Bruce Lawson's personal site

We loves it, my precious (and an apology)

I must have been involved in the production of dozens of books, but the best bit is always opening the box that the printer sends, and taking a look at the physical artefact. One Wrox colleague of mine would invariably open the volume, press it to his face, and take a deep sniff.

When my glory copy of Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance plopped through the drawbridge of chateau Lawson, the first thing I did was be grateful it didn’t land on my foot. At 630 pages, it’s gigantic (at least 200 pages thicker than its precursor). It’s a fab feeling, holding a wodge of dead tree with your own words on it.

The next thing I did was to open it at a random page in one of my chapters. In publishing superstition, if the first thing you see is a typo, the book will sell well. Immediately, I spotted a typo: I’d written “accessibility boors” rather than “bores”.

Worse than that, in the introduction I commit a cardinal sin that I only recently berated Andy Budd for:

One of my biggest bugbears, the Accessibility Old Wives’ Tale™, is to be found on page 130: “.. many screenreaders will ignore text between form elements, unless they are enclosed in a label. So, which screenreaders are those? … So this is a plea to all authors, not just Budd: if you make statements like “some browsers or “many screenreaders, please identify the culprits.

And I went and wrote that “some screenreaders” can’t deal with ins and del, without telling the reader that I was talking about JAWS.

I know it’s only an introduction, and Jim Thatcher goes into great detail comparing screenreaders later on (who knew, for exmple, that implicitly associating an input field and a prompt by enclosing an input field in the label causes the prompt to be ignored in three of the big four screenreaders?), but I need to apologise, readers, for my sloppy authoring there.

And apologies, Andy Budd.

But does a typo and an Accessibility Old Wives’ Tale™ guarantee doubly good sales?

Buy "Calling For The Moon", my debut album of songs I wrote while living in Thailand, India, Turkey. (Only £2, on Bandcamp.)

14 Responses to “ We loves it, my precious (and an apology) ”

Comment by John D

You have an accessibility book? Like, with your name on the spine, and not just the usual role of Grand Publishing Overlord like at Wrox and glasshaus?

NICE! I want it! 🙂

Comment by Bruce

Yay John. Get work to buy a copy, John. or ten copies! It has my name on the spine. (Lots of other people, too, but I’m on there)

Comment by Bob Easton

Great news! I’m looking forward to the book.

Now, do you *know* which screen readers ignore text between form elements? Or, am I going to have to publish a test case and find out?

Congrats on the book!

Comment by Bob Easton

Actually, I think this is a modality problem. When the screen reader is in forms reading mode, it is focusing only on the fields and their labels. One has to leave forms reading mode to hear the surrounding text. The problem isn’t material that is inherently inaccessible, but the constraints of modality.

I’ll build a test case, of for no other reason than to illustrate the design considerations. ETA: sometime in the next week, and will post here.

Comment by Andy Mabbett


One of the joys of having a website is that one can publish errata – too late, perhaps , to include the errata page’s URL in the book, but still…

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