Giving a talk is an interesting experience. In this case, with a time limit of 15 minutes, the biggest challenge was figuring out what I had time to cover. With a subject like web accessibility, I firmly believe that every aspect is critical — anything I leave out is something that somebody needs to know.
But it’s 15 minutes. You can’t really be effective if you try and cover the entire scope of a subject in 15 minutes.
The first challenge is figuring out the audience. In this case, I was speaking to a group of internet marketing professionals and site owners. For the most part, no programmers, no interface developers — not even people who necessarily have any direct access to the code of their sites. What can you teach them which they’ll be able to apply and understand immediately?
I’ve already given the speech, so I’m not trying to solicit suggestions for this particular event. However, I’m curious to know what you think are the most key issues.
For your reference, I covered three general areas:
- Navigation which can be used by non-visual, non-mouse using groups.
- Content which can be read sensibly by text-aware devices
- On-page navigation which can make the page easier to navigate
I completely ignored HTML validation, web standards, accessibility guidelines, and anything about following technical specifications. For this audience, this didn’t strike me as an actionable conversation. Instead, I focused on practical investigations of site problems: whether the site can be used with a mouse; whether the site makes it’s content available to screen readers (or search engines); and whether standard methods have been employed which will enable disabled users to quickly and easily get around the page.
So I’m curious: what would you have talked about?