For years I’ve been saying that accessibility people need to branch out to the mainstream. Preaching to the converted doesn’t really help much when it comes to increasing mainstream adoption of accessibility as a way of thinking. Developers typically don’t have any depth of understanding when it comes to accessibility. Developers need to know … practical ways of using and having users benefit from accessibility techniques but how can they get that information if we (the accessibility community) aren’t aggressively trying to get it out there? For this reason, I’ve been trying to do exactly that. As a speaker and writer, I’ve been trying to reach out to more and more mainstream audiences. Conferences like CSUN and the various accessibility camps are great, but the ability to impact mainstream development communities will only happen by taking the message directly to those communities instead of waiting for them to come to you.
So, how has it gone? So far, it has been hit & miss. For instance, I’ve been attempting to talk at the local U(x)PA chapter for years (since 2006, in fact) with no success and other IA/ UX organizations and meetups have gone much the same. The same goes for local Refresh Groups and developer meetups. At the same time, I’ve been honored to take part in events like the Digital 360 Conference and ParisWeb both of which have a general development focus and include accessibility as part of the main conference. While the rejections (or non-response, as the case often is) can be frustrating, the successes are super-fulfilling. For instance:
J’avoue que certaines conférences sur l’accessibilité à #parisweb m’ont ouvert un peu les yeux. Surtout celle de Karl Groves
Roughtly translated by Google Translate, the above says “I admit that some conferences on accessibility # ParisWeb opened my eyes a little. Especially that Karl Groves”. If I can impact even one person this way every time I speak, all of my efforts will be worth it. The frustration of rejection and non-response are washed away every time someone walks away with new insight and knowledge regarding accessibility. I plan on continuing to press for more inclusion of accessibility in mainstream development circles because of this and hope all of you will join me.