Dataviz Fireside Chat

Later today, at 1pm ET, I’ll be joining some dataviz accessibility luminaries as a panelist on the Data Visualization Society’s fireside chat webinar, moderated by Amy Cesal. Join us for a chat about accessibility and data visualization on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Sign up for the webinar

Doug Schepers – Director at Fizz Studio
Melanie Mazanec – Engineer at Bloom government digital services
Dr. John Gardner – Founder of ViewPlus
Sarah Higley – Software Developer at Microsoft


The communal notes are now available.

Accessible Dataviz Talk at A11yNYC Meetup

If you’re in the New York City area, I hope you’ll come see my presentation on accessible data visualization at the @A11yNYC meetup on Thursday, June 13! This is a refinement of the talk I gave at CSUN 2019 and #a11yTo Conf 2018.

A11yNYC (Accessibility New York City) is an excellent meetup group. I’m very pleased to be speaking there, joining the ranks of other past presenters who I greatly admire. I met one of the organizers, Thomas Logan of Equal Entry, when we both spoke at a11yTo Conf, and he was gracious enough to give me a chance to speak at their meetup.

The show starts at 7pm, and it will be live captioned for the hearing impaired… if the captioner can keep up with me!

Register now! It’s free!


Data visualization doesn’t have to be visual! Don’t assume that a chart or diagram can’t be made accessible. In this talk, you’ll learn how the brain processes data visualizations, how we can leverage this to work with other senses, and tips and best practices for making complex graphical content available to all. We’ll also offer a direct comparison on different tools and software that make it easy to ‘accessibilify’ your diagrams.

Update: Video Recording

The video for my Data Verbalization presentation is now available for streaming, with captions.

Inclusive SVG talk at AccessU 2019

I’m honored to be teaching a workshop on Inclusive Web Graphics with SVG at Knowbility’s AccessU conference, one of the most well-respected accessibility conferences. At AccessU, you don’t just listen, you learn, through hands-on practice. My workshop is a practical tutorial, starting from scratch and bringing you up to expert (or at least well-informed) status on how to make your SVG graphics accessible.

This is a 3-hour workshop on Thursday, May 16, starting at 2pm and going through 5pm.

I’m pleased to be joined by my co-presenter, Eric Eggert, an old friend from W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative. Eric is one of those great highly technical people who puts people before technology.

That same day happens to be Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day to spread the word about digital accessibility. I’ll be doing my part by teaching attendees how to make their graphical content inclusive.

I hope you can join me!

If you need some encouragement, here’s the session details.

Session Summary

Images, charts, and diagrams are an important part of the web, but often hide critical information from people with visual impairments. Learn how to make accessible graphics with SVG. This session will teach you the basics of SVG, show you tips and tricks to make your graphics accessible, and give you the tools to open up the world of images to people with disabilities.

Class Description

Scalable Vector Graphics has amazing potential to provide accessible images, diagrams, and charts. But you need to know how to unlock that potential.

This course will take the students from SVG novices to mastery of SVG accessibility, by walking step-by-step through handcrafting an accessible interactive diagram.

We’ll start with an overview of SVG, then delve into the syntax for making all the different types of SVG shapes. We’ll teach the basic features and capabilities of SVG, and the tricky parts of working with it, including the infinite canvas, the viewBox, the painter’s model of rendering, and layout in the coordinate system.

Then we’ll cover the built-in accessibility features of SVG, including existing and emerging ARIA attributes, as a foundation to build on throughout the session. We’ll talk about text and metadata text equivalents, such as the title and description elements and making sure they work as intended with ARIA. This will include live exploration of an SVG document with a screen reader.

Next, we’ll detail the different ways to include an SVG image in your HTML content, and how to do so accessibly, including using SVG icons. We’ll learn to style SVG with CSS, and learn how to use CSS media queries and responsive techniques to make SVG even more accessible in different contexts.

Then we’ll touch on using JavaScript with SVG, just enough to become familiar with it. Most of the course will focus on markup, styling, and declarative interactivity, but it’s important to know what capabilities scripting can bring to SVG for accessibility.

We’ll explore the importance of shape composition, document structure, reading order, managing navigation order, and element activation.

Since a complex SVG is one big image, we’ll help the the author decide which parts are important to describe in detail, and which to omit, in order to avoid overwhelming the user; we’ll discuss how to provide suitable context and how to give users the ability to drill deeper into a longer description of important parts of the image.

We’ll do a survey of the different kinds of information graphics, from diagrams to flow charts to different chart types, what the purpose of each is, and how to provide equivalent experiences for AT users.

To keep the class fun and practical, we’ll collectively decide as a class what kind of diagram we want to build together, then compose the diagram by hand-coding shapes and by finding and repurposing icons and other SVG assets in an accessible way, to end up with our final accessible diagram. Each student will work on their own or with a buddy to craft their unique take on our diagram. There will be lots of opportunities for hands-on-learning and individual help, as well as different approaches to making the same basic diagram accessible.

Time permitting, we’ll share our work within the class, so everyone can learn from and enjoy the others’ work.


Some experience with markup and JavaScript

CSUN 2019

I’m excited to be speaking at the CSUN Conference on Disabilities this year!

My presentation, Data Verbalization: Accessible Charts and Diagrams, is scheduled for Friday, March 15, 2019 at 1:20 PM. It’s one of the last talks of the conference, but I promise you it will be worth sticking around for.

I have a whole new slide deck, with all new material on the cognitive aspects of why data visualizations work for sighted people, and considerations for making equivalent affordances for non-sighted people. If you liked my Invisible Visualizations talk, you’ll love my Data Verbalization presentation!

And I’ll also have a guest star, the inimitable Mark Sadecki, an old friend from W3C, and a sales engineer at my client, Compliance Sheriff.

I’ll be there for the whole conference, so if you see or hear me in the halls, come say hi! I’d love to talk with you. And I look forward to seeing you at my presentation, and joining you for discussions afterward.

A11yTo Conf 2018

I’m nervous and excited to be traveling north to Canada, to speak at the prestigious A11yTo Conf. I’ve spoken at many larger conferences, but A11yTo Conf (Accessibility Toronto Conference) is a more selective event, with all the best accessibility speakers.

I admit to some imposter syndrome. In reality, I’m pretty highly specialized within accessibility, in the tiny niche of accessible data visualizations. Most of the speakers, and many of the attendees, have been practicing accessibility in the trenches for many years, and they have skills way beyond my own in many ways.

But accessible data visualization is a useful specialty, so I feel I have something to offer. My talk this year is a brand-new deck, addressing the cognitive processes that make data visualizations work for sighted people, with lessons learned about how to make some of the same things work for non-sighted people, in a different medium.

When it comes down to it, data visualization is about solving tasks with data, answering questions about facts. And that can be accomplished efficiently in many different ways.

I’m also a bit nervous about my new deck, Data Verbalization. My previous presentation, Invisible Visualization, was refined and revised and remixed over the years, and I was comfortable with how to deliver it. But sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone and explore new ways to reach new people. I learned a lot while researching this new presentation, and I’d like to think I’m getting more scientific about the material, while still presenting it in a clear, common-sense way that’s pragmatic and relatable… or so I hope!

I hope to see some of you in Toronto at #a11yTOConf, October 15 and 16, 2018. I go on at 11:20am on the first day, so I’ll have the rest of the conference to learn from the other speakers.

Wish me luck, and come talk to me if you’re there!

Talk Summary

Data Verbalization: Data visualization doesn’t have to be visual! Don’t assume that a chart or diagram can’t be made accessible. In this talk, you’ll learn tips and best practices for making complex graphical content available to all, and hear about tools and software that make it easy to accessibilify your diagrams.