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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media


Practical Web Accessibility: Contextualizing User Interface and Design Across Disability Environments

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Robert Pearson gives us a brief account of the proceedings of the June 2012 meet up of the Toronto Accessibility and Inclusive Design group that focused on ‘Practical Accessibility’.

Through discussions begun as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May 2012, the conversations about 'accessibility' and 'inclusion' continued at the local level as OCAD University and the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) in Toronto hosted the second meet-up of the Toronto Accessibility & Inclusive Design group on June 27 on the topic of ‘Practical Accessibility'.

Hosted by organizers @GeorgeZamfir and @Jennison, the intent is to gather on a regular basis to discuss these topics that continue to increase in popularity and relevance. The interest in this event was evident as all of the available seats were taken within a matter of hours. These local meet-ups will culminate with the 2nd annual Accessibility Camp Toronto, which will take place on November 17, 2012.  Camps/unconferences/meet-ups such as these will also take place in several cities around the world over the course of the year, with Boston in September 2012 and another edition in New York City in October 2012.

The topic at the June meet-up focused on 'Practical Web Accessibility'. George gave us an overview of his work for a major Canadian financial institution and also shared insight into recent industry discussions about the community (society) of accessibility professionals who are finding purpose in the increasingly relevant work that we do. George also pinpointed the need for consideration of accessibility beyond just the guidelines in an understanding of the big picture along with user’s needs. He concluded with two recent and relevant quotes by accessibility industry professionals, “We are only as disabled as the environment around us", and "Don't be the policeman, be the fireman.”

These transitioned us well to the next presentation by @ColinbdClark who began by asking us to define accessibility within our own context, while highlighting the need to rethink disability. As each attendee responded with how they personally considered accessibility, it was interesting to see the differences, but also the common themes that became apparent:

  • Disability is contextual
  • Disability is environmental
  • Do we need to design for context?                         

        At the Toronto meet-up

          Toronto Accessibility & Inclusive Design group

Colin also mentioned that the IDRC is going to be developing Accessibility Certification in the near future with details yet to come. He also provided the group with a demo of IDRC's HTML 5, Cloud-based and personalized accessible media player that’s in a development stage. Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is also working with the IDRC in the development of accessible media educational resources.

The evening concluded socially, but with a general call for further topics of discussion in these areas to take place in accessible venues in upcoming meet-ups.  If you have an interest in these topics and would be interested in contributing to their development at the grassroots level, then I invite you to join the conversation through Twitter, participate in local meet-ups or even kickstart your own local edition. The community will be there to assist and more are always welcome to join the dialogue.

Robert PearsonRobert Pearson is an information technology professional who has been functioning, influencing, and engaging in the accessibility industry since 1999. As a Director with Accessible Media Inc (AMI), Robert is in a position to advocate, support and promote the community from which he came. Robert regularly speaks about his experiences within the industry and some of the personal challenges he has faced with his own unique disability. 


Related Blog: Taking a DEEPer Look at Accessibility by Robert Pearson | Read about the DEEP 2012 event proceedings.

Related Publication: The Promise of Accessible Technology: Challenges and Opportunities | Download the publication.

Related Event: M-Enabling Briefing Session at FCC, Washington D.C. in June 2012 | Milestones for Mobile Accessibility.