International Web Accessibility Summit logod

International Web Accessibility Summit

Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 November 2000

Closing Address

Photograph of Dr Hoylen Sue Dr Hoylen Sue, Technical Manager, Australian W3C Office

I think we've all learnt a great deal from this Web Accessibility Summit. And I would like to thank the sponsors for making it happen.

Firstly, I would like to thank the sponsors of this event:, the Multimedia Victoria, and I-cubed - the Interactive Information Institute. is at the forefront of accessibility issues, and we have see from their presentation that there are a whole range of issues in accessibility; both on the Web as well as beyond the Web.

Multimedia Victoria has been very generous in sponsoring this Summit and the work of I-cubed.

And finally, thanks to the Interactive Information Institute for organising and supporting this event.

In particular, I think we should all give thanks to Janine Mawhinney, Shar McMillan and the I-cubed team for their everything they've done in organising and making sure this event runs smoothly.

Also I'd like to thank our AusLan signers for making sure that the content of the Summit was accessible to everyone.

And also, thanks to Terry Laidler for being our MC.

And finally a big thank you to all the speakers.

We have heard and seen in these presentations many of the exciting results of accessibility, as well as the many challenges that are faced. This can be disheartening, because we face both technical problems as well as non-technical problems. Not only do we have to deal with hideous HTML and buggy browsers, but we also have to deal with clueless CEOs and accessibility-challenged Web page creators.

However, we should not just focus on the challenges, but also on the opportunities that accessibility provides. Graham Innes described it as the "stick and the carrot" - let's focus on the carrot and not just on the stick.

At this Summit, we've seen the great benefits that accessibility provides, both to disabled people as well as non-disabled people. Dealing with accessibility issues brings tremendous opportunities to an organisation. For being accessible, getting your Web site right the first time, making it maintainable, and I'm sure that there are many flow on benefits that come from thinking clearly about accessibility.

We have come a long way already. John McKenna describes it as a "new world of accessibility". The Web has enabled disabled people to do a whole lot of things already which they couldn't have done before. To vote on-line, to go to a bank without going to a bank, to access services online. It has also opened up a whole new world of content to people.

For example blind people didn't have access to timely news and classified advertisements because they weren't being translated to Braille. However, with the Web they are now online, as text or HTML, and is now available to a blind person in a form that they can use.

I'm sure you'll all agree that accessibility is a key issue. An issue that separates the amateurs from the professionals. And this is a key point that was made in this Summit.

Tom Worthington mentioned that professionals do their job properly, not just what the uninformed customer might think they want.

Liddy Nevile described the importance of a formal development process (with well defined requirements and testing). She also said that structure, content and presentation should be separated and done by those who are skilled experts in those areas. All of this is simply professionalism.

Look at the development of software enginnering as an example. In the early days of computing, people jumped straight in and wrote code - without any planning or structure. Today, professionals use well defined processes, methodologies, and quality assurance systems. As Web development grows up, the same will occur to incorporate accessibility.

In my opinion, as the Web matures the profession will recognise the importance accessibility. Users will demand it, clients will ask for it by name, and developers will practice it automatically.

Just as if you wouldn't hire an accountant who couldn't count, you wouldn't have a Web professional who didn't understand accessibility.

In my opinion, the future looks bright. The future is not now. The future is the future. But what we do now shapes the future. So it is now the time to be strict; it is now the time to be cool; and it is now the time to be accessible.

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