Document Accessibility Unraveled
Chad Chelius and Dax Castro during an Accessibility Podcast with the Chax Chat Logo between them.

Surprising Accessibility Conference Feedback from CEO David Blatner

Accessibility Podcast Topic Links

Accessibility Podcast Transcript

Dax Castro
Welcome to another episode of Chax Chat. Join Chad Chelius and me Dax Castro, where each week we wax poetic about document accessibility topics, tips, and the struggle of remediation and compliance. So sit back, grab your favorite mug of whatever, and let’s get started.

Chad Chelius 
Welcome, everyone. Today’s podcast is sponsored by AbleDocs, makers of axesWord, axesPDF, document remediation, as well as website accessibility, auditing and monitoring services. So we want to thank them for being our sponsor once again on today’s podcast. My name is Chad Chelius. I’m an Adobe Certified Instructor and Accessible Document Specialist, as well as a consultant.

Dax Castro 
And my name is Dax Castro. I am an Adobe-Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer, as well as certified as an Accessible Document Specialist from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Chad, I’m super excited today, man. We have a great secret kind of pop up guest this episode.

Chad Chelius
Absolutely! A good friend of ours that we’ve known for quite some time and I’m really excited that he’s here with us today.

Dax Castro 
Well, you know, I consider him the… If there’s a father and mother of InDesign, I would say it’s this person, Anne-Marie ConcepciĆ³n. But without further ado, I’d like to introduce President of the CreativePro Network, David Blatner. David, welcome to the show.

David Blatner
Thank you so much. It is great to be here. This is terrific. I love what you’re doing here. And it is really an honor to be part of it.

How Dax Started as an Accessibility Presenter

Dax Castro 
Well, it’s been an evolution. And I really can say that it would not have been possible without you. And I will tell you, because my first footprint into the world of being in front of the stage started with you at Adobe Max. And you know, we were in that bowling alley getting ready to play, and someone grabbed me and said, “You need to go meet David.” And they whisked me over. And conversation ensued. And you know, fast forward a couple years later, and here we are. So thank you so much for seeing something in me. But we’re here today to talk about this event that’s coming up, which is the Design and Accessibility Summit. And I’m really excited. So why don’t you tell people who may not have heard about this conference, what it is and what’s going on?

When David Learned About Accessibility

David Blatner
It’s really exciting for me to be doing this event. Last year, in 2020, we did our first ever event, an online event about accessibility, called the InDesign and Accessibility Summit. It was really about how do you use Adobe InDesign and Acrobat to build accessible documents. And this was completely new for me. I mean, honestly, a few years ago, I went to a W3C event where, I think, it was George Kerscher from DAISY, talked about how

Accessibility is all about the basic fundamental human right for accessibility of information. There’s a basic fundamental human right.

George Kerscher

David Blatner
And that completely blew my mind. Honestly, I had never really thought about that. And so everywhere I started looking at this idea, I realized, “Wait a minute, we’re not paying attention to that. We’re not paying attention. We got to get designers to pay attention to this.” So we put on this event last November, the InDesign and Accessibility Summit. And I’m emphasizing InDesign because this year… That event was so successful. We had so much… It generated so much excitement, but the one thing that came out of that was people kept saying we want more. And not just more about InDesign and Acrobat, [but] more topics. We want more about accessibility.

Accessibility Conference Expands Topics

David Blatner
So this year, we’ve expanded it to four days. It’s a four-day event. And we’ve contracted the name. It’s no longer the InDesign and Accessibility Summit. It’s just the Design and Accessibility Summit. Because it’s all about design and how designers, marketing professionals, communications experts, how do people create accessible documents, not just with InDesign, but InDesign and PowerPoint, Word, Excel. I never knew Excel accessibility…

Dax Castro 
There’s not much Excel…

Chad Chelius
It’s not much of a thing.

Dax Castro 
It is not!

David Blatner
But it is a thing.

Chad Chelius
It is.

Dax Castro 
There are some things you can do, yes.

Accessibility for Design – Thinking Differently

David Blatner
Yeah. And what I realized is, whenever you’re creating documents that you’re going to be handing off to somebody, you need to be thinking are these accessible. Because so many of us in the design community create a PowerPoint like a leave behind or mailing something out as a document, so who’s going to be ingesting that, who’s the audience for that. You need to think beyond just the… Alright. They’re like me to… “Wait a minute, they might not be like me.”

David Blatner
And that’s key. That’s critical for all designers to be thinking about. Get out of this desk thinking where it’s all about me, me, me and into a global perspective of, there’s a lot of different people with a lot of different abilities… that I’m communicating with.

Dax Castro 
Well, you know, one of the most prevalent disabilities or things that are out there is colorblindness. You know, 1 in 12 males, it’s typically a white male, predominantly more white males have colorblindness than any other race or ethnicity [or] sex. And so, we do a lot of red and green in what we do. Red is bad, red is stop, red is behind. You know, green is good, green is on time. And so, as designers, we have to be thinking about that from the very beginning because, you know, what’s there you know…

Dax Castro 
Chad and I have experienced that so many times, is the worst thing you can do is spend your your, you know, eight hours designing a document, and then at the end, go, “Oh, it needs to be accessible.” And now you’ve, you’re married to this color palette, that now has to change because you didn’t think about that. So I’m really excited to see…  I was looking at a lot of these sessions.

Dax Castro 
Carrie Fisher’s got one on accessibility for video and audio, which is amazing. The audio descriptions in video and on YouTube… it’s there’s a whole community out there who are pushing for audio description. So I’m excited for her session.

Upcoming Accessibility Speakers

David Blatner
There are… we’ve really brought together some amazing people, including the two of you. I’m so looking forward to your sessions. Both of you are going to be there. And that’s that is amazing. You were there last year as well. And you really made it the success that it was. But like you said, Carrie Fisher is going to be there. Bevi Chagnon is going to be there. Colleen Gratzer and Karen McCall. We have a just extraordinary group of experts who are coming together to talk about this subject, and helping people in the design community communicators do exactly what you said, think about this from the beginning. Don’t just… this is not an afterthought. This is from the beginning. And it doesn’t have to be… I think one of the most amazing things that came out of last year’s event was the realization “This doesn’t have to constrain, right, the way you design, but it has to inform how you do design.” And it can be a lift, not a not a drag. And that’s that’s really exciting.

Dax Castro 
Well, you know, I think one of the things that we, once you understand some of these principles, when you first come into it, thinking about color theory, or all of this, you know, heading structure, all of the accessibility things, it’s overwhelming. But once you learn a few things, it opens up your doors, because now you’re not scared, “Oh, I don’t know what colors to use.” I hear this all the time, “I’m just gonna do this black and white, or I have to use grayscale because it needs to be accessible,” you know, not really, “let me give you a few principles. And and here’s some tools that you can use to check and see if your stuff works.” Because there’s so many things that work that are beautiful, that are still compliant. You know,

Are Designers Afraid of Accessibility?

David Blatner
I think I think what you’re saying there is critical use a word that you don’t have to be afraid, right? I do feel like a lot of designers, they may not admit that there’s fear there. But I think that’s one of the things holding people back. There’s a sense of, “look, I don’t I’m afraid to do the wrong thing. I’m afraid that it’s going to be seen wrong, or I’m afraid that I don’t know how to do it.” And we want… that’s a big part of what we try and do with Creative Pro is just getting people over the fear. So you look, you don’t want to be afraid of this. We can teach you the basics you we’re going to show you where you can get more resources. And it’s okay, we are here as a community to help each other. That’s a huge part of what we try to do with Creative Pro. Because no one knows it all. Nobody.

Chad Chelius
No, You’re absolutely right. And David, I mean, you and I have been involved in the creative community for a long time. I mean, I think I’m coming up on 25 years, I can’t believe I’m that old. And I know you know you are you’re you’re longer than that. I’m not telling you that you’re older or anything like that. But I’m

David Blatner
125 years now….

Chad Chelius
The creative community I think you would agree with me, tends to be it’s, it’s it’s almost more of a fear of change. Right? I mean, you and I have been through a lot of changes within the creative community. I mean, one of which is moving from QuarkXPress to InDesign. Right? I mean, that was a big change, you know what I mean? And then you know, something that you’re real passionate about, I mean, you and I are both real passionate about color theory,  but your your approach to using RGB images as source content instead of CMYK. And so that’s a huge ripple in the print community, right be like no, we can’t do that. But so I think there’s a resistance to change and as creative people they have been taught everything visual, right?

Chad Chelius
I mean design is all about visual aesthetics and, and but it’s also about communication. And that’s also what accessibility is. Accessibility is simply about communication. So what I have found, I mean, I’ve been doing accessibility for a long time. And the more you do it, and the more you think about accessibility during the design process, the easier it does become right? And, and it becomes more second nature. And you’re like, “Hey, I’m creating a heading style, I better map that to a tag while I’m here.” You know, and, you know, just just some really basic fundamentals. And then the color aspect that Dax mentioned is another big one. Because, you know, traditionally you’re thinking about color from an aesthetic standpoint. And now you’ve got to consider color from a disability standpoint, you know, and

David Blatner
Commute communication. Ultimately it’s like you said, it’s about communication. How am I gonna communicate better? And every designer wants to communicate better, right? And here’s the thing. You’re absolutely right. Nobody wants to change. Period.

Accessibility Means Change

David Blatner
It’s, this is one of the things about being human is we don’t want to change. We want things especially once we get a rhythm, once we get something that’s working, we don’t want to change. And that’s, that’s natural. And yet, we want to get better at what we’re doing. We want to communicate better, we want to become more efficient, we wanted to to get better, right? And getting better at what we do requires change. Yeah, it does. Yeah. So if we want to communicate better, and we want to get to more people and follow the law, and all of those things that we want to do, we’re going to have to change. But it doesn’t have to be painful change. You can take it little by little, you can learn a little bit here and again, and you can do it in community, with friends. With people are saying, “Hey, let’s work together on this. We’re going to help support each other,” and I think all of those things, help people get over that, “I don’t want to change I don’t want I’m afraid of it,” Right? and feel more comfortable. We want people to feel more comfortable. You know,

Dax Castro 
We’re coming up on 2000 people in our PDF Accessibility Facebook group. And it that’s exactly what it is. People are commiserating, they’re talking about their struggles with the client. They’re talking about “how do I make this forum accessible?” Chad’s got a session on Thursday on accessible forms. You know, we get questions all the time. And then honestly, Chad and I sit back and sometimes we talk about these things. And we brainstorm and we come up with solutions to problems that somebody might not have been thinking about before. Right?

David Blatner
Absolutely. I love that. I love that. And the two of you have been so instrumental in getting those solutions out into the community, and helping people feel more comfortable. And again, I’m so glad that you’re going to be at the Design and Accessibility Summit in November because that’s that’s the goal. Get a bunch of people together, and talk about it and share there. And one of the most amazing things about our online events I know you’ve experienced this is that it’s not just experts, saying “Here’s the ‘on high’ I’m going to tell you how it’s done.” Oftentimes, it’s somebody in the audience during one of the zoom Q and A’s who says, You know, I didn’t like this. And it’s like, oh my gosh, that’s brilliant. That’s great. Absolutely. Everyone’s learning from each other. Yeah, I love that about our events.

Unintended Benefits of COVID for Conferences

Dax Castro 
It’s one of the unintended benefits of the COVID era that we’re in that you know, how the format that we use allows us to have a presentation that is that is recorded, but we have an ability to communicate with our audience in real time while we’re watching the session. And yeah, you can’t do that in a live event. I can’t be like okay, guys, stop. I’m gonna have a conversation with Joan here and we’re going to talk about this issue just just hold on for a bit.

Dax Castro 
And so it’s great that there’s all these side conversations because we can follow up with them and people can… I see literally like a flurry of messages going through the chat pod. And it’s great to see people being able to interact that way that I think you know… It’s one of the things I’m going to miss when we go back to the physical events. But I will say I can I am probably the person looking forward the most to being back in a physical environment. I am codependent and need that feed?

David Blatner
Totally! No, I I think you’re absolutely right. Having that online experience was really a shocker for us in 2020. When we had to move our week long we do a week long event called Creative Pro Week, right, which is InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, PowerPoint, Acrobat, print, fonts, everything. And we had to pivot very quickly to an online format and you know, for for our June 2020 event. And it freaked us out and we thought, well, “Who’s gonna want this right?” We are so excited about having that live event. Being able to come up and talk to each other and be in the room together. There’s magic, when you get people in the same room to work together. That really is magic.

Surprising Feedback from Accessibility Conference

David Blatner
And yet, one of the most amazing things ever happened was after Creative Pro Week, after that year, we started looking through the survey results. And we didn’t know what to expect. And we It was very positive. And one of the most surprising things was, we had people saying, “you know, I love the live events, I love that I’ve been going for years. But I kind of like this more, right?

These online events [are] kind of more my style because…” and here’s this blew my mind, “because they feel more intimate to me.”

Attendee feedback

David Blatner
I was like, what?!? How can I be? But they said, you know, I’m, I’m able to have a Zoom meeting with 50 other people and we’re talking and I can see everybody’s faces, I can see the speaker. I can ask that person directly face to face, instead of having to be in the back of a, you know, 1000-person-room or whatever that is and see the see the look over everyone’s heads. There was an intimacy and an immediacy to the online events that is really quite special. So we’re not going to let that go away. Next year, we’re doing Creative Pro Week in Washington, DC as a live event. And we will also be doing the online event, it’s a truly hybrid event. So we can have that simultaneous chat. So that’s gonna have the the the live zoom meetings, we’re even going to try and get people to the live event and people in the virtual event to be working with each other in real time. And that’s pretty exciting.

Dax Castro 
You know, the first session I taught at at the InDesign and Accessibility Summit. I had a plug, I had a plug in, that I use during my presentation that allowed people to use their phone, they just hit the QR code, and it loaded an app on everybody’s phone, and they can remember chat and have questions. And that was really great. I really, when I went back and looked at all the questions, it was funny, being my first year presenting, I was so overwhelmed with trying to not make mistakes that I didn’t really look at the chat pod until after the event and realize funny how there were so many great questions. And I and so I think that one of the things that I really liked about last year, so that was the ability to have that interaction. And then the live Q&A afterward, which is really great, where we opened up his zoom meetings, and we were able to just, you know, have those free flowing conversations.

Creative Pro Conference Benefits

Dax Castro 
Well, it was awesome. Well, David, this has been really great. And for those people listening, you know, Chad, and I speak at this event, but I will tell you, I’m a InDesign user illustrator user for many, many…more than 20 years. And so going to a conference, I always feel like, “Ah, you know, I know most of the stuff.” And I will tell you that at every Creative Pro event that I’ve gone to, I have come back with 10 or 15 things that I didn’t know existed that I didn’t know were possible in Illustrator that I didn’t know existed in InDesign, as a, you know, GREP statements or shortcuts, or “What is a quick tool or a quick command that Anne Marie showed?” I mean, it’s just great.

Dax Castro 
So for those of you who are listening, thinking, “oh, I’ve been in this I’m a veteran, I know most of it,” you really, this is very informative. You’re gonna find those special things that you didn’t know and you’re gonna be able to bring them home and use them in your daily life, it’s just a great event.

David Blatner
I’m so glad to hear you say that because honestly, I feel the same way. I have been his game design and all these tools for a very long time. And I learned something new every single time. I have exactly the same experience, there’s always more to learn. And I really feel like it comes back to this, this the sense that you know, in the old days, we could know it all or we could feel like we knew it all  anyways. And you can’t anymore. You just can’t The only way we’re all going to move forward is if we work together. If we learn from each other and if we come together regularly in these kinds of events and talk. So I’m really excited that you guys are going to be there because as you know the phrase that I keep coming back to with Creative Pro is “Together we thrive” and I’m so glad to have you there so we can bring everyone together so we can all thrive all get have all those boats rise.

Attending the Design and Accessibility Summit

Dax Castro 
So David, if anybody wants more information about the Design and Accessibility Summit where where can they get more information?

David Blatner
Thank you, thank you so much. The best way to do it online is creativepro.com/events. All of our events are there. So the Design and Accessibility Summit is listed there Creative Pro Week is gonna be listed there. All of that stuff is there so creativepro.com/events. And you can also email us at events@creativepro.com

Design and Accessibility Summit Coupon Code

Dax Castro
And so for those listening guys, I will tell you all the speakers have coupon codes, but I will give you mine so if you are looking to attend the Design and Accessibility Summit, you can use CPNDAX on checkout and get $100 off the multi-day event. Pass for the Creative Pro Design and Accessibility Summit. So I look forward to seeing you guys there. And I just I just can’t wait.

Chad Chelius
Well and if you want to use an even better code, you can use CPNChad during checkout to get $100 off your your registration.

David Blatner
Man guy’s I don’t want to say which is better.

Dax Castro 
Mine is shorter. Mine is less letters, you have the type less letters right?

Chad Chelius
All right. Well, David, listen, thank you so much for for joining us today and sharing all of that great information about the upcoming summit. And you know why you why you got started with that and why you’re hosting it. I think it’s a great event. And we really appreciate you having us this year.

David Blatner
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on on. It’s great. I’m glad to be here. And looking forward to seeing you online at the Design and Accessibility Summit, and hopefully live in DC. Next year.

Dax Castro 
Figers crossed.

David Blatner
Fingers crossed right.

Dax Castro 
All right. Well, listen guys. Once again, we want to thank AbleDocs for being our sponsor of today’s podcast. Again, AbleDocs, is the makers of axesWord, axesPDF, document remediation services, as well as website auditing and testing. So again, thanking them for being our sponsor today. My name is Chad Chelius,

Dax Castro 
and my name is Dax Castro where each week we unravel accessibility for you.

Chad Chelius
Thanks, guys.

No Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *