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First ATF F2F Meeting

By Matt May | March 13th, 2006 | Filed in Accessibility TF

The ATF had its first chance to meet face-to-face during SxSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.

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The ATF had its first chance to meet face-to-face this week. Here with me at SXSW are Tomas Caspers, Ian Lloyd, Derek Featherstone, Andy Clarke, and of course, Molly Holzschlag. (Gez Lemon, Bruce Lawson and Patrick Lauke didn’t get the plane tickets I sent them, or something, so we’re taking notes for them, with proper British spelling.)

We have a lot to talk about, but a lot more to get done. At this afternoon’s WaSP meeting, I’ll get a chance to cover a bit of it, but my index cards read as follows:

Dear users with disabilities,
SXSW is a conference where many attendees are pushing the envelope of technology. But it’s also one where people want to know as much as they can about making it more accessible. For many of us who design and produce Web content and tools, we hate leaving anyone behind. We want to harness the power of people like the ones we find here to see accessibility not as an anchor that holds them back from advancing their work and their profession, but a chance to lead by example, and build products that prove things are getting better all around. We want to advocate for users of all abilities by showing that the barriers on the Web are just waiting to fall.

We’re putting users first — not just in this entry, but in this entire task force. We want to make sure that everyone has the tools that they need to consume and create Web content, and the education they need to do it well.

Dear members of the design community,
We’re here to help. We know that there are a lot of questions surrounding accessibility, and not a lot of answers. There are lots of situations where you want to do the right thing, but can’t be sure what that right thing is. We’re going to talk about the problems with you, in plain language, and start working on the solutions.

Much of what we as designers do every day has been done a million times before, especially when it comes to DOM scripting. (Form validation, anyone?) We want to produce design patterns and script components that do these things and still meet the letter and the spirit of the accessibility guidelines available today. We’re going to explain our approach to solving accessibility problems, and show our work with code you can use.

We want to advance Web accessibility everywhere: for designers, software companies, assistive technology developers, but above all, for users. The best we can hope for is not for “accessibility experts” to take over the world, or for designers to gain a false sense of security that some magic bullet will solve the problem for us. The best outcome for users with various disabilities is for the designers of the modern Web to clearly understand the issues involved, and using that knowledge and capable tools, to progressively make everything they touch better.

Unlike HTML or DOM advocacy, this is not strictly about a standard. It’s about people. We won’t forget this as we do our work, and we hope it’s something we as an industry will never forget, either.

So, that’s it for now. We’re now online, and we have a lot more to share once we recover from our hangovers. Keep in touch.

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#1 On March 13th, 2006 6:56 pm