Getting the hang of things and getting stuff done

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Blog post by Will Turner

We started the Accessibility Leeds meetups as a way to share knowledge and to meet other people promoting accessibility in Leeds. So far it feels like it’s working.

We’ve now held two events – one in April and one in May – we’ve managed to find venues and speakers for both AND we’ve seen people actually turn up. And some of them have even said they’d enjoyed themselves and would come to another one.

This is all very exciting.

So far, we’ve heard from Alastair Campbell who is busy rewriting the next version of the WCAG guidelines (read Accessibility Sacred Text) and from Curt Holst who is doing amazing things to make Barclays Bank the most accessible bank in the FTSE 100 list of the UK’s leading companies.

They’ve both drawn a crowd AND they’ve both delivered insightful and informative presentations for the 60 or so people we’ve (in total) managed to assemble.

We’ve also delivered – courtesy of our own Barry Hill – a rather splendid illustration of why Beyonce’s website is impossible to navigate with a screen reader. Barry’s line by line demonstration of how UX professionals can get it spectacularly wrong was somehow engaging, funny and humbling all at the same time. He now calls her Beyonkay… because that’s what she’s called in JAWS.

At some point he’s going to show us how a good site compares, but I suspect the real learning from his stints will always be the bits that people have done wrong. It’s always good to learn from other people’s mistakes – and certainly a lot less painful that learning from your own!

On that point – we’re still very much learning about the nuts and bolts of putting on an event.  We’ve had the obligatory technical issue, we’re still apt to panic about the catering (Have we got a vegan, gluten free option? How are we supposed to keep six crates of beer away from the devs for two months?) and we’ve got a long list of things to do that we’ve not quite managed to get done… yet.

So, what’s next?

We’re working towards our third event on July 9th (Barry’s keen to say put a ring on it in your diary), we’re lining up speakers, we’re looking for a venue, we’re refining the website and our Twitter account, and we’re talking to potential sponsors about making the events more accessible. So there’s plenty to get on with.

It’s still quite exciting.