Friday, August 01, 2008

Tutorial: Enhancing Web 2.0 Usability Using AxsJAX

You can watch a video of the tutorial Charles and I gave as part of the Google Open Source series on July 14. Emacspeak users can play the video by pressing e e on the above link and specifying emacspeak-m-player-youtube-player when prompted.


Google is the Web's premier creator of user-friendly Web 2.0 applications, and I have long viewed it as part of our mission to do for users in the long tail (AKA users with special needs) what we've achieved for the mainstream user. Accessibility 2.0 is now a hot topic on the Web --- and we would like to move from a world where AJAX applications were a straight No-No with respect to blind users to a world where these same technologies are used to enhance their usability for everyone.

Google-AxsJAX is an Open Source framework for injecting accessibility for users with special needs --- and more generally, usability enhancements --- into Web 2.0 applications. In this TechTalk, Charles Chen and I give a hands-on tutorial on using AxsJAX to enhance the usability of Web 2.0 applications. The tutorial covers the following:

  • A brief introduction to the additional opcodes introduced by W3C ARIA to the assembly language of the Web (AKA HTML+JavaScript).
  • AxsJAX library abstractions built on the above that help Web developers generate relevant feedback via the user's adaptive technology of choice.
  • Steps in creating fluent eyes-free interaction to Web applications, including enabling rapid access to parts of a complex Web page.

This tutorial focuses on solutions we've already built and deployed both within shipping products and as early end-user experiments. Google products that we will cover include:

  • Google WebSearch
  • Google Reader
  • Google Books
  • GMail and Google Talk
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Sky

And time permitting, we might even demonstrate how I now make up for all the time I save thanks to an efficient eyes-free auditory user interface by playing JawBreaker and reading XKCD via their AxsJAXed versions.

Note that writing AxsJAX enhancements to Web applications can help you win bragging rights and cool swag! The goal of this hands-on tutorial is to help you get there faster!