Yesterday (25th June 2012), the W3C WAI RDWG conducted its second symposium, this time on Mobile Accessibility. Here are my early thoughts on the themes and topics discussed.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important and are already the primary form of accessing the Web in many parts of the world. However, people with disabilities experience many difficulties when they access the Web with mobile devices. The symposium aimed to bring researchers and practitioners together to discuss these challenges and possible solutions, and develop a roadmap for future research and development in the field.
My first glance, thoughts at the discussion and abstracts presented where:
Flexible User Interactions and Inclusive Experience
So the discussion mainly centred around how we can deploy to multiple devices and how multiple devices can all use a common set of interface technologies. These technologies may be keyboards, gestures, or screen layouts. The main point seems to have been that we need to have some consistency, because consistency will make accessibility a lot easier for both developers and for users. In fact consistency may well remove the need for more onerous, pejorative, or additional development effort.
Multi-Device Accessibility and Keyboard Accessibility
Another combination of topics, which Jan Richards summarised as the ‘purity of keyboard interaction’, looked to de-bunk the often discussed inability to create accessible products due to technical barriers. He we discussed how, again, multi device keyboard and single switch manipulation could occur, how soft-keyboards may be a problem and how these problems can be overcome.
With all 55 places in the Symposium being taken within 24 hours after release, and with the symposium over-running its two hour time slot due to the final discussion, I think that everyone considered it to be a resounding success. I’d advise you to take a look at the Mobile Accessibility Symposium page, for a more in-depth look at the papers – and I’ll be revisiting the topic when the W3C Note is published.
As a final thought, the RDWG‘s next two symposium topics will be ‘Text Customisation‘ and ‘Easy to Read‘, I’d advise any interested parties to submit – this really is a unique way of enabling your research to influence the W3C WAI roadmap.