Sydney Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup, February 2019. Photo by @OhMyDeity

Meetups in General

Meetups are big, no doubt about it. If you can think of a niche interest, you can probably find a meetup for it.

And if you can’t, you can start one!

Websites like Meetup.com make it easy to find a meetup of like-minded people in your area – or to start your own.

Typically, meetups are much more informal, more intimate and more relaxed than a conference – yet they can pack in similar benefits.

  • Networking. These are your professional peers, relaxed and up for a chat. Make connections that may well turn out to be very useful.
  • Learning. Many meetups have speakers on relevant topics. Pick up clever techniques, look at problems from a different angle, find out what’s new and coming up.
  • Speaking. Maybe the next speaker is you. That idea you had for a talk – here’s the place to test it out, in a non-threatening environment among people who want to hear what you have to say.
  • Socialising. Seriously, finding time to relax can be hard in our industry. Meetups make it easy to meet new people and build new friendships. The beer and pizza (or healthier alternatives) help.
  • Recruiting. Plenty of people have found their next job – or their next employee – at a meetup. Many ban professional recruiters, but there’s nothing wrong with exchanging business cards.

Accessibility Meetups

On top of all that, digital accessibilty and inclusive design meetups have a few special characteristics.

  • The mix. You’ll find attendees range from technical accessibility experts, through industry newcomers learning the trade, to generalist devs and designers who want to be better at accessibility.
  • The context. Accessibility people work in many different environments – part of a web team, in specialist agencies, in generalist agencies, in government, in non-profits – they all have perspectives valuable to you.
  • The knowledge. All web tech meetups have an element of skill-sharing, but only at accessibility meetups will you find someone who knows exactly why that site fails WCAG SC 1.4.5 – and how to fix it.
  • The inspiration. Accessibility often requires advocacy, evangelism, and (too often) banging your head against a brick wall. Meetup attendees lift each other up, inspire each other to keep up the fight.Meetup.com logo

Australian Digital Accessibility Meetups

Currently, there are Web Accessiblity & Inclusive Design meetups in five Australian cities (that we know of – enlighten us if we’ve missed out yours).

Brisbane Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design
Organiser: Morgan Strong
Co-Organiser: Gerry Neustatl
Members: 337
Last topic: Accessibility Tips for Teams: role-based accessibility in the enterprise
Last venue: ABC Brisbane, Southbank
Go to Brisbane Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design page on Meetup.com

Canberra Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design
Organiser: Bri Norton
Co-Organisers: Ross Stephan, Glen Sinnott, Ruth Ellison
Members: 453
Last topic: OZeWAI Catchup and Drinks
Last venue: Pavilion on Northbourne, Canberra
Go to Canberra Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design page on Meetup.com

Melbourne Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design
Organiser: Adem Cifcioglu
Co-Organisers: Inna, Iza Bartosiewicz, Remya Ramesh, May-Fei, Vanessa Grech
Members: 561
Last topic: Patience, young grasshopper: Learning Composure in Accessibility + WCAG 2.1
Last venue: Origin Energy, Latrobe St, Melbourne
Go to Melbourne Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design page on Meetup.com

Perth Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design
Organisers: Scott Hollier, Ivy Clark
Members: 266
Last topic: Accessibility catchup and breakfast
Last venue: Dome Cafe, Northbridge
Go to Perth Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design page on Meetup.com

Sydney Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design
Organiser: Sarah Pulis
Co-Organisers: Lily Ng, Herin
Members: 1,106
Last topic: Creating beautiful and accessible drag and drop for Atlassian
Last venue: Accenture, Sussex St, Barangaroo
Go to Sydney Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design page on Meetup.com

Some Notes

Some groups prefer to manage their meetups via their own websites rather than an external agency. These are usually easy to find with your preferred web search tool.

Some meetups deliberately choose different venues for every meetup, some have no choice, and some meet at the same place every time.

Don’t be daunted by the number of members each group has. A lot of people join a meetup just to follow its activities. A rough rule of thumb is that each meetup gets 10%-20% of its total members turning up to any given event.

Lastly, you will likely find that non-accessibility specific web tech meetups will also welcome you, both as attendees and speakers. This is a great way of spreading accessibility awareness throughout the general developer / designer communities.

See you at your next meetup!