Online / 5 & 6 February 2022


Why Designers are the Mediators of Accessibility

How the designer's perspective leads to a more accessible OSS

Two designers came together to tackle this under-addressed issue in OSS. In this talk, we'll cover - How design principles have shaped our understanding of the technical challenges in implementing accessibility in OSS, such as writing 'alt-text' for scientific diagrams - Learn about the real impact our workshops have made in NumPy, JupyterLab and scikit-learn - How other OSS projects can host their own accessibility workshops and sprints

Designers have valuable skills that go beyond the visual arts: the ability to zoom out and see the big picture, finding connections between disparate objects, and creating a pleasant user flow.

It is exactly these skills that make designers such valuable mediators of accessibility!

Mediators are required as the needs of accessible technology and OSS can seem at odds: - Accessible technology needs to recognize the variety of disabilities, that there are many possible solutions, and to create cohesive alternative experience - OSS needs flexibility and variety: it is exactly because individual contributors add different things that it can be difficult to uniformly follow any sort of guidelines for one disability, much less for a variety of disabilities

This talk will explore how two designers came together to start mediating for more accessible OSS. Hear about our messy beginning trying to decode terms and guidelines, talking to developers of what they need, and finally creating accessibility-focused workshops for NumPy, JupyterLab and scikit-learn that have already made changes to the codebase.

Designers will leave with an understanding of accessibility, their role in it and actionable steps, such as how to host their own accessibility workshops in their communities.

Note: While accessibility is a broad term that encompasses accommodating for a variety of disabilities, this talk focuses on making OSS accessible to people with visual disabilities via implementation of 'alt-text' for scientific diagrams.


Photo of Mars Lee Mars Lee