Tags: eafra




The first European Accessibility Forum in Frankfurt was a resounding success. I had fun moderating the panel on Accessible Web Applications. Paul, Christian and Saqib were all excellent. We could’ve talked all day.

The rest of the day featured a mixture of technical, governance and legal panels. Personally, I enjoyed diving into the technical stuff. I really enjoyed listening to the mighty Steve Faulkner talking about .

A question from the audience brought up the subject of the crossover between HTML5 structural elements and ARIA landmark roles. There seems to be a lot of opposition—even downright hostility—from the HTML5 group towards WAI-ARIA. I’m sensing a lot of thinking; a conclusion documented by Sam Ruby as already having been reached by the Technical Architecture Group:

The HTML5 community would define themselves as encompassing all Web technologies, i.e., if it’s not HTML5 and implemented in a browser, it’s not the Web.

Part of the opposition to ARIA is based around a perceived conflict with HTML5 structural elements:

For example, if ARIA defines a feature to say that something is a header, this will conflict with the HTML5 header algorithm.

So there’s an ARIA landmark role of banner that appears to align with the HTML5 header element. But if you look more closely at the specs, they’re actually defined in different ways. A banner is a region that contains the primary heading or web site title whereas a header is the header of a section. One is unique per document whereas the other can be used multiple times in the same document. To put it another way, banner is like an ID and header is like a class name.

Steve pointed to another false clash. HTML5 contains a value of search for [the type attribute of the input element. ARIA has a search landmark role. Sounds like a duplication, right? But the landmark role is typically applied to a form element, not an input element.

So on an HTML5 site like Huffduffer, I should be able to write:

<form method="get" action="/search" role="search">
<label for="query">Search</label>
<input type="search" name="q" id="query">
<button type="submit">Go!</button>

Alas, the HTML5 validator will throw an error (although it is using an experimental HTML5+ARIA schema). Ah, well.

Still, there’s no reason not to start using ARIA roles today: browsers, libraries and screenreaders already offer a good level of support and it’s only going to get better. If we start adding ARIA roles to our websites—and in our CMS themes—then if the HTML5 community stays true to its stated principal of paving the cowpaths, the pragmatic here-and-now solution should triumph.


I seem to be spending a lot of time in German-speaking countries these days. That’s good. It means I get to practice my rusty German.

In a few weeks from now, I’ll be in Berlin for a . A few weeks ago, I was in Austria to meet some clients—I had to bite my tongue not to answer every greeting of Grüß Gott! with a response of Grüß Wissenschaft!

Tomorrow, I’m off to Franfurt for the European Accessibility Forum which takes place on Friday.

I’ll be moderating a panel on accessible web applications. I’ve made no secret of how much I enjoy moderating panels. I’m hoping that this one will be fun and informative. Alas, I don’t think my German language skills are up to the task of conducting the questioning auf Deutsch.

If you’re going to be at the conference and you’ve got a question you’d like to put to my distinguished panelists, let me know on Twitter. If the connectivity at the conference allows, I’ll keep a browser tab with Twitter open during the panel too. I’ll keep an eye on everything with the string “eafra”, so—much as I hate hashtags—I guess posting a remark with #eafra will be the best way to speak your mind.


One of my resolutions for this year (and the year before) is to try reduce the amount of jet fuel I’m responsible for pumping into the atmosphere. So far, my speaking schedule for the year looks reasonably in-keeping for that aim.

Next month I will be flying to Austin for South by Southwest. I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Like last year, my plan was to go but not speak. Like last year, that plan has changed. Tantek asked me to join him on his microformats panel to talk about some of the things I’ve been doing on Huffduffer.

I can’t resist the opportunity to ramble on about my newest toy. I’ll be blabbing on about Huffduffer closer to home when I give a talk here in Brighton on the third of March at £5 App. The last £5 App event was amazing, featuring a crowdsourced adventure game, fighting sumo robots, duelling bluetooth phone lightsabres, and augmented Christmas reality.

When I get back from Southby, I’ll be popping over to Frankfurt at the end of March for the European Accessibility Forum where I’ll be wearing my moderator hat for a panel on accessible web applications.

In April I don’t even have to leave the country. I’ll be speaking at an inaugural grassroots event called Bamboo Juice down at the Eden Project in Cornwall. What a great location for a geek gathering! And the event is priced at a very affordable 99 quid too.

June is when things get a little crazy. First of all, there’s UX London in the middle of the month. I won’t be speaking but I will be helping out and doing my bit to make sure that everything goes smoothly. I’m excited, and slightly intimidated, to be involved in such an intense, intimate three-day event. If you’re thinking about going, I suggest you sign up by February 25th, when the early bird pricing ends.

Shortly after UX London, I’ll be popping over to Boston to speak at An Event Apart, a conference where the bar is set scarily high. I’m already panicking about meeting the event’s very high standards.

Then, literally right after that I’ll be going straight back to London for @media. I’ll be fulfilling my now-traditional duty as moderator of the closing hot topics panel—always a good opportunity for some mischievous fun.

I know that looks like quite a hectic schedule but compared to last year, it’s positively relaxed. And most of those events are reachable by train rather than plane.

I do have one other long-distance flight lined up but it’s for pleasure, not business. Tomorrow Jessica and I are flying to Seattle. It’s going to be a short trip but I hope to meet up with some of my Seattle-ite buddies while I’m there. Get in touch if you’re going to be around.