2006 was a year of great change for WebAIM. As we enter 2007, we thought we would take a few minutes to review last year and present some of our thoughts about what’s to come in the new year.
Here are a few highlights from 2006 and glimpses into 2007:
- In June, we launched our new web site.
- Paul Bohman left WebAIM to pursue a PhD at George Mason University.
- Although she is still primary editor for our newsletters, Lindy Salmon, is now living in Atlanta, Georgia. In a strange twist of fate, she delivered a beautiful baby girl within 5 hours of another former WebAIM employee, Jenny Dance. We attribute this to the fact that they both sat at the same desk while working here.
- Shane Anderson, our Director of Software Engineering, moved on to another job at the end of 2006 after 7 years with WebAIM.
- Aaron Andersen, a brilliant programmer, is now working for WebAIM on several exciting projects.
- We concluded our K-12 grant. The majority of this year was successfully conducted without any federal grant funding.
- We generally kept ourselves quite busy with trainings, consultations, site designs, and other various accessibility services.
- We secured funding from the Mozilla Foundation to work on making XUL more accessible. XUL is the interface language used by many Mozilla software programs, including the Firefox web browser.
- We presented at and attended numerous conferences, including CSUN, Accessing Higher Ground, Educause, The Mozilla/GNOME Accessibility Summit, The Higher Learning Commission, Refresh06, @media2006, ATIA, and were invited twice to Korea to discuss AT & IT.
- Through our partnership with NCDAE, WebAIM staff are participating in the refresh of Section 508.
- The WebAIM site had nearly 4 million page views from around 500,000 unique visitors. The site continues to be among the very top Google results for most web accessibility related search terms. The WAVE evaluator was used to check nearly 800,000 web pages for accessibility. The WebAIM e-mail list saw it’s busiest year yet, with 2,107 messages posted. The list software sent over 2 million unique e-mails to subscribers. OVer 1,500 are subscribed to our newsletter.
We have also identified several trends that will impact accessibility in 2007:
- Awareness about web accessibility is on the rise, but a vast majority of those developing web content are not familiar with even basic accessibility techniques. Standards evangelism must remain our top priority in the coming year.
- AJAX and next generation web applications will continue to see an increase in use. Such apps can provide high levels of accessibility, if designed correctly. Assistive technology vendors need to provide better support for dynamic web content.
- While the knowledge base for web accessibility has dramatically increased, tools for developing accessible web content have seen relatively minor improvements in the last few years.
- As has always been the case, learning the basics of accessibility is quite easy, but mastering the techniques can be very difficult. We are seeing more and more things such as inappropriate alt text – the result of people understanding the technical standards, but not practical web accessibility.
- Educational institutions continue to struggle with accessibility. Institutions that are implementing system-wide policy changes are seeing the most success.
- In the coming year, we will see several events that will help shape accessibility for the distant future, including a likely resolution to the Target lawsuit, new recommendations for an update to Section 508, and the final (yes, final) publication of WCAG 2.0.
2006 was a great year and we look forward to pursuing improvements in web accessibility in the coming year. We thank you, our visitors, clients, and friends for your support. As our site visitors, we would ask for feedback about what you would like to see from us. What is that you would like to see published on our site in the coming year? How can we best meet your interests and needs? What do you see as the emerging trends and current pain points in web accessibility? What will the coming year bring in regards to accessibility? Please submit your comments below.