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An Event Apart, Deep Dish Edition

September 12, 2007

It is hard to believe that it has already been a week two weeks since An Event Apart in Chicago. I had never been to Chicago prior to AEA (assuming you don’t count layovers in O’Hare as actually being in Chicago), so I have to admit I was incredibly excited to be on my first trip to the mid-west. I have but two regrets:

  • not having enough time to explore the city a bit more, and
  • not being able to eat more than one and a half slices of the Giordano’s deep-dish pizza we ordered on closing night

I gave a new talk: Accessibility: Lost in Translation that combined some new material with some of my favourite old classics. The premise is this: as developers, we tend to see a mockup, a polished design or a wireframe and then translate that into code. And—if we’re not careful—during that translation process, we lose some of the nuances and detail that actually make the interface meaningful, effective and pleasant to use. What that in mind, we examined a number of common design “patterns” and scenarios to learn what we can do to provide a better user experience for people with disabilities. After all, accessibility is part of user experience, and much more than just ticking off checkboxes to be accessible, right?

It was an absolute honour to be part of the speaking line up, and I’m thankful that it was a single-track conference so that I wasn’t speaking at the same time as one of the others! It also meant that I was able to see a lot of the other presentations and do a bit of learning myself. I love it when that happens! Thanks to Jeffrey and Eric for inviting me to speak—it truly was a pleasure.

A hearty thanks to the audience. It was extraordinary to chat with so many of you after my presentation, during lunches and breaks. One of the things I savour about speaking at conferences is the chance to talk to people about the kinds of problems they are trying to solve in their everyday work. It is reality, and that’s something from which we all benefit.

3 Responses

Comment by Jonathan E — Sep 12 2007 @ 10:29 am

Wish I could’ve been there Derek, I’d love to visit Chicago sometime! Glad you had a great time though and it sounds like your talk went very well (from everything I’ve read).

Comment by John F Croston III — Sep 12 2007 @ 2:51 pm


It was great hearing you speak. I learned a lot during your presentation and even more during the group discussions at the bar or while waiting forty minute for the Giordano's deep-dish pizza after ordering.


jfc iii

Comment by Jeff Allen — Sep 30 2007 @ 9:51 pm

It was really great finally getting to see you speak after reading you for so long. You’re talk at AEA in in Chicago was just awesome and definitely for me at least, inspiring. Some of the things you showed made me green with envy and left me wishing I could have worked with you on a number of those projects. Especially the crossword example. It was cool!

As one of the main proponents for accessibility where I work on a university campus, I often feel my failure to inspire more of my colleagues to embrace web standards and accessibility to be very disheartening to say the least. Everyone tells me “its too much work for too little benefit”, “I’ve been doing it my way for 20 years, why change now?” etc… But hearing you speak about some of the problems you had to solve helped me pick my waning spirits up and give it another go. I’m not sure they’ll ever listen, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop telling them.

Thanks for a really inspiring presentation.