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Make your Open Source More Open – Conquering the Accessibility Challenge

Ed Schipul (Tendenci - The Open Source Platform for NPOs), Rachel Magario (The Blind Visionary)
Tools & Techniques | User Experience
Tutorial Please note: to attend, your registration must include Tutorials.
Average rating: ***..
(3.67, 3 ratings)


“Accessibility” online can have many definitions and contexts. For most developers, we fall into the trap of thinking adding alt text to images is enough to make our websites “accessible.” What can you do to provide a quality interface that truly meets the needs of users?

Does your jQuery crash accessible browsers? Can users find their way around your applications? Does FireFox read the entire menu at the start of every page?

Join Ed Schipul, CEO of Tendenci, and blind motivational speaker Rachel Magario, Assistive Technology Specialist at PACER Center’s Simon Technology Center, as they discuss what accessibility online really looks like to both developers and visually impaired end users.

This session will cover best practices, testing, and pitfalls to avoid in implementing accessible web and program design. You will walk away with actionable tips you can use in your development projects as well as a new mindset on how to approach accessibility.


Why is accessibility important?

Dignity. Everyone should have the ability to be independent and everyone has
a right to be effective and efficient. Rachel Magario, the first totally blind interaction designer, will explain how this is a social issue as well.

Openness. Open Source development should be accessible to all. We lose the contributions of many communities when we develop without a mindset of accessibility.

Because it can happen to you. Rachel Magario will share her story.

Because accessibility is not just a problem for people with a disability. Accessibility affects everyone in the technology that they encounter.

What is the current situation?

There is widespread lack of awareness and narrow mindset towards accessibility. The speakers will raise participants’ awareness by asking such questions as, “Have you ever noticed that there is no systematic place in buildings to display braille,” and “Did you know that a blind person’s mind works the same way as yours, and that they can still be a visual learner?” The speakers will help participants to be aware of what it’s like to access the web without sight or without an arm.

Breakout into stations:

Participants will have the opportunity to work blindfolded with a screen reader, google glass and iPhone.

What can you do? (Participants remain at stations for hands-on demonstrations.)

The presenters will cover best practices, testing, and pitfalls to avoid. They will also share resources posted on github and will encourage participants to use insights from this session to follow the spirit, not just the law, of accessibility.


* There are no prerequisites. This tutorial will be accessible for everyone. We will be posting resources for more advanced programmers on Github and Ed Schipul will be available to answer questions on programming related to accessibility.
* A Github account is recommended but not required– we will have resources posted on Github that can be accessed before or after the presentation.

QUESTIONS for the speaker?: Use the “Leave a Comment or Question” section at the bottom to address them.

Photo of Ed Schipul

Ed Schipul

Tendenci - The Open Source Platform for NPOs

Ed Schipul is CEO of Tendenci, formerly Schipul, a 16-year-old bootstrapped company started in Houston Texas. Ed’s team created the Open Source software platform Tendenci, an all in one CMS built specifically for nonprofits, membership associations and arts organizations.

Under Ed’s leadership, the company has been listed among Houston’s fastest growing companies by the Houston Business Journal, won the Fastech 50, the Aggie 100, and numerous other awards. Ed has personally been nominated for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award twice and roasted by the AIGA.

Ed has presented at OSCON, SXSW Interactive, Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference, the Bulldog Reporter National Conference, the Sarasota International Design Summit, Mom 2.0 and dozens of other organizations.

Ed is frequently asked to share his insights regarding online marketing and has been published in Nonprofit World, Association News, The Public Relations Strategist and PR Tactics, among others. He blogs for Hearst Newspaper’s Houston City Brights and has been interviewed on NBC and ABC news as an expert in successfully using digital marketing tools to accelerate organizational growth.

As a past participant and sponsor of the AIR Accessibility Internet Rally community hackathon, Ed has worked to make technology globally accessible, especially for those with disabilities.

Ed is a graduate of Texas A&M University, builds aerial drones as a hobby, is an amateur photographer and a very amateur tennis player.

Rachel Magario

The Blind Visionary

Rachel Magario is an Assistive Technology Specialist at Pacer Simon Technology Center. As the first totally blind interaction designer, Rachel is known as a leader and visionary who has triumphed over adversity consistently throughout her life.

Rachel has presented at SXSW Interactive and consulted for various companies and universities throughout the United States on accessibility. Rachel has an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and a Masters in Interaction design from the University of Kansas.

Magario’s dream is that usability and accessibility can be considered from the start of a project and not as an after thought. She believes this would open the door for access of information and for accessible tools. This shift would allow her and others to pursue their careers of choice and live with the dignity that should be the right of every human.

Rachel has been involved with accessibility consulting and advocacy since the early 2000s. Throughout the years, Rachel served as an accessibility consultant to several university related projects and non-profit sites that were required to comply with section 508.

Rachel soon realized through her experience that accessibility issues often involve problems of usability that affect anyone who accesses information. When Rachel started her Masters in Interaction Design, she experienced the lack of accessibility in the design tools that she was using as well as in end products coming out of these tools.
Since then, Rachel has made her mission to research and develop models and prototypes of accessible user experience. She enjoys working closely with designers and developers to ensure standards are met and to create awareness of the importance of accessible user experience.