I don’t remember the details, but I stumbled upon the WAI-ARIA? project when it was a hatchling, and almost no one I knew had heard of it. It’s been over 2 years, the bird has left the nest, but it still seems to be flying under many people’s radar. It really should be an important piece in the designer’s repertoire. I’ve written about this at much greater length while I was doing an independent reading in Web Usability and Accessibility as part of my graduate studies. AJAX? messes with a web page’s “DOM”? in ways that are hidden from the user of the page by design. ARIA is meant to talk to assistive technologies and keep track of all such changes, communicating them to the software, or responding to custom designed hardware to do things those of us with so-called normal abilities take for granted. To do this, ARIA defines and then makes use of roles—e.g., this is a toolbar, this is a menu item; states—this panel is folded or invisible, this one is displayed; and properties—this menu has a drop-down, this one a pop-up.
On my other secret blog I barely mentioned attending a talk back in November on Planned Serendipity, but in terms of impact the session has turned out to be a bit of a “creeper.” At the time it reminded me how big a role serendipity, albeit usually of the unplanned variety, has played in my own life. Now, the more I notice it, well.., the more I notice it happening all the time. This past week—still reeling perhaps from the realization I’m descended from webmasters and plugin monkeys, even as I plan how to design a “Web 2.0” project involving things computer scientists inevitably do much better—three different sources contributed three new resources to the rebuilding of my self esteem by reinforcing my complete belief in the importance of play to learning*. Continue reading
This is to be home base for my explorations into learning and teaching with, about, because of, and even in spite of technology. Years ago, after already investing a good chunk of my youth in my ample but ultimately less than extraordinary musical talents I set out to become a classroom teacher. But a funny thing happened on the way to the schoolhouse: the personal computer. And at 30-something I took to figuring it out in a way I hadn’t approached anything since my first electric guitar.
Of the many similarities between those approaches some things stand out: Continue reading