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A light-hearted description of my CSUN 2016 attendance

CSUN 2016 was fun. A lot of fun.

Mostly because of the people I got to hang out with for a week. Thinking about it, I can't really come up with anything I didn't like. Which is good.

What I took away from CSUN '16:

  • Getting a local AT&T sim card is really useful to be able to SMS, call and tweet. It makes synchronising get-togethers a breeze.
  • #a11y people like to party.
  • Sign language karaoke is a thing. See above.
  • It's great to see how useful Apple's products are. I've not seen this many Apple watches before. It's frustrating to see other's frustration when things don't work, and we need to fix that.
  • On that note, Android TalkBack needs work, but is getting better all the time.
  • John Foliot really does wear a cowboy hat.
  • Clever things are being done all over the place. Seeing all the assistive tech at the vendor stands makes you realise how much is being done to remove barriers to accessibility and to improve independency.
  • FreedomScientific hands out squeeze toy sharks. Keep them away from guide dogs.
  • Once a guide dog is not in its harness, they are just dogs and difficult to control.
  • Inclusive, accessible design makes everything better for everybody.
  • Guide dog farts are terrible. Really, really terrible.
  • At least in the US, in case of a disaster, a large scale emergency, people will disabilities have to take care of their own evacuation.
  • WTF, WCAG!
  • There is a lot more to accessibility than I thought there was.
  • Being a guide for a blind person is interesting. Some end up guiding you instead. I am looking at you, Lucy.
  • Sometimes, one retina doctor and one app developer is all it takes to improve the quality of life of many people.
  • Also, don't say "halt, [name]" when stopping at a door.
  • A11Y (company) makes documents accessible via machine learning on a Scala stack. Would like to learn more.
  • The Quorum programming language is pretty damn interesting. I have to check it out in detail.
  • There are more ham radio operators at a CSUN than you might think.
  • Inclusive user testing should be done from the start. Iterate, improve.
  • There seem to be few programmers at CSUN. I was part of a group called 'you developers' for the first time while at a conference.
  • Karl Groves and Billy Gregory are really good at just winging it. Also, their talks fill up real fast.
  • California brews a lot of IPAs.
  • Singing "OH, CANADA" randomly gets you a free T-shirt.
  • There is some nice work being done to make charts and graphs accessible. Even audible charts.
  • Some people bring dinosaur onesies.
  • European a11y legislation is increasingly improving.
  • Everybody likes stroopwafels. Not everybody likes salty licorice. Very few, actually.
  • You start to see inaccessible design everywhere.
  • Mike Paciello doesn't always wear a tie, I saw him wear a polo shirt once. But I was told the reason was that day being a Sunday.

Overall, it's a great community. I've had excellent conversations, and was able to shake hands with so many folks whom i've only interacted with on Twitter. It reminded me a lot of the Perl community. Many talented, driven people which makes for great conversation partners. I certainly wouldn't've minded to stay longer.

For a first CSUN, it was an inspiring one. I'm considering speaking next year, if my talk proposal gets accepted. Our current role=drinks casual get-together might move more towards an a11y and inclusive design meetup group, if we can get that off the ground. Developers especially need to be more involved, and we can also give knowledge back from our side of the process.

A big thanks to everyone I've laughed with, drank with, discussed design with, or just hung out with. See you next year.

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You are the embodiment of the wonderful community we try to build with each CSUN conference. You should submit multiple talks, and I'm happy to go in on any of them with you. Thanks for being such an awesome conference buddy, colleague, fellow partier, and community member.

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