Illinois Web Accessibility Conference

The first Illinois Web Accessibility Conference was held on Sept. 29, 2009 in Urbana. Victor Tsaran (Senior Accessibility Program Manager, Yahoo!) gave the keynote. One of the main points of his presentation was that for individuals without disabilities, using technology is an option; for those who have disabilities, it makes their lives much more meaningful. This helped stress the importance of web accessibility. Victor also discussed several issues many web designers and developers must face. These include: 1) a desire by clients to know the numbers of people impacted before the site is built. This is akin to asking the same question before deciding to place all items on only the high shelves in a super market. We should focus on how people use the accessibility features of a site. 2) Clients also think accessibility is hard to implement. This is true in some cases, but in many, it is a relatively simple matter (consider alternate text on meaningful images). 3) Many think accessibility features will distort their beautiful design. This can be avoided through use of CSS for the most part. 4) Many also think they need to comply with every guideline (get your site to validate first, for example). Guidelines are there to keep you on the right track.

I attended a session by Mike Scott (Illinois Department of Human Services) who discussed the Illinois Information Technologies Accessibility Act. He covered the fundamentals of both accessibility and usability. Mike indicated there is now the possibility to receive IITAA certification. I also attended a panel discussion on web accessibility and usability (which complemented Mike’s discussion). The panel participants provided a number of resources and links that can help in the process. I found it interesting that many of the resources (books and web sites) are the same ones I use in the CMWEB 150 class.

After lunch, I attended a panel discussion on what makes a presentation accessible. A number of extensions were discussed. The final presentation of the day dealt with Adobe Flash Accessibility. Many features were discussed that one can use to make Flash (and Flex) applications more accessible. Tools for captioning video were also discussed.

Overall, this was a great one day conference. Well worth the cost of admission (both the registration fee and windshield time). Many of the items discussed in our courses were reinforced and several new concepts were obtained (which I will be incorporating into my CMWEB classes).

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial