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DHTML Accessibility - Fixing the JavaScript Accessibility Problem

From: Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 15:39:45 -0600
To: <techlunch@smartgroups.com>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF3B3BF822.994C3CC7-ON86256FC6.00744E3A-86256FC6.0076FF51@us.ibm.com>

I want to take the opportunity to tell people about a session Becky Gibson
and I are hosting at 8am, Saturday, at the Hilton during the CSUN
conference. This session addresses one of the most important issues for
accessibility on the web which is fixing what is perceived as an
accessibility problem with JavaScript and yes we will show you a working
solution which we believe should excite the audience by virtue of the fact
that we are addressing not only the accessibility but the usability of web
applications and how this solution is applicable to multiple desktop
environments including Linux.

Here is a brief introduction for those able to attend:

JavaScript is found on over 50% of all web sites today, dramatically
affecting the ability for persons with disabilities to access web content.
An increasing number of web applications are utilizing JavaScript to mimic
desktop widgets like menus, tree views, rich text fields and tab panels.
Web developers are constantly innovating, and future applications will
contain complex, interactive elements such as spreadsheets, calendars,
organizational charts and beyond. Until now, no accessibility solution has
existed for these advanced web applications -- even if a web developer
wanted to do the right thing.

Custom widgets are not a new problem. For years, desktop GUI frameworks
have made it possible to develop accessible versions of custom widgets
through several methodologies. First, GUI frameworks allow developers to
make any widget focusable and tab navigable. Second, GUI frameworks provide
accessibility APIs to facilitate interoperability with assistive
technologies such as screen readers. These APIs allow a developer to
provide the information that assistive technologies need -- such as the
"who, what and where" of any custom widget that a user can interact with.

IBM is leading an effort in the W3C to create a similar accessibility
solution for JavaScript-based web applications. This session will show how
the problem is being solved and how you will actually end up with a much
more usable as well as accessible web application. Using standard XHTML
technology in today's browsers it will show how you can create a rich
desktop experience on a web page. We will be demoing a web page with a real
menu and editable spreadsheet in the Firefox browser and show it being
spoken by Window Eyes and magnified using the Windows magnifier. This
session will cover the W3C road map for fixing this problem in the near
term and the longer term plans to integrate more accessibility technology
into W3C specifications. The end result will be a much more accessible and
usable experience for all. For those wishing to deploy easy-to-use
applications through your browser, this is a must see.

Time and location: 8:00 AM, Saturday at the Marina room in the Hilton


Rich Schwerdtfeger
STSM, Software Group Accessibility Strategist/Master Inventor
Emerging Internet Technologies
Chair, IBM Accessibility Architecture Review  Board
blog: http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/dw_blog.jspa?blog=441
schwer@us.ibm.com, Phone: 512-838-4593,T/L: 678-4593

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.",
Received on Wednesday, 16 March 2005 21:40:20 UTC

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