Raising Awareness for Accessibility

Written by

Sara Keats

Wei-En provides a live demo at the Global Accessibility Awareness Day meetup.

Our San Diego studio is the home of the San Diego Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup, a meetup for anyone — designers, product managers, leaders, etc. — interested in accessibility and inclusive design.

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the group hosted its largest meetup yet. The programming included lightning talks from accessibility and inclusive design leaders in the San Diego region.

Here are the four speakers and some highlights from their talks:

Ricardo Rodriguez is living his dream as a web developer with Journeymen of San Diego. He’s also blind. Ricardo recommended that people and organizations new to accessibility initiatives connect with practitioners and users with varied abilities. There are specific organizations that can help make those connections, for example, the Braille Institute in San Diego. “Accessibility isn't just for buildings anymore,” he said, “Mobile apps, websites, and videos can all be made accessible or inaccessible.” Ricardo counseled that doing accessibility "right" begins in the design phase and is realized in engineering — collaboration is key to releasing inclusive digital products.

Wei-En Wong is a software engineer at Zesty.io, a headless CMS company based in San Diego. He spoke about adding accessibility testing to your Git workflow, and showed an example of how to automate testing. Wei-En coded live, and covered ARIA attributes. “Functionally, this is similar to CSS, but for assistive devices,” he explained.

A crowd of designers, researchers, and engineers are seated in rows at Blink's San Diego studio for the event.

Dan Payne is a web accessibility consultant and web developer certified by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. He talked about a study by WebAIM that reviewed the top 1 million home pages for accessibility. The results were staggeringly dismal: 59,653,607 distinct accessibility errors were detected across the 1 million home pages — an average of 59.6 errors per page. The number of lawsuits related to digital accessibility has increased dramatically, from about 200 nationally 2000-2015 to 2,200 in 2018. Of the 2018 lawsuit, 10% were from California headquartered companies. The bulk of the web is mired with accessibility issues, and the companies are increasingly unable to get away with it.

Harris Schneiderman, co-organizer of a11ySD and a web developer at Deque with a strong passion for digital equality demonstrated "Dragon Drop," a plug-in to help make draggable list items accessible. Harris also demonstrated how to configure verbosity and speed settings within the native Mac accessibility controls, and shared some knowledge about adapting speech commands to the context in which they will be used.

Attendees mix, mingle, and play giant Jenga in our studio.

All in all, it was a great event for the San Diego design community. At 180 members and growing, the San Diego Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup is a great opportunity for designers, researchers, strategists, and engineers who want to expand and deepen their understandings and skills when it comes to accessible design.

The group meets in Blink’s San Diego studio monthly. Sign up on Meetup for more information about the group and to hear about upcoming events.

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