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Sep122012

Why accessibility is good business

Speaker Spotlight 

Robin Christopherson is a passionate advocate for accessibility on the web and beyond. His talks at Future Insights Live and Future of Web Design, London this year attracted some of the most positive reviews we received for any speaker, and this fall he's back with a new presentation for the Future of Web Apps / Future of Mobile conference in mid-October. I caught up with Robin to chat about the new talk and to find out how the web tech community can do more to ensure that every app and site is as accessible as possible. 

 

What is the focus of your talk this time around? 

It’s about how thinking ‘inclusive’ will not only give you the biggest possible audience for your mobile projects but will maximise their usability for everyone. Increasingly apps are being voice-enabled for people to use them eyes-free whilst on the move – or perhaps built-in AI can provide the exact info you need without all that messing around on the internet – there’s so much overlap between what helps the average user and what helps those with an impairment that we just need to consider inclusion as a no-brainer in everything we do.

Who has the most influence over app accessibility? Is it Apple? Google? The W3C? The developer community? 

I think Apple has been the game-changer in this space in recent years. Because of the built-in ‘extreme’ accessibility across all their devices, all other manufacturers and OS developers are being put in the spotlight. If Apple can do it then why can’t you? Apple are getting the big sales (and that has to be boosted by the disabled and the elderly – both of whom need accessibility), but is also significantly driven by big sales into US Federal gov and the education sector – both of whom require accessibility in their procurement. Accessibility can be the difference between a huge bulk order or zero when it comes to such contracts

What can the tech community do to work toward a future in which every new app is as accessible as possible?

Just follow the well-documented accessibility guidance for the platform your developing on and, ideally, use disabled users in your testing. You can easily reach out to hundreds via mailing lists such as the VIPhone Google group and bring them in to your testing using Test Pilot or similar.

Essentials
Name: Robin Christopherson
Title: Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet
Talk Title: Appily Ever After With Inclusive Mobile Design
Where: Future of Mobile / Future of Web Apps London
When: October 15-17, 2012 

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