Starting to build a community

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A blog piece by Jo Arthur

How I came to be here

I’d chatted with Will and Simon about a year before their infamous NUX talk. We spoke about how accessibility was built into our current organisations, the challenges with setting up champion networks and the feeling that lots of people were interested in making accessibility a bit easier to get into.

So when they put out their call to action, looking for volunteers to help make this group exist, I was definitely keen to be involved.

What’s happened so far?

We all (Clare, Barry, Will, Simon and I) met for a coffee to see if we could decide what we thought this thing could be. It was a long coffee, and we definitely had a lot of talk about!

We had a lot of ideas about what we thought was missing, but we didn’t know if anyone else was interested so a few tweets and some coffee later we decided to hold an inception workshop. It would help us learn about the appetite for this type of event in Leeds, the types of session and the topics people wanted to know about.

The workshop was a massive success, and was helped by Alastair Campbell coming to speak to the people who came about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

We got a lot of feedback which we’re now using to help plan and design the first set of meetups.

Clusters of notes from the workshop

Hope for the future

For me, I think my main hope for this group is that we connect people who care about accessibility with each other. It can be a big, lonely world in accessibility if you’re the only one in your organisation doing it. There’s a lot of resources and a lot to learn, which can make it more intimidating.  

Once you know some people, it gets easier and you can ask questions and learn together.

For now, that looks like getting people into a room and giving them space to have those conversations, and people connecting online.

We’re using the Web Accessibility slack space to connect with each other online, but also with 4000 other people from around the world who know about accessibility and can offer help and advice.