Tom Scott on tactile pavement:

The Little-Known Patterns on British Streets

I thought about saying “secret patterns” or “mysterious patterns” in the title, but that’d be a lie: they’re just mostly unknown! So let’s talk about tactile paving, about design, about accessibility, and about those bumpy bits that you stand on when you’re crossing a British street.

Majestic historic temple in front of a blue sky.

Over the last year, the name of a city is coming up in German news more often than I like it to be: Aleppo. It is not just a city involved in the war in Syria, it is the scene of a standoff that is lasting for months.

This city, the mention of its name on the news, the descriptions of the cruelty that happens there, is especially painful for me. When I was in elementary school, we had Syrian neighbors who fled during the Gulf War. Mohammad and I shared a class. We were good friends, played football together, learned together. I still long for his family’s traditionally baked bread sometimes.

After a few years, that felt like a whole life for me as a child, they had to go back. Although quite well integrated, there was no way for them to get a permanent working permit, and they were happy to get back into their home country. (Of course I don’t know if that was really really the case, but that was what I gathered as a child.)

The children, Mohammad had a little brother and – I think – a baby sister, were not too happy to leave, having their friends in that small town where I grew up. One day, we said goodbye, and they made their way to their home city of Aleppo in Syria.

The thought alone, that those people, including my elementary school friend, might be injured or dead is gruesome to me. Hearing from injured or dead children makes me think about the potential children of Mohammad and his siblings.

For most, the war in Syria is far, far away. For me, it feels close. This is why I think getting to know other people, other cultures is so important. It allows us to be close with people and to not brush this conflict away as “someone else’s problem”.

Image: Palmyra – Temple of Bel: A cultural heritage that was destroyed during the war. Uploaded by Juan Llanos on Flickr. See how that site looks today.

I’m happy to announce here that I will be speaking at Accessing Higher Ground in November, representing Knowbility. The conference is in Westminster, Colorado and coins itself as an “Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference”.

I will do two three-hour long workshops:

  • Advanced Accessibility: A Deep Dive for Developers
    Tuesday, Nov. 15th, 9am

    Focused on UI widgets, WAI-ARIA techniques and semantics, with some JavaScript as a garnish, this workshop will teach how to implement complex widgets in an accessible way that is true to the nature of the web.
  • Simplify your development life with tools, tests and procedures
    Tuesday, Nov. 15th, 1:30pm

    Developers are lazy. I know this because I am one. So having tools, tests and procedures in place that help developers to produce accessible templates and widgets is helping everyone. This workshop will give a broad overview about the possibilities and will also show how to implement some of the provisions in day-to-day work.

Also, I will give two talks:

  • Semantic Subtleties
    Thursday, Nov. 17th, 8am

    This talk takes some of the semantic particularities that come also up in the workshop and will put them under the microscope and examine their meaning.
  • ARIA Serious?
    Thursday, Nov. 17th, 4pm

    Here, I will presumably give a few good and lots of bad examples of ARIA implementation and show where the pitfalls and chances of using ARIA are.

If you are still thinking about going, maybe the fantastic lineup of speakers can lure you in. Register now at accessinghigherground.org.

I always thought that it is not so difficult to find resources about these basics, the recurrence of that question prompted me to finally write my own take on this topic. So here it is, my list of absolute web accessibility basics every web developer should know about.

A very solid overview of basic web accessibility techniques by Marco Zehe.

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