About

My name is Marco, and I’m working as the Mozilla accessibility
QA engineer and evangelist. I joined Mozilla on December 3rd, 2007. Initially working from within the QA team, I transferred to the newly founded dedicated accessibility team in April of 2011. Before my full-time employment, I volunteered as a community member for a couple of months.

I was previously with Freedom Scientific, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of software and hardware products for the visually impaired, including the screen reader JAWS for Windows. All in all, I’ve been in the AT technology industry since 1996, counting also my student days where I already started working for the German distributor for JAWS.

I am totally blind from birth and have been using screen readers of various shapes and sizes since 1991, when I got my first DOS-based PC.

As the accessibility QA, I’m responsible for testing new features and fixes in Firefox and other products from Mozilla, but also I’m working with the community to get people involved in testing all the cool new
features of Firefox. I won’t limit myself to the blindness side of things, but hope to be able to help both developers and users with all kinds of disabilities such as motor impairments, low vision (although I might need some sighted help on that occasionally) and others.

Also, I’m always happy to help out web developers who need advice on how to code certain things in an accessible fashion.

I hope this blog will be a good resource for readers on all and any accessibility-related topics. Enjoy the read!

How to contact me

If you’d like to get in contact with me, there are a couple of ways:

When writing an e-mail, you’re welcome to use my OpenPGP key: ID: 0x789EDB19

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Comments

16 Responses to About

  1. Cynthia Lay says:

    Hi Marco – I was just doing some research and ran across your blog. I’m hoping you can give me some advice. I have a friend who is blind, and she wants to start a blog about all the things she does when training helper dogs. I want to set it up for her, but I’m hesitant to use WordPress. There are times when it’s totally frustrating to me — so I can imagine it would drive my friend crazy even more!

    But it looks like you’re using wordpress here. Is there anything special you’d recommend for her? Any advice or tools I could pass along to her as we get her set up to start blogging?

    Please share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks a bunch,
    Cynthia

  2. Marco says:

    Hi Cynthia,

    I didn’t do anything special other than switch the editor when composing blog posts from the WYSIWYG to the HTML editor. WYSIWYG is built on TinyMCE, which is not accessible, the HTML editor is a simple text area. I did this once when writing my first post, and that was it. Nothing fancy.

  3. Colin says:

    Greetings Marco,

    Just found your blog whilst looking for a daisy player for the iPod/IPhone group.

    The article ‘why I wont buy an iPod just yet’ published in early 2008. I was wondering if you have more comments now that 2 years have passed.

    I am a vision impaired programmer who is looking to write some stuff for macs and iProducts.

    Cheers Colin

  4. Marco says:

    Hi Colin,

    there is an article titled “My first experience using an accessible touch screen device” published right after the launch of the iPhone 3G S last year in June. I also kept track of some changes that went into iOS 4. See my latest entry on this blog on that topic. My views certainly have changed, and I am an admitted Apple fanboy now. ;)

    Look forward to seeing what you are cooking up! :-)

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  6. John Schuler says:

    Hi Marco

    First, I’m SO impressed with what you are accomplishing wo sight! I’m about 2/3 blind from Stargardts disease and people like you inspire me.

    Second, I realize that you might not be the correct person to ask, but you know of an add-on or extension or theme that wraps test so zooming doesn’t leave text off-screen?

    Thanks in Advance!

  7. Paul Clayton says:

    Hi Marco
    I’m suitably impressed by the technical level you have achieved, and you surely are a person that would be inspirational to many, let me first say. Fawning aside,
    I found your blog whilst looking around for screenreader friendly webmail options, and notice you have no mentioned of the rather superb Thunder screenreader IMHO. Have you any experience of it? I’m a UK based IT trainer using it in classes and have found it to be stable and useful. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    All the best
    Paul

  8. Marco says:

    Hi Paul,

    I do not use Thunder, I found it to not be suitable for my needs when I tried it. I’m using NVDA, the free and open source screen reader from NV Access, as my primary screen reader on Windows.

  9. Adina says:

    Hello Marco,

    As a web developer I have been tasked with moving our company’s website to a WCAG Level A rating.

    I have searched the web for ways to develop for and test the actual usability of our site but find the information out there very confusing and contradictory. I have installed a number of Firefox add-ons but am no closer in understanding what I actually need to do besides things such as “use alt tags”, and “make logical tables”.

    Can you point me to sites about accessibility written for the web developer that’s understandable rather than theoretical?

    Also, our site is heavy in JavaScript and AJAX. We have a password-protected section which is only accessible via a JavaScript log-in interface. Is this still an accessibility issue in 2011?

    How do sites with confidential user information and bill-payment interfaces keep their information safe and secure while still being accessible?

    How can we best develop AJAXed pages for accessibility?

    Any guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    –Adina

  10. Marco says:

    Adina,

    developing sites using JS is no longer an issue in 2011 as long as you employ a rasonable keyboard navigation mechanism, and if you use custom widgets, make sure they’re accessible by using WAI-ARIA. There are numerous resources out there on the web for web developers, starting from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the W3C, but also ranging to sites such as WebAim, The Paciello Group and others that have lots of resources on how web accessibility should be implemented. Some theory is needed to be able to properly develop stuff to get an WCAG A rating unfortunately, and since each web app is different, there’s not a one-fits-all solution.

  11. tim says:

    Hello, Just would like to say what a great blog! Especially the post on devs making their apps accessible! I have retweeted it. It is certainly true. Also, a bit off topic, but are you the same person or not that either programs/is one of the makers/devs of the media player MaPlEr? if so, that is great! I had no idea you had a blog. If not, that is quite alright to. Keep it up.

  12. Marco says:

    Nope, I’m not involved at all in MaplEr. Thanks for your comment and the retweet!

  13. knorman1 says:

    Hi,
    I hope that its ok to post this here!
    I am a Graduate Student in Human Computer Interaction, focusing on accessibility. This semester we are conducting a research project at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to identify ways in which screen readers are used for purposes of web design. We are looking to perform phone-based interviews with users (with Skype, or even text chat), with the aim of designing a system to address the challenges faced.
    We are looking to speak with both novice and expert web designers. Interviews will be scheduled at a convenient time for you in the course of the next two to three weeks. All information will be kept secure and confidential.

    If you are interested in participating, could you please contact me, Kirk Norman, at (knorman1@umbc.edu)?

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Kirk

  14. Marco says:

    Kirk, sorry, I’m not a web designer and therefore not available for such an interview.

  15. Bonnie says:

    Marco, I was lucky enough to find your blog after installing Firefox 12.0 yesterday after being gently nudged – repeatedly – to download the new version. A screen reader user of ZoomText 9.1 running Windows 7 on a desktop, I was one of the Mozilla 3.6 holdouts due to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (fear of incompatibility issues with ZT. Now I’m here to beg you for help in telling me how I might fix the problem of FF12 reading one or two lines down the page from the cursor, or – in the case of Facebook, for example, having no idea where it’s getting the text it’s reading. I recognize how exciting new features and apps are since they were not accessible to us before. However, additional medical problems cause me to use time online more for ‘chores’ than for fun and I’m worried now. Re-learning new programs (such as a different screen reader) at this stage isn’t an option for me. Any fixes/ideas/suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  16. Muhammad Bilal says:

    Hi @ Marco,
    I’m a partial sighted user of the internet and the accessible technology from Pakistan.
    Recently, my intrest is gradually increased towards the making accessible designs for websites.
    I’ll create some of the interesting projects for fulfill of the accessibilities needs.
    Among them is a Audio Player using HTML5 Link is,
    Audio Player
    Please Check it and if found any issue according to the accessibility please report me.
    Beneath the player there is a large number of shortcuts which can be used with player.
    adopted from WSG WG and other big name sites.
    waiting for your precious suggestions @ bilal.kung007@gmail.com

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