So, what is World Accessibility Day?
- On November 13, the Making Learning Accessible Conference provided information and training to students, faculty, and staff on designing universally accessible courses, websites, and content. It took place at the MSU Union on campus. The free conference featured a day full of keynote speakers, presentations from MSU community members, and opportunities for networking.
- This conference is designed to provide participants with training, resources, and insight into how individuals with disabilities interact with course and web content. Presentations from students, faculty, and staff provided information about accessible web design skills, which are valuable in a 21st century job market. The goal was for participants to leave with new ideas about architecting universally usable websites and courses.
- Although this was the first time this conference has ever been held, there was ~80 attendees! Some featured keynote speakers included Gian Wild (accessibilityOz) - who has presented to UN before - talked about work on web content accessibility guidelines and Yury Borukhovich from the University of Illinois presented on eText - accessible textbooks.
What does it have to do with XA?
- "Great question! Many of the XA students - if not all- at some point, will be someone working with web design consulting; really anything related to web will come into contact with it. Whether it’s the policy of the company/institution, or one of the users approach the company with complaints about not being able to access content. The likelihood that you will be working with it or dealing with it is very high.
- Even more so, I’ve been to two conferences in the past month and both times, the message has been that there is a greater need than there are people to fill it. If you are someone in XA that has the skills and knowledge to work within this area of the web, you will have great success. So there’s that practical point too.
- Plus, it’s all tied to universal design. Accessibility is a huge component. Universal design creates an accessible world for all users and really ties into this idea too. I don’t have an XA background, but to me universal design is designing so that everyone is able to access whatever it is you are designing. Creating things that remove unnecessary barriers and allow people of all walks to interact with your content without having to exert extra effort jumping through hoops to get there. It's so important."
Major Conference Takeaway:
XA Student Involvment
- Sonka stated, "We absolutely encourage any XA students to present! This year our XA students Ryan Schroeder, Tommy Truong, and Tylor Hosteka presented. We would love to have student involvement in any way!"
- Junior Ryan Schroeder gave a talk at the conference. He explained, "My talk was about how to make forms on the web more accessible. I went into how to make them accessible by using things like field side tags, HTML semantic tags and creating labels for those who use screen readers for those who associate text with the input field. We are trying to make forms more user friendly."
- "Through my job with CAL, I was one of the ones involved in creating the idea, so I had heard about it from the very beginning. My boss asked me to give a talk. I got to talk about whatever I wanted! Since I’m a student I didn’t want to talk about anything too specific and I know a lot about making forms accessible. I knew I could give a meaningful and informational talk about that which is why I chose it."
- The College of Arts and Letters has two accessibility interns, and there are tons of opportunities for students to learn about accessibility and volunteering time to help out with projects. Plus, the website has tons of tools and resources to educate yourself with.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested!
Twitter Spotlight at the conference!