Accessibility: Not a burden, a lift
The lack of accessibility in our industry is becoming worse with a dire impact. Disabled creators and users are systemically excluded from the digital world, which was conceived to provide access to knowledge. At our worse, we completely invalidate and ignore disabled folks and accessibility altogether. At “best," accessibility practices are often siloed to a few key (nondisabled) instigators within even the largest organisations. We can turn this around. We’ll talk day-to-day tactics for how to make accessibility a cross-functional responsibility, how to get “buy in” for the work, and how to make meaningful, systemic and incremental change on your teams.
Our Banal Binary
Binary code is the axiomatic core of computing. From ones and zeros, we built magnificent inventions that visualised black holes and cup-winning football goals. Our reliance on the binary has a cost. Our language, laws, and technology build upon reductionist Boolean thinking: true and false, good and evil, black and white, just and unjust. The binary that gifted us could also become the most monolithic harbinger to developing nuanced solutions for social change and innovation. We will fracture the spokes of this axiomatic wheel, exploring a new model that encourages a more intersectional and inclusive way to build for all.
Systems of Systems
Design systems create an umbrella to to define the future of our design work. But design systems are not the biggest umbrella, so to speak—they exist under broader social, political, and infrastructural systems that affect the parameters, limitations, and variables of our system. Investigating design systems across many verticals, we'll look to see how design systems are impacted by the systems they live within. And beyond the verticals, we'll look to see how broader systems of power and oppression influence the design systems, and ultimately, the users who use the products defined by them. We'll look to see how to assess where our design systems live in broader ecosystems, the challenges inherent, and how to lean into the good, and resist the bad, to ensure we're serving all humans in an equitable and ethical way, maintaining safety and trust.
Technical Debt for Us
Many if not all of us have been “the only one” in boardrooms, design reviews, diversity and inclusion discussions. Our isolation from people who look like us with similar lived experiences often forces us into roles where we speak on behalf of and advocate for the whole. While honourable and sometimes necessary for self and community preservation, repeatedly playing this role can incur a psychological and career debt: it spends our resources in ways we don’t choose. Through this talk, we’ll seek the balance between our moral imperatives to society, improvement of our environments, and our care to ourselves. We will celebrate the forgiveness for our past and future choices, recognising that the choices we make are never easy.
Edge Cases: Out of the margin and into view
The term edge case is used to describe something rare that only occurs at an extreme. In praxis, we often use the term to dismiss a use case's relevance to the broader success of our product or service. But edge cases can be portals to safety leaks, unserved populations, and unconsidered journeys. By centring edge cases in our process and examining what they can tell us, we can work towards more ethical, inclusive, and considered products
How Privilege Defines Performance
In theory, web performance, accessibility, and inclusive design all have similar goals: Provide the best, most consistent experience to all people using the minimal amount of resources. In practice, this often falls apart. Product creators define what it means to be performant from where they stand, which is typically from places of privilege with unseen biases, struggling to find true empathy with their users. Through this talk, we'll examine how to build conscientiously, looking within to resist systematic problems in order to create more truly performant, accessible, and inclusive systems for our users. Given first at Perf Matters in Redwood City, Calif. on 4 April 2019. You can watch the talk here: https://youtu.be/nQq_gZiZ-jg
Building Socially Inclusive Design Systems
Design systems have become the de facto approach for teams of all sizes to design anything and everything. As prototyping and development tools evolve to accommodate these systems, the barrier to entry is becoming lower and adaptation is becoming simpler. The love for design systems makes sense: they provide a scalable, flexible infrastructure that allows a team to create consistent work far into the future. Dissecting its social impact through its technical traits, we'll look at how to build a design system conscientiously, resisting systematic problems in order to create more accessible and inclusive systems.