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Universal Design for Web Applications

9:00am Wednesday, 09/17/2008
Topic: Design & UX
Location: 1A21 & 22

As devices like the iPhone take hold, our perception of the user’s environment is changing. As capable as these devices are, they still have small screens and slow data-entry mechanisms. They’re also used in stadiums and subways, where the user’s environment can limit how they can interact with web content.

The accessibility of the Web to people with disabilities has foreshadowed this modern-day challenge for the Web. And a common approach will help both causes: building toward universal design.

In this session, we will discuss the concept of situational disability, which is brought on by limited-capability devices on the Web, and has strong parallels to the problems of users with disabilities. We will explore today’s accessibility landscape, and produce concrete techniques designers and developers can use today to make their audience happy, whether they’re using phones, tablets, or bifocals.

Matt May

Adobe Systems

Matt May
Accessibility Engineer, Engineering Technology Group
Adobe Systems Incorporated

Matt May is a developer, technologist, and accessibility advocate who is responsible for working internally and externally with Adobe product teams and customers to address accessibility in Adobe products, ensure interoperability with assistive technologies, and make customers aware of the many accessibility features that already exist in Adobe products.

Prior to joining Adobe, May worked for W3C/WAI on many of the core standards in web accessibility, led the Web Standards Project’s Accessibility Task Force, helped to architect one of the first online grocery sites, HomeGrocer.com, and co-founded Blue Flavor, a respected web and mobile design consultancy. He is a member of the W3C/WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and co-edited the first JavaScript techniques document for WCAG 2.0 in 2001.

May is an accomplished speaker, having presented at dozens of conferences including Web 2.0 Expo, WebVisions, SXSW Interactive, CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities, Podcast and Portable Media Expo, Web Design World Seattle, Gilbane CMS Conference, and the International World Wide Web Conference, to name just a few.

Photo of Wendy Chisholm

Wendy Chisholm


Wendy is a developer, author, speaker, and trainer. She co-edited Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) – the basis for web accessibility policy in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

Wendy worked for the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative from 1999 to 2006. Her quest to make the world more accessible began in 1992 as a statistics tutor to a student who is blind. Since 1995, she has been making technology accessible using the principles of universal design. Having slept, breathed, and eaten content guidelines for over a decade, it’s no wonder that Wendy shares three initials with WCAG and was introduced as “Web Content” by accident at a conference.