What was I thinking?

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Kelsey Ruger convinced me that Knowbility needed to blog as a way to participate in and share all the great momentum around accessibility these days. But to start a blog during SXSW was one of the least thought-through things I have done in a while. Sooooo much is happening and time to write about it is a challenge…but here is a quick tour of the last few days…

Friday, my panelists arrived and I got to meet these great women in person…Susan Gerhart, Lisa Papas and Becky Gibson met at the Knowbility office and we spent a few hours going over the content for the “Accessible Rich Media” panel that we would deliver the next morning. Our approach was to set up the problems by having Susan demonstrate barriers (she is a software engineer who has become increasingly visually impaired). Then Lisa Pappas of SAS would take us through a look at testing tools and the approach industry has taken through the collaborative work of the Accessible Rich Media Initiative (ARIA), recently adopted by the W3C’s WAI . Finish up with Becky Gibson’s code-slinging demonstration of the Dojo toolkit and their support of WAI-ARIA and we will have packed the hour with as much of an overview as possible. Turned out great, except for the timing. Each of the panelists has so much great info to share, we had no time for questions and so followed up with others excited about accessible rich media at the Knowbility on the trade show floor. Podcasts will be available soon and we will post here.

Gez Lemon hosted a Core Conversation – Get Rich, Stay Accessible – on Sunday around the same concerns. It was well attended and sparked great exchanges that will be useful in the days/months/year to come. A central concern is that accessibility should not stifle innovation. Developers who care about accessibility may still want to use cool Javascripting, AJAX, and DHTML widgets and other applications. One of the issues that came up during the conversation was the fact that the WaSPs initially rejected much of the ARIA work as unacceptable hacks. But that seems to have changed, as this WAI-ARIA article by Martin Kliehm WaSP member and co-host of the SXSW conversation, indicates.

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