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Web Essentials ’05 Presentation

October 10, 2005
Web Essentials '05: Sydney, Australia, September 29-30

I’ve started posting my presentation materials at:

Before I post the details of my presentation from WE05, I just wanted to congratulate the entire team – Maxine Sherrin, John Allsopp, Russ Weakley, Peter Firminger and Lisa Miller – for putting on an outstanding event (I can’t thank you enough for inviting me down there to speak and for a truly wonderful experience!) It was an honour to speak at the conference alongside some of the world’s greatest speakers and web professionals. And, to be able to speak to an audience that cares so deeply about the web, web standards and accessibility was a treat. Its no surprise there has been quite a buzz around

Finally – many many many thanks to Jeff Davies who managed to find me a ticket to the Grand Final – we had a blast, and I made good on my promise of muchos beers!

My Presentation

Oh, if only it were that simple.

I haven’t finished posting everything yet, but I promise I will in the next few days. There’s a number of good reasons for that:

  • based on the response and talking with people afterwards, I felt it appropriate to create a new site for the materials
  • I’ve added zoom layouts to quite a few examples
  • I’m writing up the examples so that they stand alone and have associated explanations/tutorials with them and that’s still taking some time.

You can listen to the podcast of Designing for Accessibility: Beyond the Basics, and for examples and explanations you can head on over the new site:

16 Responses

Comment by Ruth Ellison — Oct 10 2005 @ 5:06 am

And thanks to you for the interesting presentation. I never knew crossword puzzles could be done like that!

And Jeff Davies was telling me about the Grand Final – couldn’t believe that he managed to secure tickets that late in the piece. Amazing stuff.

Looking forward to your seeing your presentation details online.

Comment by Ben Buchanan — Oct 10 2005 @ 9:22 am

Heya, it was great to meet you! Always good to put faces to names (and websites, for that matter).

I was actually wondering yesterday whether you made it to the final in the end. Arsey! Very arsey ;)

Great minisite for a great presentation, too. I’m certainly looking forward to blowing peoples minds by showing them the crossword example.

Comment by Amit Karmakar — Oct 10 2005 @ 7:25 pm

Loved your presentation Derek and was lovely meeting you not to mention the roasted duck and the yumm dinner at coast! The crosswords. WAY COOL. You were right when you said you got goosebumps! :)

Comment by Jeff Davies — Oct 18 2005 @ 6:26 pm

Derek, had did the photos and video turn out from the Grand final? Will you be posting them?

Comment by Stéphane Chausson — Oct 20 2005 @ 3:50 am

One word about
No color has been defined for the text.
With background color set to white in the css and a browser using dark-on-light settings the main text is invisible.
By adding
the problem gets fixed.

Comment by Michael Jordan — Oct 20 2005 @ 2:29 pm

Hi Derek,

Met you at SXSW where we shared accessible crossword puzzle war stories. I listened to your talk and it offers some great ideas. I’m interested in checking out that crossword. Any chance of you posting or sending a link? It sounds way cool.

Comment by Jules — Nov 05 2005 @ 10:49 am

Hi Derek:

I am listening to your podcast as I edit the next edition of my books. Can you clarify something for me please (although perhaps I shouldn’t be lazy and test this myself)?

I am confused about JAWS vs. CSS and this relates to your presentation. As I understand it, JAWS acts like a layer on top of IE (generally). I also understand that JAWS reads what IE displays, in the order that it displays. Therefore, if source order of “A” and “B” is “A B” but with CSS, it is displayed as “B A”, wouldn’t JAWS read the displayed order? If so, then your required asterisk example might be problematic.

Can you clarify this for me?



Comment by Derek Featherstone — Nov 05 2005 @ 6:52 pm

I also understand that JAWS reads what IE displays, in the order that it displays. Therefore, if source order of "A" and "B" is "A B" but with CSS, it is displayed as "B A”, wouldn't JAWS read the displayed order? If so, then your required asterisk example might be problematic.

Hey Jules – You’ve got it right to a degree. Yes, display matters (generally) and source order matters (generally), and there are a number of interactions that determine what is read first.

In the particular cases you reference (the required asterisk) – it is part of the label, and therefore read as part of the label when in forms mode. JAWS and WindowEyes (as examples) also have different cursor modes. So, when you are in JAWS cursor mode things are read differently than in “PC cursor mode”. PC Cursor mode seems to be more in tune with reading things how they are rendered on screen as opposed to source ordered.

In all the user testing I’ve done, I’ve never seen anyone using PC cursor mode, unless they really really really needed to (though that may not always be the case)

Comment by Jules — Nov 05 2005 @ 8:10 pm

With the additional complexity of cursor mode on/off, it solidifies my opinion that screen readers should read the source code, not styled content. If Joe’s recommendation of media=reader is “published” and screen readers adhere to it, that would produce a much more workable solution.

Comment by Derek Featherstone — Nov 05 2005 @ 10:00 pm

With the additional complexity of cursor mode on/off, it solidifies my opinion that screen readers should read the source code, not styled content

Jules – I’m not trying to be nasty here – this is a serious question: for reference, can you point me to cases where it has been shown that they don’t read the source as ordered? (again, a serious question… i’m trying to determine if there are test cases out there, or if I have to create some…)

Comment by Jules — Nov 06 2005 @ 11:34 pm

Hi Derek:

No need to apologise!

Maybe I misunderstood your answer to my question: as I said, I was under the impression that JAWS read styled order, not source order. Yet your answer included there are a number of interactions that determine what is read first which lead me to believe that at times JAWS reads styled order and other times source order. You also wrote JAWS and WindowEyes (as examples) also have different cursor modes which I interpretted to mean that each application has two different cursor modes and again, I drew the inference that at times style affects reading order and other times source does. You could have meant that these two application’s cursor modes differ from each but I am not clear on that.

We both know about Joe’s testing of display:none and visibility:hidden against different screen readers and how some read none/hidden content and others don’t so some aspects of style does affect some readers and not others.

From my perspective, there are two groups who use screenreaders, the blind and the dyslexic. The blind shouldn’t care about style and the sighted-dyslexic likely enjoy style but may prefer to have the screen reader read to them. If both groups are having the content read to them, I think it would be best that it be source ordered: both groups could press “H” to move to the first heading and commence reading from there but it might be better if H1 was closer to the top of the code through source ordering.

I don’t know, am I off base here?

As to an example, I would have to download and fire up JAWS again and test it.

Comment by Jules — Nov 06 2005 @ 11:37 pm


I tried to use inline quotes <q> but although the preview showed that they were being allowed (the quotation marks appeared in the preview), they were stripped out of the final comment.


Comment by Jules — Nov 07 2005 @ 9:02 am

Hmmm, I didn’t see the quotes last night but I do see them today. Ignore the last message (delete it and this one too).

Comment by kartooner — Nov 09 2005 @ 8:35 am

Great presentation on accessibility Derek. I don’t think I ever asked but what did you teach as a High School teacher? English, History, Economics?

Oh, and pure genius with the 5 Stages of Grief and Accessibility comparison. Although I’ve never been in denial, but I can imagine many people have, especially when it comes to the acceptance and implementation of web standards and accessibility.

It’s a daunting task for many and changing your way of thinking, looking at things from a different perspective and understanding the benefits of doing so can be a huge undertaking. We’ve all been there and understand where we’ve been and where we’re going with all this CSS/XHTML/Web Standards and Accessibility mumbo-jumbo; forward ho!

See you in Texas!

Comment by David — Dec 11 2005 @ 1:19 pm

Great presentation. You make honor to the confrerence, and maybe you contribute to the celebrity of the confrerence.

PS : Have you got an email where we can join you.

Comment by Kalle — Dec 14 2005 @ 2:49 pm

Must be a thrill going there. The zoom layouts are great.