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