Scripting Enabled — some thoughts

Some thoughts on the excellent two days that were Scripting Enabled…

Day one: Fact finding day

christian heilmann

Photo by Rain Rabbit: http://flickr.com/photos/37996583811@N01/2872316242/

This was such an informative day. I really enjoyed presenting alongside the other speakers.  Everyone was passionate and really knowledgeable:

  • Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design on Barriers faced by People with Changing Conditions
  • Kath Moonan from Abilitynet on Why I Hate the Interweb
  • Me on Online Content for People with Learning Disabilities: opening doors
  • Artur Ortega from Yahoo! and Leonie Watson from Nomensa on Barriers for Screenreaders and how Javascript can Help
  • Jonathan Hassell from the BBC and Phil Teare from Textic did a joint presentation on Dyslexia Barriers.

All the presentations are published on the Scripting Enabled site.

I can’t single out any one presentation — they were all excellent and I learnt lots of stuff I need to take into the things I create.

I was keen to show some headlines regarding people with learning disabilities online. That:

  • many people with learning disabilities are going online
  • many people are shut out from accessing mainstream sites or applications they want to access or that might benefit them
  • there is some really good specialist stuff happening — using the example of the Easy YouTube player
  • we can make the mainstream more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

I was also keen to include some people with learning disabilities and so put together a few films for the event: one an edit of existing material about some people I have been working with recently; one of interviews with two people talking about some problems they face online; and one about using YouTube and Easy YouTube.

Lizzie, who was in the last film, responds well to being guided.  She told me once she liked to be challenged.  So this film was more observational and task focused.  She had used YouTube before and seen Easy YouTube once.  But, she hadn’t used both alone and didn’t know what I was going to ask her to do.  It was her experience and reactions I really wanted to show people and in real time.

In the question about symbols after my presentation, I mentioned Jonathan Chetwynd’s creative commons licensed symbol resource at openicon.org.  Here’s the link: http://www.openicon.org/icon-ark/mulberry/

The panel, chaired by Christian was made up of Artur, Kath, Jonathan and Ann McMeekin to take some ideas of the day further.

Day two: Hack day

I can’t believe how many people gave up a Sunny Saturday (i.e. our Summer, pretty much) to get together and find real solutions to problems. The atmosphere was fantastic and collaborative.
people hacking

Photo by codepo8 http://flickr.com/photos/codepo8/2878546245/

I met lots of interesting and talented people. I decided to concentrate on continuing to enhance the design of the Easy YouTube player, in response to more feedback from people with learning disabilities. It was great to have Christian there to work with on this! I’d like to thank everyone who gave input, but in particular Tom Hooper from Nomensa for his creativity, solutions and thoughts. This is work in progress.

Having spoken to Jeroen Wijering, who showed some fantastic elements of the JW Player, Christian and Tom Hooper that day, I think it is easily possible to take some of the features of the Easy YouTube player into a player that can be used in the mainstream. So that rich media can be accessible for everyone, including people with learning disabilities. This is still my dream, I hope it can happen!

So many other great things happened on day two. I think it was one of the most incredible days I have had working in this field. You can keep up at the Scripting Enabled wiki.

Proof

This shows that what some might view as idealism isn’t perhaps — that we can make the web a more accessible place for everyone. What Christian did was bring people together and it worked!  We just need to pool skills, resources, professionalism, enthusiasm and of course, be inclusive.

It was inspired of Christian to organise this event. I am sure it’s just the beginning. He’s posted ‘how to host your own scripting enabled’ to help other people organise them too.

In the meantime… I am working on getting permissions for the videos I showed. Once I have those, I can get them into different formats and online, ideally using a fully accessible player!

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