Twitter how they want to have that job title.

Ross: Yeah, it sounds important.

Dennis: Yeah.

Ross: "You will comply."

Dennis: "I'm a WCAG2 Content and Compliance Officer."

Ross: [laughs]

Dennis: Yeah. That would be cool. You could go out and give tickets to people.

Ross: Right.


Ross: "Your site is inaccessible."


Dennis: Your fine depends on how much it's inaccessible.

Ross: Right. [laughs] Does that mean there's a Contents and Compliance Judge? Can you fight the tickets?

Dennis: [laughs] Oh, right. Yeah, who's the judge? Yeah, never mind. [indecipherable 24:47]


Dennis: All right. Let's see. There was a posting on LinkedIn, I think it's a few weeks old now. Dartmouth College in Boston, they seek Experienced Designer, Accessibility, is how is the job title. If you're in the area, or want to move to the area, check that out.

Let's see. In London, I'm pretty sure it's in London, but in the U.K., AbilityNet seeks, they have a few job openings, a Head of Accessibility, which I would apply to if I lived in the U.K. That sounds cool.

Ross: Yeah, it sound great.

Dennis: And they're looking for, I think, two Accessibility and Usability Consultants.

If you want to know more, or look for more accessibility related jobs, follow a11yjobs on Twitter, and also there's a new resource, Accessible--jobs on Twitter. There's a new website also, that this organization has. It comes from Yeah, it's called AT Work. It's a new tech job board, but it's meant for positions relating to accessibility. That's at

Ross: Very cool.

Dennis: Yeah, check it out.

Announcer: Web Axe.

Dennis: Last topic. Accessible Twitter.

Ross: Accessible now.

Dennis: Yeah. First of all, if some reason you're not familiar, is a web app that I created, that makes Twitter fully accessible. It's actually well over two years old now. I found an old blog post, it's pretty funny, from the middle of February of '09 [laughs] that I'll put on the show notes, when I announced it on my personal blog.

Ross: Yeah. It's exciting. Time flies.

Dennis: I know.

Ross: I remember when you first told me about it, and it doesn't seem like that long ago. Two years is a long time.

Dennis: Yeah, yeah. It's over two years. It flew by, but at the same time, so much has happened since then, I guess I could believe it's been two years.

Ross: Right.

Dennis: It won an award a year and a half ago. I finally actually received the award in the mail. The actual, What do you call it? The award, trophy thing? [laughs]

Ross: Award, yeah. I know what you're talking about.

Dennis: It's pretty cool. I should take a picture of it. It's this rectangular, solid glass piece. It's pretty sweet.

Ross: Yeah, you should definitely post it on the Web Axe blog. [overlapping discussion]

Dennis: [laughs] Yeah. It was an Access IT award, which was from the U.K. But more recently, I went to a conference in Seattle and I was honored or Accessible Twitter was honored with 2011 Access Award from the AFB, the American Foundation for the Blind.


That was really cool. I made a small speech and received the award with representatives from CBS, Lexmark, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who also received the award. That was a good time.

Ross: Yeah, that's huge. Congratulations.

Dennis: Thanks. Yeah, I did a blog post with my little speech that I made and mentioned some folks who helped out early on. Good stuff, good stuff.

At CSUN, I did a lightning talk at the Tweetup on updates to Accessible Twitter. I'm still not sure when, but hopefully sooner than later, look for a name change. Accessible Twitter will have a new name.

Ross: Interesting.

Dennis: [laughs] I don't know when it's going to happen. Within a few months, let's say.

Ross: The first time I'm hearing of it, so I'm very curious.

Dennis: Yeah. Well, we could talk after.

Ross: All right, it sounds good.


Ross: Congratulations. Accessible Twitter is going great, and it's great to see that so many people recognize good work.

Dennis: Yeah. I'm really... I don't know if I want to say surprised, but I am a little. I'm honored and I feel guilty that I don't have more time to work on it. This summer, I'm going to have some time, I'm going to make some more improvements to the site. Watch out for that too.

Ross: Great.

Dennis: All right, Ross. Thanks for joining me. Until next time, adios.

Ross: Thanks everybody, talk to you soon.



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