Archive for July, 2002


WCAG 2.0 Working Draft

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of accessibility training for web designers and developers, as well as the odd group of faculty. When I first started preparing for these training sessions, one of the challenges was to come up with a set of guidelines that make sense not only to people who live and breathe XHTML and CSS, but also to a much broader audience that may include department secretaries using a WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver to maintain a web site, non-technical faculty adding online content to the courses they teach, administrators who oversee web sites but don’t maintain them, and so on.

The W3C‘s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 might make sense to web developers with a solid foundation in HTML and CSS, but face it: it’s a complicated document that relies heavily on several other associated documents. You have to be familiar with them all before any one of them makes sense.

The US Section 508 standards are okay, but they do ignore several important areas and rely too heavily on assistive technology. As a result, under Section 508 it’s considered acceptable to require JavaScript to access content, as evidenced by the training section of This is misguided and wrong.

I’m quite fond of the State of Illinois Web Accessibility Standards, and have in fact adopted them (with permission) as the basis of the guidelines that I drafted for work. I like the format in which guidelines are presented, and my experience with using this document in training has shown that it can be understood and used by a variety of people with different levels of knowledge about web standards, which is the point. So far so good.

The W3C has released another working draft of their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Even as a working draft, this is a much more accessible document than its first-version predecessor. It does not rely so heavily on a particular technology (HTML) and is geared more deliberately to a broader audience. “The overall goal,” the Guidelines state, “is to create Web content that is perceivable, operable, navigable, and understandable by the broadest possible rande of users and compatible with their wide range of assistive technologies, now and in the future.” The guidelines are then grouped under those five categories, with specific checkpoints and clearly defined benefits for each.

I like how version 2 is shaping up. It will, I think, prove to be a much more useful and broadly applicable set of guidelines than version 1. Now I have to start thinking of ways to incorporate elements of WCAG 2.0 into guidelines for work. Can’t wait until it’s released in its final form.


VeriSign snafu

Back in January, I got email from VeriSign customer service that “your VeriSign domain name registration for and others … are up for renewal soon.” This was a lie:

  1. is not my domain. I had in fact never heard of it until VeriSign prompted me to renew it.
  2. The domain was not in fact due to expire until November, eleven months after I received the email.
  3. The other domain listed in the email, — which I haveregistered, as you may have noticed — was also not due to expire anytime soon.

I contacted VeriSign and they told me, “We will look into it. If you receive any further notices for this domain, please disregard them.”

Right. I forwarded the message to the contacts for, so they would know that VeriSign was screwing up like this. By a bizarre coincidence, this company happens to be in the same city where I was living at the time.

Well, guess what? I got another renewal notification today, this time warning me (a “Valued VeriSign(r) Customer”) that my domain and others are about to expire. Another lie.

  1. I am no longer a VeriSign customer. I moved my registration over to PairNIC a couple months ago.
  2. doesn’t expire until November 2003. I will renew it long before then.
  3. They again listed as a domain that I have registered.


So I’m going through the same rigmarole, only this time I can tell VeriSign that I am not a VeriSign customer, so why in the world are they contacting me?

I haven’t really been using spam filters lately, but I think that I’m going to set one up and route any messages from,,, etc. to /dev/null. On the other hand, these are rather amusing.

And if you’re from Linders Specialty Company and happen to be reading, consider VeriSignOff.


Mozilla’s DOCTYPE sniffing

From the I’m-likely-to-lose-track-of-this-unless-I-mention-it-here department: Mozilla’s DOCTYPE sniffing, including Almost Standards Mode. Must also remember Matthias Gutfeldt’s pages on DOCTYPE switching, since that’s always where I send people when the topic comes up, which seems to be every couple weeks.

I’ve actually done very little with DOCTYPE switching except spread awareness of it when troubleshooting others’ designs, and am unlikely to do anything with Mozilla’s Almost Standards Mode since I’d rather use other solutions to the “problems” it solves, but still: if I don’t make note of it now, I’m likely to have a harder time finding it when I need it.


Apple does dumb things

And this looks to be one of them: “This week Apple declared war on its grassroots enthusiasts, by preventing ‘rumor sites’ from attending MacWorld Expo in New York. And one has already responded by shutting-up shop. ”

What a shame. Even some sites that aren’t really what you might call “rumor sites” are getting caught up in the mess.


Two Towers Trailer

Oh my. The Two Towers trailer is out.



Funny how things develop. I was planning to go to the Ronald Bourret’s XML-DBMS session at OSCON (yes! I’m going!). Mr. Bourret maintains what I’ve found to be fundamental articles about transferring data between relational databases and XML documents, and I was really looking forward to his talk. But then I stumbled into gnat’s mention of Allison’s talk at OSCON, and the broken links there got me wondering: who is this Alison and what is her talk? So I found it: Tagmemics. As a linguist and Perl nut, how can I pass this up? Then I took a closer look at the description for the XML-DBMS talk and it seems to focus on Java. So I can pass on that and learn something new!


Why I might use an iPod

I finally thought of a way I could use an iPod. I don’t really listen to all that much music, so iPods have never excited me. But I am always coming across articles that I don’t have time to read online, but neither do I want to waste the paper to print and read them on the bus. Sometimes I use a text-to-speech software to read an article to me as I putter around the house, but I have to stay close to the computer. If I had an iPod, I could convert that speech to an MP3, then carry it with me and listen to it on the bus or in the car.

Still. Helluva lot of money for that sort of convenience.

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