This weekend I presented a session at Drupal Camp Montreal 2010 on Drupal 7 & Accessibility. I always get nervous around presentations, but this is an important issue in which I have invested a lot of time & effort in the last two years. I've blogged about the HTML5 slide presentation, but it's also interesting.
I had a few goals in doing this presentation and I'm not sure how well I did in covering them. I certainly did raise the issue of Accessibility in the Drupal community. Many people were aware that there are some accessibility enhancements in D7, but there were a few who were not familiar with the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or the WCAG 2.0 P.O.U.R. objectives.
Guidelines like WCAG are an indispensable part of improving accessibility, but they aren't the only means tool at our disposal and shouldn't be used in isolation. They are guidelines which can be used in conjunction with user feedback & expert advice.
I wanted to illustrate that accessibility issues aren't about them, but are really about us. I touched on how our abilities are temporary and not something that we can take for granted. I also asked folks to identify if they were colour blind, 8% of men are. There are other forms of invisible disability that we don't know, especially when working virtually. It's an issue we have responsibility to take seriously of for ourselves as well as others.
Many people are under the impression that Drupal 7 will fix all of their accessibility problems, so they just have to upgrade. This isn't accurate. Drupal 7 is a big step forwards, but it is a long way from being a silver bullet for accessibility issues. I do see it as a key part of an accessibility strategy. It's a strategy that we've tried to outline in more detail in the Accessibility Group's wiki page.
There is no quick fix to make your site universally accessible. I asserted that many accessibility efforts have failed because of a lack of collaboration on solutions. Now with Drupal 7 there is a base to more easily identify & fix accessibility bugs in contributed modules & themes. Also, there's a whole assortment of documentation, patches & links to draw on to find a solution.
I wanted to raise awareness about the international conventions for people with disabilities and Ontario / Quebec accessibility legislation that is being introduced. This will be affecting many Drupal sites over the next few years and it is good that people are aware that it is becoming law.
Working recently with an accessibility focus group has provided some very useful insight into areas where we can make some quick accessibility improvements to Drupal 7. Amongst several other similar improvements in terms of Aria related attributes, we have come to the conclusion that adding aria-describedby to form field elements will help with providing context between form elements and their descriptions. Without context, form field descriptions are confusing.
Looking for an intuitive design and for seamless integration of a large catalog of video content, CPAC came to OpenConcept for a solution that would work with their long-established metadata and video delivery practices.
We did it! The Drupal community successfully fundraised to bring Vincenzo Rubano to DrupalCon Portland. Vincenzo is a blind Italian student that has been contributing to Core for the last year. This was one of the first successful crowdsourcing efforts in the Drupal community and we were really happy to show that it can work.
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