In December 2013, before I published my research on Accessibility of the Shadow DOM, I submitted a proposal to JSConf on the subject. I also submitted a proposal to JSConf Australia after some friendly prompting. I'd nearly forgotten about the Australia proposal until I received an email saying my talk had been selected. Not even a kind-but-your-talk-was-rejected email from JSConf US could lower my spirits.
One cool thing about JSConf US is even if you aren’t selected for Track A, you can still submit a talk to Track B. Sure, there are fewer perks but you can still have your message heard. I'd already planned to attend, so it was the perfect opportunity for a do-over. I shifted my talk to include less background and instead focus on multiple aspects of Web Components. I gave the talk twice (in one day!) before the big event: an amazing slot in The Paciello Group’s Inclusive Design 24 event for Global Accessibility Awareness Day and again that evening at the SeattleJS monthly meetup. By that point, I felt my talk had matured and told the right story. With that prep under my belt I secured my Track B slot.
It should be stated that I love tacos (trust me, this isn't as tangential as it seems). For months, I'd been thinking it would be funny and amazing to create taco-related Web Components. It just so happened there was a running reference to tacos on the W3C mailing list for Web Components and the people involved were amused when I mentioned them. As such, I included some references in my talk, including a
On the big day, I managed my nerves and rehearsed in a separate part of the hotel. I got up to the podium and though my mind did go blank, I was able to keep things rolling by glancing at my notes. At some point in the talk, everything just clicked. Before I knew it, we'd arrived at the taco button demo at the end of my talk. I explained ARIA live regions and the accessibility of the component before firing up VoiceOver for Mac and interacting with the button; call status updates from Twilio were read aloud through the screen reader using a live region. The call connected and then a mic’d-up Angelina Fabbro bursted in the door with a tray full of hard shell tacos. “Don’t use this power very often, you guys…” It was perfect. I thanked Mozilla and Twilio and just like that, my time was done.
I had some great hallway conversations with people who said they learned a lot about accessibility and Web Components through my talk, and that accessibility could even be fun. It was an unforgettable experience. Not bad for a first-timer. I left JSConf overjoyed and returned home with another accepted conference proposal and a few offers in my inbox. I’m grateful for these opportunities to improve my public speaking skills and to share what I'm learning in my daily work as a developer. Hope to see you out at a conference soon!