LWS February: Move over Web Accessibility, inclusivity is heading straight at you! (Live blog)

by Jeff Van Campen. 4 Comments

Update: You can now download the Keynote Presentation used at this event.  There is also a companion Word Document or PDF.


Ben Dodson is talking about how London Web Standards is now family entertainment.

Past Presentations: Web Fonts, YQL / Flickr API, HTML5, Mobile Web Best Practices, jQuery.

Future presentations: Speed / Unit Testing, JavaScript Optimisation, User Experience, Web to App.

Gowalla Spot for London Web Standards.

@media discount for LWS members to be emailed.


  • Ben Dodson is looking for PHP Web Developers
  • Jam is looking for a Mid-senior Web Developer, fulltime roll
  • ORM are looking for a front-end web developer, talk to Gavin or Lisa.

Design Competition

The website will be a focal point for London Web Standards. We’ll be sending details to the mailing list tomorrow.

Sandi Wassmer

She’s here to convince us that inclusive design is the way to go.

Accessibility is an overused word. It’s “just not working.” People think that it’s something they just have to do. To be a little politically incorrect: it’s what you have to do to make disabled folks happy.

She wants to give it better PR.

People think of accessiblity as somethign you do after you build a website. It’s something you do when you “get out the checklist.”

Accessiblity as it currently stands is currently very misunderstood.

Understanding the aims of Accessiblity

“It creates an unobstructed bridge between me and the world.”

“But I went to art school and I see things visually, albeit at 10 centimeters.”


90% of people registered blind have some risidual vision

3% of people registerd blind are completely blind.

Purchasing power is 80 million pounds a year.

What is Inclusive Design?

Same as Universal Design and Design for All.

Seven Principles of Inclusive Design

These are the Sandi-ised, plain English version of these principles (with the original version in brackets).

  1. Unbiased – everybody’s welcome (Equitable use)
  2. Flexible (Flexibility in use)
  3. Straight-forward (Simple and intuitive use)
  4. Clear, no ambiguity (Perceptible information)
  5. Sensible when dealing with errors (Tolerance for error)
  6. Minimises physical effort (Low physical effort)
  7. Doesn’t stop you from being able to use it (Appropriate size and shape)

You have to know and understand the users that use the product or website.

“We can create different experiences for different users with one website.”

There is no right or wrong. In an ideal world there would be no client, no budget. In a real world we have clients, and we have to make compromises.

It’s a learning process. Someone always comes up with a better solution. We have lots of knowledge and lots of people sharing it.

“We want people who think. We want people who create and user their minds.”

How does the process differ when you’re creating an inclusive website?

The Brief should include a mention of inclusive design.

The Process should use real people . Have an Inclusion Leader on your team, who makes sure the principles of inclusive design are adhered to.

Technical Scoping – backend and frontend people should understand what eachoterh do and how it imacts ont he other. Talk, talk and talk some more.

Testing – even people who “get it right the first time” need to test.

More Testing – you need to make sure the whole thing works together.

The G in WCAG

They are guidelines not rules. They make you think, but don’t restrict you. Allows you to think about what you’re doing and think about the users who will be using your website.


Different from accessibility.

It’s about specific users with specific goals in specfiic context.

Three key areas

  • effectiveness
  • efficiency
  • satisfaction

Tends to go together because there are so many overlaps.

It Begins With Web Standards

Progressive Enhancement is an extension of Inclusive Design.

Progressive Enhancement is a strategy. Graceful Degradation is an afterthought.

Internet Users are people and people come in all shapes and sizes

Marketers and Analyitics specialists should be listened to, but they don’t really understand human nature.

Peter, George and John

Same to marketers: same demographic, except:

Peter – internet lover. Firefox with all the extension. Loves JavaScript and Flash.

George is a luddite. Has JavaScript turned off.

John – Like Peter, technially savvy, but he’s visually impaired.

One last thought

Inclusive Design brings people together

Q & A

Q: I have a website that runs well on the desktop, but doesn’t run on mobile. Would you class that as non-accessible, non-inclusive?
A: Yes. Technology moves forward. Two ways to look at mobile: mobile style sheets (existing content) or repurpose the existing content for a mobile browser. It’s a difficult thing. 65% of people are using mobile to surf the Internet in the UK. In third world countries many people don’t have desktop computers they only have mobiles. Try your best. If that’s a market you want to server, you need to think about that.
Q: How can I test if my website is actully accessible?
A: Use real people to test it.
Q: Where can I find them?
A: You’ve got a couple blind folk here. It’s about budget. If you client doesn’t have budget, you won’t be albe to do it. The British Computer Association for the Blind has a list of 300 people who will test.
Q: You’re preaching to the convereted here. How do we get the message of inclusivity to the “boring banks.”
A: It needs to be brought to the mainstream. Accessiblity talk to another, but we need to mainstream it. The whole point is not having specialised thing, but including everybody. It’s social change. It’s time. Chalenge what blind it. Challenge norms and steotypes. “I’m not what you think blind is.”
Q: What is the best way develop an accessible website: write the best semantic code or… ?
A: If you get underneath the WCAG. The solution isn’t technical. You need to understand the people using the website. It’s not technical, it’s about structure. There isn’t one solution.
Q: Have you ever pushed for exclusive design?
A: I don’t like exclusivity. I find it difficult to think about that sort of thing. I’m a “human rights marketer.” Exclusive feels wrong philosophically.
Q: The statistics that you gave at the beginning. Where can we get more information? Your website?
A: Lots of places. I’m giving the presentation to Ben, so you’ll be able to track that down. W3C. WebAim. London Accessibility Camp.
A: (Jim) Mike Davies redesigned the Legal & General website. He did a presentation on the business case for usability at London Web Standards in 2007.
A: (From the audience) We built a better website because the vice-president of BP couldn’t see our website. We’re trying to reach old people. They’re the decision makers. They have visual impairments, but don’t like to admit it.
Q: As a vision impaired user, what is your experience of the internet like?
A: Most websites are frustrating. I have frustrations with pretty much every single website I use.
Q: Contrary to what has been said here, I’ve found that big companies are hell-bent to have their websites “accessible,” but often go over the top. Example: adding access keys to every link.
A: We do have nice clean, semantic markup, etc. What people think accessibilty is and what it really is are two different things at the moment. HTML 5 comes along with landmarks and ARIA. You have to understand the directions things are going (even if you don’t want to use HTML5 because it won’t validate right now). A lot of people who think about accessibility think it’s a checklist, but if you really look under the hood, it’s not logical. Don’t look at it as a list, as a rule. This is why I’m saying “Inclusive Design.” It’s about including as many people as possible.
Q: Make it usable by a 10 year old. Average reading age in the UK is 9. WCAG, the C is content…?
A: Yes, part of the guidelines is that text should be clear. Plain English. It’s about thinking abou the user’s. Not everyone has English as a first language. Be as simple as possible. People scan. People don’t read the Intenet like they’re reading a book.

4 comments on “LWS February: Move over Web Accessibility, inclusivity is heading straight at you! (Live blog)

  1. Jason Grant on said:

    Well done Jeff on capturing all of this during the talk. You are a star!

  2. Morena Fiore on said:

    Wow, that’s very accurate! I struggled to write down a few stuff, then realised we would get the slides and then I see this, thanks Jeff!

  3. Rick Lecoat on said:

    I was vexed not to be able to get to this talk, so this fantastic transcript/resource is a real godsend. Good work Jeff!

  4. Jeff Van Campen on said:

    Thanks, everyone. With feedback like this, I have no choice but to keep up the live blogging.

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