Passing of Joseph O’Connor

I’m deeply saddened to hear that Joseph O’Connor, tremendous accessibility advocate, recently died. His passing was announced on his personal website; please read Remembering Joseph O’Connor (1953 – 2020). Joseph was highly loved and respected in the accessibility community and will be sorely missed.

Joseph suffered from chronic illness and experienced serious pain especially over the last years of his life. One-and-a-half years ago, he wrote about a profound conference proposal Accessible Death in which planned his own inclusive funeral (the proposal was not accepted).

Head shot of Joseph and Linda O'Connor
Joseph and his wife. Photo credit: black telephone website

Joseph was a big contributor to the accessibility of WordPress and was a guest on Web Axe Podcast 100: Joe & Joseph on WordPress Accessibility (Sep. 2014). I presented with Joseph on Accessibility of Twitter at CSUN back in 2010 which was a terrific experience.

Below are some touching tweets about his passing. Rest in peace, my friend.


Tweets about Joseph O’Connor

conference expert podcast

Podcast #98: AHG13

The 16th Annual Accessing Higher Ground Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference (hash tag #AHG13) was held recently in Westminster, Colorado at a very nice venue, the Westin Westminster. Representing my day-job employer, I was able to attend and present one session, Usability and Accessibility CSS Gotchas. I was happy to learn that it was being recorded and live broadcast over one the conference’s two virtual tracks. While there, I had the opportunity to interview a few great folks in the business; namely, Greg Kraus, Jayme Johnson, and Kathy Wahlbin. Have a listen!

Download Web Axe Episode 98 (AHG13)

[transcript of podcast 98]

Greg Kraus Greg Kraus (@gdkraus), the University IT Accessibility Coordinator at North Carolina State University. He presented The Gamification of Accessibility, which included details about a great online tool he implemented at NCSU.

Jayme Johnson Jayme Johnson (@hippyjo), Instructor at HTCTU The High Tech Center Training Unit, provides training and support to the faculty and staff of all California Community Colleges. Jayme was on the panel at the plenary lunch during the second day of the conference.

Kathy Wahlbin Kathy Wahlbin (@wahlbin), CEO/Founder of Interactive Accessibility and invited expert in the W3C. She presented Accessible Responsive Web Design.

I met Greg and Kathy in person for the first time which was great. I also met keynote speaker David Sloan (@sloandr) in person for the first time as well. Wonderful people.

alt articles expert lists

Leave Accessibility to the Experts Please

There’s a fine line between inducing conversation and creating havoc. In the field of web accessibility (which is very complex and fragile already), it seems that this line has been crossed at least a couple times lately.

Recently, renowned CSS expert Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) wrote the blog Navigation in Lists: To Be or Not To Be. The blog re-evaluates, again, whether lists (UL element) should still be used for navigation menus or just remove them and use only the remaining anchor text. Much unnecessary debate was generated from this. Most of it regarding use with screen readers, an area in which the author is not an expert.

The straight answer? Continue to use lists.

Just because one screen reader user gives an opinion, doesn’t mean that’s the way to go. Lists are beneficial in many ways: they’re semantic; they provide info to users of assistive technology; they provide hooks for developers to implement design and interaction; and it’s a convention.

A day after the Coyier blog, web standards guru Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman) on A List Apart published the blog titled on alt text about the use of the alt attribute and its impact on screen reader users. Topics in the comments include its use in HTML5, confusion with the title attribute, and using a space or not when empty value. This sparked a lengthy debate in the comments and on Twitter.

The straight answer? Use alt text; if an image is decoration then implement with CSS; if a decorative image is still inline or has no added value, use alt="", with no space. (Hint: repetitive content has no value.) If an image is linked, it must have alt text conveying the meaning of the link (and not necessarily the image itself).

Web celebs have created confusion when the answer was already agreed upon by most web accessibility professionals. So, I won’t write about NodeJS and Spring if you other experts stick with your area of expertise. Many times, we should leave accessibility to the experts. Agreed?

PS: I am indeed a fan of Coyier’s work and I greatly respect the invaluable foundation that Zeldman helped build for web standards.

csun expert podcast

Podcast 94: Women of CSUN12

This podcast is a preview of the 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, commonly known as CSUN, February 27 thru March 3 in San Diego, California. If you’re not attending to the CSUN conference this year, this podcast is valuable in learning about current issues in web accessibility and “meeting” several great people in the field. If you are going, then you can also make a better decision in which sessions you want to attend.

First, Dennis and Jennison Asuncion (@Jennison) do an excellent overview of the conference (OK, mostly Jennison). Then several guests, all women, speak about their work, their sessions at CSUN, and some other fun thoughts. Four of the women live in the UK!

Download Web Axe Episode 94 (Women of CSUN12)

[Transcript of podcast 94]


More Related

conference event expert

IT Accessibility Goes To Camp

A guest blog by Jennison Asuncion.

June 1 marked the date of the second Accessibility Camp Guelph. Led again by Sean Yo, it took place in an appropriate spot for a barcamp-type event, The Bullring Pub at Guelph University (Ontario, Canada). As with the five other accessibility camps I have been involved in over the last two years, Accessibility Camp Guelph offered participants a no-cost opportunity to build and drive an agenda and conversations focused on IT accessibility/inclusion.

I have been asked why I so enthusiastically “instigate” and champion the accessibility barcamp/unconference movement. As I said during Accessibility Camp Seattle last month, I have a keen interest in making the topic of IT accessibility, accessible, to the people who have a hand in making it happen: from the devs, to the usability and UI design folks, and everyone in between. As I experienced attending the first accessibility camp in Washington D.C. in 2009, the barcamp/unconference format lends itself perfectly to this purpose. By its very nature, it calls for a free, less formal, open atmosphere where folks with varying levels of experience with and perspectives on accessibility, including end-users with disabilities, come together to chart the day, discuss and learn. If the numbers of attendees and feedback surveys are any indication, these dedicated accessibility camps are being well-received. What’s more, they are building community (the tribe), and have inspired monthly Accessibility DC and Accessibility Baltimore meetings.

Plans are underway in 2011 so far for events in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Washington D.C., and London UK. Want to learn more? Why not consider putting on an accessibility camp in your city. An accessibility camp website maintained by John F. Croston III is a good place to start.

You can also follow @A11yEvents on Twitter for the latest on these and other accessibility gatherings and traiditional conferences.