Archive for March, 2006

Signs of a sick organisation

It’s three years since Wrox Press went bankrupt and I got caught with redundancy for the first time, having survived four previous rounds of downsizing in various organisations. It got me thinking about the common signs of sickness I’ve seen in each company before it slides into corporate intensive care.
Continue reading Signs of a sick organisation

(Last Updated on 19 July 2006)

Tim Berners-Lee accessibility quotes

We’ve all seen it:

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. –Tim Berners-Lee

Worthy, but dulled by constant repetition. Every client, every developer has a Pavlovian reaction to the quote, which causes their eyelids to droop and their thoughts to turn to that cutie in Accounts with the tight jeans.

There’s a newer quote from March 2006:

Another important area of professionalism is accessibility awareness. Everyone should be accommodated, especially when around 20 per cent of the population have special requirements. In fact, Microsoft said recently that nearly 50 per cent of people need to make some sort of adjustment to their system to interact with it. Having turned 50, I’m very aware of receiving email with very small fonts – people don’t want to use their spectacles to look at a Web page! –British Computer Society

but it’s frankly a bit long-winded. No Zing! or Kapow! Not snappy enough to get people’s attention back from the snogalicious accountant.

Patrick Lauke and I were discussing the lack of good Timbo quotes for accessibility presentations in the pub after the launch of PAS 78, and he came up with a Tim Berners-Lee Quote’o’matic. I helped research some of the quotes. Just hit F5 until you find the quote that will leave the Chairperson of the Board gasping in eagerness to make the site accessible.

Feel free to use it to spice up your accessibility presentations, or for trumping inaccessible developers at parties to impress your friends and confound your enemies.

After all, was it not Tim Berners-Lee who said,

Let a thousand Powerpoints™ bloom … Yeah, just save them all in My Documents as presentation.ppt; people can open them if they want to know what’s in them.

Actually, no, it certainly wasn’t.

PAS 78 and the Disability Discrimination Act

As well as my notes quoting the DRC’s legal bloke saying they would be getting more shirty and would/ could cite the PAS in court, here’s a couple of opinions from third party lawyer types:

Alex Newson, a UK lawyer at Freeth Cartwright, writes

  • PAS 78 is the latest addition to the ‘best practice’ concept.
  • Following best practice is the best way of complying with the DDA
  • PAS 78 is not a technical standard like WAI, it’s about the process of making and maintaining accessible websites
  • Following WAI Level 2 (at least) remains the ‘minimum’ website owners and designers should be looking to achieve

Struan Robertson, editor of (a Pinsent Masons site), comments:

The DRC‘s endorsement of PAS 78 is significant and it could be used in court to illustrate whether a business has complied with the Disability Discrimination Act. A failure to follow it could be damaging to an organisation’s case; but compliance would be evidence of steps being taken to fulfil the legal duty.

PAS 78: Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites

Now that BS8878 has superseded PAS78, I’ve removed most of this post and associated contents as they are out-of-date. I’m retaining stuff about the Legal and General case-study as it’s linked from elsewhere. A better resource for it, however, is at the W3C.

The Financial Rewards of Accessible Web Sites

Legal and General aren’t a fluffy charity, but were worried by their exposure to litigation under the DDA. They identified their major problems as

  • Content not web-friendly: PDFs
  • JavaScript dependency in forms and navigation
  • Too much industry jargon
  • Developer’s knowledge of accessibility inadequate

After a program of re-design using third party testers, they reduced their risk of legal action and found, as side-effects:

  • A 30% increase in natural search-engine traffic
  • “significant improvement” in Google rankings “for all target keywords”
  • 75% reduction in time for page to load
  • Browser-compatibility (not a single complaint since)
  • Accessible to mobile devices
  • Time to manage content “reduced from average of five days to 0.5 days per job”
  • Savings of £200K annually on site maintenance
  • 95% increase in visitors getting a life insurance quote
  • 90% increase in Life insurance sales online
  • 100% return on investment in less than 12 months.

March 2007: Further presentation from Legal and General on these results.
April 2007: Presentation by Isolani, lead developer at Legal and General.

(Last Updated on 8 November 2010)

(This week’s) best things since sliced bread

Been busy busy busy this week, but still enjoyed:

  • Veerle’s redesigned blog

    Fucking brilliant. And should probably be illegal to have that much design talent. So carefully designed, yet looks spontaneous and unfussy.

  • The film “Downfall”

    On TV this week. Gripping, and the guy who played Hitler was amazing. Regardless of the central subject matter, should be shown to anyone who advocates armed conflict as a solution to anything.

  • Serena Maneesh‘s debut album

    Noise. Breathy vocals mixed low. Mellow tunes almost submerged by chainsaw guitars. They’ve picked up the torch from My Bloody Valentine and taken it somewhere else – round to Cindytalk and Loops’ houses. It’s on almost continual repeat on my Zen mp3 player. And – staggeringly – they’re from Norway, the dullest place in the Universe.