baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
20NTC Session

Forget Accessibility — Think Inclusive Design


We’ll talk about accessibility for people with disabilities, the current efforts by so many organizations to include diversity, and how the term “accessibility” can create an “us vs them” mindset that doesn’t benefit anyone.

People with disabilities use technology and the web to function and communicate. That’s pretty straight forward, right? But what happens when a site or an app isn’t coded in a way that makes it accessible and usable by people with disabilities? We’ve created barriers, we’ve caused the person’s impairment to become disabling, reducing their ability to communicate. Effectively, we’re shutting people with disabilities down!

There are barriers to communication outside the web as well. Sometimes obvious, other times not so much.

We’ll explore the idea of disability vs impairment, look at some communication barriers related to disabilities and technology, and more importantly, what we can all do to reduce or eliminate those barriers.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the difference between impairment and disability
  • Reflect on the organization's practices and culture of inclusion
  • Draw paralels between physical accessibility and digital accessibility

Target Audience

Anyone involved with an organisation's website


AccessibilityDigital Inclusion


Nicolas Steenhout

Accessibility Testing Team Lead


Inclusivity is vital to a democratic Internet. And for more than 20 years, Nicolas Steenhout has been addressing this subject head-on as a web accessibility expert.
Working as a developer in the mid-’90s, Nic was approached by colleagues, clients and friends with web-based issues that weren’t yet part of the public consciousness. Images weren’t being properly announced to people who are blind; video-only tutorials didn’t account for people who are deaf; over engineered webpages made it impossible for those with ADHD to engage. Nic quickly realized that amid a major technological revolution, a significant part of the digital landscape was being neglected.
In 1996, he took on a federally-funded position in the US disability sector. The world of non-profits allowed him to work closely with people with a wide variety of impairments. It gave him an even greater understanding of the web’s shortcomings. At the same time, the experience introduced him to new assistive technologies—technologies that were breaking barriers for people with disabilities.
Over the next two decades, Nic continued his work for both the non-profit and private sectors. He has held several Executive positions and currently provides his services as an independent consultant. Businesses and government agencies seek Nic’s expertise in strategic planning and training.
All over North America, Europe and Australasia, he’s engaged with thousands of individuals with disabilities. These interactions have fuelled his passion for storytelling. Public speaker, avid blogger and podcaster, Nic provides real-world insight into everyday accessibility issues. He explores everything from disability awareness and security to how JavaScript can be used to better the web for all. He’ll even share the occasional anecdote about his service dog.

Becky Gibson

Sr. Accessibility Strategist


Becky Gibson is a recognized expert in the field of digital inclusion and Web Accessibility with over 30 years of diverse experience in corporate and open-source software product development. Her passion for Web Accessibility advancement and evangelism continues to impact products, customer strategies, and industry standards.

She participated in the creation of W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) and helped to develop and evangelize the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) specification. Becky continues to work within W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) working groups. She creates blog posts, documentation, training materials, and speaks at conferences to further the mission of digital inclusion for all.





March 24, 2020


1:45pm – 3:00pm



Collaborative Notes

Click here

Session Evaluation

Click here