On Saturday, October 20, 2012, the first ever accessibility camp will be held in the Los Angeles area. The "un conference" will be held on the CSUN campus, in the Student Union. The event runs from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and admission is free.
Joe Devon (@joedevon) co-founder of Diamond Web Services, and Jennison Asuncion (@Jennison), co-lead the barcamp style gathering, and everyone is encouraged to attend. "This is an informal, unstructured event," says Asuncion. "This is not just for the advanced developer, or accessibility guru. Everyone is invited, at all skill levels. Beginners, as well as actual end-users who have disabilities, are critical to understanding the end-user experience."
The L. A. accessibility camp was first conceived as a way to bring accessibility concepts to the attention of the many meetup groups scattered throughout the region. Joe Devon, who is active in the Los Angeles area tech community, but not previously familiar with accessibility, became interested when he watched a video on screen reader technology for blind users, and was amazed. "Screen readers are such an interesting technology," comments Devon. "Then many years later I saw my Dad struggle with banking web sites and that got me thinking about it even more."
Mr. Devon used his personal and professional experience to make a difference. "I wrote a blog post about how developers go on and on about changing the world, yet they build sites every single day that are inaccessible. That we should have a global accessibility awareness day for developers, which morphed into UI/UX as well."
Asuncion spotted Devon’s blog post, and the two connected. They decided to collaborate on an event that became the Accessibility Camp L. A.
"The local tech community is the primary audience for these types of events, " says Asuncion. Since the agenda is attendee generated, the speakers are not entirely known in advance. "while some of the presenters may be names we know, such as John Foliot (@JohnFoliot) and Dennis Lembree, creator of Easy Chirp, (www.easychirp.com @webaxe), some are not necessarily well-known in the accessibility field," continues Asuncion. "In fact, on the registration form for the event, we asked each registrant to check the box that best describes their level of expertise. The balance of the registrants checked the boxes that indicated ‘beginner’ or ‘just starting out’ in accessibility."
Jennison hopes to ensure that no one feels too intimidated to ask a question or to just take someone aside for a chat about an issue. "The emphasis here is on discussion, rather than presentation," he notes. "We strongly advise people to use the ‘two feet’ rule, where if you find yourself in a session thinking, ‘Wow, this presentation is way over my head,’ feel free to just get up and leave."
If you have not already registered, you can do so at: http://accessibilitycampla.org/. Be sure to make note on the registration form if you have any special requirements or if you need assistance, such as a guide, or if you have questions about transportation or access to food or other amenities. You can follow @A11yCampLA on Twitter for news and information about the event.
Finally, Jennison points out that while topics discussed include those that touch the blind or visually impaired community, this is meant to be a cross-disability gathering, covering technology accessibility topics that are important to individuals with a range of disabilities. Further, you need not have a disability to attend. "Any developer or average user who just wants to get their feet wet in accessibility, has a growing interest, or who just wants to learn in a non-threatening, informal environment can ask the questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a larger forum," Asuncion concludes.
About Jennison Asuncion:
For the last three years, working alongside other peers in accessibility, Jennison has been actively organizing a series of accessibility barcamps/unconferences (link http://www.accessibilitycamp.org), where the goal is to educate on accessibility using a less formal approach than a traditional conference.
About Joe Devon:
Joe Devon is a computer programmer with over 20 years of development experience. Joe has worked on projects spanning Search Engine technology, Performance Management, scaling Wide Area Networks; for Internet backbone providers, Investment Banks, Telcos & Media. In addition to starting several companies, Joe serves on the advisory boards of leading development industry conferences, and the organizer of several technology oriented meetup groups in Los Angeles. Joe co-founded Global Accessibility Day, bridging the gap between disabled citizens and the Internet. For more about Mr. Devon, go here: