OzeWAI 2009

The opportunity to escape the depths of a cold January in the UK to give the opening talk at the OzeWAI 2009 conference was too good to miss. So last week’s trip to La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia provided me with the opportunity to go into the mountains for a barbecue, go to the beach, take a ride along the Great Ocean Road, see the koalas and kangaroos and try the local Cooper’s IPA (which needs to be rolled before drinking, I discovered).

From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability (1.0)

But I had to earn my supper (the goat at the barbie)  and so as well as giving the presentation on  “From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability (1.0)” I took part actively in the conferences discussions (and drinking). I have also made the slides available on Slideshare (which is embedded below).

The talk seemed to go down well – and I was particularly pleased that when I sat down after my talk and refreshed the Twitterfon application on my iPod Touch it provided me with instant feedback on the talk from two of the participants at the conference.  RuthEllison told me that she “@briankelly enjoyed your presentation this morning about a holistic approach to accessibility #ozewai” and scenariogirl also showed some Australian warmth: “@briankelly Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch 😉“.

The talk was an update on recent papers and presentations and contains much of the material I used in a talk on “Holistic Approaches To Web Accessibility” which I blogged about recently. I therefore won’t expand on the ideas and approaches which I explained in my talk. Rather I want to discuss the accessibility of the talk itself.

Accessibility of Talks at Conferences

As I’ve been doing for a couple of years now, the slides are made available under a Creative Commons licence.  In addition, as I’ve also been doing for some time the slides are available on Slideshare. These approaches provide a number of benefits:

Creative Commons Licence:

  • The content can be reused by others by minimising legal barriers to their reuse.
  • The content can be preserved by others by minimising legal barriers to their preservation.
  • The content can be integrated with other content (e.g. ‘mashed up’)  by minimising legal barriers to their preservation.

Use of Slideshare:

  • The content can be reused by others by using a service which allows the content to be embedded in third party services.
  • The content can be commented on and annotated.
  • The content can be tagged to facilitate discovery.

Over the past few months I have also been making use of a Flip video camera to record the talks I give at conferences.  A video of the talk is now available on Blip.TV and embedded below. The video can also be accessed from the UKOLN Web site, which also provides links to a variety of resources associated with the talk, including the PowerPoint slide, a HTML version of the slides, the AVI master of the video and links related to the presentation.


But what benefits can the provision of videos of such talks provide? Using Web 2.0 video sharing services such as Blip.TV (or Google Video, Vimeo, etc.) can clearly provide similar benefits to those provided by Slideshare – and sharing a talk is often even more beneficial than simply sharing slides, I would argue. And if I reflect on the underlying purposes behind my talk I think I would suggest:

  • To describe an approach (to Web accessibility) which I think addresses some of the limitations in current approaches.
  • To seek to gain feedback on the ideas.
  • To encourage others to make use of this approach.

The video helps with all of these purposes: the video can help to provide a better understanding than would be provided by simply viewing the slides. And despite the hard work which has gone into the various peer-reviewed papers which underpins the presentation, I’d be the first to admit that papers written for scholarly publications aren’t necessarily easy to understand.

And Web 2.0 video sharing services can also facilitate feedback and reuse of the content.  So if anyone would like to embed the video in their own Web resources (to share with others; to comment on; to critique; etc.) then I would encourage this.

But, and there is a but, is the video itself accessible? In the final panel session at OzeWAI 2009 I argued that the OzeWAI 2010 conference should be an’ amplified conference’,  with the talks being recorded and made freely available for use (and reuse) by others. And in response to a question as to whether it would be affordable to provide captioning for such videos, I argued that this may not also be needed.  In UK legislation, for example, we are required to take reasonable measures to ensure that people with disabilities aren’t differentiated against unfairly.  I feel that providing slides, audio and videos at conferences can now be done reasonably easily, but captioning is an expensive process. And providing a variety of alternatives (slides, videos, links to papers, links to resources) can enrich the impact of and access to the underling ideas  of talks given at conferences, including access for people with a range of disabilities.

Lisa Herod (scenariogirl) summarised the discussions on the Twitter back-channel thus:

Is it better to have some content or no content at all if some content == partial accessibility? Discuss. #ozewai09

What’s your view?  Should I remove the embedded Slideshare and Blip.TV resources from this post as they don’t conform with accessibility guidelines? Or should my organisation request that I remove them as they could be liable?