Alastair Campbell on why responsive design is great for accessibility

Accessibility expert Alastair Campbell is speaking at Generate London on 26 September.

Generate London is taking place in just over a month, and once again there's an outstanding speaker line-up that we're really proud of. We've got keynotes from none other than Jeremy Keith and Dan Cederholm, as well talks from renouned speakers such as Meagan Fisher, Anna Debenham and Jake Archibald. We can't wait. Tickets are still available and you can snap one up here.

In the meantime, we've been cajoling some of our speakers into giving us a taster of what their talks will be about, and chatting to them about what's making them tick at the moment. Today is the turn of Alastair Campbell, who works for Nomensa.

What are you going to speak about at Generate?

At Generate I'm going to focus on designing accessibility in from the start. Like security, accessibility is best dealt with early and often, in small chunks. Too often projects start thinking about accessibility after the main design decisions have been made and realise it is too late to get a good and accessible result.

Even in the best projects it is often left to the developers to do what they can for accessibility, but a little thought earlier in the process makes the whole thing run more smoothly and prevents nasty surprises at the end. I'm going to cram in as many examples as possible to show how early you can think about accessibility to make it as practical as possible for designers, developers and other people involved in digital projects.

What have you been working on recently?

A lot of my time in the last year has been spent working with development teams at large organisations; introducing accessibility, working through issues with them and testing the results.

It has been really interesting to work with agile teams, as it is critical that everyone has a good level of knowledge and can test their own work, at least to some degree.

What are you excited about at the moment?

Responsive design may be just 'web design' these days, but now that some initial browser bugs have been ironed out it is actually great for accessibility as well. A lot of people don't realise that zooming in on a desktop browser triggers media queries, so people with moderate visual impairments don't get scrolling anymore – they see a tablet or phone sized layout, but much bigger.

There is still some work to do on the mobile side, but overall RWD has been really positive.

What do you think makes a good conference?

A good conference for me is a mix of ideas that make you think. A few talks to inspire you or make you think of the bigger picture (Jeremy Keith usually obliges for that), combined with some practical talks that make you think you can do anything!

Are there any speakers you're particularly looking forward to seeing at Generate?

As an old CSS nerd (CSS layouts only since 2001!) I'm really looking forward to seeing Zoe Gillenwater. In the last couple of years I've been doing mostly consultancy and usability testing, so it would be good to pick up some CSS tips and tricks again.

Want to hear more from Alastair and a cohort of other world-class speakers? Sign up for Generate here!


Tanya Combrinck is digital editor on net magazine.