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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media



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Note: The word “accessibility” is often shortened to “a11y” on Twitter because the 11 letters that make up the word 'accessibility' is replaced on the micro-blogging platform; it now is a monicker or catchall for conversations, events, discussions or experts involved with accessibiltiy. Robert Pearson introduces us to the concept of #a11y barcamps that take place throughout the year.

Be it a conference, an unconference or a camp, the “a11y” events scheduled throughout the upcoming #Supera11ySeason are founded on the idea of encouraging free-flowing, participant-driven conversation about issues of access. By convening designers, developers, usability folks, persons with disabilities, those working within the IT accessibility space and those with an interest in learning more about the field, each event is full of speeches, presentations and demonstrations that strive towards achieving greater accessibility.

In 2010, four events took place in cities around North America.  In 2011, that number rose to eight and in 2012 that number is set to rise to 11 and now includes London, England and Tokyo, Japan. Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) began participating and sponsoring these events in 2011 and is pleased to once again be doing so this year. Each event is a great opportunity for members of the design/development, usability, accessibility, other IT and end-users within disabilities communities to interact and learn from each other. In September 2011, three events were held over the course of seven days in Boston, London and Toronto. I had the opportunity to travel to and participate in these three conference and others throughout the season. Dubbed #Supera11yweek at the time, each event showcased the common themes of standards, technologies and design techniques that we focus upon in this field and how we all work on the same Internet to achieve the same goal of greater inclusion.

As the number of these events continues to increase, the focus now shifts to the “Season” of events that lie ahead. Nowhere is this more apparent than at these conferences to convene, converse and discover new strategies and approaches to inclusion with both the uninitiated and the experts at the same time. The community that requires accessibility has been patient long enough. It is time to meet their needs and ensure that no one is left behind, that everyone feels included and that the world becomes a more accessible place. To that end, everyone is welcome at these events, as innovations in this field will come from these grassroots and ground breaking “a11y” events.

Find an upcoming event near you or think about starting one in your own city!

For more information on setting up an accessibility camp in your city, please contact: itaccessibility (

Watch this AMI-tv clip of Jennison Asuncion, founder of Accessibility Camp Toronto, and Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Institute, OCAD University (Toronto, Canada) as they provide some further background on how and why these conferences were founded.

Participants at the Accessibility Camp Toronto

Participants at the Accessibility Camp Toronto

Jennison Asuncion

Jennison Asuncion, Founder of the Accessibility Camp Toronto
Jutta Treviranus, Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
Jutta Treviranus, Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University