On November 12 2009, I participated in World Usability Day in Dallas TX.  I had never been to one of these events before and it was a fantastic experience.  Knowbility had a booth where we spread the word about what we do, and I provided some website demos using JAWS.  It was a great networking opportunity and I think we educated many people about how vital accessibility is as part of usability!

The event was held at Sabre Holdings, where travelers are connected with agencies and travel possibilities.  I looked at Travelocity’s website with several of the attendees, which has come a long way with regard to accessibility.  I also was asked to test a survey for Sabre’s Marketing team, which really was not accessible and I pointed out just a few of the issues that I encountered, one of the largest being that you had to drag something from one column over to another column, with no ability to do it using the keyboard.

I met some representatives from Aquent, an agency that matches job qualifications and talents with companies.  What a fantastic concept, enabling all kinds of people to obtain employment!  What’s more, how great would a service like this be for people with disabilities!  I advised them that Knowbility could really help them with their site’s accessibility and increase their business by reaching out to the disabled community.

One of the biggest ironies of the day was the inaccessibility of the website for World Usability Day.  Not only was the site not accessible, but some people I talked to found it very difficult to use, particularly the maps and learning about various events.  Definitely something that needs to be addressed and soon!

Overall, it was a fun and educational day.  I always think that if something is accessible, it is usable, so the mission of usability really relates to Knowbility’s goal of accessibility for all.  As does always happen with these events, many people who visited our booth thought for the first time about accessibility and just how vital it is.  In seeing someone with a disability navigate the web, it made them think a little differently as they go forward and design their sites, hopefully with accessibility in mind.  I would love to see them contact Knowbility for help in making that happen for their sites.  Education is so important toward the goal of change and I really think we accomplished that this year at World Usability Day Dallas.