March 23, 2012

Accessibility and Explaining Yourself

Talking to a good friend years ago about the Great Firewall of China, I ended a sentence about the technologies involved with a sincere and curious: Did you understand?”.

My friend Carlos looked at me for a few seconds and then said: That’s the wrong question”. I just stared back since I had no idea what he was talking about.

He went on, the question is not if I understand. You are the one talking, therefore the real question is Did you explain yourself?1.

The same thing happens with accessibility.

When you make a website than doesn’t take into account people with disabilities, you are basically expecting them to understand what is obviously clear to you, but may not work at all for someone with a different perspective.

I’m not pointing a finger at anyone other than myself. I’m ashamed to say that after repeating my Opera colleague’s Bruce and Henny web accessibility mantra at many public forums, I hadn’t really applied until very recently (i.e. this week) in my code2.

So I invite you to take a look at theWeb Content Accessibility Guidelines, many of them are pretty straightforward and can make your code cleaner by forcing you to consider edge cases.

I hope I explained myself.


  1. Make no mistake about it, since he’s a brilliant guy, Carlos can be a jackass. But he’s right a lot of times (please don’t tell him). 

  2. In my defense, my code was barely accessible to myself —and useless in most browsers— until recently. 


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