Seren Davies: Accessibility is more than just supporting screenreaders

 

Photo: Callum Kerr

Accessibility is a topic that many of us struggle with. Even with the best of intentions, it’s a hard problem to solve. Still, like any hard problem, it’s worth tackling and doing right.

Seren Davies, a developer at Elsevier and a co-organiser of JSOxford, came to speak to us about what we can do to support accessibility beyond just looking at screenreaders. The talk looked at a number of different scenarios where users may be struggling – everything from dealing with dyslexia, to just being a bit tipsy on a night out.

Seren showed how users can be affected in many ways that may prevent them from using what we build, and that there are many more users dealing with these kinds of problems than we might think.

Keep in touch

If you’re not connected to the Software Development Community already, there are lots of ways that you can find out about future events. If you’re a member of staff at the University then you can join the mailing list or the Slack channel, and anyone can find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Irina Preda: CodeYourFuture, a coding community for refugees and asylum seekers

Photo: Tim Gray

As developers, how do we know that we are making a positive difference? Irina Preda, a former graduate of the University, came to speak to the Software Development Community about an organisation called Code Your Future which is doing just that.

Code Your Future is a non-profit group that works with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK to help them find work as developers. The organisation trains students in the necessary skills they will need to find jobs, including more abstract skills such as networking and preparing a CV.

Code Your Future is locally based in Glasgow, and they are actively looking for interested folk to act as volunteers and mentors. You can apply on their website. Technical skills are not required, as there are many ways to get involved.

If you’re not connected to the Software Development Community already, there are lots of ways that you can find out about future events. If you’re a member of staff at the University then you can join the mailing list or the Slack channel, and anyone can find us on Twitter and Facebook.

All Day Hey! 2018 Reflections

Yesterday I took a trip to Leeds to All Day Hey!, a one-day one-track conference on topics across the front-end ecosystem. Now in its second year, All Day Hey! has managed to attract some top speakers, and curated an interesting day of diverse topics.

Every talk had something of value, but I don’t have space to write them up and couldn’t do them justice in this format. Instead, I’m going to pick out some of my top take-aways from the day that I think you’d most like to know.

If you want to know more about any of the topics covered, or any of the talks I haven’t written up then let me know! I’d be happy to chew your ear off about them some time, or arrange a way to pass on anything learned.

So here’s a list of the talks, speakers and topics. After the jump, my top lessons.

  • Unlocking the Power of CSS Grid LayoutRachel Andrew (CSS Grid, CSS standards)
  • Building Resilient Frontend SystemsIan Feather (Infrastructure, disaster recovery)
  • What is the Web without the Browser?Peter Gasston (Extended reality, future web)
  • Idea to Execution, and BeyondAshley Baxter (Product development)
  • Lightning Talks
  • CSS — Past, Present and FutureUna Kravets (Modern CSS, Houdini)
  • In the LoopJake Archibald (Event loop, JavaScript programming)

Continue reading “All Day Hey! 2018 Reflections”

Duncan McDonald and Katie Stockton Roberts: Strangling Monoliths the Bitesize Way

Duncan McDonald and Katie Stockton Roberts on stage

Last week we were very fortunate to welcome Duncan McDonald and Katie Stockton Roberts from the development team for BBC Bitesize. They spoke to us about how the technical architecture of Bitesize has changed over the years, from a hulking PHP monolith to a selection of independent microservices that combine to build the web and mobile applications.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to record the presentation but I’ve attached a copy of the slides below and, after the jump, provide an overview of what was talked about and how it might fit in to the University of Edinburgh.

Download slides (requires University login)
NB: This presentation includes videos and is over 400MB. Don’t download on mobile data.

This talk was organised by the Software Development Community and, if you’re not connected to us already, there are a myriad of ways to get in touch to find out about future events. If you’re a member of staff at the University then you can join the mailing list, or the Slack channel, and anyone can find us on Twitter and Facebook.

We’re particularly interested in hearing ideas for new events, talks and workshops. If there’s something you’d like to know more about, then we’d be keen to help you organise that. And if you have a contact that you think would provide an interesting talk to the community then we’d be keen to hear about them. We also have some budget to help with expenses like transport and catering. To get in touch, please email the organising committee.

Continue reading “Duncan McDonald and Katie Stockton Roberts: Strangling Monoliths the Bitesize Way”

Tobias Ahlin: Making Better Design Predictions with Design Bets

Photo: Callum Kerr

One of the main challenges in designing and developing a product is figuring out how to improve it. How do you get from your ideas to your end goal? And how do you know if you’re on the right track to achieving what you want? Design Bets is a product management framework that aims to help you with this, pulling together research on the best ways to make informed, unbiased decisions.

Last year, I saw Tobias Ahlin, the Experience Design Director for Minecraft, give a talk on Design Bets at DiBi 2017. I was so inspired that I ended up using it on a project we are currently running. This year, we invited Tobias to come back to Edinburgh to speak to us at the University.

A recording of the talk is available publicly on the University’s Media Hopper service:

Continue reading “Tobias Ahlin: Making Better Design Predictions with Design Bets”

Mark Simpson & Steven Wang: Bitcoin, Crypto Assets and Blockchain

While I understand the concepts behind Bitcoin and blockchain, I’ve never really understood how they actually worked. So, I was pleased when Mark Simpson and Steven Wang from RBS offered to come do a talk for us on the subject. This was our second industry talk of the 2017/8 academic year, the last one being Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out.

Slides: PowerPoint file (University logins only)

I first met Mark when I saw him speak at Design It; Build It (read more in DiBi 2017 Reflections). I was very interested to learn about some of the innovative work that his team has been doing at RBS. Since then, we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together, so I’m glad that it finally worked out!

Continue reading “Mark Simpson & Steven Wang: Bitcoin, Crypto Assets and Blockchain”

Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out

At the end of November, we were lucky enough to have Katie Fenn (http://www.katiefenn.co.uk/) come to the University of Edinburgh to give a talk on “Chrome DevTools, Inside Out”. This kicked off the community’s industry talks for the 2017/8 academic year. Although this talk was some time ago, I’ve only gotten a chance to write it up now…!

Katie has given this talk numerous times, so I’ve included some links to slides and recordings below:

Continue reading “Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out”

#GasHack – A worthy cause for a weekend of your time!

My brother is a consultant at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and a colleague is trying to attract interest from industry, computing students or anyone with a bit of computing knowledge in a hack day they are running with the College of Anaesthetists in London (details at: http://gashack.rcoa.it)

The idea is modelled around similar events that have been hosted this year like the NHS Hack day or the MIT hackathon.

Doctors with an idea or project come along and pitch it to the meeting. Developers chose the idea that appeals to them and work on it over the Saturday and Sunday.

On the Sunday afternoon, the teams demo their products in front of the rest of the attendees and a panel of judges.  There are prizes to the teams with the most innovative, exciting or world-changing product.

The event is free and run at the Royal College of Anaesthetists in London; 21st and 22nd of October. It’s a nice venue and they’re buying lunch.

For staff working in IT, it is essentially a charity event.  For students, it’s a nice opportunity to work on real life projects and get something on your CV.

All developer skills are welcome. The theme is around peri-operative care but they will consider any ideas. The clinicians are all intensive care and anaesthetic doctors.

If you would like to help or be involved or just want more information, please get in touch with Michael Leggate (NHS Highland) in the first instance (michaelleggate@nhs.net).  He would be very happy to hear from you.

Thanks.
Bill.

Turing Fest 2017 Reflections

A few members of Information Services (and possibly beyond) attended Turing Fest at the start of August. Turing Fest describes itself as “four conferences in one; covering the product, strategy, engineering and marketing strands of technology. Spread over two days these four tracks shared knowledge and discussed topics at the cutting edge of technology with world-class engineers and technologists from a variety of industries.” It was held at the EICC here in Edinburgh.

Let’s hear how they got on and what thoughts they came away with. Continue reading “Turing Fest 2017 Reflections”

6 months of Front-End Development Community

As we are reaching the end of the University’s financial year, I thought this would be a good time to look back on the first year of the Front-End Development Community. The community began in the fall of 2016, when I was awarded a bit of money for this idea from the Innovation Fund. My idea was to create a community where people interested in front-end development could come together from across the University, to discuss ideas and share best practice.

A few months were spent on the initial brainstorming and organisation, so the community didn’t really get started until February 2017. Over the course of 6 months, we have put on 7 highly successful events:

  • 2 industry talks (from Harry Roberts and Chad Gowler)
  • 3 community lightning talk sessions
  • 2 talks on Designing for IT Accessibility (from Viki Galt)

I’ve been greatly helped by the hard work and dedication of my colleagues, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this.

Overall, we have had an impressive total of 280 registrations for events, with 188 different attendees. This shows that we have a dedicated core group who are actively engaged in participating in the community.  Continue reading “6 months of Front-End Development Community”