Maximum Accessibility: Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone
By John M. Slatin,, Sharron Rush
Table of Contents

Accessibility is an immensely rich and complex topic, and we've had lots of help from lots of generous and talented people who've been willing to share their knowledge, their time, their energy, and their passion for making the Web a better place for all of us.

One of those people is Jim Caldwell, whom John met in a windowless office somewhere in what is now the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in about 1985. Jim showed him something called PC-SAID and suggested calling someone named Jim Thatcher to find out more. Jim Thatcher moved to Austin a couple of years ago and has become a good friend, sharing his enormous knowledge of the Section 508 federal standards and his understanding of how his extraordinary invention, the screen reader for the graphical user interface, has gone on making a difference in the lives of thousands of computer users who are blind. Pat Pound set up the monthly TechLunch meetings that have become a forum for bringing together people from the government, industry, academia, and nonprofit worlds to meet and talk informally about shared interests without having to worry about what's on the agenda; the TechLunch mailing list helps us keep each other informed.

Simon Shostak remembered an American literature class that John taught at UT Austin years ago and recruited him as a judge for the first Accessibility Internet Rally for Austin (AIR-Austin) competition in 1998. Judging AIR for the past four years has provided an extraordinary opportunity to learn about accessibility and to explore ways of helping others learn and it has been an opportunity to work with wonderful people and organizations. It has been an honor to share judges robes with Phill Jenkins and Guido Corona of IBM, and Jim Thatcher; and more recently with Rashmi Bhat and Caroline Mattei of Prodigy/SBC and former graduate students Bill Wolff, Aimee Kendall, and Olin Bjork. Special thanks to another "judge brother," Jim Allan of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for his extraordinary commitment to accessibility and his ea-gerness to share what he knows and his willingness to thrash out code over the phone (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Glenda Sims, Mark McFarland, Morgan Watkins, and others who served on UT's Task Force on Accessible Electronic Information in 1999 have made a difference to the accessibility of Web resources at UT, as have Susanna Wong Herndon and Suzanne Rhodes. Randolph Bias and Jamie Rhodes made the resources of Austin Usability available at an important moment in the history of the Institute for Technology and Learning. Kay Lewis and Matt Bronstad have helped open up some really interesting questions. Annie So, Jay Overfield, David Wynn, and Ross Speir explored accessible design techniques. Peg Syverson has been a great colleague and friend.

Howard Kramer's excellent yearly conference, Accessing Higher Ground, has provided an opportunity to explore some of the institu-tional aspects of accessibility; the CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities has been a revelation.

We'd also like to thank Tracy LaQuey Parker for arranging the conversation that led to this book, and Steve Guengerich, whose great leap of faith and leadership got AIR (and then the nonprofit advocacy and education organization Knowbility) off the ground. The one and only Jayne Cravens has been an AIR advisor, booster, and staunch advocate for accessibility from the beginning and was crucial in getting the Austin nonprofit community behind the idea; from her post at the United Nations in Bonn, Germany, Jayne continues to provide ideas, encouragement, and information. Rayna Aylward and Colleen Maher of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) embody the highest ideals of engaged philanthropy. MEAF has provided crucial support for AIR since 1999. We truly could not have done it without them. And as we roll out AIR across the country, we want to recognize Jon Carmain for driving Rocky Mountain AIR to completion and for his continued passion for developing the business model that will sustain accessibility efforts. We want to thank all the businesses that sponsor AIR and especially IBM and Dell, who sustain the effort through sponsorship, participants, and volunteers. Knowbility's board of directors and staff, including Suzanne Hershey and Steve Hunt, have done remarkable work under trying circumstances in a very short time, and we thank you. We owe an especially big debt of gratitude to Kirk Walker for all his help with bits of code and multimedia scripts and players and for his consistent efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities as an engineer, as an occupational therapist, and now as Director of Technology for Knowbility. We are also grateful that the Peter F. Drucker Foundation has recognized the value and innovation of this effort . Kristi Willis and her boss, Lloyd Doggett, U.S. Congressman for the 10th District in Texas, can always be counted on to support the independence of people with disabilities, and we are proud to work with them. In community technology, we are very fortunate to work with Ana Sisnett, who has worked for many years to open technology opportunities to everyone and who inspires us all. Another amazing, inspiring community leader is Jan McSorley, and we are grateful to have worked with her on the ATSTAR project. We look forward to the changes this project will bring to the capacity of schools to provide assistive technology where it is needed. We offer our thanks and salute the efforts of all the Web developers, nonprofit leaders, and community volunteers who successfully launched AIR and more than 100 accessible Web sites! in three cities. Your participation makes the difference, and we are honored to have worked and learned with all of you.

We want to thank the reviewers who read this book in manuscript, sent detailed and careful comments and suggestions, and said we could contact them if we had questions. Liz Fuller, Randolph Bias, Charles McCathie-Neville, and John Gunderson each brought a unique and informed judgment to bear on what we'd written, and this is a far better book than it would have been without their care. Of course the mistakes are all ours!

Karen Gettman and Emily Frey of Addison-Wesley offered encouragement and the gentle prodding we needed to make this book happen. Elizabeth Ryan has facilitated an enormous amount of e-mail and telephone traffic to keep the whole process on schedule. Our thanks to them, and to the other members of the Addison-Wesley team who made this book happen and made the book itself as accessible as possible. Chrysta Meadowbrooke has done a beautiful job of copyediting, teasing order out of chaos, suggesting small refine-ments that made big differences, and spending many additional hours writing out her suggestions and queries in a format that worked far better with John's screen reader than the revision-tracking tools did. Katie Noyes and Kim Arney Mulcahy have applied accessibility principles to the material book. Katie's cover design features a compelling image and text that contrast strongly with a background color that's distinctive yet easy on the eyes. Kim's interior design for the book uses a larger-than-usual sans-serif font and opens up the space between lines of text to improve readability. When we discovered that John's scanner simply ignored any text printed against a shaded background, no matter how light, Kim found a different visual marker for top-level section headings and kept creating new sample pages until she had one that worked.

Thanks to Ledia and Mason Carroll for being interested in this project and believing it could be done. Thanks to Ethan Murphy for his sweet nature and encouraging words and to Joe and Addie Rush for their intrepid example. And, finally, thanks, thanks, and thanks again to our spouses, Anna Carroll and Ron Hicks, for love and support and wonderful conversation and for letting us disappear into the abyss for hours on end. We dedicate this book to them.

John M. Slatin and Sharron Rush
Austin, TX
April 2002


    Maximum Accessibility(c) Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone
    Maximum Accessibility: Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone: Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone
    ISBN: 0201774224
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2002
    Pages: 128

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