2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Mobile Accessibility and 508 Compliance for Gov

Written by Megan Simpson | March 5, 2014

At SXSW, Jordan Sheckman teaches how to make your website accessible and Section 508 compliant.

Jordan Sheckman love pixels and code, and hates Comic Sans. On a more serious note, he’s led the design efforts and assisted with the development of MakeTheConnection.net, which was certified as fully compliant with Section 508 for both desktop and mobile. During the lengthy development process, he learned a lot of techniques that he’s applied to subsequent projects. “I now have a deep appreciation for why a website isn't finished until everyone can use it,” says Sheckman. This installment of the Session Spotlight addresses Sheckman’s 2014 Interactive session, “Mobile Accessibility and 508 Compliance for Gov,” which is aimed at understanding why accessibility via the web is important.

SXSW: Can you tell us more about your Mobile Accessibility and 508 Compliance for Gov session?
Sheckman: Why is it important to focus on accessibility on your website? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ MakeTheConnection.net aims to reduce stigma and increase awareness of mental health resources and support for Veterans, many of which have specific accessibility considerations. Learn how this website, with a dynamic and video-rich UI/UX, was brought to life and then adapted for mobile, all while achieving Section 508 compliance. I’ll be exploring the process our team went through, lessons learned, and tips and tricks to maximize usability.

SXSW: What kinds of people will want to attend your talk?
Sheckman: This session is for web designers and developers who don't have a ton of experience making their sites accessible or aren't fully aware of why it's important. The session will also be useful for those planning to go mobile, and needing advice on how to maintain accessibility.

SXSW: What previous knowledge is helpful for attendees to possess if they plan to come to your session?
Sheckman: SXSW registrants should have some knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to follow the discussion. General practices will be kept to a high level, but the conversation will get somewhat technical.

SXSW: What piece of technology can you not live without?
Sheckman: My iPhone…obvious answer, but I just can't live without it. I'm an Apple fanboy, no doubt, but I'm constantly taking photos with its great camera, and I have a dozen or so apps I've really come to love.

SXSW: Not necessarily related to your topic at SXSW, what is your favorite movie of the past year?
Sheckman: Her. Spike Jonze is a genius. This movie has some pretty spectacular writing, directing and acting, but I love its depiction of the future and how our relationship with technology develops. For a sci-fi movie, it doesn't feel like one; it's one of the best love stories I've seen in years.

SXSW: Does the future of technology excite you or frighten you? Why?
Sheckman: Every generation is frightened by how fast technology is moving. The future completely excites me. There are some amazing things happening in the industry. I think we've reached a point - or at least we're nearing it - where we don't need to keep getting smaller with gadgets and where an always-on Internet connection is just assumed. Now we can really dig into how technology can solve life's problems. We're just scratching the surface of wearables and sensors, and I can't wait to see where that area takes us.

SXSW: How can our attendees connect with you prior to your talk on March 9th?
Sheckman: I'm on Twitter at @j2sheck. Most of my tweets are related to web design and technology, but a lot of times I go off about movies, music, and coffee.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend, “Mobile Accessibility and 508 Compliance for Gov” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.