Thursday, December 20, 2007

Leveraging 2^W For Accessibility

A few weeks ago, I blogged about 2^W: The Second Coming Of The Web. That article talked about how once Web content was URL-addressable, it immediately became mash-up ready thereby opening up the way to creating integrated views of that content. Earlier this year, I blogged on Google's Official Blog about how Web-2.0 mashups presented an as yet unleveraged opportunity for providing accessibility across the Web by integrating custom views to present content in a form that was optimized to the end-user's needs. To reiterate --- this is in fact what Universal Accessibility was always supposed to mean --- rather than the somewhat short-sighted view that has become prevalent --- If it works with a screenreader it's accessible.

More recently, my Google officemate Charles L Chen and I have been working on a JavaScript based Web-2.0 framework called AxsJAX for injecting accessibility into Web applications. As an illustration of the ideas underlying 2^W coming to life in running code enabled via AxsJAX, we recently AxsJAX-ed the XKCD comic strip. Here, we bring together the XKCD sketches with the associated transcript to create a mashed-up view where the user gets to listen to the transcript while at the XKCD site. You can most easily experience this for yourself by installing a self-voicing plugin for the Firefox browser.

Note however that there is nothing Fire Vox specific about this XKCD mashup or any of the other AxsJAX extensions; all it needs is a relatively modern Web browser like Firefox that implements W3C ARIA and adaptive technology that has been updated to work with the event notifications raised by conformant AJAX applications.