Accessibility with Dr Scott Hollier of @mediaaccessaus


Web standards and the Web Access Initiative

My Digital Sound and the Moving Image class had the happy opportunity to have Dr Scott Hollier as our guest lecture in class today, giving us a talk on what we were led to believe was purely about usability (I was definitely thinking we would be covering Nielsen at this point), yet it also covered accessibility in a great amount detail.

His confidence and ease in giving his presentation meant that quite a few of us were not aware that he had any disability at all until much later, especially for those of us who unfortunately wandered in late, most likely because of the intermittent delays due to SydneyTrains trackwork. It was only after I read his profile that I realised his personal interest in the subject and understood more of what he had presented to us.

Although I have considered accessibility much more over the past year, due to trying to instill some better habits under the influence of Ruben who has tried to make his blog more friendly for text-based browsers as well as screen readers, there were so many elements to accessibility which I had forgotten about, such as high contrast. That really makes me want to try and remodel this site again in dark colours.

One element of his presentation that particularly interested me, however, was his presentation of a proposed technology called GPII, which is short for "Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure".

The purpose [...] is to ensure that everyone who faces accessibility barriers due to disability, literacy, digital literacy, or aging, regardless of economic resources, can access and use the Internet and all its information, communities, and services for education, employment, daily living, civic participation, health, and safety.

This reminded me greatly of my experiences teaching my next-door neighbour how to use her new MacBook Air. Someone like her would benefit greatly from a technology like GPII which would give her the simple interface she desires and remove the complexity which we as able-bodied users may love, but as an elderly citizen who has lost several degrees of dexterity and cannot remember complex methods to do simple actions, simplicity and feedback from whatever commands she issues is what she needs. I had a short chat with Dr Hollier who mentioned than an example of the system in action is that there could be a graphic of a truck taking the mail away to let the user know that their email has sent. This is valuable feedback for someone who otherwise is unsure how to check.

In any case, it was a most reflective and interesting session, and I thank Dr Hollier for coming all the way over to UTS and spending time with us. I for one hope this blog of mine is accessible to anyone disadvantaged! That said though, I don't know if I will be checking for compatibility with IE6 — my apologies!

Image from PubliRead, which is an interesting site in itself!