Fronteers — vakvereniging voor front-end developers

Accessibility panel with Antoine Hegeman, Bor Verkroost, Bram Duvigneau & Chris Heilmann


This is the moment where in the conference, I'm nervous for the first time because we have a lot of moving parts onstage that might go wrong. I've been working in accessibility for a long time. I have yet to find the first presentation where the screen reader doesn't crash.

Which is actually only on stage. It must be some weird karma thing, because day-to-day work with them works well. Fronteers put together an accessibility panel that hasn't been covered in the last years a lot. The problem that I always have with accessibility presentations is that there are always people who are developers, who are telling us what people with disabilities need.

Why do we play telephone if we have very capable people with different disabilities telling us what their issues are when they use the web, and how they use the web? Here and now it's going to start with the fun of pronouncing names. We've got Bram Duvigneau, Antoine Hegeman and Bor Verkroost.

Correct. [laughter] [applause]

Why don't we go through, starting from left to right. What are you? What do you do and how do you use the web normally?

My name is, as you said, Bor Verkroost. [Sound] That's really creep.


Don't mention me on Twitter, it will go over the speakers. [laughter]

Now I started in 1999 with Games Hotline. I've been basically involved in both the Internet and the game technically. All of the things about accessibility. In 2004, I couldn't really keep up with the hotline because of my degrading condition.

Therefore, I started up a more consultancy based company. Focusing, amongst other things, especially on game accessibility. I've done several things about it. I've done that in close collaboration with

How can games be made in a way that a broad audience can play them, and even some niche markets, exactly the same way as we are doing here today, by looking at what accessibility issues lie before us and what we can relatively easily tackle.

Did you find in terms of feedback, making amends to make things more accessible made it easier for the whole users as well? Because that's what we always claimed is a great win, if you put accessibility in.

True, true. I think one of the most prominent examples of that would be the thing that I've benefited greatly from. Most people here, with or without disabilities, have benefited greatly from. That's the fact that websites have started to slowly change to become less scrollable.

The least scrolling for me is better, because I need to be there in just a few clicks of the button. Not by endlessly pushing two buttons or having to hold one button and then scroll down the other one. That's a general accessibility issue that also greatly benefits my group.

It's also an annoyance issue. I laugh when old-school newspaper sites cut up an article into five pages and had forward and backward links.


I always use the print version then, because it's on one screen.

Exactly. It's the same thing, I suppose. Yeah.

Cool. So, our second contestant, how do you use the web and what do you do?

Well, I am Duvigneau. I started out a few years ago as a backend web developer. After that, I did a year of developing, specifically solutions for the blind. Not really web related, but more in company settings where someone who is blind is having a job or getting a job, and to use the internal company systems.

I had to go there, and somehow hack around all the issues that rise up. These days, I am a freelance developer. I do backend web development. If there is anything to do in the accessibility field, where my expertise can be used as a blind user and a blind developer. I do that kind of project. I really like to combine my point of view as an end-user and my advice from a developer perspective, to make things better accessible.

I was lucky enough to work next to a PHP developer who was blind as well, for six years. I saw that on the first go. But a lot of people are just like "How can somebody program blind?" What is the trick that you're using, mostly? How do you see what you're typing, so to say?

Well, the two basic things of output are speech and Braille. Text the speech, that's a technique that converts text into spoken output. And a Braille display, that's a device at the table. My laptop gives Braille output.

This one contains 40 cells for the characters, so that I can put 40 characters of text on the display. And this is just controlled by software, and the software is called a screen reader.

Whenever I want to read more than 40 characters, I need to scroll using this device. Speech is usually faster for me to get information, because the normal speech rate, there is a slider called speech rate on the Mac that goes from 0 to 100, and it's normally at 80 or 85. Yeah, that's quite fast and you can really easily skim around and listen what's there.

But if you really want to read code and see where all the quotes are, and all the little annoying semicolons and all those things you have to put in there, then you just read it in Braille.

You normally go for the speech so you don't write 40 lines of code and then annoy other developers who have to work with your code? No.

Because that's, is it 80 characters or 60 or 100? How do we do the style guide? It's pretty impressive when, we talked about this particularly earlier, my colleague was always complaining about interfaces that didn't work for him. That was in our company, which is a large company that is purple and has a "Y" in it.

When he complained to people it was not, there was always a back and forth. Instead, he actually wrote little GreaseMonkey scripts and sent them to people and said, "Look at the side with GreaseMonkey script on, that's how I could use the website."

That actually made people more responsive, and all of a sudden realizing that it's not that much work. Because people are unhappy to change code that is existing, or interfaces that are existing, but if you show them that is not much work, it's much easier.

Do you find that there is a positive attitude towards when you talk to people, who say like "I'm a blind user but I'm also a developer." Can you talk better, on the same level?

Yes. One of my recent projects was a large company here in the Netherlands that wanted to user-test with blind people, but after all they preferred to test with me, because I could not only say what wasn't working, but also I probably would be easily able to fix it. That saved lots of work and time, because you're not just getting a complaint, but also, at least part of the solution.

When I look at a website, and I just see, "Oh, this is something clickable, but it's not a link or a button", well, it's easily, it should be easily fixable by a company.

Antoine, last but not least. What do you do? How do you use the Internet?

I am starting this week as a teacher.


I teach kids HTML, CSS.


Web usability design.

Don't tell them the stuff that Mathias showed us. [laughter]

No. Well, maybe. In their third year or something.


I also teach some Dreamweaver. I'm sorry. Photoshop.

We have to deal with all kinds of disabilities on this planet. [laughter] [applause]

So, this is pretty cool. We have this web maker project as well, where we teach basic web literacy and HTML. Do you find interactive editors that show immediate results are much easier in this, or do you still go through "Here's your editor, save it, open it in the browser"?

I still do. I have been following brackets, right now.


And I kind of love the fact that it's live updating. So, I would really like to see all of them go in that direction, but I still have that work flow. Doing something, saving, and refreshing my browser and going "Nope."

Cool. As I understand it, you have a few demos for us to show when you get online, where you get stuck, where our most problems are out there. Shall we just dive into that? Do you want to start? Can we start this computer?

Well it's just mainly a few examples I wanted to show you, because for me, accessibility means of course, I spent a lot of time online. Both doing all the mail stuff and keeping up with my contacts, social networking, of course. What I used to do with the game hotline was to look up a lot of information that I got a lot of questions about.

Like, "What's the sixth key in the Zelda seventh dungeon?", which I sometimes had to look up even though I played virtually all games myself. But the thing is with the accessibility, it's mostly small and little things. For starters, and you cannot really see that out there, but for me, it's easier to, this laptop has a touchscreen. A touchpad, sorry. [fast screenreader output]

That's people tweeting his name. Really.

That was a time-out, that I had to enter my password, otherwise it would go.

Oh, otherwise the system will go crazy. All right. Well, no, I use a touchpad on this laptop. But preferably, I use a mouse. Because one of the accessibility issues I have, because of my many hand surgeries, and there are now a total of 60, my hands are often totally bandaged. Now I have a part out of the bandage, but usually it can be damaged as well.

In which case, all things like touchpads, iPads, everything touch related won't work. I even have to switch on my PlayStation three using my elbow. That's one of the things that causes me A, to use a mouse, and B, to never buy an iPad, which really I would like to have because it has a lot of nice features.

For websites, it's like I said, scrolling for me is a real issue. I used to use a control F key combination very often just to look up the word, because I know where I want to look, and then it easily scroll down itself. But I wanted to show you two examples. This is a well-known Dutch youth network which has a really busy website.

It sometimes a bit...

Sorry, again sometimes a bit too cramped up. What you can see, it has incredibly many options that are pretty close together. For me now, that's not a problem, but in days that I am lesser physically capable, I have trouble focusing on the exact same thing.

What they did do however, and I will show you, once you get a little bit outside the drop box, as you can see, it doesn't immediately disappear. There are a lot of websites out there that once you slightly go off the track, it immediately disappears, having you to scroll back up again and redo the whole thing again.

The other example I wanted to show you. As you can see, it's "Al Jazeera." Oh, I'm sorry. It's more widened up. It's wider. It has a space in between the headlines. And it's all pretty much focused in one streak. In which case, when you click on one of the items, of course you get another selection.

But it doesn't have the endless scrolling-out and scrolling-in kinds of menus, which is, for me, a main thing which saves me an incredible amount of time when I'm working.

So that's mainly the focus of my accessibility. And the thing is....

I was talking with Antoine here a little earlier. A lot of the things you learn to work your way around, and you can use those websites even if they're not that handy. But once I started to really pay attention to it, I found that websites who have a more broad stream and who are not cramped up have a lot more appeal to me.

Of course, also visually, but also in accessibility terms. And I think that's basically one of the important things I wanted to say here today, because that for me, it just takes me a hell of a long time.

It's basic usability.

It is.

When we're on a train, or something, or we move our hands around, we don't want to lose the menu as well.


This has been the best practice for years, but I keep seeing it badly implemented, because people use menu systems that they don't know, or they cannot actually change. It's good to see that. What was fascinating me about when people told me that "You're going to be on this", and I have to plug this, because I'm fascinated by it.

Your condition, I have a colleague that has exactly the same condition. The difference is that that person works on the developer tools in Firefox and is a JavaScript developer.

He writes most of the developer tool stuff that you see and actually knows firsthand that there should be bigger spaces. It's just incredible to see that, because as developers, we always feel like we've got to do something for people. But you can do things if you're just empowered.

When I pick up a new laptop, or a new computer, I always look at the keyboard. If the keys are a little bit apart, you have keys you have to press in very deep and keys that are pretty much layered on top of the keyboard. You only have to use a very light push and you don't have to push it all away inward. Because, as you can see, I have my fingers folded in a way, so I can really stretch one finger to push in a button.

As you said, one of your colleagues has the same condition. It might be worthwhile to tell in short, what it is. It's a very rare genetic disorder called EB, which basically allows, or doesn't allow the skin to build up its layers as it should. It also makes that in my case, not in all cases but in my case at least, it makes the fingers go into a fist.

I have most of my fingers still, and I can feel them as fingers the same as you, even make the same gestures, but you don't see them.

That's handy. How many people have you flipped up already?

They're folded together, pretty much.

You can make rude gestures without people realizing it.

Oh, a lot, I suppose.

One question here is, does zooming help? Can you zoom into a website and then have better space to get the menus out? But then I guess the problem then is that you can't read as many menu items.

Exactly. Exactly. I want to keep the general view. I am a quick searcher, so I need to keep up the pace. If I have to zoom in every time, then I'll lose time zooming and I don't gain as much on the accessibility itself.

It's very interesting, because seeing people say the touch interfaces are so much more accessible to children and to the elderly. That people find it so much easier to touch a screen than they understand that horrible keyboard thing. And sometimes it just doesn't really mean the same thing.

That in general, has always been my problem with accessibility panels. We just talked about blind users and said that is accessibility. And sometimes doing something for one disability, to help it, is actually doing worse to others.

Exactly, yeah.

It's not an exact black and white science, there's lots of shades of gray there.


Thank you very much. Talking of shades of gray, how about we take a look at what problems screen reader users have, and what we can help you with? Where you actually fix other peoples problems, because they don't listen to you if you email them? Can we switch to the second computer please? You're live. It might be good to tell you.

OK. So first of all, to give you an impression of what I'm hearing usually when I'm working, it sounds a bit like this. [fast screenreader output]

Who could make a word out of that? It sounded Dutch to me.

Well, it was English. [laughter]

We saw an English talk with the same speed earlier. [laughter]

You should get used to it by now, let's slow it down a little bit. It's now on 80 percent. Let's make it 50 percent.

45 percent, 50 percent, 45 percent.

45. When I do the same thing at the higher speed.

Find. Finder. Desktop, deskop, Safari, about, blank window, HTML content.

That's somewhat more understandable, I guess.


Well, to give a good example of accessibility or what describes it well to me is Google search, I'm explicitly mentioning Google search because, well, some of the other Google products are not really that good.

Google search. Search Google.

I activate the search bar in Safari. It's one input bar by now. Let's Google for Fronteers.

Unhighlighted. Selection deleted.

No autocompletion, please.

Fronteers highlighted.

Well, there we are. Google search. I could start reading this page, it goes like this.

List 11 items.

Oh, there is an iPhone going off somewhere to the right over there. Please turn it off.

Plus one. Search, images, maps, Play, YouTube, news, Gmail, drive.

They'll beep. That's the indication of a link. You can choose if it says link or just beeps. I prefer little beep. If I had to reach my search results by just sitting back and waiting for this.

Calendar, more, web, Google search button, list four items.

That might take some time. Shut up. There is an easier way, and that's because Google implemented headings in this page. So I'm now going to use a command to jump to the next heading, like this.

Heading level two, search options, clickable, heading level two, search results, heading level three, visit Fronteers vakvereniging voor front-end developers.

Yeah, that's some Dutch in an English speech synthesizer. That's always a good combination.

Which is why people should always put the lang attributes in, otherwise you will get these problems. If it had a language attribute on that result, it wouldn't switch to the Dutch voice, right?

Not on Mac. Still not on Mac. On iPhone, it does.

Oh, dear lord. [laughter]

I'm sorry.


Heading. level three, visit Fronteers 2012.

I can go from heading to heading and see what my results are. And if I want to see the snippet for the result, I just navigate from the heading.

Entering main results details button. Fronteers 2012 will take place on Thursday fourth and Friday fifth. Heading, level three, vacature bank

That's a very short snippet.

Heading, level three, visit Fronteers 2012.

I could also make a list of all these headings to easily jump to one.

Links, 68 items. Landmarks, headings, 15 items. 2, 2, search results, 3, Fronteers, 3, Fronteers 2012, 3, 3, Fronteers 2011.

You see the level of the heading and the title. And what's interesting is there is this.

2, 2.

Heading level 2, search options, and search results. And all results are on level 3, as it should be.

2, 2.

One interesting aspect is that there is no heading level one here, which you would expect.

It's bad for search engine optimization. Weird, isn't it? [laughter]

I never Google for Google, actually. I don't know.


But anyway, so that's how you can easily jump to a certain area of the page.

So this is voiceover now, isn't it? This is voiceover, yes. That's the screen reader built into Apple products. It's a totally different code base, usually. It's built into iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac. That's quite unique because you can, I could get one of the other Macs here, and I could work with this. That's a great concept.

And it comes for free with the operating system? Yes.

Which is not too expensive either.

That's true.

More expensive operating systems could come out with screen readers to as well, if they wanted, right? I guess. Yeah, it's built-in technology. That's quite good. That's the way to go.

So what are your biggest stumbling blocks? What are the things that are easy to fix, but people get wrong all the time? Well, quite a lot, actually. Things that really get wrong, well the really annoying thing these days, I think, is the web application stuff. Why? Because you have a website, and you're going to, you're expecting some kind of interaction. If I have an email application, and am using a mouse for example, I expect to double click on the email message to open it.

If it's a website and the subject of the email message is a link, I expect to single click it. But if you are building an email application and using web technology, in all your designer wisdom, you say "Now we have to double-click on the message to open it."

And that's where the confusion starts, because if you don't properly tag your content as being in an application, what all of the widgets and things in your application are. It looks like some kind of malfunctioning website, usually.

It's the same with sighted users, because an app normally has keyboard navigation with the cursor keys. A website doesn't. Basically, we don't expect our websites ago left and right and go to the next page and the last page, because that's not how the web works. But in an application, we expect this kind of pagination.

It's like we need to somehow tell people that it is an app. A question already here, does Aria help with that? Is there a meta-tag that you can put in to say this is an app, or what's going on here?

Yes. In Aria, there are certain roles that you can apply to elements. That's the application role. Be careful with that role, because when you apply it, depending on the screen reader used, it goes out of its web rendering mode. Most screen readers on Windows have a special mode for web rendering where you see the web page in a structured way.

When you use an application role, goes out of that mode. That means that I should be able to interact with the website as if it was an application. That means that it should be totally keyboard navigable, and all elements you use should have the shortcuts I expect. And that's the problem, because if you use a more standard graphical toolkit on the native platform, well, all the elements will have the default shortcuts.

That's all been worked out by now. But if you implement your own controls, or you use some library to do that, you'll have to make sure that all the keyboard shortcuts that should be usable are there. For example, I once saw an implementation of a tree of items, and I could move up and down, but I couldn't expand or collapse items using the left and right arrow keys.

Or another example, most people don't know that you can do first letter navigation in most trees. For example you just press the letter, and you go to the item which starts with that letter. If you don't know that, you don't implement it. As long as we all have to implement this basic navigation features, it will never feel as smooth as native applications.

And the problem, especially with keyboard controls, is that some of the keyboard shortcuts that you would expect in a screen reader or a desktop app to work are used by browsers for certain things. You actually can't use those because they do something in the browser, rather than Command K in other apps would do.

That's an interesting thing. For example, if you go to YouTube and you play movie, you can use J and L to seek back and forward five seconds or something. Where is it documented? I don't know where it is documented, but that's how it works.

Accessibility as an Easter egg.


I know actually where that's from. That's from video editing software.

Final Cut Pro? Yeah.

All video editing software, it's always "J".

But I never use video editing software.

I know, that's the problem. [laughter]

Why not? How does YouTube work in terms of a subtitling interface that they do? Is that something that you could use for navigating? For example, allows you a transcript of a video so that you can jump to a certain word. Is there something like that on YouTube by now?

From what I know, no. That's not there. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see it. But what I wanted to say about YouTube is the J and L commands interfere with, in this case, Safari. If I press command L, I go to the location bar, but in YouTube I go to the location bar and I seek my movie five seconds forward.

You're trying to forward to another website and you just get another sound bite of the video.

I get both.

That's not good.

That's not good. I guess that's not good in the browser, and it's also not good in the web application because, like you said, you get conflicting keys, sooner or later.

It gets even more interesting when you get into internationalization, that some countries expect other keyboard shortcuts because it's different names for things. Most of the time keyboard shortcuts are abbreviations of the words.

Yes, and different plus forms. For example, if you have Gmail or another Google app, they have, I don't know why, but they have accessibility disabled by default. You have to press a hot key to enable it. That, from the top of my head, is "alt-shift-accent-grave-something."

Very easy to find by accident..

Of course.

What's it on a Mac, anyway? Is it Control? Command? Option? I don't know. I don't know what. They choose that key, because otherwise they would get a conflict of any kind. And now they choose a key that you might not be able to find anyway. Yes, I don't know what's the better option.

Wasn't there a government guideline, or an international guideline that every website should have certain hot keys to go to certain parts of a page? Like there was alt zero for home page, and things like that. That was used years ago but they might have dismissed that.

I'm not sure if there was really a guideline that said which key should go where, but I saw quite a few of those implementations. I find that the disadvantage of putting an access key on the link is that if I press that access key, in most browsers I would ultimately activate a link.

You just press a key, and you activate a link. You don't know what you activated unless you already knew the website. And if I know the website, I can easily grab a link list. For example, if I wanted to go to Google drive.

Having 50 links, 68 items, one item drop drive.

I could go there. If I press enter now, it would go to Drive. If they put access keys on these links, I don't think I would use them because this is as fast as using a hotkey, and this works on every website I know what text to search for.

I'm using it myself. I see a massive page and I'd start searching in it. Especially on my mobile phone, when I have a small screen. So a lot of these use cases could actually be sold to customers saying "Yeah, it's great for accessibility", but it also means that you on your small iPhone that doesn't resize in pixels or whatever it is, we had a discussion about that earlier.

You can use that much easier there, so it was quite ironic to see when the iPhone came out that it was very, very much acclaimed by lots of blind users that I know. That's the most touchy, coolest, shiny phone, but then people can't see it, but it's very good for them because it had voiceover installed from the very beginning.

How do you boot something like that? Does it boot into a screen reader? Is there an option for that? On the iPhone, it's quite interesting implementation. If you are on the setup screen, so if you turn it on for the very first time, you can press the home button three times and you will get voiceover. And it will stay on after the setup if you turned it on that way.

You can, if you're connecting an iPhone to iTunes, there's a button called accessibility settings here that you can enable or disable the settings from a PC, which supposedly should have the screen reader then, or a Mac. And that's often a problem. For example, if you look at all the systems that try this, like Windows has Windows Narrator.

It doesn't truly work. It's improved in Windows 8, but in early versions it's just not really useful. As a tool to get up and running, to install another screen reader.


And yeah, there is a hotkey to boot Narrator, but that's only there since, I think, Vista or 7. In the earlier versions, you just had to try and get it up and running.

So it's not as easy as it looks. Because that was always a big thing when I talked to people about setting accessibility. Well, a blind user could never set up his own computer and they always need somebody to do it for them. That kind of argument always annoys me, because it is just belittling people that can do things if you just wouldn't put barriers in their way.

It's a weird situation that we're sometimes in that we need to solve. So, what would you say? Sometimes there's false positives were people say "OK, use Aria and then everything is fine and your website is really, really good." What kind of website enhancements do you find that really don't help you?

What kind of? Well, one thing that really annoys me sometimes is that you already said Aria, but especially larger websites and companies put a great service on their website, and it's called a reading service. You get a nice button, and you click it, and it will start reading the page. Usually, they claim that it's a good thing for blind people, and I don't know anybody who's blind and who uses such reading utilities.

If you are blind, you have your own reading software. And if you are not blind, you probably don't need reading software. Sure. There is a small target group for such things. First of all, reading a web page is better done by a browser extension. Second, it's not what some people claim. It's not improving your accessibility by just putting a nice little icon there to press it and to read your site aloud.

It doesn't help, at least, blind people. It doesn't help blind people.

It's a big thing for clients, though. It's a feel-good thing for them. "Look, we've done something." Some of them want to get out of that way of being sued, as well. "Look, we've done something. Look, we're nice guys. Why do you say we're not accessible?" I found these buttons to be useful for people with dyslexia, though. But they never saw it that way.

That's true. As I said, there are uses for them, but not for the blind, I think.

One question here is about banners ads with video's, that start auto-playing. Do you use AdBlock Plus for that?

Usually yes, because I don't read them anyway. I don't want to bother with ads.

It's a bit tricky, like "Look at this car."

Yes. And, well, auto playing videos, if it's a Flash video might be a good thing because at least on Mac, Flash is totally inaccessible. Flash sometimes is praised, well not really praised but said as being an accessible technology if the Flash developer implements it well, and it's kind of true on Windows. But on all the other platforms it's totally useless.

If it's not an auto playing video, the only solution for me is to scroll the web page to the right position. Get the mouse over there, and click somewhere, hoping to find a big play button to start the video, or just walk over to my Windows machine and opening that over there. But that's really an annoyance.

Which is sadly not a copyright thing or a patent thing that you actually have to click to start on other platforms. I don't know, I'm not a lawyer, but there is awful things there. Auto playing video is annoying for me as well, so just don't do that. Make it a nice button for people to start.

Just in terms of performance, it's a good idea as well. Don't load the video that I don't need. Well, thanks for that. We have to move on to get everybody here in the mix. Now that we know that you like Dreamweaver, let's go on with what else you do. Can we switch over? Yeah.

I'll start with this example.

Can you describe your condition, first of all? I have cerebral palsy, which causes spasms in my hands and my legs. It pretty much is a problem for me to make small movements. I have a trackpad. If I have a spasm, it can go all over the place sometimes. Those things are a problem. I can't walk, that's the biggest bummer.

Not that much problem with the websites.

No, exactly.

Maybe games, when you do Wii stuff.

Wii is OK. Kinect is a problem.

Yeah? It doesn't really understand that you're sitting down. When I put my hand down, it connects my wrists to my knee and thinks it becomes a part of my leg. So, it really becomes bad.

Dance games are bad that way.

I tried Kung-Fu Panda, but the Panda just keeps jumping and doing stuff, and dies every time. [laughter]

That's not really encouraging, is it? It's a great game if you want to look at something like that. I brought a couple of examples. This is something, don't look at the date, I just marked it up. This is a form from UWV, where if you're on welfare they send you the welfare checks. But they want to know every little change that happens in your life.

Does your condition or your disability, does it improve? Please send us a form. Are you going to go work? Please send us a form. And so on. This is important information. Do not forget. What's interesting is they have finally decided to give you an online form to fill out so that you don't have to grab a pen and write this down. Writing is hard for me, and my hand cramps up. It takes me about an hour to fill out a simple form.

They made it easier. The only problem is, if you come to the end of the form, which is luckily divided into all kinds of categories and small things. You fill it out. You move on. Small questions.

You come to the end of the form, it asks you to print and then grab a pen, sign it, fumble around putting it in an envelope and putting it in the mailbox. Negates the entire process.

So they spend a lot of time making the form accessible and actually usable. Not really pretty, as we can see, but at the end, it's the final, physical moment that basically stopped you from submitting it or having to sign it.

Same with blind users. When I went to lunch with a friend of mine, and they asked him to sign his bill, he's like "I don't know what I am signing here, so not going to pay this."

It's a tricky thing, but this is all, again, I think a legal requirement that has to be a printed document.

Yeah, but you also have DigiD when you have a number assigned to your Social Security number, and you can use that to fill out forms for the government.

Oh, so you already know and you already have an identity that is verified.

You really don't, correct me if I'm wrong, have to sign anything for that. So there's a way around it.

So it's a classic case of some paper form that has been put on the website and they haven't thought it through in the end to just have a button that says "Here, I filled it out because you already know who I am."

Well, the excuse that the UWV uses is "You cannot email us."

That's useful.

Yeah, it's a company that is somewhere in 1988 that doesn't have email. They do, they just don't want you to use it.

Oh, wow.

That's just what's weird about this entire thing. And it annoys me, because this helps, in the end negates everything.

Something like a digital signature would be more helpful with that. That's a question we had here as well, and a discussion I had for a long time. Why isn't there websites that ask you up front if you're blind, or if you have other kinds of certain disabilities to give you the right interface.

I always found it technically a good idea, but actually you shouldn't have to tell people that you're blind. Would that be something that you would be OK with, or would that be something like "This is weird to me as well."

It would be weird to me, because it would mean just one more step to take. One more button to click before I can get to the content I want. And I want as little clicks as possible. It just counteracts that point.


And I know it would be easier if a website were to tailor itself to the user, but again, you have blind people. You have people with bad eyesight.

There would be a massive drop down with 10.000 disabilities, so it's really not that easy.

Every disability is unique, so it would be a real pain to get that right.

It's disappointing that even somebody who should actually know about this, who is the government initiative that actually deals with people's needs, fails at that certain moment. You have a few other demonstrations. What else do you have?

I have one. Don't be blown away by this beautiful design. It's been like this for as long as I can remember, and that's got to be at least eight years.

It's a supermarket. Pink and yellow and big arrows, that's the navigation for you.

I don't understand why no one is ever told them this is not beautiful.

This is on purpose. They want to appear cheap and affordable, that's why their flyers and stuff looks like that as well. It's a psychological thing. Painful, too.

Yeah. What happens in this website, and forgive me for the horizontal scrolling, it's the screen size. You have to pick one of these buttons. I'm sorry, I lost the English word. Either get the folder, or go to the site. The first choice. And whatever you do, it doesn't matter, because you're going to get this navigation.

You're going to get that same link over here. You're going to get that same link over here. Who really cares about that extra click? It's pointless, and it's one more thing. It's one more thing that a user with a disability has to do.

So it's like one of those flash tunnel pages, look how beautiful our buttons are and choose one of them.

See this one slide over here? This is great. What it actually does on a bigger screen size, I think it's an iFrame, I didn't check it.

Yeah it is one.

It has a frame inside, and it has scrollbars inside the page, and you can scroll as long as you stay inside that iFrame, but if you go outside, your page doesn't scroll that easily anymore. So again, you lose a little bit of easy functionality. For me, when you go outside that iFrame.

It's what we talked about earlier as well, simplifying your interface would help everybody here. For starters, you don't have that extra click. Nobody needs "welcome to our website" pages anymore. It's not 1997 where we need to explain what a website is. It's interesting to see that.

That whole digital autograph thing, it's mainly a thing from the government that they're afraid of fraud, or either way that they cannot confirm that it's really you putting on the signature. But as far as I'm concerned, you could easily tackle that by sending some sort of confirmation email.

If you have really filled in this form and put your digital signature under it, please click this link to confirm. Or you can even send, what I would really like to do, is send you a bunch of paper saying this is what you filled in on the form. If you don't agree, please call us now. There are many ways you could work around the fear of purely fraud.

We're working on a system called Persona that would allow you to verify your email as your identity and then log in to every website.

Yes, exactly.

The fraud thing is fascinating me. When people say "I don't use my credit card online because it could be stolen", but they're totally happy if their waiter goes away with their credit card for 20 minutes.


It's a very interesting point. In summary, because we have to wrap up here, what would you say are the things that make you the happiest about what's happening already, and what people should do more to help you out on the web, or to stop you from being annoyed?

Is my mic off? No, it isn't. I think in most cases, don't think of the web as just being a design and code and being done with it. Think about these things. You know, I see a lot of designers that never think about interaction design. They just go for the beauty, and then code it, and they're done.

Look what I did. As soon as you start doing interaction design, you're very quickly find out that some things might or might not work. Often, if you think to yourself "well, this is too close, these two elements are too close together", they are definitely going to be too close together for someone with a disability.

So don't spare on the space.

No, white space is your best friend.

Two very important things are, first, gladly as we pointed out from the very beginning of our talk here, is that more and more developers and publishers are thinking about accessibility issues in general. For a big audience and it might have a positive flow towards the more niche related markets.

Secondly, the most important thing is that we are creating awareness. By being here today, by talking to you, by letting all these people share that with us, that's the main thing. That's the thing, how we can make people think about it? Look towards the future and think, "Yeah, it's easily implement-able. It's not going to have to cost too much time wise, money wise, and we can make a whole big group happy with it."

Cool. Any last words from you?

We are here with three different accessibility point of views. It's really important, because when I hear talks about accessibility, it usually starts and ends with "Oh yeah, those blind guys have screen readers and such." But there's more to accessibility. I think there's a huge overlap between accessibility and usability, as you both showed using spacing issues and such.

This is really good, to see accessibility in a more broad perspective.

Splendid. Thank you so very much for doing this. I think we all learned a lot, so give them a big hand, thank you very much. [applause]

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