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A day at axe-con

axe-con in white letters on a black background with multicolored chevrons on the left and right.

I attended my third axe-con conference last week. As usual, I was not disappointed.

I found myself drawn to the sessions that focused on the people of accessibility and not the technology. Sometimes I think the longer I’m in the accessibility field, the more I start thinking getting the technology right is the easy part.

Here are three themes that emerged out of the sessions I attended.

  1. We must do more than just know how to make our product or service accessible. We must understand how that work impacts the people interacting with our product or service. If we don’t understand that relationship and look to that relationship to make us do better, we'll lose sight of the mission and become just another organization that checks off boxes on a compliance list.

  2. We have to change the narrative around accessibility. Accessibility is not just for one group of people, not just for one population segment. Talking about accessibility as if it is, creates a barrier to its implementation. We shouldn’t "bill" the function of accessibility as being useful to only one segment of the population. Once we do that, the people listening will begin to conjure up ideas that "accessibility is expensive," "only one or two groups will benefit, and that is special treatment," "it will adversely impact my ROI"…etc. Accessibility becomes something negative. And voila! Barriers to implementation. We need to speak about accessibility as being the standard for everyone. Speak about accessibility creating a better experience for everyone. Speak about accessibility as a key component of inclusivity.

  3. Talk to, learn from, design with (not just for), and test with your users. I’ve never understood why this concept, accepted as a standard operating procedure in software development, doesn’t seem to have the same traction in the world of "design with accessibility in mind." 

My sessions:

Update on The State of Accessibility
Preety Kumar, Dylan Barrell #Keynote

Microsoft Inclusive Design: The Cognitive Model
Anna Cook #Design

Research Through Broken Lenses: The Need to ‘Shift Left’ in UX Research
Michele Williams #Design

Elections for Everyone: Accessible voting in 2023
Whitney Quesenbery #Wildcard

Measuring Ourselves: GitHub’s Accessibility Scorecard
Kendall Gassner, Katie McCormick #Organizational Success with Accessibility

Accessibility Maturity Models
Jonathan Thurston, James Thurston #Organizational Success with Accessibility

Narrative Changes on Disability
Imani Barbarin #Keynote

The Things Nobody Tells You About Building a Successful Accessibility Program
Mike Shebanek #Organizational Success with Accessibility

Preparing Accessibility for the Future and the Present
Jutta Treviranus #Wildcard

Enhancing Accessibility with AI and ML
Noé Barrell #Development

WCAG 2.2 and 3.0 Update
Wilco Fiers Melanie Philipp #Wildcard

Please Don’t Let Accessibility Become the Next DEI in Tech
Alexis Lucio #Wildcard

Working from Within: Having a Disability and Working in Digital Accessibility
Justin Yarbrough, Steve Lowe, Trudy Harrington Karl #Wildcard

How To Truly Connect with All of Your Audience Without Leaving Anyone Behind
Denis Boudreau #Wildcard

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
Content Marketing Practitioner