Two themes continued to surface during this last glorious week spent with the accessibility tribe at the CSUN Conference on Assistive Technology. One has to do with professionalization of the field and the other with communication to those other than the initiated. I can't think of a better place than SXSWi to move the ball forward on both of these themes. So...inspired by The Great Big List of 2012 CSUN sessions, I compiled a list of accessibility related topics and activities that will be featured in the midst of the madness that is SXSW Interactive next week.
The modest list
There are more than 5000 events and sessions at the SXSW conference, so I know I have missed some. Please use the comments below to add to this list anything that I have overlooked and if you need accommodation while attending SXSW, they have information posted.
Friday March 9
2 pm at the Sheraton Austin. Tales of people with marginal access, primarily people of color and those in rural settings. Accessibility advocates might attend and draw parallels with disability.
5 pm in the Austin Convention Center (ACC), Room 9ABC. This should be a great discussion of why online video needs to be accessible too. Experts, including Andrew Kirkpatrick, Glenn Goldstein, Otto Berkes, and Shane Feldman will discuss challenges and share processes.
Saturday, March 10
This is an all-day event that requires pre-registration and will award up to $46K in prizes. There is not a word about accessibility in any of their promo, so perhaps an accessibility coder can crash the party and capture the flag?
At the Radisson Town Lake at 11:00 am to 12 noon. A workshop format to teach technical details of how to create an accessible HTML DOM structure, tie it to the visible Canvas surface, and more. With Charles Pritchard, Cynthia Shelly, David Bolter, Richard Schwerdtfeger, big brains all.
Come to the Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 615AB at 12:30 pm for a meet and greet with SXSW attendees who are interested in accessibility from newbies to greybeards. Knowbility is organizing so there will be fun as well as tons of resources.
Sunday March 11
At 11:00 at the Hilton Garden Inn Elizabeth Woodward, a Senior Software Engineer with the IBM Research Human Ability and Accessibility Center will take a look at the additional thought and planning needed for accessibility success in the context of cloud computing.
Time to choose: At 3:30 on Sunday we are presented with a trifecta and I don't know how to advise you to choose your first, second, and third. Maybe you can buddy up and draw straws with your friends.
At 3:30 at the Stephen F Austin Hotel, usability specialists Brian Sullivan and Taylor Cowan consider how to get the attention of different types of users, including users with disability.
Also at 3:30, at the Radisson Town Lake Paul Trani of Adobe leads an advanced workshop that includes CSS, HTML5 and how to balance media strengths and weaknesses for success in the world of mobile and progressive enhancement.
Also at 3:30 in the ACC, Room 9ABC, this presentation by Jason Scott, Kari Kraus, Nick Hasty considers accessibility of digital content over time as technology changes.
Here in the Austin Convention Center, Room 8A is another event starting at 3:30. But this one runs until 6:00 pm. If you attend a previously mentioned 3:30 session, you can still get by to network with, learn from, and be inspired by the honorees for the 2012 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. And you will especiallywant to attend to cheer for Judy Brewer who leads the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the W3C and is one of the Dewey honorees.
At 6:00 pm, winners of the 2012 Accessibility Internet Rally AIR-Austin/AIR-Interactive awards will share the stage with the 2012 Dewey Award winners and music by Mother Falcon. Badges not needed at the St David's Episcopal Church event center.
Monday March 12
On Monday, the trade show booths are opened, including Knowbility's SXSW Accessibility Center. Come by all day for demos of assistive technology, updates from the Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C, and talks on trending accessibility topics by Knowbility partners from Deque Systems, the Paciello Group, MicroAssist, Adobe and St Edward's University .
Few of the break-out sessions on Monday have direct reference to accessibility, but my interest in the intersection of disability and the arts made me look at this one and I plan to drop in.
At the ACC in Room 12AB a panel of artists and technologists including Alyce Myatt, Asa Kalama, Beth Burns, Conor Roche, and Robert Matney explore the interaction of media, technology, and performance art. Knowbility has collaborated for years with VSA Texas to produce fully accessible performance events (SightSoundSoul) and I am eager to see if and how disability is integrated into this discussion.
Tuesday March 13
At 9:30 am Marty DeAngelo of Digitas Health presents his ideas on how to use new devices to make user experience even better than on the “old web.”
Also at 9:30 in the Omni Hotel ballroom, Brian Lang of Seniors In Touch talks about designing for all, inclusive design to reach the growing segment of the population over 65. There is significant overlap between the needs of those with disability.
At 11:00 head back to the Convention Center, Room 10AB for what I expect to be an informative talk by IBM Research AbilityLab's Susann Keohane and Brian Cragun. They will describe their research considering how to render real time data analytics in accessible formats. They will share some of the accessibility challenges of charts, large datasets, and node diagrams and some techniques to make them more accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
At 12:30 Evan Prodromou leads a panel in Ballroom BC at the ACC to consider the closong of the web. Even though the web is founded on open, decentralized principles and accessible, non- proprietary technology, the trend for closed systems seems to be growing. No one owns e-mail, usenet or http, but proprietary social services seem to be moving away from openness. How to fix?
Another 12:30 option is this panel of developers giving their perspective on whether Flash technology is he Holy Grail of interactive web design or the virtual thorn in their web experience. In ACC Room AB with Aubrey Gross, David Greene, Kristine Schachinger, Phillip Gross.
Core Conversations have become a favorite part of the conference, where you can get small groups of people with shared interest to give diverse perspectives. This one will be held in the Hilton Austin Downtown in Room 616AB and led by Juan Sequeda of UT and Peter Mika of Yahoo.
Your mission - should you choose to accept it
Well, I said it was a modest list and out of some 5000 events, it is not huge. Still it is a considerable commitment if you try to provide all that support by yourself. So please spread the love, attend those of most interest, tell others about them and if you are not at SXSW this year, tell your friends who are here. Ask accessibility questions at other sessions, too - let's show support and keep accessibility as a topic and as an integral part of other tech talks.
I was greatly influenced to write this list by events at CSUN last week. Some of that genesis is here:
Accessibility as an IT profession
Knowbility took a skeptical position before the CSUN conference on the need for an autonomous, separate accessibility professional association. But it was clear from the response at the CSUN conference that even skeptics felt that something was needed to change the perceptions that mainstream developers and technologists have about accessibility. SXSW is one of the largest technology conferences in the world and there is an openness to accessibility there that allows great conversations about how to integrate accessibility professionalism into overall best practices. Knowbility will have a large booth that we have dubbed the SXSW Accessibility Center this year. We will be evangelizing the reality that "good design IS accessible design" and we invite participation from those who want to share resources and techniques at the booth. Call Knowbility and talk to Carolyn Gibbs.
Web Accessibility Community Collaboration
On Wednesday at the CSUN conference I was part of a web accessibility community collaboration panel discussion that generated tons of great ideas from attendees around using existing resources and recognizing different levels of engagement and expertise to broaden the community of accessibility practice. You can read much of the brainstorming by looking for the Twitter hashtag #wacol (pronounced in my mind, way cool!). One idea that swirled around and around was that when accessibility topics show up at mainstream conferences, we need to promote them! attend them! create a buzz about them!
Hence, this list. Please let me know if it is useful, if you attend any of these sessions, and about others you find next week. Onward!