The last two and half months have been quite an adventure. During this time I applied to work with over 50 companies. I conducted interviews with 28 of them. I went to multiple rounds of interviews with a dozen; and 8 went as far as doing whatever the company used as a technical gauge or code test. Discussions with four companies got to the point of discussing salary. I visited in companies on both the east coast and the west coast.
Over the last year or so, there have been a lot of people starting to take accessibility seriously, which I love. Accessibility is showing up in blog posts, Github repos, frameworks, and styleguides. But sometimes the way they write about it minimizes the impact that a disability can have on an individual trying to get by in the world.
Yesterday, Stewart Butterfield of Slack emailed his team letting them know that the San Francisco office would be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I think this is brilliant. He makes a good case for why more companies should be closed and we need to continue the fight for civil rights.
These are people who have been beaten, and burned, and raped, and shot, and hanged because they stood up for their own basic dignity. Not people asking to take something from someone else. Not people threatening harm. People asking for an equal right to vote, to have freedom from violence, access to education and housing, and the right to make a living.
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard it. Somewhere along the line somebody asked you how well your site or application works for people that are blind. You probably mumbled something along, “They don’t use our stuff,” or maybe, “I don’t know, does it matter?” The short answer is, yes it matters. And you want to pay attention to why.
If you couldn’t make it to Open Source & Feelings, and I think a few people missed it—don’t make this mistake next year, I gave a talk on Designing with Empathy which you can read or watch the video of below. Thanks to Confreaks for taping this.
This weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the inaugural edition of Open Source & Feelings. It was an amazing conference tackling some really hard topics. I received really great feedback from the audience on my “Designing with Empathy” talk and several asked for the transcript as they couldn’t take notes fast enough. So here is the talk broken out with what was on the slides as well as the script I tried to follow. The video is coming, and I will add that when available.
More than once I have spoken about giving the user control over their experience. Too often we make assumptions about how things should work, but in the end those assumptions always forget someone. Providing a set of tools for the user to control the situation or experience allows us to have the most rich and dynamic experience we can build, but one that any user can get behind even if they can’t do all the fancy bells and whistles.
I’ve been working on a new talk called “Designing with Empathy” that covers a little more than accessibility, but addresses the needs of those using assistive technology as well as those who have difficulty with technology. We all carry biases with us and when we build new sites, tools, apps, or games those biases leak through no matter how hard we try and prevent it. I hope to introduce some thoughts and ideas on how to reduce the influence of that bias as much as possible in your next project and I’m super excited that the fine folks over at OSFeels have asked me to present this talk to their audience.
Last week I got to be on a podcast. This week I appear on a screencast with Rachel Nabors talking about vestibular disorders in general and how animation may affect a user on your site.
If you don’t know who Rachel is, she is an amazing illustrator, cartoonist, speaker and animator using all those skills to shine a light on the web can be a better place with the right kinds and amounts of animation.
Last fall I met the great hosts of CtrlClickCast at CSSDevConf and they were gracious enough to invite me on the show. I got together with Lea & Emily last week and recorded an episode on Accessibility. It was super fun! I hope to do more podcasts (but I need a better mic!).