Yesterday, I attended the second annual Accessibility Camp Toronto, a one-day “unconference” about digital accessibility when it comes to users with disabilities, at OCAD University. This wasn’t the first time I’ve attended an “unconference.” (a specific kind of conference where participants drive the gatherings) However, this was my first glimpse into the world of digital accessibility.
The opportunity to meet different kinds of people and learn first-hand about web accessibility was great. Among the workshops I was able to attend were ones on an introduction to web accessibility, making Microsoft Office and PDF documents more accessible, mobile accessibility, and HTML5 accessibility.
As someone who is completely new to digital accessibility, here are some of the main learnings that I got out of the unconference:
- One thing I took away from Mark Sadecki’s (@cptvitamin) session on the basics of web accessibility is that, although we sometimes tend to overlook it, accessibility is something we should all keep in mind, including designers, developers, managers, content creators and policy makers. It’s about making websites useable to everyone, remembering that everyone has varying abilities when it comes to using the web and improving everyone’s user experience.
- Secondly, the four principles of web accessibility, which are:
i) Perceivable – providing text alternatives to your content so that people
requiring other forms and languages, such as larger print, Braille or
speech, can be accommodated.
ii) Operable – making everything functional and easy to navigate.
iii) Understandable – making all content understandable for various audiences.
iv) Robust – ensuring your content is compatible with tools such as assistive technologies or screen readers.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when you’re engaging with different audiences or stakeholders, one of the keys is knowing not just who your end users are, but what their needs are. People have different needs. And, as I said, they have varying abilities when it comes to digital accessibility. We need to remember that when creating and designing any kind of content.
In addition to the event, there’s a Toronto-based meet-up group for those interested in accessibility and inclusive design. Accessibility Camp Toronto is also only one of several events that focuses on digital accessibility. Since 2009, they have also taken place in Montreal, Guelph, Ottawa, Seattle, Los, Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C. and Tokyo.