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The first draft was written 6 months ago after a few pints. It’s been debated, and debated, and debated, and edited (and somehow the pseudo-word “leveraged” got in there), and committeed, and emerged more sensible for all that. The Web Standards Project’s Accessibility Task Force manifesto is published.
One of the biggest challenges ahead is that the assistive technlogies are the new Netscape 4 – so broken, it’s hard to know where to start fixing them. This is complicated by the fact that the Windows-based ATs currently depend on Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) which is going to the software graveyard in the sky once Vista is released.
Combine that with the less-than-helpful attitude of one of the major screenreader manufacturers, and you’ll see that getting the assistive technologies to play nicely with Standards is a long-haul job.
Then there’s the job of persuading the site owners to take standards and accessibility seriously, best done (I think) by encouraging those who are locked out of their sites to assert their rights. More on some guerilla tactics later.
We’ve got a good nucleus of a team on the Accessibility Task Force, and accessibility is becoming more and more mainstream. I’d like to see more representatives of disability rights groups (and, indeed, more people with disabilities) on the team. I’m sure, in time, I will.
There’s further discussion on Accessify.com.