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Innovative Design Inspired by Accessibility : Comments

By Wendy Chisholm

March 30, 2005


Andrew Henze Qwent

March 31, 2005 4:30 AM

Dear Wendy
Thank you very much for your article.
We have recently finished two very large corporate web sites using XHTML/CSS that were aimed at ‘everybody’. We and our client found it was very expensive time wise to develop a standard interface following all the W3C guidelines and so please (we hope) all possible users and browsers and of course take into account the inevitable change requests made by the client during the development.
The time was not so much in the development but in the repeated testing. Finding, organising and following a suitable group of people to test the application was a very rewarding task personally but added about 15% to the overall budget.
Fortunately for us these particular clients had budgets that were flexible enough to allow this.
We’ve since had several requests from other clients for accessible web sites who when presented with the extra cost of accessibility have simply said ‘Forget the accessibility just get us online.’
So not only are we trying to educate ourselves we are also trying to educate our clients.

all the best

Will Chatham

March 31, 2005 4:44 AM

Andrew: I can understand the increased cost for user testing, but once you have the process of creating an accessible, standards-compliant web site down, it should take less time to develop.

Wendy: great article with many tidbits of info I was unaware of. I especially enjoyed learning about ways disability has driven technology. Thanks for the enlightenment. Anything Steve Ballmer says I take with a grain of salt, however.

William Loughborough

March 31, 2005 6:49 PM

The ability to estimate added costs for “universal design” is largely phantom. A major often ignored fact is that down the line there will be legal costs for presenting inaccesssible sites that far outweigh any other factors. Programmers are cheaper than lawyers.

Where the law doesn’t already require accessibility, it soon will.


Andrew Arch

March 31, 2005 9:05 PM

Thanks Wendy – great article.

Andrew – to add to Will’s & William’s comments, folk should also consider the additional benefits, beyond people with disabilities, that arise from accessible design.

See, for example:

Douglas Clifton

March 31, 2005 10:47 PM

Outstanding article Wendy, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I’m glad to see DW pushing this issue onto the front burner again, where it belongs.


john boudreau

April 1, 2005 7:01 AM

Thanks for the great article, Wendy, I’ll pass it along to our webmaster. I design physical electronics products and find any info that contributes to a better UI (web or otherwise) interesting and worth reading.

Great info!!

Dave P

April 1, 2005 1:53 PM

Great Article Wendy!

I hope to read more from you in the future.

Andrew Henze

April 2, 2005 4:51 AM

Dear William, Will and Andrew
Thank you I appreciate your encouragement.
Are you all really finding standards based development faster and cheaper? Have you reduced your quotes and development times?
I’m a partner in an italian company. All italian public adminisration sites are already legally required to be “accessibili”. So here in italy it is very here and now. However not all our clients are in the public administration sector (e-gov).
Sadly just last week I had a client (I won’t say what business sector) say to me in a very sarcastic tone of voice “I really don’t think any blind people are going to be looking at our site.” So while I was trying to win the client by telling him his new site would also be accesibile he just thought I was selling him a gimick. In the end he came round when I explained that blind people can and do use the web. He had no idea this was even possible.

Thanks to Andrew for pointing out this link.

Anyway Business has never looked better. Standards based work definitely brings in the bigger clients. Unfortunately that’s why I’m working on saturday and I really must get back to work.

On a lighter note: Some clients are now asking if we can build sites that are compatible with their fridge browsers. Seems the fridges don’t apply style sheets.

All the best

Jens Meiert

April 3, 2005 4:40 AM

he just thought I was selling him a gimick

We need to continue sensitizing bosses, colleagues, clients, that’s obvious – and that’s still even more important than knowing the last hidden accessibility improvement.

Will Chatham

April 3, 2005 10:34 AM

Dear William, Will and Andrew
Thank you I appreciate your encouragement.
Are you all really finding standards based development faster and cheaper? Have you reduced your quotes and development times?


Not only is it faster and easier to maintain a standards-based site, you are providing your client with the best product they can get.

What takes time is unlearning all the bad habits of doing things the old way.

Jens Meiert

April 3, 2005 11:33 AM

(Who removed the “greater than” character I used before the quote “he just thought I was selling him a gimick”?)

Nick Finck

April 3, 2005 11:33 PM

Please refer to the "allowed tags" line below the comment form. A greater than character by itself is not allowed.

Jens Meiert

April 4, 2005 2:22 AM

(Okay, thought it would be escaped.)

Ian Lloyd

April 5, 2005 3:46 AM

Lovely article, Wendy. It’s nice to read an article about web accessibility that doesn’t get technical too early and gets people thinking about the issue in a more general/abstract way.

The curbcuts point is valid, too – we don’t notice them, we don’t think they’re strange or that they’re there for people with wheelchairs; they benefit everybody. The difficulty is that by achieving the higher levels of WCAG compliance, some sites can look awkward – the accessibility hooks become too obvious to those who don’t need them. The challenge is to introduce these in such a way that those people who don’t need them (or understand them) don’t bat an eyelid or think they are strange (for example, the presence of skip links). Eventually, though, if people use such techniques as a matter of course they will become accepted in the same way as curbcuts, but in the interim we have to take care not to make our accessibility concessions too ‘in-your-face’.


April 5, 2005 1:59 PM

If you run into a boss in the future who doesn’t think blind people will be visiting their site, just remind him/her of the biggest blind user of them all: Google. It visites nearly every day. If it has trouble “seeing” your information, your site ranking will suffer. That should get his/her attention.

Andrew Henze

April 5, 2005 4:11 PM

(I have asked for my last comment to be removed.)

CLIENT: What exactly is this ‘page rank’ thing? Can’t the people at google read italian?

ME: ... that’s not quite how it works …

CLIENT: Anyway I use Altavista to find my web site and it works just fine so don’t expect me to give any money to those russians.

ME: That’s … fine. Right, er, Let me just explain a few …

CLIENT: So come on, come on, how much is it going to cost?

ME: Budget. Well we don’t have a project brief yet.

CLIENT: A brief one?

ME: Wait …

CLIENT: Good because I want to be online next monday at 9am. The leaflets go out at midday.

ME: What leaflets? No, um, I mean I don’t know what you want yet. But what’s in the leaflets?

CLIENT: A NEW WEB SITE! For **** ****! What? Are you wasting my time? I don’t have all day you know.

Sorry Nick. Not the place for this I know.
But a big thanks to Jens Meiert :)
I SO agree.
However one of my partners just told me I’ve missed the point of the article and to stop making a prat of myself. Oops!

Dave P

April 6, 2005 11:27 AM

Andrew: Which is why there are no laws mandating the you must work with every client that approaches you…

It’s not like they’ll pay you on time anyway… run away man, run away.


April 14, 2005 5:13 PM

Iagree with Dave

Sorry, comments are closed.

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