We’ve finished anotherĀ That Conference! This was my third year attending, but my first time as a speaker.

As much as I love the name (I’m going to That Conference next week. Which conference? That conference!) and the location (who doesn’t want to spend the better part of a week at a water park?), as much as I love the opportunity to spend three days focused on learning…I think what I get most out of That Conference is an opportunity to recharge. To recover from burnout. To get excited about programming again.

One thing I’ve struggled with is the “hallway track”; I know that many people go to conferences specifically to talk to other developers (often at the cost of even going to the talks!) – That Conference even schedules a half hour break after each session to allow for this – but as someone with a severe hearing loss (and an introvert) I have a very difficult time inserting myself into conversations. This year was easier for two reasons: I met an online friend in person for the first time, and giving a talk provided a ready conversation topic, so I was able to have much more in the way of meaningful interactions than I have in years past.

I’ve uploaded the slides for my accessibility talk; there are a lot of extra details in the presenter notes that I included for reference but didn’t have time to actually work into an hour-long talk. Accessibility is an issue that a lot of people are talking about these days, but that many companies still aren’t taking as seriously as they should; often it’s still an afterthought (or a no-thought). That Conference has been trying to encourage the voices of underrepresented groups (their current goal is to have half of the speakers be women), so I’m hopeful that we’ll also continue to see more work on reaching out to people with disabilities. Last year a number of speakers (including at least one of the keynotes) showed videos without captions, and I wasn’t seeing that this year – I don’t know if that’s just coincidence or if people are keeping accessibility in mind.

I’ll be speaking at MKE.NET in a few weeks, on sorting algorithms, and I definitely plan to be back at That Conference next year.