SF/Oakland, CA January 31, 2015
We Can't See You, So You Don't See Us: The Accessibility Conundrum and Why You're Unlikely to Have Blind Coworkers

"Do you do accessibility or are you a software engineer?" "I've worked at this company for 10 years but didn't know anything about accessibility until now because I built internal tools." "We don't have to make that accessible; there are no blind developers."

These are all things I've heard personally. This talk will examine the intersection of the marginalizing of the idea of accessibility to a "non-technical" last minute tweak and the high unemployment rate of those who use Assistive Technologies like screen readers; even those with the skills being sought out by tech companies. If you don't believe disabled users have the same skills and potential as you do, you won't view them as potential customers or colleagues, so tools for coding, testing or collaborating are not designed to be accessible. This creates a chicken-and-egg situation that leads to blind people often working in accessibility-related areas -- for self-preservation and self-advocacy reasons --whether that is what they are interested in or quallified to do, and not being able to leave because the job skills they've gained are not viewed as relevant to other areas, or because they will end up having to work on accessibility anyway, even if they weren't hired to do so -- possibly to the detriment of their original job duties. I will demonstrate some accessibility issues for the audience, and talk about the different levels of accessibility. This topic applies to other disabilities as well, but my direct experience regards vision impairment.