I’m presenting at my first international conference next week. I’m not ready yet, so these next few days will be a riot of flying clothes and “where’s my passport?” and anxious ranting. Advance apologies to my husband and anyone else that comes within 100 metres of me.

What? Oh, sorry. Backpedal.

Hi! I’m Intopia’s newest team member, Allison Ravenhall, and I joined Intopia in September last year. I would’ve written something sooner but I hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since.

So far, Intopia’s been fun. I had an inkling of what it’d be like when I saw my job description was “Digital Accessibility Sensei”. But keep that to yourself — I do karate and I’m a black belt, but I’m not a Sensei. Not even close.

I’ve done lots of good stuff since I started at Intopia. Audited mobile apps. Tested websites. Run user sessions. Written reports. Edited videos. Reviewed proposals. Created training materials. Estimated new work. Drafted website content. Built LEGO. Revived my dormant Twitter account (@RavenAlly ). Submitted a proposal for CSUN…

… which is what I’m currently gearing up for. I first heard about the 2017 CSUN Assistive Technology Conference a couple of weeks after I started at Intopia, when Sarah (Twitter: @sarahtp ) suggested we submit a joint workshop proposal about advanced WAI-ARIA techniques. Two weeks into a new job and they want to send me overseas? Awesome!

“If we’re going all that way”, she continued, “we may as well submit individual conference papers too.” No worries, I think, starting to dream in no particular order about potential topics, American barbecue and how I could work in a side trip to LEGOLAND California .

“And the conference papers are due tomorrow.”

Daydreaming stopped, instantly replaced with nothing. Eventually I spat out a word.


“Um, yeah. Papers are due tomorrow. But with the time zones, it’s more like two days.”

My immediate thought: <sarcasm>Two days? Well, that’s alright then.</sarcasm>

Thanks to the international date line, Sarah and I had just enough time to draft and submit speaking papers. I didn’t think about much once it was in; we were busy, and I wasn’t convinced that my topic “Words Matter: Writing for Everyone” was technically in the scope of an assistive tech conference. Complementary, but not really on point.

I was very excited when the CSUN program committee thought better of it and emailed me that they’d accepted my paper. Woo! They also accepted Sarah’s paper on reusable accessibility acceptance criteria and test cases, so we were a happy camp at Intopia. Our workshop proposal got knocked back but still, we were both presenting at CSUN.

Fast forward to now, a week until we fly. Around “regular” work, I’m desperately trying to get in some presenting practice. I feel like I’m in a precarious position: by speaking about words, I’ve got to make doubly sure that my own words are right. I don’t want my audience to accuse me of not following my own advice.

Wish me luck! If you’re at CSUN, come say hey — my session isn’t until the last morning so until then, I’ll be the one in the corner muttering about plain English, readability statistics and rockets.

Allison will be presenting at CSUN on ‘Words Matter: Writing for Everyone ’ at 10am on Friday 3 March 2017. Also presenting is Accessibility Services Director, Sarah Pulis, on Reusable Acceptance Criteria and Test Cases for Accessibility at 10am on Friday 3 March 2017.
Intopia will also be joining the online conversation using the hashtag #CSUNATC17.