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WaSP Interviews Dr. Vito Evola

The web has long since moved out of the IT and design departments and become a ceiling leak repair rv roof repair tape leak repair putty pervasive communications medium. As a result, top-notch minds from other disciplines have begun to help make it more robust, vibrant and just plain useful than before.

Dr. Evola has one of these minds. He's applying it to the web in part by teaching a course on web standards at the College of Letters and Philosophy at the University of Palermo, Italy. Dr. Evola's linguistics background gives him a di fara pizza fresh perspective on web standards:

The first lessons deal with the "need" for XHTML and CSS, moving towards a more advanced knowledge of CSS1 and CSS2, keeping in mind that standards means nothing more followers buy facebook likes buy views youtube less than "speaking correctly" with our target.

Read the rest of the WaSP Education Task Force's excellent interview for more from a linguist turned standardista.

SiteMorse: Not making friends or influencing people

You might imagine that accessibility specialists are slightly inflatable bounce house rental odd folk. Close your eyes and imagine them sitting quietly in the corner of a pub, sipping mild and wearing Hush Puppies. On a crazy night they might break out the box of dominoes and make remarks about how wonderfully accessible those little blighters are. They might even grumble quietly about how inaccessible a bag of pork scratching is, but I digress.

These normally quiet accessibility fellows have got themselves in a bit of a tizzy in the last couple of days over the subject of automated accessibility tests and in particular the activities of a company called SiteMorse, whose automated software-based checks are aggressively marketed to public and private sector bodies through a campaign of regular PR.

How can everyone else be expected to achieve website accessibility, if the experts can't?

With their latest press release, SiteMorse have made many accessibility fellows spit out their beer by publically criticising many UK based accessibility specialist companies.

SiteMorse once again tested the 'leaders' of the field to find large gaps in what these companies claim to be their expertise and in their own capability to deliver.

Their press release names names in what has been seen by many as ungentlemanly conduct. Several subsequent articles have shown the depth of feeling against SiteMorse, their product, testing methods and marketing/sales strategy.

Holding hands across the table

I do not intend to comment either on SiteMorse, their product or their testing methods, although I will say that I find their negative marketing to be very much against the spirit of cooperation so encouraging within the accessibility community.

Many commenters have raised concerns over the secretive nature of the SiteMorse tests. As Mike of Isolani explains,

The SiteMorse product isn't publicly visible. There's no mention of pricing on their site. The website itself makes a series of unsubstantiated claims. Also, there's very little sign of the tool being peer-reviewed by accessibility experts. The SiteMorse product itself looks to be closed source, so its impossible for experts to analyse the logic to determine how accurate its automated test functions really are. The expertise of the developers is limited to a cluster of superficial questions to Usenet groups.

While I can fully appreciate the importance of a commercial entity to protect its intellectual assets, it is also important for specialists of all kinds and vendors to work together towards a more accessible web. In the WaSP Accessibility Task Force (ATF) we are seeking to work with all vendors towards this worthwhile goal.

In the spirit of cooperation I publically invite SiteMorse to get in touch and to work with the ATF with the aim of working with and providing developers and their clients more accessible solutions. I'll be waiting for the call.

Cross post

This is cross-posted to my site to take your comments.

Accessibility Discussions: Article and Commentary Roundup

Ever since we announced the WaSP Accessibility Task Force, quickly given the sticky nicky “ATF” the recommendations, requests and even a few ragings have been storm-trooping 'cross the Web.

Here's a round-up of reading associated with ATF activities.

Requests and recommendations

The following articles focus on requests from the ATF, recommendations, and general thoughts with opinions liberally sprinkled throughout (shocked, I know you are).

Opinion and editorial pieces

These are opinion and editorial-centric articles related to ATF:

Please be sure to take some time to read through the comments on many of these posts as there are some excellent thoughts, opinions and related links within them. This is cross-posted to my site to take your comments and trackbacks. If I've left something out that should go onto this list, please leave a comment for me and I'll add it.

WaSP to Collaborate with Microsoft to Promote Web Standards

The Web Standards Project (WaSP) is collaborating with Microsoft to promote Web standards and help developers build standards conformant Web applications.

Today we formally announce the WaSP / Microsoft Corporation Task Force. WaSP's goal is to provide technical guidance and advice as the company increases Web standards support in its products including Microsoft Visual Studio and ASP.NET.

“Standards are of increasing importance as Web developers strive to make their sites work across all browsers and accessible by the broadest set of customers.”
- Brian Goldfarb, product manager for Web Platform and Tools at Microsoft.

WaSP and Microsoft developers will work together to better understand and execute on Web standards as defined by standards bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

For more details about the task force, please see the official press release. I'll take comments and trackbacks on my site for those interested in furthering the discussion.

Note: A German version of this press release is now available.

One blog leaves, another arrives

A few weeks ago, Apple announced that it was making WebKit, WebCore, and JavaScriptCore open source (and got contributions within the first few hours!).

Correspondingly, Dave Hyatt's blog, Surfin' Safari, has now moved from here to here. What's cool is that the whole Safari dev team is joining in, so it's not just Dave any more.

Check it out, and be sure to update your bookmarks, favorites, and feed readers.

Acessibility, Validity, Guidelines and Law

In the wake of the @media 2005 Conference and the WCAG Working Group face-to-face in Brussels, accessibility has been getting a lot of attention. Lots of people have been asking good questions. Fewer have been providing good answers, but at least we're getting healthy, broad-based discussion of the issues.

Case in point: the WCAG Working Group recently moved the validity guideline in WCAG 2 from Level 1 to Level 2 and added a 'get out' clause. Gez Lemon has weighed in with a thoughtful post criticizing the decision as a step backwards, effectively giving license to perpetuate the sloppy-markup sins of the past. On the other side, Matt May has argued that the decision is a practical necessity in a world of authoring tools and CMSes that resolutely churn out invalid markup.


WaSP ATF: Already A Smoking Gun?

It's not even two days since WaSP announced the formation of the Accessibility Task Force, quickly coined the “ATF” by several folks despite a more sobering U.S. federal agency that goes by the same initialism (or would that be acronym?).

While clearly a long time coming, the immediacy and detailed response to the formation of this WaSP task force proves its timeliness and need.

I present to you our first exhibit, “ATF: Not Alcohol, Tobacco, or Firearms” by Joe Clark who provides a very comprehensive list about where he feels our efforts and energy should (and perhaps should not) go.

He's got many great points in the article, I especially am interested in his advocacy regarding the testing of CSS layouts. Many of us, myself included, have made the mistake that a CSS layout is more accessible by default. While certainly a step in the right direction, just creating a site using CSS does not an accessible site make.

As a second exhibit, our own Andy Clarke has posted the announcement to his personal site and the responses have been in most cases very positive and often very specific in detail.

Clearly, the WaSP ATF has lots of work ahead. While the road not yet traveled appears somewhat bleary, smoky and a bit dangerous, it's a great comfort to know how much support we have. This is true both in terms of the new members of WaSP and the ATF but also from you, our community at large, as we work together to improve Web standards implementation and methodologies worldwide.

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