My beginnings in web, discovery of accessibility, and Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Posted by on May 15th, 2014 in ,

My first real web ‘project’ was built in 2001. I was hosted on GeoCities, and coded it using Microsoft Front Page. I was 15, and I’d just finished a week long Web Development basics after school course at RMIT.

It was a very basic, ‘this is what the web is, and this is how you put something online’ type course, but it was enough to spark my interest.

I’d always known I wanted to work with computers, but it was after this course that it became clear to me that ‘working with computers’, for me, meant working on the web.

I started researching what I was told was the ‘language of the web’, HTML.

I got directed to the HTML 4.01 Specification, and then got kinda scared… There was so much information, and I didn’t know where to start.

I started by looking for somewhere to start, and the ‘What is HTML’ section seemed to make sense.

I started reading section by section from there down:

  • What is HTML?
  • A brief history of HTML
  • HTML 4
  • Internationalization
  • Accessibility
  • Tables
  • Compound documents
  • Style sheets
  • Scripting
  • Printing
  • Authoring documents with HTML 4
  • Separate structure and presentation
  • Consider universal accessibility to the Web
  • Help user agents with incremental rendering

The 2 topics in the above list, ‘Accessibility’ and ‘Consider universal accessibility to the Web’ were my first exposure to what’s been my career for at least the last 5 years.

The “… authors should consider how their documents may be rendered on a variety of platforms…” kinda struck me.

What other platforms could there be? I mean, you view the web in your browser, right? At the time, I had no idea that the web could be looked at on anything other than a PC.

I stated searching for the words ‘accessibility web’ hoping to find out more, and stumbled onto this quote from Tim Berners-Lee:

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect”. Tim Berners-Lee

I kept reading and researching, and what I came understand, is that the web has the power to change people’s lives. It has the power to remove barriers, and allow everyone to equally participate in society. And it’s our job as web developers and designers, as web professionals, to make sure that that can happen.

It’s our job to make sure that what we build is usable by all. Accessibility is not about guidelines or standards, accessibility is about people.

Today, Thursday 15 May 2014 marks the 3rd annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is a day dedicated to increasing understanding and stimulating discussion about digital accessibility and inclusion.

Inspired by a blog post from Joe Devon that accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers now, Global Accessibility Awareness Day has been embraced around the world with events and activities planned in many countries including Australia, USA, Belgium, Canada and Japan.

Go along to an event and get involved!

I urge anyone reading this post to get involved. You can:

  • Attend a GAAD event either in Australia (details below) or events in other cities around the world
  • Personally participate and encourage your colleagues to participate in a GAAD activity and experience accessibility first hand.
  • Give #gaad some twitter love by following @gbla11yday, tweeting about your local event or your GAAD activities.

It doesn’t matter how you get involved, as long as you get involved.

GAAD in Sydney and Melbourne

A11Y Bytes are community events to raise the profile of and spark discussion about digital accessibility and user’s needs and preferences. This year, A11y Bytes will be held in both Melbourne and Sydney. Come hang out with us for an evening of short presentations that will help us learn and talk and grow together.

A11Y Bytes Sydney

Thursday 15 May
Come by at 6.00pm and we’ll kick off around 6.30pm
Shelbourne Hotel, 200 Sussex St, Sydney
Register for A11Y Bytes Sydney on Eventbrite »

A11Y Bytes Melbourne

Thursday 15 May
Come by at 6.00pm and we’ll kick off around 6.15pm
RMIT Swanston Academic Building, Building 80 (Level 2 street level, Room 7 lecture theatre), 445 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Register for A11y Bytes Melbourne on Eventbrite »

GAAD in Brisbane

The Brisbane Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup will host an evening of short lightning talks.

GAAD in Perth

The Perth Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup will be gathering to support GAAD

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