Web Accessibility London 2010 Unconference

I was able to attend the Web Accessibility London 2010 Unconference held at the City University London on the 21st of September 2010.

City University London City University London

For a new event it was extremely well run by Makayla Lewis and the rest of the ‘A’ Team, they should all be rightfully proud and it would be great if this could become a yearly event.

Unconference Introduction

The Unconference kicked off with ‘What is Accessibility?’ presented by Graham Armfield and Makayla Lewis followed by Makayla’s presentation on ‘Online communication and users with motor impairments’. This was a fascinating look into a less covered area of web accessibility but one that definitely needs to be considered when looking at the accessibility of any website. As well as users with motor impairment many of the items discussed would also apply to older users of website and issues such as informing your users of what changes have been made to your site are universal.

Interaction Lab Tour

Due to the ‘Unconference’ nature of the event there were many things to take part in during the scheduled lunch break. It was a difficult decision to skip Martin Kliehm’s talk on HTML5 Accessibility but the chance to tour City University London Interaction Lab was too good to pass up.

Raj Arjan, the Interaction Lab manager, kindly showed a few groups around the Interaction Lab and answered questions. It was interesting to take a first hand look at a Microsoft Surface but the tight integration with Microsoft only products would appear to limit many of it’s potential uses. I believe that the use of open standards on these type of products is vital for future evolution and development.

Fix The Web

The afternoon sessions included a talk by Gail Bradbrook on the Fix the Web initiative.

This is a fantastic, almost Utopian idea of how the web can work;

It seems like a fantastic idea but I’m unsure of how practical the system might be, there appeared to be no way of verifying how much the Fix The Web volunteers would know regarding accessibility and this might prove to cause more issues then it resolves. An interesting thread has been started regarding Fix The Web on Accessify Forum and is worth a read for more information. The people behind Fix The Web have been responsive to comments made and it’s great to see new ideas being tested out, good luck to them.

Open Accessibility

The next talk was by Steve Lee on Open Accessibility. This was a great talk highlighting a number of open source accessibility initiatives. Being involved in an open source project is a great help and learning experience for any business or individual. OSS Watch have a great primer on getting involved with Open Source projects.

The day finished with an Inclusive Design, Accessibility & Open Web Standards Panel featuring Ian Pouncey, Jim O’Donnell & Sandi Wassmer. This was a great forum for bouncing ideas off some of the experts.


This was a great event covering some very interesting, less widely regarded aspects of accessibility. If expanded on next year this will become an excellent resource.

Further Reading