CSUN: Crowdsourcing the Accessibility Awareness Problem

Presentation from Sassy Outwater with Billy Gregory and Sina Bahram on content creator awareness of accessibility practices, and how crowdsourcing might be the answer.

The premise

We seem to be stuck in a rut at the moment, where we are preaching to the choir. We haven’t gotten beyond our own borders. It has a lot to do with where disability is as a whole.

At the moment it tends to be spoken of in terms of legal compliance. When it’s brought up at board meetings of small /medium companies it is often brushed off.

What next?

There was some discussion of the various reasons for this, some suggestions on the next steps:

Look for places like these:

  • Local meet-ups
  • Regional conferences
  • Hack-a-thons
  • Makerspaces

Talk to people there, and demystify the ‘monster under the bed’, make it a less scary thing.

Audience Comment: Being positive and keeping it about people is the key to keeping it ‘accessible’. There are language tricks there, such as “a user who’s blind” rather than “the blind user”. People first language.

Comment: Make sure you encourage people by saying what’s been done right, not just the issues.

Sina: Often Universal design is a way to sell this in. When you talk to people who use something that’s universally designed, they tend to think it’s easier to use. They also think of things like “my aunt could use this”.

Prison vs Dinner

Rather than using legal compliance, invite them to dinner! Get Accessibility, UX & Marketing at the same table.

Sina: The problem is that when the user gets to the point of complaining, they have a week or two of frustration built up. So often the developers first experience is with a pretty irate user!

Comment: As much as the message, the tone matters.

Proposing accessibility talks

How do we change it? What gives us the right to talk about accessibility?

Billy: CSUN is a great place to gather strength, but I’d rather be in a room of angry Java developers to persuade them about accessibility.

There needs to be a diverse approach for different audiences. You want to make accessibility something new, and something approachable. Play with your ideas, make it marketable.

Who could better use accessibility

Large organisations tend to get it already, it is the smaller businesses that matter.

We need to launch an accessibility invasion!

Speak their language, they are not the enemy, just uninformed.

One trick is to talk about new things, e.g. HTML5, mobile, responsive, and weave in accessibility.


(Not live yet) Aiming to be like lanyrd, but for putting people out there who can talk about accessibility.

Showing a fairly minimal design so far, but what would be on the front page would be recently added conferences, and recently added talks.

E.g. Pycon, JScon etc.

Once you’ve logged in you can post up conferences or talks that are going on.

The audience provides some feedback on the app, e.g. adding a language.

It is intended to be a tool to facilitate more accessibility talks across the world. Watch out for a11yTalks.com in future…

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