May 9th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day here on planet Earth. In simple terms, very simple terms, it’s a day dedicated to accessibility awareness. In slightly more complicated terms, we’re taking about a day where everyone involved with web development gets up and shouts about the benefits of accessible websites.

Here’s the day, as described by the founders:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to dedicate one day to raising the profile of and introducing the topic of digital (web, software, mobile app/device etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities to the broadest audience possible.

Anyone and everyone should get involved in the day and help spread the word about web accessibility. You don’t have to be a developer to speak your mind either. May of you are business owners and designers who often work with developers. You can do your bit by championing the cause on May 9th (and every time you start/design a new project of course).

Global Accessibility Awareness Day tips

Here are a few fun things you can do on Global Accessibility Awareness Day:

  • Unplug the mouse of everyone in your office for the day
  • Tape cardboard or smear Vaseline over everyone’s monitors
  • Become a ‘Human Pop-up’ and interrupt colleagues in the middle of meetings
  • Remove the labels from the tea, coffee and sugar jars
  • Set up a screen to play a video whenever someone enters a room and remove all pause and stop buttons

Ok, so that might get you in trouble at work (just don’t do EVERYTHING on the list at once). The idea behind May 9th is to talk to someone about the importance of web accessibility who might not otherwise know about it.

If you have a team meeting, ask for ten minutes at the end to talk about what your company can do better.  If there’s no meeting, why not organise one (with the go ahead of your boss) and field questions on web accessibility. You could even offer an after-work talk if there’s no time in your office hours (perhaps host this at the pub or at least take a cake in).

My Global Accessibility Awareness Day sale

How to Meet the WCAG 2.0Did you see this one coming? So that I’m not all talk and no trousers, I’m putting my support behind Global Accessibility Awareness Day by reducing my book How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 down to $1 for 48 hours from today.

I’ve gone for 48 hours because:

  • It’s a wicked-cool film, and
  • It means that as long as it is May 9th somewhere in the world, you can buy my book for $1.

I know a lot of people have really enjoyed my book and used it to improve their understanding of web accessibility (if that’s you by the way, I could do with some testimonials!). I’d like as many people as possible to get their hands on a copy on May 9th.

Now get going! Plan your actions for the day, like the Day on Facebook and buy my web accessibility book for $1.

Have you got any other ideas to add to my list of accessibility pranks? Share yours in the comments.

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility via AxsJAX‘ was a 2008 Google Tech Talk , presented by Charles Chen and T.V Raman. The video is a technical tutorial of AxsJAX, or Access-Enabling AJAX. AxsJAX was a Google project that injected web accessibility standards into web 2.0 properties – many of which rely on JavaScript.

This post is for developers only, if you’re a website owner you may find this interesting but probably not. Don’t worry, it’s ok to walk away from things that you don’t need to know. Focus on keeping your website accessible by pressuring your designers and developers to know this kind of stuff.

If you need a primer on AxsJAX, read the AxsJAX frequently asked questions.

After the video, I’ll offer a summary of key points (but no cheating, make a pot of tea and watch the video).

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility via AxsJAX

Watch ‘Enhancing web 2.0 accessiility with AxsJAX’  on YouTube.

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility summary

There’s plenty to learn from the video, but here’s my summary of the key points:

What we can do in web browsers

There have been great leaps forward in web 2.0, with dynamic websites and applications but this has brought along issues for people with disabilities, especially blind users. AxsJAX is about taking those dynamic technologies like AJAX and JavaScript and actually enhancing web 2.0 accessibility.

Using the W3C’s ARIA as a basis, we can give screen readers information about what is on a page. We can tell a screen reader that a menu is a menu and set speech for it. By adding just a few lines to the assembly language, we can make JavaScript talk.

The benefits

Not only can developers use AxsJAX on their websites, they can inject it into inaccessible websites through JavaScript. Developers can start enhancing web 2.0 accessibility on third-party sites.

AxsJAX is better than tabbing through a page, it can scroll through just links or just links in a certain section rather than through all focus points on a web page. It can enlarge sections on focus and zoom just the section, rather than the page – this stops users getting lost when they zoom.

AxsJAX tutorial

The majority of the video is a live tutorial of Charles working on Google Product Search (circa 2008), view it from 0:14:30 to 0:47:00.

Both the AxsJAX homepage and AxsJAX tutorials are good places to start learning more.

Closing thoughts and questions

AxsJAX is best when used rapid experiments and iteration.

Awareness of web accessibility is increasing, but getting people to act is still hard. People don’t know what they can and can’t use, especially with dynamic web 2.0 applications like AJAX and JavaScript. With AxsJAX you can inject accessibility for third parties using that same dynamic technology that scares them.

Guidelines for web accessibility are good but nothing beats your knowledge of your website and your users. Guidelines can’t cover every eventuality, so don’t wait to be told that something is an issue – if you see problems go and fix them. Iterate rapidly, take feedback and iterate again.

Don’t worry about fragility or change breaking what you’ve done. Websites that get used will iterate and improve, websites that don’t get used will break but no-one will care. Think of the process as growing robust over time.

You need three things to make your website or application with AxsJAX:

  1. Pick the content to speak to users
  2. Assign keyboard means of moving and acting
  3. Format what is spoken when users move and act

With just a little more time spent on formatting, we can produce really good products.

And that’s the end of the video! Please note that the above summary is my interpretation of ‘Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility with AxsJax‘, which has not be verified by the producers, Charles or Raman.

So what do you make of AxsJAX? Have you developed anything with it? How are you enhancing web 2.0 accessibility? Share your work in the comments.