Focus on Selected Presentations
As several events took place simultaneously, it was sometimes difficult to make a choice. So I often chose the easiest solution and simply remained in the same room as the previous presentation. I don’t wish to summarize each of the talks, as they can be read in French on the Paris Web program, but I would like to comment on those that impressed me.
Although I was originally disappointed that only few talks were related to digital accessibility, I was told that this topic was no longer unknown at Paris Web and that it was often discussed as part of the different presentations. Several of the presentations I attended were about topics that were new to me. Let’s talk about them in a chronological order...
This presentation by Raphaël Yharrassarry, alias @iErgo on Twitter, seemed to be very well appreciated by the audience. Unfortunately, I could not really benefit from this talk, as short film sequences were shown with no audio description. For that reason, I was unable to catch the irony expressed by the speaker about the references he gave on these films. Someone from the Paris Web staff explained the meaning of one or two jokes to me afterwards.
In general, I was disappointed that speakers did not systematically think about describing what was being displayed on the screen, reading some information such as their e-mail address, the code of the wireless connection or more information about a web site. Frustrated, I tweeted the link to the French translation of the W3C document How to Make Presentations Accessible to All, translated as Comment rendre des présentations accessibles à tous.
This original presentation from Olivier de Villardi drew a comparison between permaculture and the Web. This unusual topic introduced me to a subject that I did not know.
I appreciated this presentation from Karl Groves, alias @karlgroves on Twitter and Bruce Lawson, alias @brucel on Twitter because, although it was a technical talk, it was humorously presented, as reflected in the presentation summary about Web components available in French and English.
This type of talk is a special Paris Web tradition : any person is invited to propose a topic, to write it down on a blackboard. The organizers choose presentations among those that were proposed and you can talk to the audience, nearly spontaneously. I decided to attend an informal talk presented by Nathalie Rosenberg, alias @nrosenberg on Twitter and Stéphane Bortzmeyer, alias @bortzmeyer on Twitter, that dealt with the security of data, such as personal pictures that can be stored on secured servers like Dropbox or any other storage system.
I did not know anything about this topic and the dangers of on-line storage of personal data, and I really enjoyed the animated debate with the audience.
Léonie Marin presented with style how the inhabitants of less rich countries, such as New-Caledonia, were using networks such as Twitter or Facebook. The connection facilities, the cultural habits of the population living in these countries imply that their use of social networks is totally different from ours.
I had also never heard of this topic before, and this presentation gave me new information about other ways to use these new media in other parts of the world that are located far away from us.
Dennis Lembrée, alias @dennisl on Twitter explained the efforts made by Paypal Accessibility, alias @paypalinclusive on Twitter to make Bootstrap accessible, thanks to an accessibility plug-in allowing vocalisation of a modal window’s content (which is not always spoken by all screen readers). As far as Drop downs menus are concerned, the plug-in allows the user to browse with the keyboard and to know which element is selected. At last, it has been shown how to make Tooltips accessible. All this was done with the help of WAI-ARIA.
This presentation helped me to better understand how this accessibility plug-in works, and made me want to know more about efforts that have been made to improve access to Bootstrap.
As a friend of mine suffered from burnout this year, I was moved by this presentation from Stéphane Deschamps alias @notabene on Twitter. For those who understand French, I recommend watching the video, which is captioned, like all Paris Web videos. This talk was really instructive. While listening to it, someone with depression, who is not far away from having burnout or feeling sad, will be cured at once, as Stéphane’s talk was really funny, well advised, and so true !
Jean-Philippe Simonnet, @oxymore on Twitter, inspired me with his small talk. In fact, he filled the whole audience with enthusiasm. Indeed, he called upon everyone to take the Beffroi de Montroug’s Oath (the conference’s location) which I cannot resist to cite and translate below :
Je fais le serment de remplir mes fonctions avec conscience, indépendance, et humanité.
Je m’engage à suivre les standards du web, de la qualité et de l’accessibilité pour que le web reste universel, neutre, libre et ouvert.
Je m’engage à respecter et protéger le secret dû aux données personnelles et à la vie privée dont j’aurai connaissance dans l’exécution de mon travail.
Je suis un travailleur du web, j’en suis fier, et j’assumerai mon rôle avec dignité .
This approximately means :
I promise I will fulfill my functions with conscientiousness, independence, and humanity.
I commit to follow web, quality and accessibility standards, so that the web remains universal, neutral, free and open.
I commit to respect and protect the security of personal data and privacy I will be informed of in my work.
I am a Web worker, I am proud of it, and I will assume my role with dignity.
Luc Poupard alias @klohFR on Twitter achieved his goal to inform us about the consequences of the discharge of old equipment (computers, mobile phones that are replaced too frequently), massive e-mailing. The figures, that have been tweeted by many of us, are really alarming. Thus in China, one can find a waste collection center with a surface area half the size of Paris. He called for more solidarity and a more cautious approach. But will we able to do so, as web professionals, always looking for the latest technology ? Of course, this presentation implies one should think about what he/she does and ask him/herself questions about one’s behavior concerning today’s technologies.
If Clément Hardoüin, alias @fastclemmy on Twitter had not been my table neighbor at the Paris Web’s dinner for speakers, I might have missed his informative talk about Dark Patterns. Those small traps can effect even the most experienced Internet users who are used to browsing the Web. They interfere with our browsing when we want to download a piece of software, they add a toolbar or a free anti-virus program. They add small programs on our computers, force us to accept requirements or terms of insurance we did not wish to accept. To protect yourself, you have to talk about it around you and be very careful when you browse, and read carefully the content of a web page.
The Lightning Talks
The best moment at Paris Web was, in my opinion, this series of mini talks. Indeed, speakers had the challenge of talking about a secret topic in only four minutes exactly (and no more time). Daniel Glazman and Robin Berjon were able to moderate these small talks with humor. I also enjoyed the topics that were presented. Victor Brito passionately defended the story of 25 years of the Web. Olivier Nourry gave an energetic feedback about accessibility. Sophie Drouvoy related her experience regarding what web tools bring her. David Rousset presented his accessible audio "breakout" game, he impressed the whole audience with this very graphical game that can be used by the blind. I recommend that those who understand French look at this lightning talks video (captions available), on which all participants were great !
It is not possible to attend all of the talks !
As I wrote previously, I often had to make a choice between two presentations. Or when you are talking with somebody, you happen to "miss" a talk. I regret that I could not attend the talk from Billy Gregory Things I wish I knew when I started in Digital Accessibility. But fortunately, Paris Web planned everything : captioned videos of all presentations are already available on-line and can be watched/listened to by all. Each link to the presentations provided in this article leads directly to the streaming of the corresponding video.
Except for some technical issues that prevented us from bringing the game to its end, I appreciated animating this workshop that was attended by many people, with persons who had never heard of ARIA or of a screen reader, but also a certain number of accessibility experts who asked very relevant questions.
My gamer nickname was also given to me because Stéphane Deschamps introduced me to David Rousset, alias @davrous on Twitter, who had developed very graphical applications till then, and who wanted to meet the challenge of developing a very visual breakout game that was also accessible to a blind user. So we had the opportunity to talk about the game and, for the first time in my life, I was able to "break bricks". David has written an excellent blog post in French dealing with Paris Web and the development of this game : Paris Web, un Web pour tous une conférence pour tous.
Is Paris Web Accessible ? Sure !
David’s article is a good transition to talk about the conference accessibility.
The conference place, Beffroi de Montrouge is located just beside the underground exit of the station Mairie de Montrouge. Once you have a description of which direction and exit you should take, (thanks to Victor for his text message !), you get there. Even if one could regret that the conference rooms were far from each other, one was located on the first floor, another on the second floor and the third room in the basement, the Paris Web team did their best to facilitate my way through the building. A staff member was always available, such as Corinne, Aurélien, Xavier, Olivier, Yves, Audrey, or one of the five nice students who had been employed for the event organization (Arthur, Abdel-Amid and the others) to help me find my way.
The access to EFREITECH in Villejuif, where the workshops took place on Saturday, was a little bit more difficult, because it was first necessary to find the right underground exit. In that place, the workshop rooms were located on several floors, with one at the end of a yard, which was not easy to find. But thanks to the availability of the Paris Web staff, although they were tired after two long evenings and three conference days, everything went fine.
Meeting People at Paris Web
Imagine that a bad genie blindfolded your eyes, that you are in a room overcrowded with people, that is very loud. You cannot recognize people around you because you cannot see them. But everybody knows you because the genie informed them that you were there. How will you be able to talk to them if they don’t show up ?
In one sense, you are in my situation. As I had read the conference program, I was aware that many people I knew were there, but as I could not read their badges (my dog Voyelle can guide me but she still cannot read the names), I could not find them unless they came and talk to me. If you see a blind person attending a conference, do not fear that her/his dog will bite you, do not hesitate to talk to her/him ! She/he will not be able to come to you, not because she/he ignores you, but because she/he is not always aware that you are around.
However, Twitter is good help, fortunately. When people you follow post tweets on the talk you are attending, you know at least that they are in the same room as you !
Despite these difficulties to find people, I could meet nice people : I met again Monique alias @webatou on Twitter who I had not seen for 10 years, Eve and Stéphane I could have interesting conversations with, as well as with Coralie, alias @koalie on Twitter. And I could at last add a voice on Sophie Schuermans name, alias @sophieschuerman on Twitter from Anysurfer with whom I had exchanged e-mails. Although her workshop took place at the same time as mine, we could attend the second part of her talk about the difficulties encountered by typical persona profiles. I liked very much the way she presented things and the small practical works she proposed at the end in the form of a quiz.
Animals that are different
As I already posted on Twitter, my guide dog was treated very kindly : all were keen on letting her going out, getting some water, and she received lots of attention. I have to say that she understood the way to the conference place very quickly. And even at the restaurant where the speakers’ dinner took place, she was welcome without any problems, although the waiters had to step over her to pass the plates over.
One quick note : people with good intentions gave Voyelle the leftovers of sandwiches without informing me. In order to avoid that a too greedy guide dog asks for food and becomes ill, such a habit should be avoided and you should talk with her/his owner. Thanks ! :)
To conclude, I liked this conference, that I was attending for the first time, very much. Thanks again to all the Paris Web staff for their availability, their commitment and their wish to ensure that the conference goes well.
I was at Paris Web for the first time, but it will not be the last time ! Because once you’ve tasted it, you come back for more ! You see what I mean...