The 16th Annual Accessing Higher Ground Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference (hash tag #AHG13) was held recently in Westminster, Colorado at a very nice venue, the Westin Westminster. Representing my day-job employer, I was able to attend and present one session, Usability and Accessibility CSS Gotchas. I was happy to learn that it was being recorded and live broadcast over one the conference’s two virtual tracks. While there, I had the opportunity to interview a few great folks in the business; namely, Greg Kraus, Jayme Johnson, and Kathy Wahlbin. Have a listen!
Download Web Axe Episode 98 (AHG13)
[transcript of podcast 98]
Greg Kraus (@gdkraus), the University IT Accessibility Coordinator at North Carolina State University. He presented The Gamification of Accessibility, which included details about a great online tool he implemented at NCSU.
Jayme Johnson (@hippyjo), Instructor at HTCTU The High Tech Center Training Unit, provides training and support to the faculty and staff of all California Community Colleges. Jayme was on the panel at the plenary lunch during the second day of the conference.
Kathy Wahlbin (@wahlbin), CEO/Founder of Interactive Accessibility and invited expert in the W3C. She presented Accessible Responsive Web Design.
I met Greg and Kathy in person for the first time which was great. I also met keynote speaker David Sloan (@sloandr) in person for the first time as well. Wonderful people.
Last week, my author Dennis Lembree attended the 28th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (better known as CSUN) at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California.
Dennis presented one session “Developing an Accessible Widget with ARIA” representing his day job company. You may download Dennis’ PowerPoint file here.
WebAIM announced that there is now an API for WAVE, their web accessibility evaluation tool. It has a very affordable pricing model, and the first 100 “credits” are free with registration.
Besides the sessions, there are many activities happening at CSUN including the Tweetup, SS12 Finals, and the first WordPress accessibility meetup! A highlight was Deque Systems’ “Amazing Evening” event featuring a guitar player who played with his feet, and who was also a hilarious comedian!
Props to the Toronto accessibility crew who had great representation again. Met more Canadians this year (thanks to @Jennison) including Bill Gregory, George Zamfir and Jorge Mori.
Recommended session presentations:
Other great resources:
Mark your calendar for CSUN14 which is scheduled for 17-22 March 2014. In the meantime, you can plan for the upcoming, second annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD) on May 9th!
A few weeks ago, on October 20, Web Axe author Dennis Lembree attended the very first Accessibility Camp Los Angeles at CSU Northridge. The event is led by @jennison and @joedevon. After opening comments and introductions, Dennis presented Introduction to Web Accessibility (sorry, the Google docs nor the Slideshare version is very accessible). Dennis represented PayPal, his day job in San Jose, who sponsored lunch.
Many other well known accessibility professionals attended and shared their expertise. This is totally awesome since most came from out of state at their own expense. This includes:
- Elle Waters who spoke on accessibility as innovation.
- Karl Groves who spoke on testing tools.
- John Foliot who spoke on HTML5.
- Pratik Patel who spoke on document accessibility.
- William Lawrence who spoke on Section 508.
- Joseph O’Connor who spoke on WordPress accessibility.
Learn more about Accessibility Camp LA on Twitter:
More on the accessibility camps.
Open Web Camp 4 took place last Saturday July 14, 2012. Turned out to be another great event organized by John Foliot (@JohnFoliot) of San Jose, California. This time, OWC was held at PayPal headquarters in San Jose (was held at Stanford the previous three years). Although the event covers different area of web development, several sessions concentrated on accessibility and others included accessibility as part of the content.
After helping with registration, I arrived a few minutes late to “HTML5: All about Web Forms” by Estelle Wyl (@standardista). The talk was a bit rushed, but packed with great information. Next, “Surf a GB with Glenda’s Thumb” was pretty interesting as Glenda Watson-Hyatt (@GlendaWH) demonstrated challenges of using a computer with a motor disability. She also asked attendees to try a web-surfing exercise while simulating a mobile impairment (by using only non-dominant hand with rubber band around fingers).
I regretted missing “Getting Your CSS Under Control” by Jonathan Snook. But instead I attended Denis Boudreau’s very relevant presentation, “Social Media Accessibility: Where Are We Today?“. This session was actually a replacement for Molly Holzschlag’s presentation; she couldn’t make the event due to TSA nonsense.
I finished the conference by attending “Unhiding The Truth Behind Hiding Content for Screen Reader Users” by Victor Tsaran (@vick08) and then a “game changing perspective” talk by Glenda Sims (@GoodWitch), pictured below.
The event was free in the past, and this year there was only a small $10 registration fee; the value is tremendous! In addition to the sessions, a t-shirt and lunch was provided to all attendees. And lunch was enjoyed by many outside in the nice Northern California weather by the pond on the beautiful PayPal campus. A nice time. I look forward to an OWC5 next year.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Google I/O conference again this year (last year’s I/O blog). It was again held at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, California. The opening keynote was a smash hit, and in addition to product announcements, featured skydivers wearing Google Glass!
On the second floor, it was a pleasure to meet Phil Strain (@pstr) in person; we’ve followed each other on Twitter for a couple years. He now works for Google and was helping out in the accessibility developer sandbox (booth). He demonstrated the latest ChromeVox. Also at the sandbox, Peter Lundblad demonstrated to me the braille output support using a new Nexus 7 tablet and a Humanware braille display.
Google announced the release of Android Jellybean (4.1) to be released through over-the-air updates to the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S and Motorola Xoom in July. The announcement came with several Android accessibility enhancements including:
- Speech recognition is now local to the device, no longer requiring the device to be connected to the Internet in order to use it.
- Gesture support allowing for greater nonvisual control of the device using the touch screen.
- Native support for refreshable Bluetooth Braille displays.
- Source: The Mobile Accessibility Landscape
Making Android Apps Accessible with T.V. Raman, Charles Chen, Alan Viverette, Peter Lundblad. Session description:
Android 4.0 introduced platform-level accessibility APIs so that you don’t have to be an expert to make an app that’s accessible to people with disabilities. Come learn how APIs for accessibility make your job easier. We’ll provide code examples covering touch exploration, speech synthesis, multiplatform support through use of a DPAD, magnification for low vision, braille, and more.
Advancing Accessibility for the Web with Rachel Shearer, Dominic Mazzoni, Charles Chen. Includes announcement and demo of the new Chrome Accessibility Developer Tools. Session description:
This session will help you learn through code samples and real world examples how to design and test your web apps for complete accessibility coverage. We will review APIs such as the Text-to-speech (TTS) API, tools like ChromeVox and ChromeShades and how Google products implement solutions today for users with disabilities.
- I ran into Peter Hazelhurst, former VP of two of my past employers. Turns out he now is Global Head of Payments, Product Management at Google. He presented on “Introducing Google Wallet Cloud APIs”.
- It was neat to run into Isabelle Olsson, a lead designer on the Google Glass project, outside the conference center. She had presented in the keynote.
- The line to get the “free” devices on the first day was incredibly long; wrapped around the entire first floor! I would say it was “unbelievable”, but not too surprising considering three cool toys were being handed out including the new Nexus 7″ tablet.
- While attending on Wednesday, my wife, kids, and parents (who were visiting from Michigan) had a great time touring downtown San Francisco!