Transcription: Web Axe Episode 79 (CSUN 2010 Preview)

[Introduction, woman's voice over music] Welcome to Web Axe, practical web accessibility tips. Web Axe dot blogspot dot com. Web Axe. Web site accessibility. Web standards. Web Axe dot blogspot dot com.

Dennis Lembree: Hello. Welcome to Web Axe podcast number 79, CSUN 2010 preview. This is your host Dennis, and today I'm going to be speaking with Jennison Asuncion about the upcoming CSUN conference in San Diego, California, which is formally titled the Annual International Technology and Persons with Disability Conference. So a lot things going on. He and I will both be presenting, but there are lots of other interesting sessions besides our own, and a Tweet-up, and a good keynote speaker. So, it's going to be good. And throughout the conference, feel free to say hello. I'd appreciate that. Without further ado, here it is.

Dennis: And this is Dennis, and I have Jennison Asuncion on the line. Hello, Jennison.

Jennison Asuncion: Hey, how's it going Dennis?

Dennis: Good, thanks. How are you doing this evening?

Jennison: I'm looking forward to the nice warmth of San Diego in a number of weeks.

Dennis: Yes, just in a few weeks. I will, for the first time, meet you in person, so that will be nice.

Jennison: Yeah.

Dennis: And for those of you who are not familiar with Jennison's work, he is an IT accessibility professional. Very active on Twitter and everything else on the Web.

Jennison: I do Web accessibility. I work on Web accessibility for a bank here in Canada by day, and in my night hours I do research into the use of different computer technologies by college and university students with disabilities; more from the usability, accessibility perspective and policy stuff here in Canada. Outside of that, I've gotten kind of mixed up with Twitter and LinkedIn and all that other stuff. But it's just about building community and helping out the developer community that [unintelligible 02:38] accessibility.

Dennis: I know you're a big part of that, which is how I got to know you. So thank you for your participation, all your knowledge that you're putting out there for everybody. Which is what we're going to do right now, right?

Jennison: Yeah. We're going to talk about one of my favorite conferences.

Dennis: Yes. So this CSUN -- as it's known by -- in San Diego, it starts up in a few weeks.

Jennison: Let's see, March twenty...

Dennis: March 22nd, yeah.

Jennison: Wait, that's when the pre-conference -- as I grab my calendar quickly. Yeah. March 22nd. Monday and Tuesday are the pre-conference, and then Wednesday the 24th through Saturday the 27th are the actual conference days. This is the first time they're in San Diego. Over the last number of years -- this is going to be number five for me. The first time I was there was in '93 and it was extremely [unintelligible 03:30] .

Dennis: So, hold that thought. I just wanted to say that, for those that aren't too familiar with this conference -- and this is going to be my first year -- but it's known by CSUN, but it's actually the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference.

Jennison: Correct. And CSUN standing for California State University at Northridge.

Dennis: OK. And it has always previously been hosted in the LA area, correct?

Jennison: Yeah, it has always been in Los Angeles, spread over two hotels, which posed some challenges for some folks because you have to travel between hotels, and the exhibits -- the bulk of the exhibits and presentations were between the two hotels. I think kudos to the folks at California State Northridge and the Center on Disabilities, which are the people at CSUN who are really heading this up. They found a location in San Diego, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, so everything will be under one roof. So that will be really nice.

Dennis: Yeah, that's great. And then this looks like a really nice hotel, too.

Jennison: Yeah. I read the descriptions, and I'm looking forward to it. From what I've read, it's almost like they have a pedestrian mall with restaurants and such built up along the water.

Dennis: Nice.

Jennison: So you'll likely find me out there when I'm not in sections. [laughs]

Dennis: Let's see. Do you know how long this conference has been going on, or how many have been before?

Jennison: Yeah. So this is their 25th anniversary, so you're coming and everyone is coming. You are joining this conference at a good year, because there will be -- they haven't announced anything big yet, but I'm assuming that there will be some big celebratory activities happing. But this is their 25th anniversary, first year in San Diego.

Dennis: I think Wednesday night there's going to be the meet-up, the Twitter meet-up.

Jennison: Yeah, that's going to be a big one. That's being sponsored by a bunch of folk including WebAIM and Adobe.

Dennis: And RIM. [laughs]

Jennison: And RIM, and The Paciello Group, yes. That's going to be fun. I think getting all those accessibility folk in one room -- I'm wondering if they're going to take insurance out on that ball room, because that's a good portion of some of the big thinkers and such, and everyone in one big room. So that will be great. I know they're going to be doing closed-captioning, and there will be tweeting happening from there, and Molly Holschlag will be starting the whole thing up.

Dennis: Oh, she is?

Jennison: Yeah, it will be awesome to have someone of her caliber from the mainstream standards world, if you will, coming in there and meeting with us. And there are a bunch of other folks who will be -- you're presenting, too.

Dennis: Yeah. There are going to be a few folks with apps, or something, that have been asked to give just a five-minute speech or demo or something. So I'm slated [unintelligible 06:26] , yeah.

Jennison: That's Wednesday night. Really quickly, if I could, Tuesday night, though, is what I'm really looking forward to, is the keynote address. And that's a keynote by Ivan Castro, who is -- he's a really interesting guy. He's an Iraqi war vet. He lost his vision serving in Iraq. He's serving in the Special Forces. He's an interesting guy and he's going to talk about his experiences and stuff about it on Tuesday night, 5:30 PM. That's when you'll catch me there for sure. Looking forward to hearing his story.

So outside of the conference, in the main, the keynote is definitely something for folks who are around that night. I know a lot of people will be flying in that Tuesday, but if you're there in time, definitely come out and check out the keynote address.

Dennis: Yeah. That definitely sounds worth attending. Of course, I'll be speaking on Thursday morning at 8:30 AM or 8:15 AM, or something.

Jennison: 8 AM.

Dennis: Oh, thanks. [laughs] Oh yeah, 8:00 AM, "ew." So Joseph O'Connor and I will be speaking on Twitter and accessibility with the web, and also mobile, and desktop applications, so that should be good.

Jennison: He does a good little bit of outsourcing around that this weekend. This is the [unintelligible 07:56] .

Dennis: Yeah. We were asking for some input from people on Twitter; just about their experiences with Twitter and assistive technology, so it might not be too late. Even if it is, feel free to Tweet and use the hash tag "#csun10s" I believe. Yeah, input was pretty good and we're working on putting something together a little different than your normal lecture. [It will] be more of a humanized angle to it, I think.

Jennison: I registered and I just want to encourage people to make sure for the sessions. When you can, to go in, sign in, go to the site, log into your notebook and book seats for different presentations for two reasons. One is to guarantee yourself a seat, because they will turn people away at the door if there is an overflow if your name isn't on the list, but also it lets you stay up to date on if there are any schedule changes.

Dennis: Yes. When you log in, go to "General Sessions" and then you could find...

Jennison: You'll see a little "Reserve" link I think it is...

Dennis: Yeah, you have got to select a session that you're interested in and it gives you the description and then there is a "Reserve" link or something.

Jennison: You got it. So now, I've got two presentations, myself. I've got one on the Wednesday morning, again, bright and early. That first presentation is called "The Positive Scale; A Method For Assessing Technology and Accessibility in Post-Secondary Education." That's a bit of a mouthful but it's actually I co-direct a research group called the Adaptech Research Network and we developed a scale that colleges and universities can use -- they can administer it in paper or online, and their students with disabilities can basically self-assess how accessible different campus IT are and how accessible learning is on the campus.

They like to have hard data. They like to have facts. So this scale will allow colleges and universities to actually measure that using those scale questions. It's all statistically sound and all that good stuff, so that's a good decision maker so they can make a case for making improvements for accessibility and people will be able to leave with copies of that scale. So that's Wednesday morning at 8 AM, bright and early.

Dennis: What category is that under, because I'm...

Jennison: That's under Post-Secondary Education.

Dennis: Is that the L-R-N?

Jennison: No. P-S-E. I should mention something about...

Dennis: Oh, OK.

Jennison: I should mention something about that, Dennis, if I could, quickly. For people who this is your first year coming to CSUN, they've actually done a good job in breaking out the sessions into 11 different categories.

Dennis: They didn't have those before?

Jennison: No, they always have. I'm just saying for first time people, if you're interested. If you have a particular interest area, and I won't go through all of them, but they have things like Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Blind/Low Vision, Employment... [crosstalk]

Jennison: ...Cognitive Learning, The Web -- which is my big one -- K12, K through 12, and some of the other disability groups. You can actually, if you have specific interests, that way, you can sort the schedule and pick only the ones that are for that stream, if you will.

Dennis: Yeah, it works pretty well.

Jennison: That's the neat thing about CSUN, is it really is -- I call it almost the "Consumer Electronics Show for Accessibility and Assistive and Adaptive Technologies." You've got everything from beginner to advanced, all those different categories, so you can really... It can be overwhelming, I remember when I first came, back in '93, it was totally overwhelming. I basically ended up just attending sessions not knowing which ones to really do. Obviously, now that I'm in the field, I can...

Dennis: You have a better idea.

Jennison: Yeah.

Dennis: So, are you presenting any other sessions, or just...

Jennison: Yeah, I've got one more which I'm really psyched about, which is on Friday from 10:40 AM to 11:40 AM, I've got a session on the Web. We will be presenting preliminary findings of a social media accessibility study that we carried out with over 800 college and university students with all types of disabilities.

Dennis: Oh yeah, I remember that you were working on that not too long ago.

Jennison: I was blogging that last fall.

Dennis: I have that one on my schedule.

Jennison: Cool. We're really excited. We asked them a whole bunch of questions; asked them what different social media they are using, different activities, how accessible each social medium is, problems that they are experiencing, how they're connecting to the web, all kinds of stuff. Now we're not going to be able to present all that data, we're busy right now finalizing which pieces, but certainly stay tuned for that. I'm looking forward to that because I've become really entrenched with social media. So I've become really [unintelligible 13:44].

Dennis: Yeah. Well, it's definitely the hot topic right now, obviously -- social media -- and accessibility is really becoming one of the big topics, I think.

Jennison: Absolutely. Without recommending -- because there's a danger of recommending specific sessions without having to recommend all of them because you don't want to miss [laughs] anyone -- I will say that Apple is there in full force presenting. Apple's been getting a lot of press with all that has just taken place, so they've got a bunch of different sessions. So check out them. Greg Fields will be presenting a bunch of stuff from Research in Motion with their accessible Blackberrys and all of that good stuff. So there's a bunch of presentations from that perspective. But all of the other folks will be there in full force as well.

Dennis: Yeah. The Blackberry ones are interesting because everybody talks about Apple's products being accessible, but the Blackberry, from what I understand, is pretty accessible. I'm slated on Thursday to go to a session called Creating Closed-Captioned Content for Blackberry Smartphones, which sounds pretty interesting.

Jennison: Oh, for sure. I mean, again, there's another trend that's really big. There's actually quite a few. Outside of the stuff that Greg is doing from RIM, there's quite a few other mobile phone and mobile accessibility presentations. So if you do a keyword search on mobile, I think next year they should create a separate category for mobile just so you can call them out a little bit better.

Dennis: Yeah. That's not a bad idea.

Jennison: But Yahoo and Google will both be there presenting stuff. Wednesday seems to be a big day for virtual world accessibility. So Kel Smith will be presenting a virtual world accessibility talk, and also Katherine Mancuso will be presenting something. If you look them up, you'll find them on Wednesday. Of course, I can't forget mentioning anything by WebAIM.

Dennis: [laughs]

Jennison: Jared Smith and all of his crew. Particularly if you're a newcomer to the whole web accessibility, they've got a presentation on cognitive disabilities, which is big now with WCAG2. But then of course there's a whole cognitive disabilities stream. But definitely WebAIM, don't miss. If you can get into one of their sessions, they're not to be missed.

Dennis: Yeah. Those are one the more, I think, practical kind of ones.

Jennison: They also have pre-conferences, too, for those of you interested. On a Monday or Tuesday, there are some longer sessions where you're actually, I believe, in labs and stuff. So check those out, particularly if you're a beginner -- the pre-conference sessions. I know WebAIM, again, is doing one. And Adobe -- again, they're doing some stuff during the main. I'm booked off in a bunch of sessions. And I actually have compiled a beginner's list. So if people are interested you can always tweet me, Jennison, J-E-N-N-I-S-O-N. It's very Web-focused. I'll say that up front. But if you're interested I'm more than happy to share a beginner's list of people who are going for the first time.

Dennis: That would be great, thanks. OK, so I think that pretty much captures a little bit of everything. So you've got the keynote Tuesday night, right?

Jennison: Yeah, and if I could just add really quickly some other quick, quick things? Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, I just noticed on the schedule, they're going to be having sessions for orienting people who are blind and who have low vision to the facilities.

Dennis: Oh, OK.

Jennison: Actually at the Hyatt, which is kind of neat. They're early. But check that out on the schedule. It's the very first thing in the morning. And also there's a Twitter hashtag for the conference, which is "#csun10" and they've got a Facebook fan page. You can look them up under Center on Disabilities. And there's also a LinkedIn events page. You can search under "events" for that.

Dennis: Oh, yes. I think I joined that. I'll have to double-check. [laughs]

Jennison: Yeah, I think you're on it. And I'll be tweeting from the conference if anyone wants to hear my musings. I have a separate stream that I'm using. I have a separate channel for Tweeting from the conference, and that will be "@a11yconf." I'll be using the hashtag, too, but if you want to follow what I'm up to I know that there's going to be a lot of stuff. So you might want to just follow the hashtag. But if you want to follow my musings particularly, you can catch me on "@a11yconf."

Dennis: Great. And then, yeah, it sounds like so much going on. It's going to be great. The Twitter meet-up Wednesday night?

Jennison: Yep.

Dennis: And then...

Jennison: And there's going to be something about Section 508. I know there's some buzz -- some rumors and things -- and I think that there might be a session or some sort of town hall or something. So stay tuned for that. I think they might just announce it on-site, but there's going to be something about Section 508 and the [unintelligible 08:26] on it. That's what I've heard. So it's unconfirmed, but let's look out for something on that at the conference.

Dennis: [laughs] I'll definitely keep an ear out for that. [sighs] OK. Well, rest up everybody. [laughs]

Dennis: It's going to be a crazy week but lots of fun, too, and lots of learning. So hopefully I'll be ready.

Jennison: It'll be nice, like you said. It will be nice to meet up with a bunch of folk who you know you communicate either by email or on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Dennis: Yeah, or all of them.

Jennison: Ones [unintelligible 19:30] be nice to have a chance to say hello in person.

Dennis: Yeah, yeah. I've definitely met a lot of people this year that I'm looking forward to meeting at CSUN, so it's going to be great. All right, Jennison. Thank you so much for your input. And you definitely know a lot about [laughs] this conference, obviously, so I know a lot of people are going to appreciate your input and your assistance with hopefully them attending. Yeah, so I will see you there in a few weeks.

Jennison: Definitely. Thanks, Dennis.

Dennis: Thanks, Jennison. Take care.

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