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DrupalCamp 2017: A Focus on Web Accessibility

CIT’s Custom Development team hosted Cornell DrupalCamp in the ILR Conference Center on October 20. The annual event attracts web developers, programmers, content managers, and other Drupal enthusiasts from colleges and businesses across the country. This year brought in approximately 150 participants, with sessions focusing on Drupal 8, Drupal and Salesforce integrations, and more. A key focus this year was on web accessibility.

The keynote speakers, Kelsey Hall and Joshua Pearson, both work in the Assistive Technology Center at UMass Amherst. Kelsey is the center coordinator and provides campus-wide support in creating accessible educational materials, websites, and physical spaces. Joshua has been a life-long user of assistive technology, and is the departmental assistant.

Together, their keynote demonstrated the challenges assistive technologies can create, when they attempted to demonstrate a screen-reader trying to read the Amazon.com website. When they couldn’t get the screen-reader to work, Joshua remarked, “Welcome to my life.” They went on to explain how different screen-readers, which are supposed to help people with low or no vision navigate a website, often do not work as intended because of the way someone has developed or added content to a website.

Later, they gave a couple of sessions in which they demonstrated the latest built-in and open source screen reader technology (Voiceover on Mac OS systems and NVDA on Windows machines). They also had screen-readers and many other types of assistive technologies on display. Throughout the day attendees were free to try them out.

LiLynn Graves, a camp participant, attended their sessions and said that she is now working with Joshua and Kelsey to address some accessibility issues in Drupal themes for the larger Drupal community. She is excited to get to work on her own websites, having heard what Joshua hears on a screen-reader when a website has not been created with accessibility in mind.

DrupalCamp would not be possible without the financial contributions from our sponsors, and the time given from our session presenters. The Custom Development team would like to thank everyone who contributes to making this event successful year after year.

To learn more about DrupalCamp:
https://camp.drupal.cornell.edu

To learn more about web accessibility, visit:
https://webaim.org

To learn more about CIT’s Custom Development:
https://it.cornell.edu/custom-web

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