Bashing Bugs and Boosting Accessibility: A Preview of the CSUN aXe Hackathon

For those of us at Deque Systems, the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN) is a regular stop on our national conference circuit. Back for its 32nd year, CSUN 2017 will take place February 27 to March 4 in San Diego, and this year, we are especially excited about what’s in store. That’s because Deque is hosting our second annual aXe Hackathon on Saturday, March 4 from 9am-12pm. This event will offer attendees a chance to wrap up their time at CSUN with some hands-on web accessibility experience.

Participants will be charged with using aXe—Deque’s free, open source accessibility testing tool—to assess the accessibility of open source component libraries, WordPress templates, and other resources and applications. Participants will spend three productive hours testing platforms, bashing accessibility bugs, and then translating their test results into user-friendly issue descriptions that we’ll formally log with the content owners.

The beauty of the hackathon lies in aXe’s user friendly operation. Wilco Fiers and I will kick off the event with a demonstration of how aXe works, and you’ll quickly discover that you don’t need to be a developer to learn how to use it. All you need to do is download the free tool and begin the journey of making component libraries and other frameworks more accessible for users with disabilities. 

This is important work with obvious implications for the accessibility of workplace technologies. After all, few software platforms and component libraries are not used in today’s workplaces, so ensuring their accessibility is vital to the employment and productivity of workers and job seekers with disabilities. Our hackathon event has garnered interest from several providers, including Office Fabric UI, Wordpress, and AMP HTML, and we’ll announce more participants closer to the event. Deque’s goal is to work with each of these platform providers closely during the hackathon to make their products more accessible to users with disabilities.

Ultimately, that’s part of our larger objective—helping organizations understand the importance of accessible technologies in the workplace. Deque is proud to help foster this understanding through a variety of initiatives and collaborations with policy and technology leaders, including PEAT.

So as you make your CSUN plans, remember the aXe Hackathon, which offers something for people of all skill levels. It’s perfect for both seasoned developers and those new to the scene who simply want to learn more about web accessibility. You’ll also come away with some pretty valuable skills, including an understanding of basic accessibility testing practices, how to log issues on GitHub, and how to create an accessibility bug report that’s both easy to understand and act upon. Please join us at the aXe Hackathon as we bash bugs, hone our accessibility skills, and make workplace technology products more accessible to people with disabilities.

The Deque aXe Hackathon will take place Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 9am-12pm at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. To learn more, read Deque’s post about the event.

About the Author

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Marcy Sutton

Marcy Sutton is a Senior Front-End Engineer at Deque. She loves applying her passion for accessibility on the axe-core project, speaking at conferences around the world and producing accessibility screencasts for Her blog Accessibility Wins highlights accessible user interfaces and tools, contributing a positive voice to the web development space.