[Athen] Looking for Info on Web 2.0

Terry Thompson tft at u.washington.edu
Wed May 16 09:28:11 PDT 2007

Hi All,

A couple of weeks ago I promised to get back with the list regarding the W4A
conference, and my thoughts regarding its being offered as a "co-located"
but separate conference, rather than integrated into the larger conference.
Now, back from beautiful Banff, here's my report:

The W4A conference itself contained a wealth of information on web
accessibility. Regarding Web 2.0 specifically, Becky Gibson of IBM and
Cynthia Shelly of Microsoft each shared their perspectives on Web 2.0
accessibility, including specific techniques and demos of functioning,
accessible apps. Michael Cooper of WAI also discussed Web 2.0, and gave an
excellent overview of the potential that emerging technologies bring for
improving accessibility, as well as accessibility problems and solutions
related to these technologies from a W3C perspective.

Case-in-point of AJAX actually improving accessibility, Peter Thiessen of
the ATRC at the University of Toronto introduced ReefChat, his accessible
chat application that depends on AJAX and the W3C's techniques for
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). He demonstrated this
application with Fire Vox (the talking browser extension for Firefox),
though supposedly it also works with Window-Eyes and JAWS. Here's the URL if
you'd like to sample it yourselves:

Including the above, there were over two dozen technical papers on various
aspects of web accessibility, the overall quality of which was quite good.
The online schedule includes links to all of the papers:

Oh, I should mention that the papers are only available in... um... untagged

On the issue of accessibility being "separate" from the larger WWW
conference, I actually thought long and hard about this when I was filling
out my comment form. As tempting as it would be to suggest that the larger
conference should include a specific track on accessibility, in many ways I
liked that it was a separate event. The best thing that happened at W4A was
the networking. The same group of 80 or so people spent two solid days
together, which created opportunities for discussion and collaboration that
probably wouldn't have happened if people were selecting
accessibility-related sessions here and there among a larger mix of sessions
within the context of the full conference. Also, the WWW conference actually
did include some accessibility sessions of its own, one of which was even
nominated for Best Paper from among the hundreds of papers that were
presented (the nominee was "CSurf: A Context-Driven Non-Visual Browser",
developed at Stony Brook University:

A UW colleague of mine Rick Ells joined me at the conference, and has
provided even more detail in his W4A/WWW Trip Report:


Terry Thompson
Technology Specialist, DO-IT
University of Washington
tft at u.washington.edu

> -----Original Message-----

> From: John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program

> [mailto:jfoliot at stanford.edu]

> Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:15 PM

> To: tft at u.washington.edu; 'Access Technologists in Higher

> Education Network'

> Subject: RE: [Athen] Looking for Info on Web 2.0


> Terry Thompson wrote:

> > One note of clarification: Attending the WWW conference is optional.

> > One could choose to attend only the W4A conference if one were so

> > inclined. That's not obvious from the registration form - I had to

> > ask, and that's what they told me.

> >

> > As for integration of accessibility into the larger

> community of Web

> > 2.0 ideas, I think W4A is a positive step. It's part of the larger

> > conference and occurs prior to the main conference so

> attendees will

> > be fully emmersed in accessibility for two full days plus a

> banquet,

> > then can take that accessibility-focused mindset into the main

> > conference and contribute informed accessibility-related

> ideas to the

> > larger discussions. That's what I expect to happen anyway. I'll be

> > there, and will let you know if I'm still feeling good about it

> > afterwards.

> >

> > Terry

> >


> Thanks Terry, I will check my cynicism for the moment then,

> and look forward to hearing back from you.


> Cheers!


> JF



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