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Sessions attended:

Digital Accessibility as a Civil Right: Legal Update for AccessU

About session

This class will offer the fundamentals of why accessibility is a civil right of disabled people and share up-to-date developments in the digital accessibility legal space relevant across the public, private, and education sectors.

taught by: Lainey Feingold |

The ADA is not there to restrict anyone or create excuses for lawsuits. It is a civil rights law.

It's important to "bake in" accessibility from the beginning of a project - once you've baked the muffin, you can't really put blueberries into it.

Feingold provided a brief overview on the history of the ADA and other disability laws and lawsuits in the US and around the world.

There is a proposed law in Congress now - the Online Accessibility Act - that is bad for disability rights.

There's a bill in the Nevada state legislature that would apply public accommodations policies to websites -

Lots of recent wins for disabled citizens seeking to participate in the public process, Amazon employees, HBO viewers needing transcriptions and captions, Patreon users

Cases to watch: Winn-Dixie (; Domino's Pizza; Walmart self-check

More links:

Introduction to Accessible PDF

About session

In this session, participants will be introduced to the various tools available in Acrobat Pro DC. We will walk through the workflow to take a document, convert it to a PDF, and remediate some of the basic tagging issues.

taught by: Krishna Vemuganti & co-presented by: Cornelius Chopin

Accessible PDFs need: tags; descriptive hyperlinks; alt text for images; proper color contrast; etc. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with tools Accessibility Checker and Reading Order.

(Keynote) Moving from Awareness to Action: XR Opportunities

About session

This talk will briefly introduce XR (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Spatial Audio Experiences) and Accessibility. We will discuss opportunities we have to create spaces and experiences for our future selves.

taught by: Regine Gilbert

XR = umbrella term for VR, AR, mixed reality, etc.


  • VR makes a person feel like they're somewhere else
  • AR shows digital images on top of the real world
  • Mixed Reality blends the physical and digital
  • Spatial Audio gives you a sense of space beyond conventional sound

97.81% of the world hasn't tried VR yet.

AR is often a highly visual experience (ex.: Pokemon Go). Through working with blind/low vision, Gilbert found that we can enhance AR for the blind with audio cues, haptic feedback, and other accessibility considerations. Can your app be operated with no visuals? sound? hands?

People with a variety of disabilities like VR and think it could be beneficial, but are prevented from using it by accessibility problems. The two biggest were the inability to customize the experience and the necessity of moving certain parts of the body.

Ian Hamilton said, "Thinking about accessibility = inspiration; thinking about accessibility late = remediation."

Tools and organizations:

  • WalkinVR - tool for adapting VR games for people with disabilities
  • SpatialXR - realtime captions for virtual meetings
  • Mozilla Hubs - web based 3D environment
  • A11y VR - meetup for people interested in making VR accessible
  • W3C - created web content accessibility guidelines, working now on XR guidelines
  • XR Access - community for making XR accessible (symposium June 10-11)
  • PEAT (Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technologies) - writing the book on accessible emerging technology development
  • XRA Developers Guide
  • Oculus Virtual Reality Checks - focusing on audio, visuals, interactions, movement, etc.
  • Equity-Centered Community Design - a creative problem-solving process based on equity, humility-building, integrating history and healing practices, addressing power dynamics, and co-creating with the community
  • Regine Gilbert's resources -

Inclusive Design Workshop

About session

Learn about some key areas to address accessibility in your design. Learn how addressing so-called "edge cases" can lead to a better experience for everyone.

taught by: Mary Jo Mueller & co-presented by: Hope Turner

Accessibility issues can come from unexpected places. For example, the Frankfurt airport experienced an increase in elderly travelers asking where the restrooms were - because that was the only place they could clearly hear the PA system announcing departures/arrivals.

Approach problems from a human perspective. Talk to actual people with disabilities and other access needs. Learn about their actual needs. For instance, providing ASL interpreters will help a lot of Deaf/HOH people, but possibly not late-Deafened people who haven't had time to learn ASL. Braille signs may help many blind/low vision people, but late-blinded people might not know Braille.

IBM Equal Access Accessibility Checker -

Inclusive design can be seen as the intersection between user experience (how specified users can use your product) and compliance (conformance to accessibility standards).

Empathy maps can be great tools. You create a simple persona (name, occupation, other basic details) and go into what the persona might say, think, feel, and do.

Accessible Project Development, Planning to Delivery: Here’s the Playbook and Tools to Get It Done

About session

Infusing accessibility across the product delivery lifecycle requires strategic action, as well as using the necessary tools. IBM has done the research in both areas, and in this session you’ll learn about our recently announced, free offerings that help product teams with their accessibility journeys.

taught by: Alexandra Dean Grossi & co-presented by: Will Scott

IBM Enterprise Design Thinking

  • Principles: a focus on user outcomes, restless reinvention, diverse empowered teams
  • The Loop: observe (immerse self in real world), reflect (come together and think about it), make (give concrete form to abstract ideas)
  • Keys: Hills (align teams on meaningful user outcomes), playbacks (exchange feedback frequently), sponsor users (get user feedback) - a toolkit to help dev teams work like accessibility experts

IBM Equal Access Toolkit - provides guidance according to product phase (plan, design, develop, verify, launch)

  • Levels for dividing up the work -
    • Level 1: most essential tasks, least investment - addresses many of the top concerns of people with disabilities
    • Level 2: addresses next most important issues
    • Level 3: full WCAG compliance

They have an accessibility checker available for Chrome, FF, Node and Karma - shows violations and how to fix them, explains how each affects users with disabilities - newest version lets you create multiple scan reports. Looks very useful for building empathy and showing people the context of the code decisions.

(Keynote) Tara Voelker: The Good in Gaming

About session

Gaming isn’t just something kids spent too much time on when they should be outdoors. It’s a hobby that offers deep social connection, access to culture and personal benefits. In this session, learn why not only why gaming is important, but accessibility in gaming is more important than ever.

taught by: Tara Voelker

"Inclusive design doesn't mean you're designing for one thing for all people. You're designing a diversity of things so everyone finds a way to participate."

Inclusive Design - Understanding the User Voice

About session

Panelists will share individual user experiences, what barriers they face, and their thoughts on how a program like Teach Access can support their independence.

taught by: Shea Tanis & co-presented by: Wayne Dick, Meryl Evans, Julian Wang

What's the most accessible device or software you own? - Microsoft Word, speech-to-text, Zoom or other virtual meeting programs

What's missing when non-traditional users are left out (cognitive disabilities, anything outside the usual deaf/blind/mobility issues)?

Eight Traits that Make or Break Your Interface

About session

For interactive UI components to be recognizable, eight traits of object recognition need to be evident both visibly and text readably: role, name, value, state, rank, target, behavior/outcome, identity. Ensuring the perceivable, operable, and understandable display and announcement of just these eight traits offers a simple heuristic that designers, developers, and testers can easily learn and apply.

taught by: Robert O’Connell

Identity is innate, inherent, essential. You can change your name or your role, but your identity remains. This goes for individuals and for groups. For any class of interaction elements, an interface trait is one that doesn't or shouldn't vary among elements of that class.

Example: <button>. "Button" is every <button>'s identity. It can have different roles (date-picker calendar, menu control, slider handle) but it's always "button". Can have many names (Search, Pick Date) but is always "button".

Apply a role to a non-button element and that element becomes an impostor - it tells screen readers it's a button, but it doesn't behave like a normal button.

Every button has a set of essential identity traits: viewable, focusable, hoverable, clickable/touchable/commandable/keyboard-actionable, on view and on focus and on hover and on click, announces to screen readers "button".

Every user-facing element plays a role. Sometimes the role is self-evident (example: a Save or Submit button, a link that names its target Home). Other times, the role needs to be made evident (example: buttons that act as popup callers; links that act as content-togglers "Expand/Collapse"). A role needs to be made evident when its action is not self-evident. Complex components need a component role label.

Every user-facing component needs a name, a visual- and screen-readable callsign or handle. The name should be unique within a page or page region, so it can respond specifically to a voice command. Values should not be used as names, but are always associated with a name.

Not all UI elements have a state, but if one does it should be indicated visually and screen readably. Ex: a checkbox's state is either "checked" or "not checked".

An element's rank relates to its position among its peers. Ex: a step within a task flow ("1 of 3") Can be persistent, variable, or hierarchical.

A target predicts a transfer of cursor focus. Never needed on links that just load a new page within the same window. Is needed on anything that opens a new window or tab, a modal or popup or flyout, etc.

An outcome is the result of triggering a process the control initiates. Ex: close controls on a form

An element's identity should match its appearance: no button should look or act like a link, no link should look or behave like a button, no input should look or act like anything other than a button. The identity should match what the users expect.

Micro Interactions: More Like Micro Aggressions

About session

With the popularity of micro-interactions on the rise as mobile technology continues to grow, the barriers they create for people with attention-related and other cognitive disabilities rise along with it. In this talk Shell Little will discuss the difficult place we are at with these standard-less patterns that help some and block others using a variety of examples including in-the-wild patterns with a focus on mobile-based micro-interactions, all to answer the question ‘what is micro enough?’.

taught by: Shell Little

Begins with a brief overview of neurodivergency and spoon theory.

Purposeful design decisions can greatly affect neurodivergent users or other UWDs. Ex: having a moving image; lots of distracting images

Microaggression: a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination, regardless of intent. Can come in the form of misguided "compliments" ("You're so brave!" "You're too pretty to be in a wheelchair.")

Cognitive microaggressions: deceptive or dark patterns, hostile or hijacking patterns, unavoidable motion, flashing blinking content. Protection: read-only mode, ad-blockers, prefers reduced motion.

WCAG is great, but not so much for cognitive disabilities. Testing for these disabilities is difficult. Many of the considerations for them are AAA-level for this reason.

Distractions are bad! Websites should respond to your action, not your being on the page to be advertised to.

Barriers - "subtle" animated elements you can't stop; parallax scrolling; lots of small ads that add up to a lot of space (recipe sites are the worst for this)

Animations can be OK, if they are in context with the content. Animation for the sake of it is no good.

Speed of response matters - not too fast, not too slow. 1 second - seamless, but users sense delay. 5-10 sec - users feel at mercy of computer. 10+ seconds - users with working memory issues may have trouble. But too fast and users may not realize things have changed or that their action has worked.

Highlighting should provide a high-contrast experience. Let users highlight text. Make sure the highlighting doesn't obscure the text.

Auto-play videos - Bad!

"No 'delightful' experience is worth the health and safety of users." These "micro" issues have real physical, mental, emotional effects on real people.

Microinteractions can provide a lot of accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities - the point is not to get rid of them altogether - just use them wisely and with CogDis in mind. Let your users decide, via settings, what they want and how much of it.