About Scripting Enabled

Scripting Enabled is a two day conference and workshop aimed at making the web a more accessible place. We are planning to achieve this by making those in the know about accessibility barriers meet hackers that know how to retrieve information from APIs and display them as alternative interfaces. Together these groups can make any system out there more inviting, accessible and available to people that are currently blocked out.

Problems with the Status Quo

The state of web accessibility is not dire, but also far from good. For years it has been an uphill struggle to make companies aware of the need for accessibility and we have a lot of large, successful sites out there that are a pain to retro-fit to become accessible. This made a lot of accessibility supporters grumpy and instead of reaching out to developers and offer advice there’s a lot of finger-pointing and citing of guidelines and laws taking place.

Developers on the other hand tend to see accessibility as a necessary evil or something that has to be considered after we developed the product. Instead of really trying to understand the needs of disabled users we tend to jump on quick solutions that are easy to implement and show we’ve done something in terms of accessibility.

Mashing things up

The mashup culture and ethical hacking events blurred these fronts a bit. More and more companies realize that in order to survive in the market they need to open up to data distribution. To this end, they offer their data in feeds, APIs and badges. Systems like Facebook showed that by allowing users to write their own widgets and extend your framework with their own functionality you can reach millions of users you didn’t have a chance to get to by means of a static web site.

Putting together this availability of data, the skill to re-mix it in usable and beautiful interfaces and the insight into what barriers keep people with disabilities to use current systems Scripting Enabled is meant to become the first of many “Accessibility Hack Days” to come.

Available for all

In true open and accessible fashion we’ll make the systems designed on the day (and after that) available as Open Source for other developers to take and learn from. All the presentation material and videos will be published as Creative Commons for others to take on and re-distribute.

We are trying to find hosting partners both for application and video hosting. The idea is not to have a one-off event but start a series of events, un-conferences and hackathons making the web more accessible.

The event structure

For now we are planning a two day event in London, England. The first day will be a summit with presentations explaining the different barriers people with disabilities face when they surf the web. For this we are seeking expert speakers to give this information.

At the end of the day we’ll pick a few ideas and form groups to start hacking the current systems to work around the barriers mentioned beforehand.

The second day is going to be a hackathon/hackday in a different venue where developers and experts sit together and work on the different hacks. We hope to have several testers available that can on the spot tell us if we’re going in the right direction.

Prizes and Winners

Unlike other hackdays we are not planning to make this a big prize ceremony event.

The idea of Scripting Enabled is that we make a difference to the world and its people and not get some shiny price and move on. Of course there’ll be a hack presentation at the end, but we want the whole world to become winners and match the hacks with the products that have been “scripting enabled”.

Therefore we will make sure that there’ll be a lot of coverage of the hacks and support in hosting and taking them further. This is about showing how ethical hacking can not only make systems different, but actually improve them for people who would love to use them but can’t.

Let’s get this show on the road!

Chris Heilmann