About the author

AUTHOR’S NOTE – You’re reading the HTML version of a chapter from the book Building Accessible Websites (ISBN 0-7357-1150-X). Copyright © Joe Clark, 2002 (about the author). All rights reserved. ¶ Back to Contents

Journalist, author, and accessibility consultant Joe Clark was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (Canada’s smallest province) and grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick (Canada’s worst province). He lives in Toronto.

He discovered accessibility quite by accident while staying up late one night circa 1977. Unaccountably, a PBS station seemed to be running the ABC evening newscast with a heavily-edited version of the newsreader’s delivery written out on screen. This Captioned ABC News aired from 1973 to 1982 as a weeknightly open-captioned rebroadcast of World News Tonight. The heavily-edited captions (at the time, it was erroneously believed that deaf people could not read directly-transcribed English) and the oddball typeface used in the captions led to a correspondence with the Caption Center at WGBH, which captioned the program. Thus began a set of interlocking lifelong interests: Accessibility, linguistics, typography, and computers and technology.

Streamed into engineering by high-school guidance counselors, he found out just how miserable a young lad can be in a discipline he’s actually not very good at. Graduating with a diploma in engineering from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1983), he transferred to McGill University in Montreal and later to the University of Toronto, from which he graduated with a B.A. in linguistics (1989).

Clark worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines for a decade, with nearly 400 published articles in three dozen periodicals as varied as the Disability Rag and the Economist, Popular Science and The Face, BusinessWeek and OutWeek, Ray Gun and MacUser. The first article he wrote for pay concerned typography of TV captioning (Print, January/February 1989).

Clark has some 40,000 E-mails stored on his computer dating back to his online début in 1991 (well predating the Web), and he wrote a how-to-get-online column for the Toronto Star newspaper as far back as 1994. He administers a number of mailing lists and subscribes to dozens of others. He’s run his own Websites since 1995, and can write valid XHTML off the top of his head (typing it out by hand at 90 words a minute, with liberal use of templates, copying and pasting, and dragging and dropping).

His Websites include joeclark.org, fawny.org/.ca, and contenu.nu (home of the vaguely infamous, and now shuttered, NUblog Weblog on online content). He writes a Weblog at blog.fawny.org.

In 2001, Clark began consulting with clients to improve accessibility of Websites, TV, video, and film. Completed projects include Website retrofits and a new way of providing captioning for online news videoclips.

Concerned about the absence of training and standardization in the accessibility fields (captioning, audio description, subtitling, dubbing, and Web accessibility) and determined to leave a legacy of his irreplaceable accessibility knowledge, Clark wrote Building Accessible Websites and, as of August 2005, is still trying to put a pittance of money together to form the Open & Closed Project, a worldwide accessibility training and standardization program.