Wendy Chisholm

Stairs make the building inaccessible, not the wheelchair. Co-author of Universal Design for Web Applications. Strategist for Microsoft. @wendyabc at twitter.


with 6 comments

I am an author, activist and project manager. I co-wrote “Universal Design for Web Applications” with Matt May (O’Reilly, 2008) and edited Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and 2.0–the basis of most web accessibility policies.  I have appeared as Wonder Woman in a web comic with the other HTML5 Super Friends and as myself in interviews on Minnesota Public Radio, Puget Sound Public Radio, and at Ignite Seattle. In November 2009, I was the Seattle PI’s Geek of the Week.

I’ve focused on inclusive web design since 1995.  Being both a developer (B.S. in Computer Science) and a Human Factors Engineer (M.S. in Industrial Engineering/Human Factors), I bridge communication between developers and designers. As a staff for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for 6 years**, I helped synchronize work on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines with developments in internationalization and mobile design.

As a Senior Strategist at Microsoft, I help make Bing services and apps accessible. Previously, I spent part of my time working for the University of Washington’s AccessComputing project helping to increase the number of people with disabilities in computing fields. As part of that project, I contributed to the development of WebAnywhere–a screen reader on the go. Another portion of my time was spent consulting. I worked with Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and others to integrate universal design into their products and was a Senior Accessibility Consultant for the American Foundation for the Blind.

My personal mission is to find elegant solutions that remove barriers that prevent everyone from participating fully in society. I am an advocate for people with disabilities, people who are injured (especially vets) and people who are aging (i.e., all of us).  I want to make inclusion a reality–both online and off.

Photo provided by Matt.

**Fun fact: I worked with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. Here’s a photo of several of the W3C team. I’m in the front row to the far right of the picture, to my right is Steve Bratt (at the time, the CEO of the W3C, now the CEO of the W3C Foundation) and to Steve’s right is Tim.

Written by wendy

November 22nd, 2007 at 1:14 am

Posted in

6 Responses to 'about'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'about'.

  1. Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for this book. I’m enjoying the read.

    I’ve a question, however. On page 101, you write: “If you can live with UDM4’s licensing regime, it’s a good product and can save you a lot of time. But […] So we wrote an open source menu script of our own, which you can download at http://ud4wa.com.”

    I’ve looked for this menu script both on ud4wa.com and the book’s O’Reilly site but to no avail.

    Can you please point me to where this script can be downloaded

    Thanks a lot

    Bill Shackleton

    8 May 09 at 8:10 pm

  2. Bill,

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the book.

    I just published Open source menus and code on the ud4wa site. This gives pointers to the YUI and Dojo libraries–which are far more comprehensive than anything we could write on our own.

    Thank you,


    11 May 09 at 8:41 pm

  3. Hi,

    Heard your interview on KUOW on 7-25-09 and it was good to hear this topic being discussed. Regarding your book, I was wondering if, along with the Universal Design topics, do you cover the area of information management? One thing I’ve noticed with our aging population is the difficulty of finding things on their computers. They may be able to navigate a site just fine, but when it comes to information retrieval and organization, this becomes a serious issue (perhaps memory loss, etc.). Setting up mnemonic assistants or similar seems it would be part of a good accessibility design.

    Your thoughts appreciated,


    25 Jul 09 at 9:28 pm

  4. Rob: Sorry it took me so long to comment.

    I’m glad you like the interview. We don’t specifically cover information retrieval and organization in the book, except that using principles of universal design usually makes information easier to find with search engines.

    Mnemonic assistants are likely to help everyone and in that case are good universal design. This is what I like about universal design, oftentimes when you design to make something easier to use or easier to understand for a particular population, it often makes it easier to use or understand for everyone.

    So, if you end up using some mnemonic devices on your site, let me know. It would be interesting to see if more people find it easier to use.


    1 Sep 09 at 4:15 am

  5. […] A bit more about her: she co-authored the O’Reilly book “Universal Design for Web Applications” and I worked at the W3C for 6 years. She currently splits her time between the UW and consulting. For even more, including a link to her stint as Wonder Woman: http://sp1ral.com/about/ […]

  6. […] Wendy Chisholm is a developer and author of “Universal Design for Web […]

Leave a Reply