Get your accessibility mojo at AccessU May 9-11!

Next week, "Accessibility University", better known as AccessU, opens for classes from May 9th through 11th. Many people will be attending live in Austin for some great classes covering many different accessibility skills. This is a great opportunity for those of you working with technical communication, user experience, web/mobile development, and any other areas who need to add accessibility skills to your portfolio.

Can't get to Austin? No problem. AccessU teams up with the great people at Environments for Humans for a one-day, online version of AccessU. The conference is recorded so if you miss any part of the online conference while it is happening, you can catch up with the recording again and again.

The AccessU website has all the details you need to know, so, as they supposedly say in Austin, mosey on over to that site now. The I am Accessible Knowbility badge with the URL

Of course this means that #AccessU is the hashtag to follow on Twitter during the conference.

To stay in touch with all the learning opportunities from Knowbility and Environment for Humans, be sure to follow them on Twitter:

  • @knowbility has more AccessU news and loads of accessibility information all year, including news about their OpenAIR – Accessibility Internet Rallies.
  • @e4h has information about more great online conferences (like the Accessibility Summit later this year).

What is your A11y Resolution for 2016?

Léonie Watson coined a great hashtag on Twitter right before Christmas. It's "A11yResolution". "A11y" is the abbreviation used a lot on Twitter to represent the word "accessibility". Accessibility is considered a long word on Twitter so some abbreviate it by replacing the middle 11 letter with, well, 11. "A" plus "11" plus "y" becomes "A11y". Add on the word "resolution" with a capital "R" and you have "A11yResolution".

Background for this post

This all started with the last 2015 episode of the Viking and Lumberjack show where Billy "Lumberjack" Gregory and Karl "Viking" Groves reviewed accessibility news for 2015 and made predictions for accessibility in 2016.

The show inspired @LeonieWatson to tweet:

Inspired by @VandLshow… my 2016 #A11yResolution is to understand more about what's broken in #SVG accessibility & help get it fixed.

(@LeonieWatson's tweet)

I followed that with the question (or challenge):

So… What is *your* 2016 #A11yResolution (resolution re: accessibility)? HT @LeonieWatson and @VandLShow

@AccessTechcomm's tweet

The question or challenge

Will you take this as a question or a challenge? In case you need some inspiration, I thought I'd point out some opportunities for your personal A11yResolution for 2016.

1. The OpenAIR challenge

OpenAIR 2015 was the 18th edition of Knowbility's OpenAir rally projects.

Third place went to team "Down Under" from Australia for their website for TALA: Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts. TALA's mission statement reads: "Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) provides Texas artists and arts organizations with legal and accounting assistance to enable them to maximize their potential, shape our cultural landscape, and contribute to the creative economy."

Second place went to team "All Access Design" from Texas for their website for COMTO Austin, a local affiliate of the national Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). COMTO Austin's mission statement reads: "To assist members in professional development, create training opportunities, and facilitate opportunities for minority business owners to strengthen the position of minorities in the transportation industry within the Central Texas region."

Last, but not least, first place went to team "Maximus" from India for their website for Geno's Place, the site of Gene Rogers, TV producer. The stories on his site should inspire you to pimp your wheelchair and start your travels!

You would be welcome for the 19th edition in 2016 as a developer, a mentor, a non-profit, or a sponsor. (Maybe your company would be interested in being a sponsor? Ask about that now before they lock in other plans for 2016!)

Stay tuned by bookmarking the OpenAIR site and following @knowbility on Twitter. OpenAir starts in October, but planning begins before that. You can write to Knowbility (contact information on the website) and ask for more details now. They'd love to hear from you.

2. Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Feeling shy about OpenAIR? Try Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 19, 2016.

As the site declares:

Join us on Thursday, May 19 2016 and mark the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.

Your participation can be as simple as unplugging your mouse for one hour and then surfing the web. Learn what it's like navigating your company websites or any of your favorite websites without a mouse. You might be in for a shock!

You can find other virtual activities or local activities on the GAAD website.

Follow GAAD activities on the GAAD Facebook page and on the GAAD Twitter account where you can use the #GAAD hashtag. The GAAD website also has links to pages about GAAD in Spanish, French, and Japanese, so spread the news in your global networks and put some oomph into the word “global”!

For future reference, note that GAAD is always the third Thursday in May.

3. Slatin AccessU with Knowbility and/or the Accessibility Summit

Would you like to go back to school for some accessibility lessons? Try three days of learning, sharing, exploring, and fun in Austin, Texas from the 9th to 11th of May with AccessU in Austin, Texas. Most years, they have a virtual classroom, too, in case you can't stop by Austin. This is suitable for technical communicators, UX practitioners, developers, and, well, everyone who is into accessibility!

For virtual accessibility lessons, you can't go wrong with the Accessibility Summit that has been run by Environments for Humans every September since 2010. 2016 will be the 7th year for this excellent online conference. There is no information about the 2016 conference yet, but you can follow Environment for Humans (@e4h) on Twitter. They'll announce details and the date later in the year.

4. BADD: Blogging Against Disabilism Day

For the accessibility evangelist or activist who loves to write, Blogging Against Disabilism Day on May 1st was made for you.

Read the 2015 BADD entries on the website, and you will get a clear idea of what this is all about. For more information, stay tuned to the BADD page on Facebook. These blog posts give voice to many people who might be users of your organization's or company's products or services. Reading the posts might be uncomfortable, but it's probably time to listen and learn.

Photo of the New Year's Eve Fireworks at the Sydney Opera House and Harbour 2006So… With these examples in mind, what will your A11yResolution be for 2016? Add your thoughts in the comments.

Photo credit: Sydney Opera House NYE 2006 by Rob Chandler and licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons