This October I was invited to be a speaker at GRWebDev, a leading development Meetup group here in Grand Rapids, MI. I love sharing my knowledge of Web Accessibility with the local tech community, so I jumped at the opportunity. Many thanks to Sloth over at SlothWerks for extending the invitation!
Talking the Talk
My presentation was called “HTML + A11y”, and in it I examined some practical applications of HTML for Web Accessibility.
The GRWebDev crowd is an awesome mix of both seasoned developers and beginners. I was able to get into some deeply technical Accessibility topics, like focus control in Single Page Applications (SPA’s). I also didn’t want to rush from zero to sixty, so I spent a good amount of time laying the ground work for understanding Digital Accessibility more broadly.
This talk covered topics such as:
- Assistive Technology (AT)
- Native OS accessibility features
- Alternative text
- Form controls
- Keyboard interaction
Starting with Empathy
It was important to me to begin the evening by centering the lived experiences of people disabilities. I didn’t start by talking about compliance. I didn’t start with rules, regulations, or lawsuits, although I'm sure folks were interested in hearing about recent cases like Robles v. Domino's. Access is a fundamental human right. So, as much as I love getting carried away with technical stuff in a room full of developers, I will always begin by telling stories, and illustrating user experiences.
Empathy is also an engineering superpower. A better understanding of what’s broken helps us solve technical problems. Actually using a tool like an end-user might, gives us problem-solving power. If we as developers understand how real people use the web, we can develop more robust applications. In my talk I shared examples of how people use Assistive Technology (AT), and demonstrated the principles of code samples on the macOS Voicover web rotor.
Missed the talk? No problem! A recording is available through the GRWebDev Facebook page.
Slides are available here in DOCX, EPUB, and PDF formats.