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Into the lions’ den ..
I don’t speak at many industry events, ‘cos it rather feels like preaching to the choir. Sometimes, it’s such a circlejerk that there are those who say that the web standards “war” is won, when a cautious peek into the real world shows that it’s anything but. Being an evangelist at heart, I relish invites to talk to the unconverted heathens, such as WebDD for Microsoft developers.
I was a little concerned, though, when walking into the Microsoft campus, that their security guys had read my recent anti-Microsoft rant, and that I was going to be the victim of a revenge Microsoft PSYOPS, especially as I’m told that they involve a member of Microsoft black ops dressing up as Clippy and following you at all times making banal observations about your everyday actions (
“It looks like you’re drunkenly failing to get your key into the front door!” and
“It looks like you’re attempting penetration!”) until you go mad.
.. to find they’re all pussycats
But everyone was lovely to me (maybe it was my backpack that tickled their kawaii-glands), and I was delighted to find about forty to fifty people in my lecture hall – particularly when I was up against the more glamorous Standards presentation, Doing it in style: creating beautiful sites, the web standards way by my partner-in-crime, Pat Lauke (the Web Standards tubgirl to my accessibility goatse). We were both pitched against the Overlord of Visual Studio, Scott Guthrie (kind of a Zeldman of the Microsoft world, I gathered, in terms of crowd-pulling power).
The talk went well, even though I was shitting myself. It was largely evangelism and 80/20 beginners’ stuff – the simplest 20% of accessibility “tricks” that get you 80% of the way to a usably accessible site. (Structure, headings, text equivalents, don’t assume scripting, forms).
Nobody nodded off, and there were plenty of questions – I laid into crap accessibility checkers (pointing people to Gez Lemon’s seminal article Testing Invalid Content with Accessibility Validators), lamented the lack of definitives about Ajax accessibility (pointed people to research by Gez, Brothercake and Joe Clark) and got flummoxed when I was asked how to persuade ASP.NET to produce accessible controls. Fortunately, Alex Homer was on hand in the audience to point us to an article he’d written, Accessibility Improvements in ASP.NET 2.0.
Although it was a delightful ego boost to read a blog entry by someone called SJ Robertson saying
“The accessibility talk being the most interesting, Bruce Lawson was a great speaker”, the biggest buzz was the feedback indicating that I’d sparked people thinking about how people with disabilities could access their content. A couple of mails I received:
Thanks for taking the time to educate us … I’m going to have to do some selling of real accessibility, and the slides from your WebDD talk would make a great reference.
I’d be very interested in attending future seminars of yours/others on accessibility, where would be a good place to start?
It was also lovely to see Chris, James, Pete, Dan, Dave and Al again. I’d forgotten that there were some good memories to be had of Wrox.
Anyway, here’s a reasonably accessible PDF of my slides (128K). (I wrote the presentation the day before the conference, so had no opportunity to learn s5, as I’ve been promising for months to do).
It probably doesn’t make much sense with all my blurbage, though, as I’m not really one for Powerpoint Karaoke, so they’re just a memory aid.
Feedback gratefully received. Copyright remains mine, for what it’s worth ..