Knowbility, Inc. Presents John Slatin AccessU 2012!

Join us in Austin on  May 15-16, 2012 for John Slatin AccessU, a two-day intensive training conference for web developers and designers, IT managers, policy developers, usability professionals, media specialists, and more.

If you believe that the web should empower all people, if you need information on how to meet state and federal accessibility mandates, or if you want to maximize your company’s web presence to make sure that your message reaches all people, AccessU is the place to be in May. Two full days of classes will be presented by world-renowned accessibility experts to help you understand the need for inclusive information technology design, improve your skills, and build upon your knowledge with helpful techniques. From the basics to the bleeding edge, AccessU provides the resources you need. Additionally, optional extended classes will be held on Thursday, May 17, 2012.

Choose from four professional tracks (Policy & Administration; Design & Usability; Web Development; and Content) to best suit your goals and responsibilities!

Kel Smith

Keynote Speaker: Kel Smith

Kel Smith, a longtime speaker, author and practitioner on digital accessibility, will present the Keynote session on Tuesday, May 15th to discuss how meeting the needs of disenfranchised
populations creates ambient benefit to wider audiences, and how the efforts of digital outcasts bring measurable value to the same landscape that threatens to neglect them.

Networking Opportunities & Events

  • AccessU Meetup (May 14, 6:00pm, ReWind Lounge – Wyndham Garden Hotel). An informal meetup at the conference hotel bar to kick off AccessU 2012.
  • Accessible Night Out (May 15, 6:30pm, Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar). A night on the town with Pete’s own improvisational pianists, ASL interpreters, audio description, and much more!
  • AccessU Happy Hour (May 16, 5:00pm, Opal Divine’s – Penn Field) An officially unofficial opportunity to talk with other attendees and instructors, ask questions from experts, and just relax after two days of intense learning.

AccessU @ Your Desk

Can’t make it to Austin? No problem! Through a partnership with Environments for Humans, a full day of courses chosen from the first day’s schedule will be presented virtually – allowing you to build your accessible IT skills no matter where you are! Even more, you will have access to the archives for each presentation – including the full conference resources.
Registration is Open!
Want to save money? Register by March 15th for the best rates! See the AccessU website for details; below are the full conference rates:

General Registration (Includes 2 Conference Days + Lunch): $495.00
Post-Conference (May 17 Only + Lunch): $375.00
General Registration + Post-Conference: $795.00
AccessU @ Your Desk (Virtual Presentations + Archives): $160.00

Plus, a discount of 20% is available for groups of 20 or more. Contact Kim Leno for details.

More Information

Stay Tuned – More information will be updated on the John Slatin AccessU Webpage over the coming weeks, including class descriptions, schedules, accommodations.
Sponsor AccessU – For sponsor information contact Carolyn Gibbs, Community Programs Manager.
John Slatin AccessU is presented through a partnership of Knowbility, Inc. and St. Edward’s University, with the support of David Waldron and the entire St. Edwards Information Technology Department.

AccessU at CSUN 2012: Policy and Testing — Sustaining Accessibility Throughout the Organization

As AccessU at CSUN starts in less than a week, we have been profiling the speakers who will share their experience and knowledge, and themselves learn in the process.  I thought I’d close the series by telling you a bit about what I’ll be doing at the conference. I’ll also leave with a few tips and reminders for attendees that I hope will make your learning experience with us as meaningful and valuable as possible.

Developing Accessibility Policy and Procedures

On Monday afternoon, February 27, at 1:30, I’ll talk with attendees about the nuts and bolts of establishing policies and procedures in support of Web and application accessibility. It’s one thing for you to understand and believe in the importance of accessible development practices, but establishing such practice throughout the enterprise and creating systems to track progress and success is another thing entirely.  How do you create measurable, sustainable, consistent standards?  And when you want to out-source Web development projects, how do you hold vendors accountable to your accessibility standards?   What language should you use in RFPs, how do you verify responses, and how do you find prospective vendors who share your commitment to accessibility?

I’ll cover these questions and more, and you’ll leave with concrete examples and templates to enable you to begin implementing policy and procedures that support accessibility integration.

We’re looking forward to distributing complementary copies of Jeff Kline’s new book Strategic IT Accessibility to our attendees.  Jeff draws on more than 20 years with IBM’s Accessibility Center, most of them as manager of accessibility integration and transformation across IBM worldwide.

Testing for Accessibility

On Tuesday, February 28 at 10:30, I’ll share my techniques for manually testing the accessibility of web sites and software applications.  This will be appropriate for those who have QA responsibility but who are not necessarily programmers.  We’ll look at free browser plug-ins and compare results. These are techniques that Knowbility uses every day in our work for business and government agencies seeking to understand their current position in terms of meeting accessibility standards.

A few last thoughts and reminders

If you are attending AccessU at CSUN, we encourage you to come prepared with your laptop, headphones, and mobile phone. As you may have noticed, some of our presenters are going to be talking about the mobile web, and we want you to have hands-on experience.

Producing the AccessU trainings is a key part of Knowbility’s mission. Whenever we hold the classes, whether that’s in California, Texas, or hopefully in some new locations in the future, I always leave feeling exhilarated by the enthusiasm of attendees. I think of John Slatin and how after a few years of producing community AIR programs, John encouraged us to formalize the trainings and share the practical knowledge we had acquired.  In spring of 2003, Glenda Sims, Kay Lewis, John and I sat in John’s lab at the University of Texas, creating tracks and moving classes around on sticky notes plastered on a white board to envision what would become AccessU.  I know he would be pleased that we ended up at the CSUN conference.

CSUN continues to accept registrations so, especially if you know of people in the area who would be interested, please do tell them about AccessU at CSUN.

If you’ve been reading our posts about speakers, wishing you could be there, I’ll close by letting you know that AccessU is coming again in May and that registration for John Slatin AccessU, is now open.  It is produced annually at St. Edward’s University in Austin, so head on over and sign up! We look forward to meeting and learning with you in San Diego, Austin, or wherever our travels take us.

AccessU at CSUN 2012: Progressive Enhancement

Derek Featherstone, one of the Web accessibility community’s most dynamic speakers, will explain and illustrate the idea of progressive enhancement beginning at 1:30 PM on Tuesday, February 28. In this session, Derek will build upon the technical information that others have covered such as developing with CSS3, HTML5, and WAI-ARIA to build sites and applications that work for everyone. When you’ve learned to apply the principles of progressive enhancement, you’ll know how to build Web sites and applications that work with a range of browsers, operating systems and platforms, and assistive technology.

As Derek explained in his article ARIA and Progressive Enhancement from November of 2010

You’ve seen this before. You:
1.start with pristine, semantic HTML,
2.provide a layer of presentational suggestions via CSS (these may or may not be overridden by user styles), and
3.provide a layer of behavioral enhancements with JavaScript (again, these may or may not be overridden or supplemented by user scripts).

You’ll be able to watch Derek and ask him questions as he demonstrates the theory of progressive enhancement, makes it “real” for you, and helps you understand how to think about practically implementing it throughout the design and development processes.

Derek’s Ottawa-based company, Simply Accessible, is known for its Monthly Q & A calls. Subscribers submit their questions, and they’re answered during a live seminar. The next call will be held on February 23.

Derek writes excellent thought-provoking articles that raise issues and offer practical solutions to web accessibility problems. All of his articles can be seen over on the Simply Accessible site at

If you know people in the San Diego area who could benefit from this and other sessions that will be part of Knowbility’s AccessU at CSUN 2012, please encourage them to sign up. There’s still time to join Knowbility and this outstanding group of speakers for either or both days.

AccessU at CSUN 2012: Assistive Technology and Web Accessibility — Live Demos Show How it Really Works

Are you tired of reading and hearing about Web accessibility, but never feeling like you understand what it’s all about? Have you tried using assistive technology on your site, but found yourself becoming frustrated and confused? Or have you thought about developing a site with accessibility in mind from the start, but then wondered who “those people with disabilities” really are? This panel is your chance to see live demos, become familiar with the strategies people with disabilities use to access the Web, and ask questions to help you put theory into practice.

During AccessU’s plinary session on Monday morning, February 27, three people with disabilities — Kim Patch, Wayne Dick and I (Jennifer Sutton) — will use the Before and After Demo, as well as other sites we visit frequently, to illustrate Web accessibility issues and how to resolve them. We’ll cover the basics so that presenters can focus on very specific techniques and situations during their sessions.

Who Will be Revealing the Mysteries of Assistive Technology?

I am Jennifer Sutton, and I’m a screen reader user who will show you how Freedom Scientific’s JAWS for Windows works with a couple of Web sites. I am an independent Web accessibility consultant and writer who has been passionately committed to accessibility throughout my career.

Kim Patch of Redstart systems will use Dragon Naturally Speaking, coupled with a few other tricks she has up her sleeve, to give you a sense of how someone who finds it difficult or impossible to use a mouse and keyboard accesses the Web using speech. She’ll show you the value of enabling efficient, consistent navigation methods and keyboard shortcut flexibility. You’ll learn what makes a difference for people who navigate your site or Web application by speech.

Wayne Dick, a retired professor at California State University, Long Beach, has low vision, and he uses style sheets to tailor his online reading experience. He’ll show you a bit about how his style sheets work and discuss what you can do to help him, and others like him, have a pleasant site visit, without having to make your site look boring.

We’re happy to have Shawn Henry of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative moderate this panel. She’ll be inviting your questions and helping us keep these live demos lively.

There are a few days left to sign up for Knowbility’s AccessU at CSUN, so please join us. We’ll take the mystery and myths out of using assistive technology, and we’ll show you what a difference an accessible site can make.

AccessU at CSUN2012: Developing Your Web Accessibility Business Case and Learning about WAI Resources for You

Knowbility is pleased to welcome Shawn Lawton Henry to AccessU at CSUN on Monday, February 27. Shawn is the author of the free online book Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design.

During the plenary session, Shawn will offer attendees a tour of the extensive resources available from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Since these resources are essential to understanding why Web accessibility is important, as well as how to implement it, Shawn’s presentation promises to establish an excellent foundation for the rest of the conference. You’ll learn what’s available from the WAI site and how to find the information you need.

Building the Business Case for Accessibility

Later on Monday, at 3:30 PM, Shawn will speak to administrators, evangelists, project managers, Web developers, people with disabilities, and anyone interested in developing a business case for Web accessibility. She’ll focus her discussion on the WAI’s Business Case Suite. This set of documents, developed by the WAI’s Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG), presents different social, technical, financial, and legal and policy factors that play a part in making the business case for specific organizations and situations.

You’ll be engaged in hands-on exercises and discussion so you’ll leave this presentation fully prepared to develop the first draft of your organization’s business case. Be sure to bring your laptop and your questions.

To learn about what resources are available from WAI and how to build your business case, sign up for this workshop, along with others that will be held as part of Knowbility’s AccessU at CSUN 2012. After the conference, Knowbility will be glad to work with you to help flesh out your business case draft and assist you with implementing accessibility in your organization.