It all started, years ago, with a checkpoint, in a guideline - guideline 6 of the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 1.0, summarised as:
Guideline 6. Ensure that pages featuring
new technologies transform gracefully.
So the questions are - should we do this at all? If so, why? Who are we benefiting?
So, should we?
The simple answer here - it depends what we're building. The WCAG are guidelines afor web content. Content is the key here. These days, we are not just putting content up there, but applications - and an application has a very different purpose. Some time ago I wrote a paper about how to approach accessibility in terms of a web application - where scripting will inevitably be required. If one considers the browser as an OS*, then you wouldn't expect your application to work with half the OS missing, would you?
So, once you're building an application, accessibility is immediately different from that for web content. You think about state changes, UI roles, behaviours, and not just words on screen. The WAI-ARIA project is aimed at this area, and it's very different from the WCAG.
Still, why would we care?
So who are these people anyway?
/ etc, etc. Non-standard browser users.
So it's not a question of how IE
areas and mouse-free interaction, multi-touch, dealing with distractions and shaky
network connections - a whole different set of requirements.
Sounds like a lot of work...
So we can build multiple UIs, governed by user need, using only a single codebase and platform infrastructure.
Clever? I think so. That's what makes Interface Development so fun.
* I'm not going to mention Chrome.