Friday 16 August 2002

Accessibility rocks!

It’s just before eleven on Friday night and I’m knackered. I’ve spent much of the week preparing for a two hour presentation on web accessibility, which I delivered this morning. It turned out well (naturally Mark Pilgrim’s name was mentioned frequently). Interesting that, in Australia at least, the issue of accessibility is a real eye opener to even knowledgeable Web developers. But, with the experience of implementing all of Mark’s tips from 30 days to a more accessible web site plus plenty of background research, I think I managed to do justice to the subject. In any case, the audience stayed until the end and asked plenty of smart questions, so they were clearly engaged by the subject.

I spent some time discussing Maguire v. SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games), since it is (as Constructing Accessible Web Sites describes it) “the first fully adjudicated case in the world on the issue of constructing accessible web sites.” Mr Maguire was awarded AU$20,000 when SOCOG failed to make the Sydney Olympic web site fully compliant by the start of the 2000 Olympic Games.

One of the people in the group today told me that he heard a news item about Mr Maguire’s complaint while listening to the car radio in the lead up to the Sydney Games. In addition to finding it hard to believe that a blind person would want to use the web, he was also suspicious that Mr Maguire was simply trying to extract some money from a high profile organization. For anyone who isn’t aware of the need for web accessibility, these are entirely understandable responses.

I heard about the case then too and recall being amused by SOCOG’s excuse that making the site accessible would require a developer to work eight hours a day for just over a year and that another AU$2.2 million of infrastructure would also be required. Even though I knew only a little about accessibility at the time, I knew enough about web development to realize that the SOCOG case was flimsy.

So, hats off to Mark Pilgrim for all the time and energy he poured into 30 days to a more accessible web site and to the CEO and his head of web development who invited me to prepare the presentation for their staff. It felt great today to be able to spread the word a little further.

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Comments

The really good summary of Maguire vs. SOCOG is the one I wrote, whose URL I see this site stripped off: http://contenu.nu/socog.html

Posted by: Joe Clark on 21 August 2002 at 12:43 PM

Stripped off while typing my comments, I mean.

Posted by: Joe Clark on 21 August 2002 at 12:45 PM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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