I freely admit that when I first heard the term #a11y I was a little confused. Then a friend told me that #i18n represents Internationalization because there are 18 letters between the I and the N and it clicked. (if you are anything like me you are now counting to see if there really are 11 letters between the A and the Y in Accessibility.)
A11y is the force behind a community-driven effort to raise awareness about accessibility.
The #a11yTO team has held accessibility-related camps and workshops in the Toronto area over the last few years. On September 28 and 29 this group hosted their first accessibility training conference at Telus Digital in downtown Toronto. The event brought together developers and other accessibility professionals from across Ontario, the US and even the UK. One thing that really struck me was the enthusiasm of the conference organizers. This is a group of people who are passionate about improving the lives of people with disabilities. They recognize that sharing information and building community are key elements in this process.
The conference offered workshops and demos on a wide range of topics: everything from web design and plain language to accessibility features in third-party apps for iOS devices. Crawford Tech delivered a presentation on document accessibility, as well as a demo of Voiceye. As a sponsor of the conference we were also entitled to a booth in the vendors’ area.
Conferences like the A11yTO are a great opportunity for networking with other businesses and professionals in the field. They also give attendees a chance to learn about other aspects of accessibility with which they may not be familiar. It’s very easy for those of us involved with document accessibility to forget that the range of physical, sensory, cognitive and mental disabilities means that there are many facets of daily life where accessibility comes into play.
We always say that document accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. This is true of accessibility in general. No individual or disability group can be expected to represent – or even be aware of – the needs and preferences of the entire accessibility community. Whether you have a disability or not, attending conferences like the #a11yTO is a great way to broaden your perspective and to network with people in this diverse and ever-changing field.
Here at CrawfordTech we believe in taking a pro-active approach to document accessibility. Our attendance at conferences and events like #a11yTO, our membership and leader roles in a number of associations, and our relationships with customers and partners has been instrumental in giving us the insights we need to develop an extensive range of products and services that automate the creation of accessible documents.