Experiencing accessibility (and a video tour)

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

I first became interested in accessibility when I was at university. I met several people involved in using music technology to help disabled musicians to explore music. It was inspiring to see innovative forms of human-computer interaction take shape and enable disabled musicians to compose and perform their own music.

The enthusiasm that these people had for making music more accessible got me into accessibility in the first place. And no wonder they were so enthusiastic. Most musicians will be able to tell of the satisfaction they get from music, whether it be in writing their own pieces or playing at a gig. Some people find solving problems with technology very rewarding. Combining a love of music and of technology for something worthwhile is a triple whammy!

I had first hand experience in making music more accessible while working on a software project with the Drake Music Project. During this project, I was able to have the software I worked on tested by musicians who use single switches to interact with computers. Admittedly, the software wasn’t the most wonderful thing since sliced bread, but seeing how disabled users may go about using a piece of software was invaluable.

A video tour

Today, my musical endeavours are few and far between and my work is geared towards the Web. Still, my experience of and enthusiasm for accessible technology continues to steer my thought processes when building websites.

Getting our own experiences of accessibility inspires us to think and validates what we do with accessibility in mind. I was reminded of this a few months back while I was reading Grant Broome’s post in which he linked to a video by Victor Tsaran, an accessibility engineer working for Yahoo! — Introduction to Screen Readers. It can be difficult for us to appreciate the user perspective by getting direct exposure to disabled users, but watching a video can help us to build an appreciation for accessibility.

Since seeing Grant’s post, I’ve been slowly putting together a list of videos that demonstrate accessibility, which I thought I’d share with you. I’ve kicked it off with some interesting videos I found from Yahoo! in their YUI Theater channel and have listed a couple of other interesting resources. I hope that people find the page useful and perhaps I will add to the list over time.

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