This year the Perth Web Accessibility Camp hosted Australia’s national accessibility conference OZeWAI to bring a fantastic combined event in my home city of Perth for the first time. Here’s some of my personal highlights.
There was a great Keynote presentation titled Global Impact of W3C Accessibility Standards on Business and Industry by Karen Myers from W3C. Karen shared about how the W3C is continuing to support the development of web standards through updates with existing standards such as WCAG, and how groups are also working on emerging technologies. Often in Australia there’s a sense of isolation from the work of the international community, and having Karen speak at the conference helped to bridge the Australian community with the international work.
My own presentation followed on from Karen’s lead, discussing my W3C work involvement with the development of the XR User requirements (XAUR). The presentation focused on the W3C work about user needs and requirements for people with disability when using virtual reality or immersive environments, augmented or mixed reality and other related technologies (XR). The presentation focused on a recent working draft that outlines accessibility user needs for XR and their related requirements. This is followed by information about related work that may be helpful to understand the complex technical architecture and processes behind how XR environments are built and what may form the basis of a robust accessibility architecture. It was great to have an opportunity to present work that had only just been approved for release by the APA working group a week earlier.
From a learning perspective there were several presentations that I found really helpful including Matt Putland’s discussion on accessibility law, Ben Long’s children’s book, Vithya Vijayakumare’s excellent presentation on video accessibility and Jason McKee from AccessibilityShield who travelled over from the USA to talk about How the Disabled Built the Internet. Amazing to think that if a few people with disability weren’t included in critical decision-making in the early days of the Internet, things would be very different for us today.
While the overall quality of the presentations were fantastic, the standout for me this year was titled What does peanut butter have to do with accessibility? presented by Gisele Mesnage. The presentation focused on Gisele’s experience in lodging a complaint against Coles, and how the outcome led to Coles not only addressing the accessibility issues with its grocery website, but also won an Australian Access Award for best corporate website as a result. Gisele emphasised that we need to move our laws from ‘smooth’ laws to ‘crunchy’ laws so that companies will make things accessible by default rather than having a need for the complaints process. It was a great talk and even featured peanut butter props!
Of course no PWAC would be complete without The Great Debate. Now in its 7th year, the topic for the light hearted banter was ‘Emerging Tech makes Web Accessibility Redundant’. Dr Scott Hollier, Director and Co-founder of the Centre For Accessibility Australia was on the Affirmative side this year with each speaker having only three minutes to try to argue their point. As usual it was a lot of fun for the audience and the participants.
Thanks to the PWAC and OZeWAI committees for what was a great conference. Links to all the presentation videos can be found in the PWAC + OZeWAI Programme listing.