If you are a Web developer, brand owner, business content professional, citizen or human being – I hope you have a free day on June 12th.
Why? Because if you are any of those things – as so many of us are now – then I think you need to get yourself over to a very special London conference to discuss what is increasingly a key issue for all of us: how to keep the Web truly open.
The thing that’s going to stop that isn’t anything like malicious state actors shutting to down, or there being too many insane Brexit debates. I’m talking about the simple physical, human ability to see what you’ve put up there.
This is the problem of accessibility – which should really be all of our jobs, but is the particular sole focus of the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF).
In case you aren’t familiar yet, UKAAF works to improve the social inclusion of blind and partially sighted people plus all those others with a print-reading impairment. It does this by promoting better availability and quality of accessible formats – and with an ageing population, the category of people who are going to start to struggle more and more with viewing online content is just going to increase and increase. So, quite rightly, accessibility is the main theme of the event, the organisation’s annual conference and AGM, which pretty appropriately is taking place at the RNIB HQ in Judd Street, Central London.
There’s going to be both a lot of meat on the bones on the 12th, like an in-depth debate on the EU Accessibility Directive, which is all about how to make a public sector website or mobile app more inclusive and meet accessibility standards.
An amazing line-up – and a really important agenda
But important as all the information I’m going to get on things like that is going to be, I think what I’m really going to enjoy is listening to some of the real accessibility rock stars that the UKAAF organising committee’s somehow managed to get on board.
For a start, there’s the amazing Bruce Lawson – the very well-known freelance consultant on accessibility and web standards who’s also a co-editor of the key W3C HTML5 specification and was part of the team that drafted BS8878.
Also confirmed are people like Dave Williams, a customer-focused digital accessibility specialist with a background in the assistive technology industry and broadcast media, as well as practitioners who’ve actually done the work on the coal face – like the Digital Accessibility Compliance Lead for Kent County Council, George Rhodes, and James Baverstock, a Senior Accessibility Usability Consultant at AbilityNet and who was a key player in the team who developed one of the first smartphone screen readers.
So – a really amazing line-up and a really important agenda to cover. Can I get you to come along and hear the latest from the frontline of digital accessibility, then? After all, these issues have implications for any brand, and with the Directive, the entire UK public sector too…
In terms of practicalities, the conference will take place at the RNIB headquarters, like I said, at 105 Judd St, Saint Pancras, London WC1H 9NE. The day you need to put in your diary is Wednesday June 12th, with the conference part of the day running from 11.00 to 15.00. The conference is free to attend, though places are limited, so please secure your place through Eventbrite soon as you can to avoid disappointment here.
I really, really hope to see you there – this stuff means so much not just to anyone who is blind or visually impaired or who has a family member who is, but to anyone who wants to make digital truly achieve what we know it can as a business and social tool.