Category: events

Making virtual events more accessible

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last spring, I began drafting a guide to making online events more accessible and published it on this website. Many people got in touch to say that they had found it useful, and earlier in the year, Lisa Sweeting of Green Sense Events asked if I would give a talk to her community of events organisers about it. If you’d like to learn more, here’s the recording of my talk.

Sustainable Development Goal number 10 is about reduced inequalities. Whilst we are still delivering a huge number of virtual events, how can we ensure these are more accessible for anyone that is perhaps partially sighted or hard of hearing?

End of the year—all change, please!

Wow! These past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Sit with me a while, and try not to throw up on my trousers…


In November, I was invited to the Web Developers Conference in Bristol to sit on a panel with Elliot, Elliott, Dan and Dan (spooky, eh?) to talk about Working in the Industry & Loving the Web. It was a great day, organised by Alex Older to give web design students at UWE in Bristol the chance to meet and talk to people in the industry. The panel was great to be part of—it was my first time seeing a conference from the stage and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully, we imparted some valuable words of wisdom to the audience! As always, it was a real pleasure to meet wonderful folk from our community, and to talk with some of the students in the bar after the event. Both the conference and Bristol SkillSwap the night before were great. If you’re a web design student at UWE, go to next year’s conference. It’s really something that other universities should be doing as well.

November was also brought to you by the number 5, the colour blue, and a healthy dose of rock music. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to PHP North West, but I heard it was excellent and lots of fun.


This month, I’ve mostly been wearing my editor’s hat, both at work and in play. I have a strange affection for editorial work, especially as I was pretty crap at English at school. My inner stickler for correct grammar seems to prefer the written word as a medium for articulating my thoughts—a little like how just the right amount of alcohol brings moments of clarity. One of this month’s highlights has been working with Chris, Sean and Jon to set up and run this year’s PHP Advent Calendar. If you’re a PHP developer, be sure to head over there for a good read.

But the big, fat news is that my esteemed colleague and friend, Jon Tan, has joined OmniTI as their Creative Director. We’ve been doing work with OmniTI for some time, and I must say that working with them has been edifying and a real pleasure. The offer they extended to Jon is a great testament to his talents and character, and is truly deserved. Congratulations, my friend.

What about Grow Collective? Well, you’ll have to wait and see what the New Year brings. Well, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can tell you: I will also be joining OmniTI. In the meantime, I’m off to start my Christmas holiday by getting cosy with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie! Happy Christmas to you and yours, and I’ll see you in 2009.


  1. Alex Older: WDC2008, It’s over….for now
  2. Dan Donald: Web Developers Conference
  3. Elliot Jay Stocks: Round-up of 2008 speaking events
  4. Pete Coles: Web Developers Conference Write Up
  5. Rick Hurst: Web Developers Conference 2008

@media: Day two

The second day started out with Doug providing an insight into the Blogger redesign, along with a few tips along the way. Man, that guy had some smooth presentations. Jeremy's presentation was another of my favourites. He's such a fun bloke and I had the joy of sitting next to him at the meal the night before. But his presentation helped me see that I've probably become more interested in scripting at the best possible time. I've never been a particularly big fan of JavaScript, and I dreaded getting too into the messy implementations that it harvested, but I've dabbled with DOM scripting more and more over recent months and now I feel much more confident with it.

I really enjoyed the other presentations too. I was looking forward to Molly's presentation on workflow and she was great. She talked a bit about the WaSP and Web Standards, as well as workflow and the impact of modern approaches to design.

In Joe's second presentation, he demonstrated the thoughts behind the zoom layout and gave some examples. The ideas are mostly theory at the moment – they need testing out. So, Joe gave us some homework: put the theory into practice and see what comes of it. This is something I intend to add in when I finally get around to redecorating around here!

Derek had me bricking myself through his presentation. We thought we had found his laptop – he was sat with us briefly in the break just before his presentation. Turns out the laptop was Pete's. Got back to the lecture theatre to find that Derek had set up and was ready to go… “Must've found his laptop”, I thought. It was a few minutes into his presentation that he told us that he was using Ian Lloyd's laptop. “Oh bugger – didn't he find his? Where the hell is it then?” Turned out Derek had just forgotten his video adapter. Phew.

Andy Clarke gave a stellar presentation. Controversial? Genius? Or both? I say both – Andy likes to be controversial, but I really do admire his approach to design. I think I must “over-value” accessibility. Of course, I try to involve accessibility considerations from the outset – as it should be – but Andy was trying to get across that accessibility should not mean that other issues should get foresaken. Accessibility is important, but so is design. I'm not much of a “designer”, but I really can appreciate that. Accessibility comes part and parcel, but we shouldn't allow it to be detriment other aspects of our profession.

Wind down

The wind down was a great way to polish off the conference. I managed to chat to some of the people that I'd not really met at the @media Party. A bunch of us went for pizza and I ended up sitting opposite Doug Bowman – who for some reason I find scary. I had a good chat with Tomas Caspers about the state of legislation that covers Web Accessibility in Germany, some of which seems utterly ridiculous. I also ended up talking to Joe Clark about how crap I found the Circuit Theory module of my Electronics degree (which I'm sure ultimately led to my loss of understanding/interest in Electronics).

Then came the late night/early morning drinks (and sandwiches) in the Novotel bar and the rise and collapse of the Magnificent @media Seven (as mentioned before). Lots of fun. I was knackered the next day.

Looking forward…

… to next year. It was great to meet everyone this year – I will definately be putting my name down for next year. Patrick, you'd better book a larger venue!

@media: Day one

After a coffee breakfast, we headed over to the conference venue to register and pick up our badges and near-day-glo bag. A quick note here: get larger text and handles/URLs/gravatars on those badges for next year’s conference. It’ll make meeting people a little less clumsy.

Now, I won’t go into my thoughts on the presentations too much. Most of the people reading this will have been there or will already have heard opinions of the conference, the general consensus being that it was bloomin’ fantastic. I will say that I thought all the speakers at the conference were really entertaining.

As others have already said, some of the presentations were aimed a bit low. It was encouraging, though, to find familiarity when seeing what some big names in the industry do when they design and build. It was good to feel that I am probably better at this Web Design malarkey than I give myself credit for. It was interesting to see where Web Design could go in the next few years.

However, I will mention that I particularly enjoyed the presentation by AbilityNet‘s Robin Christopherson and Curt Holst. Robin was insightful, fun and informative. It was the first time that I’d been able to see an experienced screen reader user demonstrating how they work, and it really does help your understanding of how a blind user interacts with the Web. Curt also provided useful demonstrations of some assistive devices and software.

Party like it’s… @media

The @media Party that first night was great. The breaks in the conference programme gave a bit of time to mingle and meet, but it always felt a little rushed (especially if you needed to face queuing for the loo). I had bumped into a few people during the day (I remember meeting Matthew, Karl and Kate in fairly random ways), but the party was the first big chance to chat to people and meet everyone who you’d not yet nabbed.

It was at the party that I finally got to properly meet my mate Malarkey – I had only managed to exchange about two words with him during the day. I also randomly ended up talking to Phil Roche – I had no idea who he was when I started chatting to him! It was also interesting to see how many people actually recognised me as “dotjay”. There was one woman who recognised me from Accessify Forum, but I can’t remember for the life of me what her name was now. I think it was Jules?

After several attempts to round up troops to go in search of food, we finally got a bunch of 20 together and ended up in a nice little chinese restaurant. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a big thanks here to Matthew Pennell for single-handedly arranging the hijacking of The Tall House! Lots of fun was had by all, especially Pat!

Still Alive After @media

Yes, I'm still alive! After two weeks away from the office, I've arrived back in York to a load of work that needed (and still needs) dealing with. But it's been over two weeks since my last post, so I thought I'd better do something about it!

Excuses and promises

All I seem to have done recently is jabber on about general stuff like car parking tickets or surrendering to the meme bashing! I've really wanted to get on to more Webby things. I've actually got quite a few posts lined up, and @media has given us all quite a bit to think about. I've actually been thinking about setting up more sections to the site (and associated feeds) to separate Webby stuff from personal/general stuff. Isn't that what post categories are for though? Well, I'd appreciate some feedback there.

Alas, I've got a lot on at the moment, so posting here isn't that high on my agenda right now. A few personal projects have also had to go on hold (including the redesign of this blog). It hasn't helped that I've been ill the last few days, but Jo's been looking after me! Now that I'm starting to get back on track, I promise you'll see some more interesting stuff from me.

More on @media

I know I'm at risk of dragging out the @media material, but I just wanted to follow up my last post with a bit more about my thoughts on @media.

Washing my mouth out

As I've mentioned before, I arrived in London early and was able to make a couple of additional meet-ups before the conference. I had met Mike Davies and Grant Broome on the Tuesday and went for drinks with several lovely people on the Wednesday night to celebrate Patrick Lauke's birthday. The obligatory nods to Pat, Pete, Leigh, Rik (I think you were you), Claire, Mike, Andy, Rob, Alex.

That evening I had the misfortune of being heard bitching about how doing laundry at our university was such a pain in the backside. I had just managed to come out with the words “f*cking laundry” when the rest of the group had gone quiet for a second. Of course, that followed me around for the rest of the conference. Not that I minded – it was quite funny really. At least I won't go down in @media history as the bloke who was swearing a lot – we so need an accessibility validator called “Joe Clark says: you're a wanker!”…

Sleeping with Patrick Lauke

Sorry to all of you waiting for the juicy details, but I'm gonna disappoint you. I just want to officially thank Pat for letting me crash on his hotel floor that night. It was miles better than having to leave early and get back to the girlfriend's family home only half as drunk as I should have been, and then arrive late for the conference the next morning.

The conference