This week I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual M-Enabling Summit in Washington DC. For those of you not familiar with the event, this summit is focused on bringing together the best international experts and leaders in accessible mobile technology. The overall approach of this event is more interactive round table discussions vs. lengthy one-sided presentations. The sessions I attended typically had 4 or 5 panelists with a session chair, and each panelist spoke for about 8 minutes that then led into interactive Q&A with the audience.
One of the sessions I attended was ‘Development Tools to Ensure Mobile App Accessibility’. The session was chaired by IBM Chief Accessibility Officer Frances West, and the panel included Chief Technology Officers from Code Factory and Deque Systems, Adobe Product Manager and W3C Working Group Co-Chair Andrew Kirkpatrick, and SSB BART Group CEO Tim Springer. This session focused on state of the art tools for developers (including the AMP for Mobile testing engine developed by SSB and IBM) and the importance of testing, then ultimately evolved into a discussion on the importance of training. Every panelist spoke of how imperative training is for organizations if they want to keep moving forward, not only to be become leaders in their field, but to become leaders in accessibility. It was recommended that training start with development teams then move on to other internal teams. The positive twist with that approach being that once trained, no matter what project a developer moves to they will take their accessibility knowledge with them and spread the word, with the ultimate goal being that accessibility is built into the web and app design stage vs. being brought in at the end of a project as an afterthought.