CSUN 2016


I’ve had just over a week to reflect on my first CSUN accessibility conference. Partly due to how well the conference went and how many awesome new people and long-standing friends and colleagues I have met/re-met, the time both there and since has flown by. Many others have written detailed and insightful accounts of CSUN already (one of my favourites was jvka’s light-hearted summary; Adrian Roselli’s round-up gives us some social media flavour, and links to other great write-ups). However, I did want to write about one or two things…

When arriving somewhat dishevelled at the hotel, and with the realisation that it took me a whole fifty-five seconds walking at a reasonable pace to cross from one side of the lobby to the other (!) it was easy to feel overwhelmed at the scale of what I had got into. Though, and this seemed to be a microcosm of how the whole week was to pan out: I serendipitously bumped into a colleague and was quickly whisked back into the familiar and welcome conference traditions of catching up with friends, and networking in the bar.

The whole week was awesome in scale—it would’ve been great if the sessions were recorded, so we could catch up on ones that clashed, and because several were full—but at the same time incredibly welcoming, with an atmosphere of comradeship. The presentations were fascinating, enlightening, motivating and the social occasions gave rise to some very interesting discussions and suitably ebullient parties. Despite said parties, a bunch of enthusiastic people with great questions and ideas came to my talk at 8am on Friday, which is much-appreciated.

The abundance of sessions and events on accessible gaming was a pleasant surprise (thanks to Ian Hamilton for organising the mixer, which was a lot of fun). The community has remarkably advanced awareness of, and helped developers improve support for, accessibility in games over the past decade. Having, alas, only been able to observe things from the sidelines for much of that time, learning of this community-made progress—and getting to meet some of the people making it happen—was heartening and encouraging.

Attending the CSUN UXathon taught me a lot and was most rewarding—rarely does one get the opportunity to really dive into some fundamental web accessibility issues with a group of passionate and experienced people. It’s early days, but we’re continuing to work on things we started then, so hopefully there’ll be more to say about this soon.

As ever, it was brilliant spending time with my friends and colleagues at TPG, and I’m well-chuffed to have finally met some of us whom I still hadn’t in person. I returned home with some truly special memories and stories that have already been recounted several times!

A number of years ago, my supervisor, Colin, and I had a paper in CSUN 2009. I was unable to make it, though I remember how much Colin enjoyed the conference, so had since hoped to attend. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to go, and am looking forward to returning, hopefully next year and with some of our friends and colleagues who, alas, weren’t able to be there this time.

In the flurry of catching-up and activity since getting back home, I still haven’t managed to get in touch with everyone I met at the conference—but I’m working on it, and behind the scenes there’s a lot going on, and will be going on, with AudioChart. Thanks to everyone involved in CSUN: for the brilliant week; the amazing welcome and the inspirational talks, meet-ups, hacks and conversations. Thanks also to everyone in the wider “team accessibility”, of which I feel that bit prouder, and even luckier, to be a part!

I have at last uploaded my CSUN 2016 presentation (please note that if you’re a screen reader user, it’s best to disable CSS on that page). However if you actually want to try AudioChart, the best thing to do is visit the AudioChart website and explore the examples linked from there.


accessibility, csun, conference, tpg and games