Archive for April, 2005

Accessibility Gun For Hire

Got a web site that you think might not be accessible enough to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act? Worried that the dark forces of disability pressure groups might be waiting to get you into court as a test case? Don’t fancy the bad publicity that being branded "Discriminatory" brings?

Do you want an Accessibility Audit that will tell it like it is, without exaggerating the problems (because I don’t have the time to fix them, so won’t try to scare you into hiring me to do so)?

Perhaps you have a big big website that needs a radical overhaul, developers briefed, redesigns audited, staff trained, PDF templates designed and web updates monitored by a full-time, in-house permanent Web Accessibility Officer?

I’m your man. I’m relentlessly focussed on inclusive web design, sensitive to the needs of branding and corporate identity (having been a brand manager myself), and able to brief developers and smell bullshit a mile off (having been a developer).

I can brief staffers and senior managers (having presented at conferences, and being the owner of several business suits).

I’m one of the people invited by the British Standards Institute to be on the panel reviewing their draft Guide to good practice in designing accessible websites.

Email me at bruce@brucelawson.co.uk for a chat.

Grand Inquisitor, scourge of politicos, wimps out.

Last week, I went to Birmingham University to be part of the studio audience for BBC’s Question Time. As I’m a sad bugger, I’ve been watching it for about 20 years, even sometimes leaving the pub early to see it, so when I was offered the chance to see it, I jumped at it.

I got to the green room and security was tight – everyone was searched – and the presenter, David Dimbleby, came to give us our pep talk on how to ask our questions and debate with the panellists. He was considerably more affable than he appears on the TV and, although his suit was so sharply pressed he could have circumcised you from twenty paces with the crease in his trousers, he was wearing rather trendy suede boots.

Then it was time to file though the University to the grand hall where it was being filmed. Bizarrely, there were no checks for tickets or for security on entering the studio space, rendering the earlier searches somewhat useless, I thought.

The panel consisted of comedian David Baddiel and loony right-wing journalist Janet Daley. The MPs were Menzies Campbell, who was so witty, gentlemanly and intelligent that I’d vote for him unhesitatingly, Liam Fox, who seemed likeable and spoke very well and rationally for a Tory, and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, who is even more sinister in real life than on TV (and, as she’s in charge of education and is a member of Opus Dei, a sect founded by a Spanish fascist whose members spread fundamentalist christianity through their work, that’s pretty damn sinister indeed).

Unfortunately, neither of my submitted questions were chosen (although a question similar to mine on immigration was asked, so I got to hear the panels’ views). A couple of times I raised my hand to speak, but then wimped out when I realised I’d me making my point to 2 – 3 million people, and previous experience tells me that I’d gabble my words and make a total tit of myself.

Lucky for those politicians that this ruthless Torquemada got cold feet.

100,000 reasons to design for accessibility

So I get a gig writing an accessibility report for a big organisation that launched its website last year. They wanted an external opinion, but were completely confident that everything’s fine, as they didn’t use any old supplier; they used the same big company that implemented all their payroll systems, their CRM suite etc. Big guys. Big company. Got to be pros, right?

Can you guess what happened? Of course, the site didn’t even meet WCAG priority one ("A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document").

Continue reading 100,000 reasons to design for accessibility