There are many ways to communicate about accessible web development practices; mailing lists, forums, IRC, articles, twitter, slack and gitter etc. Each has it’s pros and cons. I have been frequenting an A11y Slack (get an invite) of late. I have found it a good place to mix it up with accessibility folk and web developers. But Slack has issues for users; its UI is not accessible and while it can also be used via IRC, the output of IRC has proven problematic. Also an issue with access to chat history arose, which has graciously been sorted by SlackHQ. I also find it a problem that while anyone can join, the content of the slack can only been viewed after sign in.
Giving Gitter a Go
Mike[tm]Smith suggested Gitter as an alternative:
@stevefaulkner Time to switch to @gitchat（actually shoulda began there instead but not too late to fix the mistake…) https://t.co/jQ5TrnYTKn
— Michael[tm] Smith (@sideshowbarker) July 15, 2015
So I thought i would give it a go, hence A11ySlackers was born. Some immediate advantages I found; It’s publicly viewable without sign in. The archives are public, it integrates with Github, so if you have a github account you can sign in with it to chat. While the web UI sucks accessibility wise to a similar extent that Slack does, the IRC bridge is more practically usable for people who find the Web UI problematic. I have found it easy to scrape (manually at this stage) the public archives to create a permanent record of discussions in a W3C repo:
Any help with this appreciated https://t.co/r7L5LaTODF #A11ySlackers
— Steve Faulkner (@stevefaulkner) July 16, 2015
I have begun filing bugs about Gitters web UI accessibility and suggest other people do the same. The newly formed W3C Web Incubator Community Group is making use of Gitter, so I for one have a vested interest in helping make Gitter more usable and accessible.
Great, what is it?
A channel for anyone and everyone to discuss accessible web development
What it is not: an official channel of the W3C or of any organisation.
So drop in and say Hi or lurk, ask a question or answer a question, share info, help make the web more accessible and usable for all. It’s not exclusive, no question is too simple, only rule is: be nice.
Breaking Down Silos with Sameroom
An issue with having venues for discussion on mulitple platforms is that unless people are tuned into multiple places valuable opportunities for knowledge transfer can be lost. We are currently experimenting with Sameroom, a service which allows us to have the best of both worlds (use of Gitter and Slack) as venues for people to discuss accessible web development. Using Sameroom the web-a11y Slack room and the A11ySlackers Gitter room have been joined, so discussion can be carried out between rooms using the service of your choice. It has overcome the issues with Slack IRC bridge (users can log into Gitter IRC and chat with people in slack and gitter) and also we get the benefits of the more public nature of the Gitter service.
Hooray! That is so great to see public archives and alternative UI options. Thanks for putting it together. I never thought when we created a Slack accessibility channel that it would become this successful!