Join Joseph K. O’Connor in a global effort to build a more accessible Word Press

The session that will be presented by Joseph Karr O’Connor at the CSUN 2013 International Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference in San Diego, California, promises to be a popular one. Joe will be focusing on WordPress accessibility, will be showcasing the work that has been achieved by the WordPress accessibility team, and will talk about Cities, a global effort to create free accessible themes for use with the WordPress blogging system.

WordPress is currently the most popular free blogging system in use on the web. It has many features including a template system that makes sites look and function as they do. Templates are free and available at where there are currently 1,691 themes. Only a handful of those themes allow information to be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. WordPress server software has recently been upgraded to version 3.5 with some new accessibility features for site owners, but it is not fully accessible. The presentation will report on the people involved in making the back-end of WordPress accessible, and the teams of accessibility experts from Mumbai, Sydney, New York, and several other cities who are building accessible themes.

O’Connor has an impressive history of contribution to the technology industry. He regularly attends local meetup groups in Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach to introduce the concept of accessibility to developers. During one of his many visits to local WordPress and general tech industry meetups to advocate for online accessibility, one member of the audience interrupted Joe. “Excuse me,” she said, “What is ‘accessibility’?” This is why Joe believes outreach is so important.

O’Connor realized there was much work to be done to raise awareness as to the specific barriers imposed by web developers who failed to create accessible online destinations. After years of searching for accessible themes for clients, Joe was struck by inspiration for the Cities project. He challenged teams of accessibility practitioners around the world to create accessible Word Press themes for free.

Joseph is also working with the team at to implement a voluntary theme accessibility assessment process. “Theme developers can submit themes with tags or categories for assessment.” O’Connor says. “This will be part of the regular theme checking process, but will be voluntary.”

Whether you are a WP theme developer or just a Word Press devotee, you are encouraged to attend joseph’s session. He hopes to have some themes ready at the time of his presentation, and sing the praises of the teams of volunteers working to submit accessible WordPress themes, which will be available through the themes directory. The presentation will be held on Thursday, February 28 at 1:50. All are welcome.

As if O’Connor isn’t busy enough, he is also hosting a WordPress Tweetup during the CSUN conference. The WordPress Accessibility Tweetup is on February 26, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, at the Hyatt, in the Paciello Group Suite. Show your support by signing up on Lanyrd at: or just show up!

Joe will also be doing WordPress 3.5 usability testing at the CSUN conference, and is seeking a wide range of users with whom to spend a few minutes to create screencasts that will be shown to WordPress developers.

More about Joseph Karr O’Connor:

Joseph Karr O’Connor lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife Linda, daughter Siobhan, daughter’s skilled companion dog Harriet, and cat, Achoo! His first career was in motion picture post production. Starting in 1991 his second career was computing in education. He found his true calling when Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was enhanced to include web accessibility in 1998. Starting with in 1999 and moving to in 2005, web accessibility has been his focus. Now an accessibility consultant, he is working with Silicon Beach startups and international accessibility companies. He envisions a future where information is equally accessible to all.

You can follow @AccessibleJoe on Twitter, or you can visit his web sites:

Cities: Creating Accessible WordPress Themes

Black Telephone, Disability Rights
Twitter: @blacktelephone

To RSVP to attend O’Connor’s session, go here:

Don’t forget to use hashtag #CSUN13 when tweeting about the conference.


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