Archive for January, 2007

Celine Dion in AC/DC cover shocker

Celine Dion’s cover of AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long was morbidly fascinating, until her partner in crime shouted “C’mon Girlfriend!”, and Celine replied “Oh yeah!” in oh-so-rehearsed rock’n’roll ecstasy.

At that point, the primal instinct of self-preservation compelled me to bite off my own ears.

Thanks for sending me that, Jim O’Donnell.

Friday warning

I’m not usually one for circulating warnings about potential scams but I had a close miss last night.

I walked into B&Q to buy some stuff for the garden, and some old guy dressed in orange asked me if I wanted decking.

Fortunately, I got the first punch in and that was the end of that. But that’s my karate training; you might not be so lucky. Be careful out there!

DTI website: response from National Audit Office

After getting weasel words and evasions from our fine public servants at the Department of Trade and Industry about why their new website doesn’t meet their own accessibility targets, I wrote to the National Audit Office to find out if the DTI had been properly careful with public money (on the suggestion of Charlie Oates). (All the history).

I received a response yesterday. Here’s an excerpt (there’s lots of background information that we already know):

We discussed the issues you raised with officials from the Department. In their view, the main cause of the accessibility problems involves the Content Management System. Although the project experienced technical difficulties, the Department did not, in our view, effectively manage its relationship with contractors who were involved in developing the website, and as a result the Department did not achieve its objectives for a website meeting recognised accessibility standards. The DTI recognises that its management of this project was not satisfactory.

The Department has commissioned the work needed to rectify the accessibility problems, and acknowledges that further expenditure is likely to be required to make its website compliant with government guidelines.

There is evidence that the Department is taking steps to learn from the problems experienced with this project. As outlined above, the Department commissioned a review of the accessibility of the website from Nomensa, which identified the main issues to be resolved and suggested a number of solutions that would enhance web accessibility and can be applied more widely in managing procurement projects.

I am not able to comment on the Department’s decision not to provide an answer to you under Freedom of Information legislation on the grounds of cost. If you wish, you are entitled to raise this matter with the Information Commissioner, whose website is

So: lessons have been learned, an as-yet unspecified amount of dosh has been pissed down the toilet, but hopefully the public might get the website it should have had in the first place – and a group of unaccountable civil servants might just do their procurement and project management better. Maybe.

I’m not holding my breath.

Great review of ‘Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance’

The kind of review every author dreams of was posted on my 40th birthday:

Let me get a few words out of the way about Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliancewow, wow, wow.

… if there are accessibility classes being taught in college these days (and there ought to be), then this book should be an assigned text, and a bargain it would be too. Bruce Lawson must be applauded for his dedication to this series … and putting the people behind it together.

… I like to conclude my reviews with an unbiased look at whatever aspects of a book I feel were weak, or perhaps problematic in some other respect. In all honesty, I don’t have a single negative thing to say here … This book is worth every penny you pay for it.

Destry Wion, TXP Magazine

It’s great to know that someone else feels the book to be as indispensable as I feel my work bookshelf to be. Here’s my bookshelf:


Destry, you are hereby entitled to a snog or a pint (your choice) if we ever meet up.

(Last Updated on 27 March 2007)

Wanted: people with Multiple Sclerosis for website testing

If you are recently diagnosed with MS, and would like to help the MS Trust user-test their website, Simon Webster wants to talk to you.

We are looking for people who have been diagnosed with MS for no more than five years who are willing to travel to Birmingham to ‘test drive’ the site.

Sessions, which should take about an hour, will take place at Evidence Base’s lab in Birmingham on 25 and 26 January.

Travel expenses will be paid plus £20 for each participant. (More)

(Last Updated on 15 April 2007)

Hear Lawson and Lauke at WebDD conference

On February 3rd, I’m doing a talk at the free WebDD conference at the UK Microsoft campus, called Web Accessibility: What, Why, How, and Who Cares? which is “a whistlestop tour around how to use Web Standards to make sites that are accessible to disabled people, usable for all and profitable for your client. Warning: contains topless photography”.

Some bloke called Patrick Lauke is also banging on about CSS in a talk called Doing it in style: creating beautiful sites, the web standards way.

Why not come along? It’s a great chance to meet the two hunkiest WaSP ATF dreamboats, and we’ll be available for signing breasts and buttocks.