We held our annual internal frontend engineering conference at Yahoo! earlier this month, and one of our invited guests was Doug Geoffray of GW Micro. Doug came by to teach Yahoo! frontend engineers about the history and current state of screen-reader support in software, including the nature of the current challenges we face developing screen-reader-accessible dynamic web pages. While this talk is historically comprehensive and covers a lot of ground related to how screen readers have evolved on the desktop, the context is important for us on the frontend as we begin to confront the same challenges that desktop software developers have been addressing for many years.
And Doug, of course, has been there all along, developing some of the earliest voiced applications for the Macintosh in the early 1980s and eventually founding GW Micro and becoming one of the most important guiding figures of the accessible software industry. (A few years ago, AFB AccessWorld did a profile of Doug with some nice detail about his background; please refer to that document for a more complete version of his biography.) Of late, Doug been a touchstone for us at YUI in the research and development of our Menu Control, a project that is helping us to lay a foundation for what is possible in terms of DHTML accessibility as YUI evolves. (Slides are available from a talk given by Doug and YUI Menu Control author Todd Kloots, “Designing RIA Accessibility: A YUI Menu Case Study.”.
Doug was kind enough to allow the YUI Theater team to record his talk, and we’re excited to share that with you here. The talk is divided into two parts (Part One, Part Two), with some excellent discussion about screen readers and web browsers in the second half of Part Two. Part One is embedded below:
Note: A downloadable and iPod-compatible MPEG version of this video is available for download. The
.m4v file format we’ve used for this video (and many others in the YUI Theater) signifies that it is an MPEG-4 file with video; if you’re not downloading to view on an iPod, and/or are using a system that doesn’t recognize the
.m4v extension, try renaming the file to