Bay Area Accessibility Camp
My name is Charles LaPierre, and I am the Technical Lead for DIAGRAM and the Born Accessible Initiative. Last month, my colleague Deanna McCusker, who is the head of user experience at Benetech, and I attended the Bay Area Accessibility Camp. Three concurrent tracks focused on testing and standards, accessible user interfaces, and accessibility for those with cognitive disabilities. I attended a session on interactive maps and how to make them accessible which is what we have been working on with our data visualization task force. I then enjoyed the session on “Virtual and Augmented Reality Uses and Challenges for People with Disabilities” by Christopher Patnoe from Google. Christopher demonstrated some virtual and augmented reality and discussed the concerns and issues around accessibility, but there were no clear takeaways. Instead, it was more of a discussion around the current state of this new technology and what we need to be thinking of as it matures. The highlight of the event was a session called “Designing for People with Cognitive Limitations” by our very own DIAGRAM Community member Dr. Clayton Lewis. Clayton stressed the importance of collaborating with people with cognitive limitations, their families, and caregivers throughout design and development can lead to more cognitively accessible software. Retrofitting a product to make it accessible or only thinking about accessibility at the end of a design cycle will seriously limit the usefulness of the software, especially in the case of cognitive accessibility, as this may not be possible at or near the end of the development cycle. I couldn’t agree more as this is the main rationale for Benetech’s Born Accessible initiative.