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Friday, September 07, 2007

Joe Clark and Yesterday's Post

When I wrote yesterday's BC entry, I had made the erroneous assumption
that Joe Clark wrote the blog that Jeff Bishop pointed to in Desert
Skies (link above) about accessibility being more a failure of web
developers than the AT companies. I made this assumption because this
blog has a link near the top that says, "Support Joe Clark, support
accessible media research." I did not know that other people try to
help Joe raise money for his web accessibility projects.

So, when I received an angry email from Joe Clark suggesting that I
had "put words into his mouth," I got confused and replied with a
number of quotes from the blog post at
http://www.isolani.co.uk/blog/access/ScreenReadersAWebDeveloperFailure.

Joe responded with the link pointing to his fundraising efforts
quoted from my message and the statement, "Chris, get a fucking clue."
When I replied to Joe asking exactly which clue he wanted me to
fucking get, he neglected to respond.

The blogger who wrote the excellent article only identifies himself or
herself as isolani and poking around the web page to find the identity
of this person did not result in my finding a name to credit for the
item. The closest thing to an identity for this provocative blogger
sits on the blog's home page and says, "I am a web developer for Yahoo
Europe, based in London, United Kingdom, with a focus on web
accessibility." Whoever this person is in real life, I will
definitely keep track of the blog posts in the future as the articles
are well written and presented in a logical manner.

As soon as I complete writing and posting this item, I will go back
and remove Mr. Clark's name and any reference to him in yesterday's
article. I did not know that he was trying to raise money to support
him while he performs his research. While Joe Clark and I have
completely incompatible personalities and cannot seem to communicate
with each other without clashing, I do respect his work and think BC
readers should visit http://joeclark.org/micro/ and decide for
themselves if they want to donate some money to help Joe pay his bills
while performing what I believe is important research.

So, whoever isolani is, I apologize to you for having given credit for
your terrific article to Joe Clark and I encourage you to keep writing
articles for your blog as you have excellent insights to complex
problems.

On Comments

Redux posted a comment to yesterday's entry saying the AT companies
don't always support the entire set of WAI guidelines and, therefore,
web developers who do try to make their work as accessible as possible
will often find that some of their effort had no real value because
the screen reader companies chose not to support some portion of the
guidelines.

I agree entirely with this statement and in yesterday's post, I did
mention that I felt that the screen reader companies should work
together to present an industry wide set of rules that a web developer
can use to understand a baseline for how her content will be presented
to people who use screen readers to access information on the web.

I do not believe that creating a catalogue of what web developers can
expect as the minimal level of support for web content with a screen
reader would damage the competition in this market sector. I do
believe that such a document would go a long way to encourage web
developers to follow accessibility guidelines who, in the past, might
have been burned by the inconsistent results from one screen reader to
another and, in some cases, where no screen reader worked as they
expected. The individual screen reader companies can publish a
product specific addition to the industry wide document so, web
developers who only care that their development efforts works with
screen readers that go beyond the minimum can code to the additional
information provided by the individual screen reader companies and
place an statement on their site that says something like, "For the
best results using a screen reader we suggest you read this site with
<some screen reader or another>."

-- End

4 Comments:

Blogger Joe Dolson said...

For the record, Isolani is written by Mike Davies.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Isolani is Mike Davies. (Google that.) Everybody in the business knows that. But it’s OK if you didn’t, because you just had to link to the source, not name the author. And certainly not *misname* the author.

You are at the epitome of usage of screen readers. You’re one of the managers responsible for inflicting Jaws on an unsuspecting blind public, and you claim to use four other screen readers presently. Yet you are unable to figure out how to link to a source or to determine the name of an actual author. And that’s when you’re dealing with fully accessible sites as sources to link to.

If this is the best a former manager in charge of a screen reader can do, why are any of us bothering with Web accessibility? Really?

I reiterate: You are always eager to put words in my mouth.

11:31 AM  
Blogger redux said...

"For the
best results using a screen reader we suggest you read this site with
[some screen reader or another]."

however, this smacks of the old "best viewed with Internet Explorer" kind of stuff one used to see at the height of the browser wars. also, it's one thing to tell people that they should use a freely available alternative browser...quite another to tell them to buy an expensive piece of software.

the minimum that a developer should be able to expect from screen readers is that they fully support the entirety of the HTML specification, and ideally that they also hook into the browser's DOM and recognise any changes that happen there (dynamic changes / AJAX).

just as with browsers, there's still plenty of scope, in my opinion, for product differentiation in how the various screen readers allow their users to navigate/understand web pages - interface and usability differences.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, did you kill Joe's dog or something.

I may have considered making a contribution to Joe, but after his gracious acceptance of Chris's apology, I would rather direct my funds elsewhere.

Joe, perhaps you should consider decaf.

6:44 PM  

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