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Doing it with (user) style

October 21, 2007

I’ve long since been fascinated with changing the style of a site to fit with my needs. Early experimentation with the Web Developer Toolbar lead to me writing Print it your way for A List Apart back in May of 2004.

The capacity to restyle and customize sites to match our personal use is a fundamental part of what we do on the web. My friend and colleague John Allsopp wrote about it back in April of 2000 when he wrote the visionary A Dao of Web Design, also on A List Apart. We have the ability to adapt pages and restyle all or parts of them for our own use, beyond what the author may have intended. This is the web.

WCAG 1.0 Resources

I need the WCAG checklist and guidelines as a reference when I’m testing or writing a report. When pointing out areas of concern to a client, I generally reference the specific checkpoints in question so that their developers and designers can go back to the guidelines to see what needs attention. My work isn’t driven by the checklist, but the checklist is definitely a tool that I still use.

The problem? The way the guidelines and checkpoints are laid out, doesn’t really match the way that I work. I need a quick reference – mostly because I don’t have the exact numbers of all the checkpoints memorized.

With that in mind, I created some user styles for both the WCAG Guidelines and the WCAG Checklist to make them easier to read at-a-glance, I made the numbers for the checkpoints bigger, added in some line-height and removed anything else I thought got “in the way” of me being able to reference them quickly and efficiently.


WCAG 1.0 Guidelines: Before with default styling

WCAG 1.0 Guidelines: After with user styles

I’ve posted them at which makes use of the Stylish extenstion for FireFox—allowing you to manage your user styles on a per site basis.

It would be silly to suggest that these will meet your precise needs, but adding these styles certainly made the checkpoints and guidelines easier for me to read and use.

Feel free to give them a try and let me know how they work out for you. I’m also interested in knowing how other people use the guidelines and checklists. Are there other styles that would be useful for other use case scenarios for the guidelines and checklists?


Just to be clear – once you install the user styles, you need to go to the web pages in question to see them in action. Namely the WCAG Guidelines and the WCAG Checklist. If you don’t go to those sites, you won’t see any effect at all.

An Event Apart, Deep Dish Edition

September 12, 2007

It is hard to believe that it has already been a week two weeks since An Event Apart in Chicago. I had never been to Chicago prior to AEA (assuming you don’t count layovers in O’Hare as actually being in Chicago), so I have to admit I was incredibly excited to be on my first trip to the mid-west. I have but two regrets:

  • not having enough time to explore the city a bit more, and
  • not being able to eat more than one and a half slices of the Giordano’s deep-dish pizza we ordered on closing night

I gave a new talk: Accessibility: Lost in Translation that combined some new material with some of my favourite old classics. The premise is this: as developers, we tend to see a mockup, a polished design or a wireframe and then translate that into code. And—if we’re not careful—during that translation process, we lose some of the nuances and detail that actually make the interface meaningful, effective and pleasant to use. What that in mind, we examined a number of common design “patterns” and scenarios to learn what we can do to provide a better user experience for people with disabilities. After all, accessibility is part of user experience, and much more than just ticking off checkboxes to be accessible, right?

It was an absolute honour to be part of the speaking line up, and I’m thankful that it was a single-track conference so that I wasn’t speaking at the same time as one of the others! It also meant that I was able to see a lot of the other presentations and do a bit of learning myself. I love it when that happens! Thanks to Jeffrey and Eric for inviting me to speak—it truly was a pleasure.

A hearty thanks to the audience. It was extraordinary to chat with so many of you after my presentation, during lunches and breaks. One of the things I savour about speaking at conferences is the chance to talk to people about the kinds of problems they are trying to solve in their everyday work. It is reality, and that’s something from which we all benefit.

WCAG 2: A Done Deal

April 1, 2007

At last. I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever see an end to this, but it looks like WCAG 2.0 has finally been sorted out.

This is a great move forward for web accessibility—for the web as a whole—one which will leave a permanent mark. Finally getting WCAG 2.0 sorted out was my goal when I joined the W3C, and now that it has been accomplished, I’m happy to say to all those out there that thought it couldn’t be done: We did it!.

Olivier (Oli) Farlop

Registration open: Real World Accessibility for Ajax and Web Apps

March 18, 2007

After highly successful delivery of this workshop in Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada as part of the Web Directions conference series, I’m very excited to announce that registration for the workshop I’m putting on Austin, Texas on May 7, 2007 is now open:

Real World Accessibility for Ajax and Web Apps May 7, 2007, The Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, Texas; Access U pre-conference workshop

This full-day workshop is designed for those that are building a modern web application that employs Ajax or JavaScript to enhance the user experience. The day will be filled with planning advice, practical examples, demonstrations of assistive technology, code samples and live walk-throughs of a variety of web applications – all to help you provide web applications that are both accessible and usable for as wide an audience as possible, regardless of their abilties.

The workshop will be great for those that are looking to use Ajax and heavy scripting to build accessible web applications but also has plenty of material for people that are involved in designing these applications without getting their hands on the complicated parts of the code.

We’re offering $100 off for anyone that is attending Access U. Seats in the workshop are limited, so register today!

See this event on

Other locations are planned for 2007, so if you’d like to see it come to a city near you let us know in the comments or drop us a line.

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A visit from Glenda Watson-Hyatt

March 6, 2007
Book cover for I'll do it myself by Glenda Watson-Hyatt

Glenda Watson-Hyatt is one of those people that I’ve seen on various accessibility mailing lists over the years but have never met. Glenda is a web accessibility professional, a member of the Guild of Accessible Web Designers, and is dedicated to making the web more accessible for everyone, regardless of their ability.

Glenda has cerebral palsy.

While we still haven’t met, I feel like I know her a little bit better after reading (most of) her book: I’ll do it myself. In celebration of her writing and publishing adventure, Glenda devised an ingenious plan: a virtual book tour. She’s visiting 40 blogs in 40 days, and I’m very pleased to have her visiting here today.
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Innovations in Accessibility

February 23, 2007

I’m continually impressed by the ways in which both hardware and software technology serve to enable basic access to computing for all people – including those with disabilities.

Case in point – a new hardware setup, designed for people with spinal cord injuries that allows them to control their computer with their tongue (via engadget, with hat tip to James Craig).

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Turning Back Time

December 21, 2006

Waaaay back in 2003, I started writing a number of articles for another venture/partnership. It was my first foray into posting articles online, and it served me well. When that partnership and my involvement with that site ended, I removed my articles, effectively breaking the Internet. Yes, I know cool URIs don’t change. Bad Derek.

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PAS 78: A lesson in Terms and Conditions

November 15, 2006

For some reason or another, the UK’s PAS 78: a guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites came across my radar again today, and it reminded me that the resource is now free. With excitement, I went to download my very own copy of the guide, and for once, I decided “Maybe I should read the terms and conditions…”

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Public Money on Inaccessible Web Sites

March 24, 2006

Many countries in the world require that public sector web sites be accessible. We all know that despite this requirement many of these public sector web sites don’t meet these accessibility guidelines, nor are they accessible to people with disabilities. This is not a good thing, but will hopefully continue to improve over time.

My concern today, though, is about sites that are not technically public sector sites, but in all likelihood their construction has been supported by public funds.

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OGRE Meeting and Presentation

March 24, 2006
Ruby on Rails

Last Wednesday night (March 22, 2006) I had the privelege of talking with one of our local user groups: the Ottawa Group of Ruby Enthusiasts (OGRE). I did a short presentation on Web Accessibility (surprise, surprise). I was really pleased to see that the group was interested in accessibility – they asked some excellent questions. After the session I had a number of people asking me more in depth questions looking for different possible solutions to making their web sites or applications more accessible. Yes – we were talking about making Web 2.0 applications more accessible. Awesome – it is great to find people that want to do the right thing!

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