Wendy Chisholm

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

Archive for the ‘accessible’ tag

Haptic Tattoo

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I love tattoos. I love inclusion. I love futuristic ideas.

The haptic tattoo is all three.

Written by wendy

January 11th, 2008 at 6:24 pm

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Inspired by BBC’s Technologies on the rise in 2008

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Each time I see predictions for new technologies, I wonder how long it will be until they are accessible. Perhaps 2008 will be better than previous years – let’s take a look at the technologies listed in the BBC’s Technologies on the rise in 2008 and make some accessibility predictions for the upcoming year.


“Google announced its Gears application whilst Adobe launched Air and Microsoft released Silverlight.” I haven’t looked at Gears and Air, but there is hope that they will be accessible (good folks work at both companies) but SilverLight is an accessibility disappointment. Let’s hope version 2 straightens things out.

Accessibility prediction: Accessibility will be incorporated into each technology but the majority of developers won’t use accessibility features. Development tools won’t check for accessibility issues so developers won’t know or think to address them.

What can you do? Put ATAG and WCAG into developers’ hands.


“…towards the end of 2007 a series of new products started to hit shelves. The most talked about was the Asus EEE, a sub-£200 laptop about the size of a hardback book.”

The EEE runs Linux – while I’ve not played with LSR or GNOME accessibility, at least there is an open source movement.

“Apple is even rumoured to be launching ultra-thin Macbooks using flash in 2008.” – assuming that the universal access features of leopard are all that apple claims they are, the future of the ultra mobile pc looks bright.

Accessibility prediction: Ultra mobile pcs will be an inexpensive platform for the replacement to mobile assistive technologies and augmentative communication devices that currently cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars.


More homes have broadband connections and speeds are increasing, “As a result, more and more internet protocol television services are being launched.” I hope currently captioned programs will continue to be, but one look at YouTube -with its thousands of hours of uncaptioned video – and I shake in my boots. Although, there is hope: CNET is captioning all of its programs.

Accessibility prediction: Thousands more hours of uncaptioned video and few described videos.

What can you do? Learn about captioning services and tools and incorporate captioning into your workflow. Refer to WCAG 2.0 Related Resources for Captions and WCAG 2.0 Related Resources for Audio Description.


No issues that I’m aware of.

Accessibility prediction: None that I can think of. Any ideas? Matt says, “location-based services” and pointed me to Andrew WiMAX Location Information Server. Sweet! Wonder what the Geeze has to say about that.


Accessibility prediction: As long as the interface is accessible, should be awesome. I assume people with hearing loss or who are deaf will continue to chat and text. Any issues here that I’m not aware of?

What are your predictions for 2008?

Written by wendy

January 4th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

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universally accessible play area

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universally accessible play area
Originally uploaded by anneke boudreau

We recently traveled to the midwest to visit family. Since we were traveling with a 2 year old, we stopped at as many playgrounds as time would allow.

Two of them were accessible. The photos that I took of the play areas didn’t turn out, but they both had a ramp that allowed access to the play structure (the towers, steering wheels, and other toys on the walls of the enclosure, as well as the tops of the slides and stairs). The play area in Michigan also had an English alphabet panel. With each letter was the American Sign Language hand gesture and the Braille character.

Access to Play Areas” lists a variety of reasons to make play areas accessible.

A playground should not just be accessible for children. It should be accessible for adults with disabilities as well. At times there may be teachers, parents, or even grandparents at the play area that may have disabilities and need to access different elements of the play area should children using the equipment need support, supervision, or first aid.

Most importantly, an accessible play environment allows for social integration to still take place. Children naturally form play groups. Play areas that are inaccessible prohibit children with disabilities from fully participating in the group.

Once again, accessible design benefits a variety of users and strengthens our social fabric.

Written by wendy

September 28th, 2007 at 6:21 pm

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