Category Archives: News

#a11yLDNmeetup1 – Abstracts and Bios

Lightning Talks

Graham Armfield “WordPress and Accessibility”

WordPress is an extremely popular content management (CMS) for quickly building websites. But is it easy to build accessible websites with WordPress? We’ll look at some of the good news about WordPress and accessibility, some of the bad news and a couple of plugins that could help.

Bio: Graham Armfield is a freelance web developer and accessibility consultant with Coolfields Consulting. He believes that the web should be for everyone and has many years experience in building accessible websites for large corporates and small businesses. Graham also advises others on how to make sites accessible and undertakes accessibility evaluations.

Sarah Lewthwaite  “Disability Studies and Accessibility: Two Critical Concepts”

Disability Studies and Accessibility have much to offer each other. The social model of disability is increasingly well known within accessibility circles; however, there are many other important concepts and theories from Disability Studies that offer powerful and descriptive vocabulary for the a11y community. In this short presentation I will introduce and discuss the research base for two concepts that I believe have powerful applications for accessibility practitioners: ‘aversive disablism’ and ‘hierarchies of impairment’. I will argue for a stronger connection between the critical social sciences and HCI.

Bio: Dr Sarah Lewthwaite’s research interests focus on education, normalcy and the intersection between Disability Studies and Accessibility.  Sarah’s PhD investigated student experiences of disability and social networks in higher education. She is currently working on, to bring critical disability studies perspectives to adaptive interface design for older users. Sarah will be taking up a new research post at King’s College London later this month.

Stuart Norman “Building Something Special – A discussion”

Earlier this year, teams from the BBC, Aardman Digital and System Concepts Ltd collaborated to produce a new accessible web site for the CBeebies TV Show Something Special.  As part of this project System Concepts Ltd conducted accessible user testing with special needs children.  This talk will provide an overview of the project and chance to pose questions to the researchers involved.

Bio: Stuart Norman (System Concepts) – A user experience consultant at System Concepts. Stuart  is passionate about the benefits of technology within education and empowering users with special needs. Stuart hopes to explore these area’s further on future commercial projects and during his part time MSc at City University.

Short Presentations

David Sloan “Inclusive user experiences for older web users”

Older people are often mentioned as secondary beneficiaries of web accessibility, but in reality are a very significant sector of web users who should be an important focus for inclusive web design. Understanding the complexities of the ageing process is a key factor in sympathetic and thoughtful design that accommodates older web users of all levels of web experience, and can have benefits for a wider audience. This presentation, based on my a11yLDN talk, will look at some of the challenges that ageing brings to successful web interaction, and how we can best accommodate these challenges in a progressive and non-formulaic way.

Bio: David Sloan is an inclusive design and accessibility researcher,consultant and educator, based in the School of Computing at Dundee University. He runs the University’s web accessibility support service, teaches HCI and accessible web design to BSC and Masters students, contributes to two major digital inclusion-focused projects – and spends as much time as he can telling the accessibility research community and the outside world what each other is up to.

Leonie Watson “Screen readers are strange, when you’re a stranger”

If screen readers were people, how would you describe them? They’re all a little bit different, most are complex, some are borderline neurotic, and they’re all a bit behind the curve? Understanding how screen readers work, how they’re used, and what they’re capable of might just surprise you. Then again, it might not. Come along anyway, there’s a free beer up for grabs in the middle!

Bio: Léonie Watson is Director of Accessibility & Web Development at Nomensa, and chair of the British Computer Association of the Blind. She’s a W3C invited expert on accessibility, a member of the team behind BS8878, and a member of the international committee working on ISO 14289 (PDF Universal Accessibility). Apart from that, Léonie likes cooking for friends and drinking tequila (then singing when she thinks nobody’s listening)!

Introduction & closing remarks

Makayla Lewis, City University London

Bio: Makayla Lewis is the lead-organiser for a11yLDN and is at the closing stages of a PhD in HCI at City University London. She is funded by EPRSC to research online social network experiences and challenges from a perspective of end users with motor impairments esp. cerebral palsy. Her passion for her research is due to a personal connection to disability. As a primary carer for a parent with cerebral palsy, a volunteer at ULO’s directed at young adults with disabilities and a British Sign Language learner, she believes that the web (esp. online communication) should be available for all.

The information and schedule for the event can be found here: