According to Wikipedia: “An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered on a theme or purpose.” (Wikipedia, undated)1
. It is within this context that a Boston Accessibility Unconference will be held on May 15, 2010 with, as the name suggests, the theme centering on accessibility—namely, to information technology for people with disabilities.
This will be Boston's first IT accessibility unconference, bringing together developers, usability professionals, web designers, other IT professionals and end-users with disabilities together in an informal, non-threatening environment to learn from each other and to promote universal design of and accessibility to IT. As it is an unconference, speakers will be solicited on-site and the schedule will be built on the spot. What's more, the event will be free of charge to participants.
The idea of an accessibility unconference for Boston was first inspired by someone commenting on LinkedIn that they could not afford to make it out to the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN),
and wouldn’t it be nice to have some sort of event in the northeast. That comment was then shared on Twitter, with the idea suggested of possibly having an event similar to Accessibility camp DC
held last October. Over time, through the power of Twitter, the idea gained momentum. It is worth noting that similar events are actively being considered for Seattle and London (UK).
Time and Location
Thanks to the generosity of Adobe,
the Boston accessibility unconference will take place at the company's new facility in Waltham on May 15, 2010 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The location
page will provide information on such things as transportation and nearby hotels.
Topics and Schedule
Due to the nature of this event being an unconference, specific topics will only become known the morning of the event, as people volunteer to speak despite the general focus being IT Accessibility. It is from these proposed topics that a schedule will be built, likely resulting in at least two presentations per time block for participants to choose from. It is anticipated that subjects will include: addressing specific web/software accessibility issues of the day, defining and dissecting WCAG, how to test for accessibility, along with any specific projects that participants are working on that they want to share and/or get feedback on.
If you are considering presenting at the unconference, some suggested
topics of interest include (but are not limited to):
- What is accessibility and who does it benefit?
- Understanding New Accessibility Standards, such as:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
- HTML accessibility topics, such as:
- The basics
- What will be different or better with HTML5?
- Can AJAX be used in an accessible way?
- Approaches for accessibility testing
- Discussions on making specific technologies accessible, such as:
- Accessible PDF form development
- Delivering accessible video in Flash and HTML5
- Making Web sites more usable
- Human-Computer Interaction
- The roles of project management and other disciplines
- A day in the life of an Accessibility Professional
- Discussions on adaptive technologies, such as:
- Screen readers (e.g., JAWS)
- Adaptive devices
- Topics in mobile- and software accessibility, such as:
- What is currently possible?
- What are the trends?
- Emerging issues in accessibility, such as:
- Touch screens
- Broadband access to the Internet
- Social media
- Government 2.0
- Cognitive disabilities
- Professional development and career advancement in the accessibility space
It is also hoped that there will be an opportunity for participants to be exposed to adaptive technologies, and if feasible, get hands-on experience navigating either the web or Windows as a person with a disability would. Moreover, based on interest, the day may have a Mozilla Hackfest component. A hackfest brings together developers for a single project and development efforts lead to a specific development outcome. Here the outcome would certainly have an accessibility benefit.
Volunteers and Organizers
Born from Twitter, individuals both locally and regionally have raised their hands to contribute to aspects of the event. Led by Mike Paciello, the group who have stepped forward to give a hand to date include: Sarah Bourne, Joe Johnson, Char James-Tanny, Andrew Kirkpatrick, John Rochford, Gregory J. Rosmaita*, Pratik Patel*, Kel Smith*, and Jennison Asuncion*.
*Individuals who live outside of the greater Boston area.
Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia.
FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference