Andrew Downie and Grant Focas — Javascript and other coding for good or evil

A presentation given at Web Directions South, Sydney Australia, September 28 2007.

We’re sorry, but slides and podcast for this presentation are unfortunately not available.

Session description

When Version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is finally released, the status of Javascript will be quite different to that assigned to it in Version 1.0 back in 1999. Back then, Javascript was to “degrade gracefully”. Currently AJAX offers increased usability for visual users, but may detract from accessibility. In future, use of JavaScript will be encouraged but, of course, must enhance rather than detract from accessibility.

During this presentation, Andrew and Grant will demonstrate how Javascript, when implemented well, offers enhanced accessibility. By way of balance, they will also present examples of scripting that causes problems. Importantly, they will provide corrections to the errant coding.

In these days of web-​based multimedia extravaganzas, participants will also have the opportunity to experience some of the very helpful things that can be achieved with Flash, including screen reader accessibility. One of the issues to be covered is embedding of Flash into IE following the EOLAS versus Microsoft case – Javascript to the rescue.

Andrew and Grant will also showcase the potential of AutoHotkey, a free scripting language for Windows as an accessibility tool. While scripts can be written to meet a wide variety of needs in various circumstances, we will concentrate on one which provides fast and accurate coding for web pages.

About Andrew Downie and Grant Focas

Andrew Downie PortraitAndrew Downie is a psychologist and also has a post-​graduate diploma in education. He has, for both personal and professional reasons, a keen interest in making products and services available to the widest possible range of people. Andrew has worked for the NSW Department of Education and Training since 1992, providing adaptive technology resources to staff and students. As the world wide web has become more important in the educational environment, Andrew’s role has increasingly involved evaluating website accessibility.

Andrew is totally blind and uses screen readers to access computers. He has developed a working knowledge of HTML and is currently frustrated at his slow progress with Javascript.

Grant Focas PortraitGrant Focas is a Senior Educational Programmer for the Centre for Learning Innovation. He helped develop OptionKeys — a website provided by the NSW Department of Education and Training for students, teachers and resource developers to assist in the production of accessible online resources. For the past 6 years Grant has been a keen advocate of web standards. Though known to dabble in the dark arts of .NET he is happiest when eating the web trifle of XHTML, CSS and JavaScript with an entree of XSLT.

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