Accessible information – how hard can it be?
Do you remember the 1980s? Some of you may not have been born yet… It was back then all of us suddenly realized that we were supposed to live in the “information society”. The industrial era was succeeded with the Information Age. The academics had discussed this for many years, starting with Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, but for the rest of us we first realized that something was going on when we discovered the Desktop Publishing revolution.
In 1985 you could buy an Apple computer, software called Page Maker and a laser writer. In 1987 you could even se colors on the screen. Suddenly you could design and edit your own magazines, posters, books and whatever…
The market was over flooded with poorly designed print. An equivalent to all the bad, bad, bad web pages people started to create in the late 1990s.
It was like the punk rock! Everybody could play music; everybody could do their own magazines. And I loved it! I had just bought my first electrical type writer. I used it for a month, threw it away and bought my first Mac. 23 000 Swedish crowns was a lot of money back then. I bought my first car for a 1 000. My parents thought I was mad. Spending so much money on a toy?
You had to load the system on four disks and then Page Maker on another four discs and on the tiny screen it was possible to create the stuff and then send it to the printing house. A week or so later you could deliver a smoking hot magazine to your readers. For me, starting using led casts and phototypesetting to create information it was like taking a rocket from the Gutenberg era right to the future.
So I think it all started with the Desktop Publishing followed by the World Wide Web and all the things we suddenly could do with Dreamweaver or Front Page (those were the days). It was a digital revolution and it changed things for ever. Information could be produced by anyone, anywhere.
Accessible! Democratic! Cheap! Fast! Well, not all of us could produce it and not all of us could access it, as we later discovered. But surely, that problem must be an easy fix. Accessible information – how hard can it be?
And I was there from the beginning. So let me tell you what happened next…
Stefan Johansson is an ideologist and accessibility expert at Funka Nu AB in Sweden. He is also an industrial PhD student at KTH, Royal Institute of Technology – School of Computer Science and Communication.
Stefan was born 1963 and has been working with accessible information since the 1980s. At first as an information manager in the Workers’ Educational Association. Later on in the Swedish disability movement. In both environments it is easy to find persons excluded from education, from work and not able to grow as persons to their full capacity. A reason for that is an inaccessible society and often inaccessible information. Stefan has worked with these issues ever since. He is regarded as one of the leading experts in this filed. Since 2013 he is an industrial PhD student, specializing in cognitive accessibility. He is also one of the founders of Funka Nu, a consultant company specialized in accessibility.
Funka Nu AB
111 40 Stockholm