2015 CSUN Wrap-up

Posted March 22nd, 2015 in Accessibility and tagged , , by deconspray

I attended my first International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (or CSUN as most attendees call it). I can honestly say, I was humbled and overwhelmed simultaneously.

The 30th annual CSUN 2015 was held in San Diego the first week of March. Held over five days, the week offered two days of eight workshops, followed by three days of six sessions daily, of approximately 413 sessions. The sessions covered the gambit, from technical to roundtable discussions on topics concerning the disabled. I estimate that attendees 60% web professionals, 40% people with disabilities, with a surprising overlap of these audiences (happily so).

The Workshops

The first two days offered half and whole day pre-conference workshops. My first day, I attended the full-day workshop Beyond Code and Compliance: Integrating Accessibility Across The Development Life Cycle by The Paciello Group. This workshop cover the end-to-end project lifecycle and how accessibility is incorporated in every phase and aspect of the project.

Day two brought two half-day workshops, both on the topics of HTML5 and ARIA. The morning workshop, Introduction to ARIA and HTML5 were presented by Jared Smith and Jonathan Whiting from WebAIM. The workshop was to cover 70+ slides of information, but the overwhelming number of questions (interesting questions) prevented the completion of the workshop. The afternoon session, Implementing ARIA and HTML5 into Modern Web Applications, covered more advanced implementations primarily for applications, and was presented by Steven Faulkner and Hans Hillen from The Paciello Group.

Highlights from the Sessions

Following is a list of the highlights from the CSUN sessions.

  • Cognitive Accessibility 101: Easily the top session of the conference. BBC Accessibility lead Jamie Knight shared a personal story of his daily challenges due to his Autism. While Jamie’s autism is common, we learned that “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.” Jamie’s story was remarkable, humorous, touching and incredible. This session was such a hit, Jamie repeated it the next day.
  • A Blindchick’s Shopping Guide: An Audit of Accessibility in Retail: Sassy Outwater’s insightful session on a blind person’s experience attempting to shop online. Hurdles such as poor alt text descriptions (the color ISIS?). A blind person should not have to depend on someone else to help shop for intimate apparel.
  • The BBC: There were two sessions in particular;
    • During Accessibility at the BBC, Ian Pouncey gave an overview of how accessibility is embedded within the BBC’s ecosystem; a three-person team is responsible for training, standards & guidelines, techniques, framework support, not the hands-on “doing” of accessibility. To get things done, they leverage their Accessibility Champions Network internally, a group of volunteers.
    • Accessibility Champions Network: Jamie Knight presented information on the BBC’s Accessibility Champions Network, a community f volunteers that provide guidance on accessibility to 7000+ content producers.
  • WHY-ARIA: Common Pitfalls and Solutions with The Viking and The Lumberjack: Anytime Billy Gregory and Karl Groves get together, you know you will be educated and entertained. While learning about ARIA gotchas, we chanted “WTF ARIA,” attempting to stir up a visit from security.
  • Target: The once accessibility-maligned company (referring to their 2008 lawsuit and resulting settlement for the accessibility of an eCommerce website) made their first public appearance to discuss the steps they taken to have an award-winning accessible website (per the National Federation of the Blind). Across three sessions, Target discussed how they test for accessibility, both manual and automated. They also discussed how they continually train their employees and leverage industry experts. Lastly, they shared how their pattern library helps produce accessibility love.

Beyond the Schedule

Just before the conference, I learned that one secret to getting the most from the conference was planning ahead, while also deviating from your plan. I deviated during my very first session. After being locked out (and chased away – see below), I hooked up with Jonathan Hassell, consultant and former head of Accessibility at the BBC and had iced coffee at the nearby Starbucks. During another break from sessions, I spent an hour with Derek Featherstone, always a treat.

I was excited to spend time with Jennison Asuncion, a leader (scratch that, a maverick!) in the accessibility industry. I wish I had his energy. He is truly “The Great Connector” (the joke here is, he is the digital accessibility lead at LinkedIn). He’s also the co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and meetups in both Toronto and the San Francisco Bay area. Since announcing the creation of the Chicago Web Accessibility and Inclusive Design meetup, Jennison has been instrumental in providing advice, personal experiences and key contacts. Simply an amazing person.

After each day, there were several “after events,” hosted by organizations such as AMI Media, Deque and Google. The Google party (by invitation only – thanks Jennison) was held on the terrace at the Marriott Gas Lamp District. The rooftop venue overlooked downtown San Diego. The air was filled with chatter from attendees and house music.

Logistics at the Conference

The Manchester Grand Hyatt is a great venue for this conference. Great locations, sized appropriately, with plenty of amenities within and surrounding the hotel.

With the very first session, I experienced one of the main problems at this conference: popularity. The hotel offers rooms that can be combined, creating single, double, even triple sized rooms. Conference organizers attempt to judge the popularity and potential attendance for each session. Each session description on the conference website offers an “Interested?” button, inviting attendees to “record” their interest. While a nice concept, in reality, most people never share their interest. When session rooms fill (meaning all seats taken; no standing or sitting on floor allowed due to hotel safety regulations), the room is closed to any newcomers. In fact, a number of times, when the majority of rooms fill in a section, the entire section would be closed to attendees. This, along with the methods in which staffers chased away attendees (like high school hall monitors) was quite off-putting.

A change this year that I learned about from several presenters and attendees was the time between sessions, increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, while decreasing session times from 50 mins to 40 mins.

From my perspective, the conference could benefit from keeping the timeframe between sessions at 20 mins, maybe even increasing to 30 mins (to aid for bio-breaks and allow even more time for those with disabilities to get preferential seating at sessions). I think sessions could be expended back to 50 mins, even 60 mins., by decreasing the number of sessions per day. I would also decrease the number of sessions per timeframe to allow more people to attend each session.

Lastly, I would ask all presenters to provide the slides from their presentations, and announce the URL to the slides at the beginning of the presentation. This would allow attendees to take fewer notes and digest the presentation more holistically.

Presentations & Other CSUN Resources

Thanks to the presenters that shared their slides, and the attendees that shared their notes via Twitter in the days shortly after CSUN. It’s very helpful to be able to refer to this information (I’m terrible at taking notes). I am providing links to these in the table below.

General Summaries

Presentations & Notes

CSUN 2015 Sessions

Session NameSlidesNotes or ResourcesVideo
Cognitive Accessibility 101
Jamie Knight @JamieKnight
Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) - Great intro to Autism
Accessibility at the BBC
Accessible Design: Which everyone do you mean?
Derek Featherstone @feather
CSS, Accessibility and You
Derek Featherstone @feather
Slideshare (Note: similar to presentation at CSUN15)Treehouse (Similar to CSUN15 presentation)
7 Lessons from Developing an Accessible HTML5 Video Player
Dennis Lembree @DennisL
Accessibility in the Web Project Life Cycle
Denis Boudreau @DBoudreau
4 hot issues from 1999, still issues on 2015
David MacDonald @davidmacd
Desktop and Mobile Accessibility Testing with Jim Thatcher’s Favelets
Paul J Adam @PaulJAdam
Choosing an Accessible UI Framework
Gerard Cohen
Gaining Support through Empathy & Awareness Exercises
Patrick Dunphy @PatrickDunphy
Accessibility in an Agile World (PDF)
Jesse Hausler @jessehausler and @cordeliadillon
Digital Accessibility Legal Update
Lainey Feingold @LFLegal
The Implementation of PDF/UA and Standardized Access to PDF Content
Do We Need to Changes the Web Accessibility Game Plan (Redux)?
The Accessibility Tree: How ARIA WorksZip
Acrobat XI Accessibility: Requirements, Implementation and EvaluationPPTX
AMP User SummitPPT
ARIA Support on Mobile BrowsersPPTX
Defending Digital Accessibility LawsuitsPPTX
Developing and Rolling Out a Unified Training ProgramPPT
The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model For Measuring Program SuccessPPT
Launching a Successful Digital Accessibility ProgramPPT
Mobile Accessibility: New Techniques and ToolsPPTX
Models for Monitoring Digital Accessibility CompliancePPT
Building (or Choosing) an Accessible Media PlayerGoogle Slides
Accessibility in Emerging IndustriesPPTX
Increasing Accessibility Through Collaboration on Open Source ProjectsGoogle SlidesYou Tube
Developments in Angular Accessibility
Marcy Sutton @marcysutton
Mobile and Accessibility
Video and accessibility
Accessible Graphics for High Pixel Density Era
Creating Accessible Document Standards for your Organization
Digital Accessibility 2015 Annual Legal Update
Drupal Accessibility is allowing this CMS to dominate education and government sectors
Encouraging Developers and Designers to Better Understand Accessibility
Managing Remediation of Web Accessibility Defects in a Large Enterprise
Maximize Strengths- Efficient and Effective Expert A11y Testing
Oh, the things we learn by testing with real users
Coping with Inaccessible Content & Documents on Websites
Using a Matrix to Define Accessibility Roles for Our Design Team
WCAG 2.0 Is Unusable to Authors, Designers, and Developers. Let’s Fix That
Creating Accessible Word and PDF Documents - Best Practices
Web Compliance Evaluations Strategies
Web Components Background, Opportunities and Challenges
Small Business in a Box: Enabling Entrepreneurship with Accessible TechSlideshare
AT&T, Accessibility and You – How They Do It
Diving into the Deep End: A Discussion on SVG, Angular, and Accessibility

3 Responses so far.

  1. […] CSUN15 Wrap-Up by Dennis Deacon […]

  2. Ted Drake says:

    Nice collection of presentations. If you have some time, it would be great to also add this list to lanyrd. http://lanyrd.com/2015/csun15/

    Here are my slides:
    And the companion web site: http://bizability.org

  3. deconspray says:

    Thanks, Ted. Just added to lanyrd.

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