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Accessibility 101 + Core Concepts

taught by: Thomas Brunet, Jess Lin
co-presented by: Phill Jenkins

Session Summary

For beginners and experienced accessibility professionals, in this session, we will explore how to explain Accessibility to those outside of the field. We will also explain the core concepts of why and how accessibility works in design and for development of software applications.


Accessibility is a fundamental human right, yet the field is often misunderstood or undervalued by those that do not work in this space. As a result, to drive implementation of the requirements, accessibility professionals often resort to the stick - reminding the business of lawsuits, requirements, standards. Or, resort to trying to empathize with users in spaces that they don’t understand. Rather, designers and developers need to understand the essential principles that make the magical assistive technologies work, understand the core concepts behind how accessibility works, and meeting users with disabilities where they’re at.

Additionally, when it comes to teaching others about accessibility, professionals incorrectly jump to the details - WCAG, ARIA, HTML elements, and more. In this session, we’ll try to take a step back and look at how we got there - what are the fundamental concepts on which ARIA, HTML, and CSS were built. What was the underlying concept that allows us to go from markup and code written in a text editor to a full graphical application that’s usable by all?

Practical Skills

  • Participants will learn about abstraction and how abstraction (through roles, states, and properties) enables content and applications to be enabled across devices and assistive technologies.
  • Participants will discuss the value of accessibility beyond the field of accessibility for user with disabilities.
  • Participants will gain a general understanding of assistive technologies and how different pieces of the technology stack work.