This was my 2nd time at CSUN Assistive Technology Conference and this time I brought James, one of my partners and brothers, along for his first time. When I went to CSUN 2017 we already had an agreement verbally to partner with WebAIM but nothing was official and we couldn’t talk too much about it, this year was different. Pope Tech’s accessibilty scanning had just become a thing, a living thing that we could show and play with right before CSUN with a major update the night before. Years of planning and effort were finally turning into something!
We had a dual mission of learning as much as possible and showing our platform to get feedback from as many people as we could. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, we had anticipated a few more iterations before people would use it but consistently were told it was already something of value.
CSUN is a fun conference because you have people with disabilities, specialists in accessibility and vendors all networking and learning together. There are so many people much smarter than me that I get to learn from and get to know. Like any conference a lot of what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. I am not a very social person myself but we pushed ourselves to go out of our comfort zones and go to the after parties and talk with people. We even ended up talking religion for hours with strangers from other continents.
There is a dual feeling of things don’t improve enough (or sometimes it feels at all) in accessibility and at least for me, a feeling that with all the amazing people who are aware and working on this we can’t help but make a real difference over time. I tend to be an optimist even if the first pushes (or years of pushes) on the flywheel feel like a waste they are essential for the perceptible progress that comes after.
I had a few aha moments where I understood some web accessibility principles better, I had some ideas that would be great for our scanning platform, we got great feedback and got to know new people. Definitely a success, I would say we will back in San Diego for CSUN next year but it will be in Anaheim.