Real-Life Accessibility, or, How I Should Have Spent My Summer Vacation

The text alternative to a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Steve Krug, author of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, at the January 26, 2006 meeting of Boston-IA. The presentation was accompanied by conversations about accessibility issues with P.J. Gardner, founder of Boston-IA.

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Slide 1:
Real-Life Accessibility (or, How I Should have Spent My Summer Vacation)

Steve Krug
January 26, 2006

[Book Cover: Don't Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.]

Slide 2:
Who is this guy, anyway?

Steve Krug (steev kroog) (noun):

  1. Son, husband, father.
  2. Resident of Brookline, Massachusetts.
  3. Usability consultant, author.

[Cartoon of Steve Krug from Don't Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.]

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Slide 3:
This evening

Slide 4:

  • Like to apologize in advance to anyone I might offend.
  • Not a bad person, really (I think).
  • Political Correctness makes me edgy, sometimes escalating to irascible.
  • Again, my apologies.

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Slide 5:
Apologia, continued

  • I don’t like engaging in debates.
    • Inveterate lurker on listserv’s.
    • Not a bum; contribute in off-list e-mail.
  • Debates usually seem more heat than light.
    • It all feels like Fox News to me.
  • Life is too short.
  • So please don’t e-mail me to debate.
  • But I’m happy to discuss (even heatedly) face-to-face (e.g., here tonight).
    • Ask questions as we go along.

Slide 6:
Hoist by my own petard

  • Been asking myself: How did I end up here?
  • [Quotation from Shakespeare] "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar."
    —Hamlet, Act III, Scene iv.
  • [Expression from an Early Radio Show] "This Is Your Bed, You Made It, Now Lie In It."
    —Bob Goulding and Ray Elliot.

Slide 7:
How I got into this mess

  • I really never intended to talk about accessibility.
  • Not an accessibility expert.
    • Don’t even play one on TV.
  • Most of you may know much more about accessibility than I do.
  • I don’t plan on becoming an expert.
    • Sherlock Holmes got it right. [Story about how Holmes didn’t know the earth revolved around the sun. He said he couldn’t know everything and it made no difference to him.]
    • That’s why we have books, Google, and...
    • P.J. Gardner!

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Slide 8:
So why a chapter?

  • Figured accessibility was the right thing.
    • As in “doing the right thing.”
  • But they weren’t selling me, somehow.
  • And I should have been an easy sell.
  • Most small sites are dancing as fast as they can even without thinking about accessibility.
  • Interested whether there was a real conflict.
  • Is accessibility the enemy of design?
    • Do buttered cats really exist?

Slide 9:
[Example Web Page]

[, a website with the text that follows.]

One of four web users are disabled users

Did you know that up to 25% of all visitors on your website has [sic] some kind of accessibility problem. Some of your users may be blind, deaf, dyslectic, have learning disabilities or motoric disabilities such as schlerosis, parkinson’s disease, etc. A so-called functional disability.

But how about users with a technical disability: Wireless devices, slow internet connections, old browsers, feed readers, etc. These should be considered as well, as there are probably more people with....

[Steve's comment is: "Some advocates cite 50% and higher! (Loses credibility...)"].

Slide 10:
A walk through the chapter

  • Added to the second edition of Don't Make Me Think.
  • [Chapter Title] “Accessibility, Cascading Style Sheets, and you”.
  • Download it (for your personal use):

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Slide 11:
A walk through the chapter (2)

  1. Fix the usability problems that confuse everyone.
  2. Read an article.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Start using Cascading Style Sheets.
  5. Go for the low-hanging fruit.

Slide 12:
A brief history of

  • A modest site, even now (see site map).
  • 1996-2000: Happy as a clam with my one-pager.
  • 2000: Book needed its own page.
  • 2001: Workshops needed some pages.
  • Homegrown in Dreamweaver.
    • Always asking people not to look under the hood.
    • Cobbler's kids.
  • But I always had alt text!

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Slide 13:
[Old View of Steve's Web Site]

[A view of Advanced Common Sense at from December 1998 showing alt text on the daily temperature saying, "Click for Boston, Massachusetts Forecast".]

Slide 14:
My report card

[On a scale of 1 to 10.]

  1. Make it usable
    • [Grade:] 8.
    • A 10 would require real work.
    • “good enough” usability.
  2. Read an article.
    • [Grade:] 10.
  3. Read a book.
    • [Grade:] 7.
    • Read most of one, parts of four or five, but retained little.
    • Figured to go back to several of them while doing my site.

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Slide 15:
My report card (2)

  1. Start using CSS.
    • [Grade:] Average, 5.
    • Hired Eric Meyer = 10.
    • Didn’t follow through = 1.
  2. Go for the low-hanging fruit.
    • [Grade:] 7.
    • Did some myself.
    • Hired P.J.

Slide 16:
Before and after

  • Conversation with P.J. Gardner.

[Dialogue plus questions from the audience. The following seven slides review Steve's website before and after P.J. made some accessibility changes.]

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Slide 17:
[Steve's Links Before, 1 of 4]

Links on my home page, as read by JAWS (1 of 4, BEFORE).

[View of Steve Krug's Web site before P.J. Gardner made accessibility changes. The JAWS Links List (reading the links on the page from the top in Tab Order) says:]

  • The workshop
  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • The book
  • about
  • Steve Krug
  • Steve Krug (cartoon image)
  • usability workshops
  • Lou Rosenfeld

Slide 18:
[Steve's Links Before, 2 of 4]

Links on my home page, as read by JAWS (2 of 4, BEFORE).

[The second view of the JAWS Links List says:]

  • let me know
  • Book cover: Don't Make Me Think
  • Read a chapter
  • Order the Second Edition
  • buythebook
  • Second Edition page
  • Sample usability test script
  • Video consent form
  • User testing chapters from the first edition

[Arrows point to "let me know" and "buythebook" and say "Bad!".]

Slide 19:
[Steve's Links Before, 3 of 4]

Links on my home page, as read by JAWS (3 of 4, BEFORE).

[The third view of the JAWS Links List says:]

  • here
  • Boxes and Arrows
  • O'Reilly Web DevCenter
  • WebReference
  • since1968
  • pair Networks
  • Management Consulting News
  • WebTalkGuys
  • MediaPlayer

[An arrow points to "here" and says "Bad!".]

Slide 20:
[Steve's Links Before, 4 of 4]

Links on my home page, as read by JAWS (4 of 4, BEFORE).

[The fourth view of the JAWS Links List says:]

  • Real Audio
  • Let's Talk Computers
  • Luminary Lecture
  • HOME
  • Click for Boston, Massachusetts weather forecast

Slide 21:
[Steve's Links After]

Links on my home page, as edited by P.J. (AFTER).

[The equivalent of the second view of the JAWS Links List now says:]

  • let me know where you are
  • Book cover: Don't Make Me Think
  • Read a chapter
  • Order the Second Edition
  • Second Edition page
  • Sample test script
  • Video consent form
  • User testing chapters from the first edition
  • add you to my mailing list

[Arrows point to "let me know where you are" and "add you to my mailing list" and say "Better?".]

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Slide 22:
[Steve's Headings Before]

Headings on my home page, as read by JAWS (BEFORE).

[JAWS says, "No headings found...."]

Slide 23:
[Steve's Headings After]

Headings on my home page, as read by JAWS (AFTER).

[The JAWS Heading List (in Tab Order) says:]

  • The Workshop!: 2
  • This Month's Tip...: 2
  • The Book!: 2
  • The Second Edition!: 2
  • Looking for Downloads?: 2
  • Get email from me! (Wow!): 2
  • Interviews: 2

[The "2" after each heading indicates that all headings on the page are Heading Level 2 (because Steve believes Home pages should not have page titles, like other pages).]

Slide 24:

  • Should you wait for your next redesign to make the site accessible?
  • Avoid duplicating effort.
    • Why clean up things that may be going away?
  • My experience: might be better to decouple them.
    • Hmm. Before I convert to CSS, I should probably rethink the IA [Information Architecture] like I’ve been meaning to for years now. And I really should edit that text. And it really make sense to insulate the attic first, too...
  • The sense that it’s overwhelming becomes one more reason not to “just do it”.

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Slide 25:
Thoughts (2)

  • It’s not about guidelines.
  • Guidelines are a means to an end.
    • The end: people being able to use it.
    • Not satisfying guidelines.
  • Sounds a lot like usability?
  • The problem: in this case, we’re terrible surrogates for our audience.
    • They’re diverse.
    • We don’t know them.
    • We have a hard time pretending to be them.
      • In part, because we don’t want to imagine being like them.

Slide 26:
Thoughts (3)

  • Why don’t we all just do it?
  • Not sure how hard it is.
  • Not sure how much we need to learn.
  • Once you start reading, experts disagree.
  • Unlike the visible UI [user interface], out of sight, out of mind.
    • Imitation/copying is one of the main reasons the Web has improved so much so soon.
    • Hard to actually tell which sites are accessible.

Slide 27:
Thanks a lot ([Curses] @%^!$!)

  • Now I can’t look at comps [comprehensives] from clients anymore without thinking, “What about accessibility?”

Slide 28:
Thanks for all the fish

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