Accessible DHTML presentation at CSUN this week

It’s been so busy lately, both professionally and socially, that I haven’t been putting any time into this blog. I’m sorry about that, and have lots of ideas swirling around in my head that I hope to be able to write here soon.

In the near term though, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be in LA this Thurday presenting a paper at the CSUN accessibility conference. The paper/presentation, co-authored by my colleage Victor Tsaran, has the long title, “Yahoo! Experiences with Accessibility, DHTML, and Ajax in Rich Internet Applications”. The 45 minute talk will review the current state of web development and then offer three families of techniques for making the DHTML development that’s at the heart of Web 2.0 accessible to all users.

It’s an interesting and important topic. From 1999 thru 2004 the web became increasingly accessible with the broad adoption of Web Standards and related modern methodologies. Since 2005, these gains have been under pressure as we all race to push the limits of what’s achievable with DHTML in capable and modern browsers. While it is a myth that DHTML is not accessible, in practice the rush jobs and rapid innovations of the day often leave accessibility as but an afterthought. Additionally, as mouse-based desktop interactions — drag and drop for example — become more commonplace online, it’s tempting to exclusively rely on mouse-based input and manipulation which is a cause of concern to the accessibility community (and keyboard-loving geeks everywhere). The straw that often breaks the camel’s back is Ajax, which partial-page updates are often unnoticable to screen readers and other types of assistive technology.

I’ll post slides after the talk, and will be writing about this with Victor in an upcoming article for our Yahoo! User Interface Blog.