It was an interesting talk, and here are a few key points in no particular order:
- To make an accessible web site, you need to understand how screen readers works (which I don't, and still don't quite get after this talk), and you need to do user ability testing with blind persons.
- Blind persons have to invest a lot of money (a minimum of $2,500) in screen readers (even more money if they're deaf and blind), so they expect web sites to function accordingly to meet their needs (quite understandable.)
- They don't believe in text-only pages on the basis that separate is not equal. Reasons against separate text-only sites: they're not maintained as well, they tend to be boring and plain, and it's not a cost effective solution for a company to run two sites.
- Apparently, Flash sites and PDFs can be made accessible if they're labeled appropriately. (Unfortunately, she didn't get into how to do that--maybe it's a given?)
- In the next 20 years, the market demand for accessible websites is going to increase rapidly--all those baby boomers who know how to use computers will want to continue to use them in their declining eyesight, old age.
- Other reasons why you should go out of your way to improve accessibility: by improving accessibility you will automatically improve usability, it differentiates your company as one with particular values, and to avoid legal litigation (the NFB just settled with Target.com for $4 million, an amount she said could have been avoided with about $50k worth of accessibility redevelopment to the site!)
Choosing to attend this lecture, I missed out on the Bringhurst/language talk at UMBC. If anyone went to that, please post about it or let me know how it went. Thanks.