Ross Gardler from OpenDirective explains why he considers himself to be part of the problem space and part of the solution for the DevCSI Accessibility Hack Day and what he gained from the event.
A full transcript is available below.
Interview by Kirsty Pitkin
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Interview conducted at the Ashton Business School, Birmingham, on Wednesday 22nd June 2011.
You can read the full event report at: devcsi.ukoln.ac.uk/blog/2011/07/07/accessibility-hack-days/
Until very recently I was the service manager of OS Watch, who are an Open Source advisory service to UK higher and further education sector, but as of this week I'm now the founder of a spin out from OS Watch called Open Directive who are providing similar services to both the academic and the private sector.
My personal interest is to learn. I'm not an expert in accessibility, I know very little about accessibility. My skills are in open development of software. My business partner, Steve Lee, is an accessibility expert, so I'm here to try and understand what he is trying to do with the accessibility space, understand the language, that kind of thing, and hopefully make a difference somewhere.
Two things, yesterday my main focus was working with some of the more techie people here converting some existing code which was providing some accessibility features for a Moodle website, converting that into a widget which enables it to be embedded on any website so the same functionality can be available. So that's nearing completion now. Today I have focused on talking to the non-techie people and understanding some of the specific issues.
Because I have come here as someone totally new to this space, the most interesting thing for me is to have first hand experience talking to people who have first hand needs for these things. I am aware of accessibility from a computer science point of view that you do these things to make things accessible, but I'm not at all aware of why they're needed, so to sit down and speak to people who can tell me precisely why they're needed – not just that it's a good thing, but this is why it is needed, look, I can show you. That's been an education and has opened my eyes to how important this thing is.
I think the other thing was some of the statistics that came out during the first keynote. I was shocked at the numbers that are involved. One of the quotes that was retweeted a lot was that if you have a disability you are part of the largest minority – and how big is that large minority? That's hugely surprising.
I came here specifically to learn because we have a project which is delivering some templates for widgets and they need to be accessible. It's not part of the project it's just that my partner is an accessibility expert and he says they need to be accessible. It's not that I'm going to do anything different, it's that I came here to learn what means to make those widgets accessible, so I think I am going to go away from here able or more able to do that. I've still got a long way to go before it's perfect!
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