When Enabled by Design met Scripting Enabled….

* UPDATE * – Audio files of the speakers at Scripting Enabled are now available here.

If you had asked me back in January this year if I could ever imagine speaking in front of 100 people, the answer would have been most definitely no! But that was exactly what I did on Friday, when I was invited to speak at Scripting Enabled at the London Metropolitan University.

Scripting Enabled was a two day event, aimed at breaking down barriers between disabled users and the social web. Day one’s format was in keeping with the more traditional conference structure and was followed on day two by a total geek out hackathon. Both days complemented each other nicely – day one dedicated to exploring the barriers that disabled users can come up against when using the web followed up on day two by hackers (armed with their new found knowledge) looking at ways of developing accessible web tools that would reduce some of the hurdles already out there.

I was first up to speak, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling nervous, but it was too late to back out now! So, I took a deep breath and made my way on to the stage….

I have Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and it was my job to explain how having a variable condition like MS can at times make it difficult to use the web. As well as this, I was keen to explain the concept of universal design and how I feel that inclusive web design is definitely the way forward.

The video footage from the day will be available in the near future, but in the mean time here are the slides that accompanied my talk:

Once I’d done my bit, I was quite relieved to be able to take a seat and concentrate on what the other speakers had to say. I have to admit it all seems a bit of a blur now, so I’ll be intrigued to watch the film back and see exactly what I said on the day.

Each speaker focused on a different aspect of the diverse barriers that people can face when navigating the internet. Each talk was given from a completely different perspective, some including interviews/video clips to hit home exactly what they were talking about. By the end of it though everyone who took part in the day, including the speakers and organisers, went home having learnt something new and inspiring:

Kath Moonan of Abilitynet spoke about the problems and frustrations people dealing with a wide range of disabilities often encounter when using the web.

Kath Moonan – Why I Hate the Interweb!

Antonia Hyde explained the impact web design can have on the user experience of people with learning disabilities.

Antonia Hyde – Online Content for People with Learning Disabilities

Jonathan Hyde of the BBC and Phil Teare gave a joint presentation exploring the symptoms and barriers caused by Dyslexia and looked at how some of these barriers can be removed.

Jonathan Hyde – Dyslexia Barriers

Artur Ortega and Leonie Watson gave an informative talk and demonstration of the use of screen readers. I must admit the techie stuff was way over my head, but this was the first time I’d seen a screen reader in action and I was in awe of what a massive difference this tool can make to people’s lives.

For more information, you can get the complete lowdown on Scripting Enabled here.