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 ‘future’ tag

today’s stew

with 2 comments

It’s interesting that comments on my previous stew focused on types of toilets (although, I am happy to have learned about the toto 2000). I’m not sure if that means the idea of monetary incentives for accessible web design should be flushed…

This morning as I prepared for my commute to work (the walk to the basement of our house), I was thinking about the comments on Scoble’s Will videoblogs be outlawed because of California’s accessibility laws? One of the concerns is limits on personal expression.

Having recently wrestled with making a slideset accessible, I can understand the pain and frustration. I don’t have the hours to spend futzing with broken software. I need to get those slides accessible, publish them, and move on. As a working mother, I only have 24 hours per week to do my work – and that goes by far too quickly.

With the civil rights movement, the government literally held doors open to ensure integration in schools and on buses. For accessibility, it almost seems as if we are holding the doors open but forgetting to fix the ramps and railings that lead to them. Those renovations hold a cost that the civil rights movement did not have to contend with. Civil rights is overcoming attitudes; human rights/disability rights not only has to change attitudes but must lower physical barriers as well. That cost – in time or money – is a barrier. How do we remove that barrier? Is it up to the government? The community?

Getting back to personal expression, our laws say nothing about making private homes accessible. In a similar vein, personal web sites are not covered by law. Again, looking at civil rights, if you don’t want to let a white person into your home, you don’t have to but if you own a business, you must open your doors.

On the web, the line between personal site and public service blurs. I would argue that Scoble’s site is not a personal site, he offers a public service – the information he disseminates is astounding (not only in quality but in quantity! :). But, who should pay for the captions of his videos? One of the values of what he is doing is the real-time interaction – streaming video from his phone.

When making information accessible, you can run into a lot of broken tools along the way – as I did yesterday (and let me pause here to apologize for using my blog as a venting receptacle. My purpose is to help make the world more accessible – bitching and moaning is not a constructive way to enter the dialog…I task myself with sending constructive feedback to folks working on OpenOffice and Acrobat and making sure the problems did not stem from my own ignorance). Unfortunately, the reality is that many tools are broken (or not as easy to use as they could be) and making information accessible is not always cheap and easy.

How do we make it cheap and easy? And this need for “cheap and easy” goes both ways. Not only do the barriers to information need to be lowered for people with disabilities – the typical screen reading or magnification software costs more than a desktop computer – the barriers to creating accessible information need to be lowered. So, who should assume the costs?

Written by wendy

July 10th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Inspired by BBC’s Technologies on the rise in 2008

without comments

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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