London Accessibility Meetup #10

Over the years, since I started working on the web, I’ve been to various industry & tech conferences. They’ve varied in content; sometimes they’re very technically oriented and deal mostly with coding, sometimes they’re aimed at a more creative audience, or sometimes (like in the case of the TEDx program) they’re not aimed at anyone in particular but can be very inspiring all the same. Since I became more actively involved in Accessibility, conferences and meetups dealing exclusively with how to make the web more accessible have been hard to find, at least in North West England. One meetup group that’s existed for some time now is the London Accessibility Meetup.┬áSince I’m currently working in London I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get along to one of their meetups, so I went along to last night’s event at Barclays in Canary Wharf.

This was certainly the classiest web meetup I’ve been to so far! Barclays’ Canary Wharf HQ is huge, and pretty impressive, and the refreshments on offer were more in keeping with an expensive wedding – no cold pizza to be found here.

The first talk came from Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility at Barclays, who is himself visually impaired. Paul talked about how Barclays are approaching not just web accessibility, but accessibility to their services in general, including talk cash machines and high visibility debit cards for visually impaired customers.

Paul Smyth discussing Barclays' approach to accessibility

You can find out more about Barclays’ accessibility program here.

The second talk was from Heydon Pickering, an Accessibility Consultant with The Paciello Group and author of Inclusive Design Patterns. Heydon’s talk was on the theme of Priorities, and I think it would be fair to say that it was a fair bit more irreverent than Paul’s talk. He started by discussing, and its complete lack of accessibility (due to, amongst other things, lazy/non-sensical use of JavaScript), and went on to cover other topics such as how many users actually care about features like subtle drop shadows around buttons – using a nice table comparing Feature to number of F*cks given…

Heydon Pickering jokingly presenting a quirky new concept for

Both talks were really informative, and although I got the impression a few folks in the audience found Heydon’s manner slightly offensive, I thought it was very refreshing and I’d happily listen to him talk again.

The next London Accessibility Meetup is scheduled for Monday 12th February. If you’re thinking of going along, I might see you there!