Deque recently had the opportunity to take part in the 2015 M-Enabling Summit--a two-day annual meeting that's exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessibility and assistive applications and services. It's a terrific opportunity to take the pulse of mobile accessibility trends and discover what's on the horizon.
We caught up with a couple of our representatives after the event--Matt Feldman and John Foliot--to find out what they did at the summit and learn what was trending.
A Snapshot of the M-Enabling Summit
How was Deque involved at the conference this year, and how were you a part of it?
Matt: Deque had several successes during the summit. Our exhibit booth featured live demos of our mobile-specific toolset and broad overviews of Deque's end-to-end solutions. We also had broad representation across a variety of panel discussions and presentations.
John: I was there as an attendee, and I was able to network with new and existing accessibility professionals, all as a Deque employee--a relatively new status for me--and I had the opportunity to get to know a few more Deque employees.
What was trending around the summit this year?
Matt: As I spoke with several summit attendees, it became clear that the need for mobile accessibility experts greatly outweighs the workforce. This is driven by the rapid growth of the mobile market and the unique mobile development background necessary to remediate native applications. Mobile accessibility experts are so few and far between, it's very hard to find skilled staff and invest in their professional development. We'll need to offset this by relying on tools to identify issues.
To help to minimize this reliance on experts that don't exist, apps developers need reliable mobile tools throughout the lifecycle process. Mobile testing tools especially will dramatically impact the progress of accessibility in this market.
John: There were four tracks at M-Enabling, and the track that most interested me was focused on the "Web of Things"--interconnected hardware/software and emergent services using this technology in assisting persons with disabilities (PwD).
One example that stood out was related to independent living for seniors--who may be at the early stages of dementia. Imagine an app that's connected to door sensors installed at a senior family member's home. If the loved one leaves their house after a fixed time of night (say, after 9:00 p.m.), the app can text or email a contact, advising of this deviation from an expected pattern. It allows a remote caregiver to be aware of events, without physically being present. Or imagine a web-based "home control panel," where, by using an accessible web-based interface, people with various forms of motor issues can operate things in their home. For example, by using a mobile device, a mobility-impaired user could still lock and unlock their door, turn lights on or off, or adjust the temperature of their home. It's a fascinating and emergent space, and one to watch closely.
Matt, tell us about your presentation.
Matt: On Day 2 of the summit I participated in a panel discussion titled, "Implementing and Leveraging Mobile Accessibility Across the Enterprise." Joining me on the panel was Tim Harshbarger, the lead Accessibility Focal Point at State Farm. Together we provided a client/contractor perspective on mobile accessibility.
Our discussion focused primary on the evolution of State Farm's Digital Accessibility Program and the critical role methodology, tools, and professional services play, as State Farm becomes a self-sustainable and scalable program. To support this, we shared both successes and lessons learned during our AODA and ADA efforts.
What were some highlights for you personally at the summit?
John: My primary goal at accessibility conferences such as M-Enabling is to maintain a strong networking circle, under the personal motto, "You can't know everything, but you can succeed at knowing who does know what, about any given topic." Our industry is vast and deep, and it is valuable to know who is working on what pieces of the larger eco-system, so that when you need to find an expert at topic X, you know who to call on. At least it has done me well.
Want to learn more about accessibility?
- Check aXe--the lightweight, open-source accessibility testing library.
- Find out about our upcoming events.
- Discover Deque University, our incredible resource for accessibility training at all levels.