Using scripting to improve accessibility

Peter Abrahams

Written By:
Published: 7th October, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

I recently went to the first day of the first Scripting Enabled Conference. To quote from the website

"The aim of the conference is to break down the barriers between disabled users and the social web as much as giving ethical hackers real world issues to solve. We talked about improving the accessibility of the web for a long time—let's not wait, let's make it happen."

The first day consisted of a series of presentations by people with direct or professional knowledge of disabilities and how they effect peoples use of the web. The second day was devoted to the hackers actually coding up some prototype solutions mainly using greasemonkey, I did not attend that day as I am not sufficiently proficient to create new code (I can and do on occasion tweak existing code).

The day highlighted how frustrating the web can be for people with disabilities and also how important it is to them because it opens up great opportunities for work and play.

A simple example was the difficulties in using standard YouTube. YouTube pages are over-cluttered, the controls are small and not always intuitive, and cannot be used by anyone who is not proficient with a mouse. We were then shown a prototype of a simplified interface, developed by Christian Heilmann, who also chaired the day. To see the prototype in use planned in Seattle 1-2 November, if you can make it I would recommend going.

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