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When Henny and I dreamed up the standards.next format, we were privileged: we work for Opera, which really supports standards so we get allocated time to work on these day-long geekfests without having to aggressively pimp the company or worry about turning a profit.
However, when we decided to run what I think was the first ever event dedicated solely to cognition and accessibility, I expected only a dozen people or so to show up.
Wow! Over forty came, including one lady who flew from Madrid specially (thank you, Emmanuelle!)
I knew it would be a great day when, hopelessly lost at Angel tube, I asked a guy on a “no ID cards” stand for directions to City Uni. “Are you going to standards.next?” he asked me, promising to show up 30 mins later (and he did).
I shan’t repeat what each of our excellent speakers said, as their slides and videos are available on their sites:
- Antonia Hyde’s slides, write-up and videos
- Jamie Knight’s slides
- David Owens’ speech and notes
- Ian Pouncey’s speech and notes
Here are some write-ups of the day:
On the styling of form fields
In Ian Pouncey‘s talk, Ian mentioned that people with cognitive needs (including older people, people new to the Web) need consistency of look and feel with controls. Don’t style form buttons, he suggested.
This resonated with me as lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the new features HTML 5 brings to forms. When I demo them, I’m always always asked if they can be styled. At the moment, they can only be styled up to a point: for super-specific styles to new sliders, calendar widgets, we’ll probably need new pseudo-elements from CSS Working Group, perhaps in the Basic User Interface module.
Ian’s comment led me to wonder should they be stylable at all, a question I asked of the meeting.
Antony Kennedy told me that they should:
2) Although we know they ought to and recommend that developers use the default OS styling, to take away the option is too strict. We are pushing standards, not limits.
3) Allowing developers and designers more flexibility allows them to come up with new more intuitive and surprising interfaces and uses for these elements that we would never have thought of.
4) It’s what the customer wants. And what they want, essentially, they get. The biggest complaint about the “select” tag is that we cannot style it. This led to on my very first day at BSkyB me blogging this www.zeroedandnoughted.com/?p=14 because of this: http://tv.sky.com/tvlistings
I would love to know your views on the stylability of forms.
Jamie Knight’s screenreader and HTML5
Something else that made me think of HTML5 (because I’m heavily focussing on accessibility there) is Jamie Knight’s discussion of his screenreader use. He’s not blind, but sometimes finds it easier to listen to a page than read it. He made his own screenreader that listens out for certain
class names like “navigation”, “menu”, “sidebar” so that his screenreader can skip the peripheral information on repeated views.
With the “baked-in” elements like
footer etc, this would be achievable with much greater precision.
What did the day achieve?
Personally, the after-conference chats are as important to me as the “official” talks. I was delighted that conversation and debate continued into the night, with people who hadn’t met each other swapping ideas, insights and business cards. That’s one of the results I’d hoped for: connecting people who might have been working in isolation.
I also met one of the accessibility good guys, Matt May from Adobe. I’ve known him for ages on-line; most recently he’s been helping Lachlan Hunt and I understand the kind of things that will be needed to make
canvas accessible—the kind of things that got added to Flash in version 5 to retrofit it for accessibility.
I was clutching my battered copy of the excellent book Universal Design for Web Applications that he wrote with Wendy Chisholm so he could sign it for me:
So, in conclusion: thank you to all our speakers and all who attended. I wholeheartedly agree with a tweet from isolani:
Today reminded me again what a marvelous accessibility community we have within the UK.
(A few more photos)