UNDERSTANDING WEB ACCESSIBILITY AND PEOPLE
By John Sexton
Inspired by his own experience growing up with a severe visual impairment in the 80s and 90s when the internet was still developing, the author describes how he gained independence through the explosion of technology, such as with online shopping or digital books.
John Sexton, who after learning web-development, went from working as a website developer for a London NHS trust, to entrepreneurship – specialising in web-development and accessibility. He has provided a comprehensive overview for web-developers and designers, to bring about greater understanding of those facing technical and everyday challenges.
Like a clear bowl of water the language is simple, free of technical jargon and explanations are strait forward and logical. The text is well referenced with examples of Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the internet, in taking it all ‘back to basics’ having created an information platform for all. Yet, as many websites are not accessible to all, Mr. Sexton distinguishes between the terms accessibility and usability.
In a refreshingly person-centred approach, Mr. Sexton offers advice to web-designers:
“You should never assume, if your site is say selling sports cars a person with a physical impairment and unable to drive one would not be interested in buying a car from you…”
A broad perspective is demonstrated by, not only describing the use of screen readers and other visual aids, but highlighting the needs of those with older technology or various challenges.
The roll of web-development guidelines, the implications for business owners and the challenge presented by device-specifics to the internet are addressed within an analytical framework.
There are details of how information is disseminated – for example how a screen reader performs in contrast with how text is presented visually.
Distinctions are also detailed in the way certain soft wear is used or the functions of particular assistive technologies, such as voice recognition. There is an emphasis on being aware of target audiences, as well as the many barriers faced by people with mainly visual challenges. However, the author doesn’t claim to have all the answers to the balancing act of making everything right for everyone – given current trends, common assumptions or language to be avoided. He has articulated raising awareness, from a visually-impaired computer user’s perspective and others facing various challenges.
As someone experiencing the full spectrum of web-development, management and access, Mr. Sexton makes thorough use of his specialist expertise from all angles. This departing of such specialised knowledge is gold dust in the world of technology and is invaluable.
The suggestions and guidelines in this book could be most appreciated by web-developers of intermediate skills, but is a must-read for those making a conscientious effort to providing an internet experience for a diverse audience.
It is surmised: “there is not a one size fits all, it’s more of a journey and a way of life for people who are faced with disability or other life challenges.”
5 out of 5 stars
THE MOST INSPIRING
By Dawn M. Sanders
Echos of excitement riveted around Manchester Arena the other night, as one of rock’s best surviving bands, Fleetwood Mac, took to the stage.
We could never see a band with such longevity, retain such a strong bond and love for each other.
Opening with The Chain flawless harmonies we are all familiar with spanning several decades, resonated from the stage.
With Mick Fleetwood as a kind of ring master, they still packed an energetic punch – just to remind us, after decades in and out of the spotlight, ‘they’re still here’.
The band delivered Tusk as an unstoppable freight train – always with Mick’s unbreakable energy and stage antics.
The fascinating thing about Fleetwood Mac, is they have such individual personalities and distinct voices, all fitting together to create a magical dynamic that could only be maintained with matured resilience and a will to keep on doing what they love, together.
Several times during the performance, Mick, Stevie and Lindsey, all made it clear that, Christine McVie was adored and appreciated to be back within the family of the band.
As Stevie belted out Rhiannon Wiccan mystical visuals created the perfect backdrop to the sultry singer’s sung poetry.
She doesn’t have the vocal range she used to, yet she still has the stage presents, passion and ability to belt them out as she always has.
As with their albums, the two women took turns being featured as the band’s main centre pieces.
Christine’s unwavering, steady, rich soulful voice has hardly aged, along with her elegance, skilful keyboard style and under-stated, yet celebrated English presence.
Lindsey Buckingham maintained an almost youthful, yet sober persona, as spokesman for the band and it’s history of”ups and downs”; not to mention, guitar solos, which were never over-powering, just amazing!
Of course, not to be ignored as ‘the quiet one’ John McVie just kept with his solid supporting baselines, as one of the driving forces behind the music.
All of this said, it is easy to forget, this band has aged and come through individual struggles; albeit gracefully and with the kind of gratitude one would not immediately expect from such a successful and unique blend of musical/vocal originality.
Easy to forget, because the energy, quirkiness, dark subtleties and Fleetwood frenzies, have only fractionally slowed and show no sign of stopping soon and, let’s hope they don’t…
The “crazy world” they so accurately refer to in their departing sentiments, is the kind of encouragement we all need, but what is special here, is when Stevie told the story of the ‘Velvet Underground shop in San Francisco; where she saw a vision of being in Fleetwood Mac – trailing behind predecessors which set the stage for our era of rock history and where she says… when you’re around people who say, you can’t do this, can’t do that, just rise above it, with what your passionate about; grab a star, pull it down and make it your dream then make it happen.
She told the encouraging story before launching into “Gipsy”.
Just as with their long career, they kept coming back on stage for more and more encores.
Fleetwood Mac are made up of:
Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham.
REVIEW: SUGAR DADDIES
By Dawn M. Sanders
24 March 2015
Sheffield’s Library Theatre hosts New Venture Players theatre group, bringing to life Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Sugar Daddies’ in a gripping, gritty yet hilarious dark comedy.
On opening night, the scene is a sparsely furnished student-esque flat in London, shared by two sisters.
Chloe is streetwise and jaded, while her sister Sasha, a naïve northern girl, has recently moved to London.
When Sasha lets a jolly jubbly man dressed as Father Christmas into the flat, she can’t be kind enough to this ‘gentleman’, but is Uncle Val really a gentleman?
Taken in by his rough and ready, yet charming veneer, Sasha is the perfect pupil for Uncle Val’s intentions.
As the plot thickens and Uncle Val lavishes Sasha with charm and generosity, warnings from the old ex-policemen downstairs and Sasha’s wary sister, fall on deaf ears.
While Uncle Val progresses in manoeuvring and making Sasha, he drives a wedge between the two sisters, which erupts in a classic catfight, rendering the audience to applause.
Michael Bullock skilfully directs the production and plays out his role of dodgy daddy, Katie Watson assumes her role as Sasha with ease and Jo Hadjioannou eventually settles into her role as Chloe; as the entire cast carry out a cracking performance!
The story goes full circle as Sasha finally wakes up to uncle Val’s dingy past as she says: “Last night I saw a side of you I never want to see again…” as the naïve nice girl is that little less innocent and just a bit more knowing.
It is definitely worth catching this before the finish!
Running 18-21 March, 2015