One of the things I enjoy doing as I contribute to the Joomla project, is to help with organizing the annual Joomla! World Conference, a yearly conference bringing together Joomla contributors and community members from around the world. In the course of planning these conferences, accessibility has been something we thought about, but never focused on. We might have asked the venue if they were accessible, but that was pretty much the end of our focus on making sure our conference venues were actually accessible.
For a couple years, this worked just fine - the venues just happened to be reasonably accessible, where it wasn't too terribly inconvenient for any participant to use them.
But in 2014, we failed at choosing an accessible venue. We chose the venue based off of an important geographical location (city/region) that we wanted to hold the conference in, and based off the limited options in that region, chose a venue that met our space/seating and hotel requirements. Along the way, we ignored making sure that our entire conference center was accessible to all of our attendees, which resulted in us having to find last minute, very inconvenient ways for some attendees to be able to attend all the sessions, and participate in the conference.
Thankfully our attendees and speakers that were affected by this, like true Joomlers, were gracious and largely took this in stride. But we determined that this was never happening again, and started putting a high priority on as many aspects of making sure our future venues are as accessible as we could think of. Here's some of the larger points we started focusing on.
This post is largely an academic analysis that relies heavily on research that is not my own. All sources are listed at the end of this post.
It’s no secret that one of the perennial frustrations in our community is the siloing of information; the lack of broad, easily accessible communication channels.
Some efforts have been made to improve this. The Joomla! Volunteers Portal was implemented to centralize a directory of teams, contributors, and roles. The Joomla Project also moved all team communications (or almost all) to Glip, making it easier to have a single place to find, access, and participate in any team.
While these efforts have arguably improved the availability of communication, it’s hard to say there has been much progress in actual communication itself. I’d like to take a look at some insights from existing research that I think gives some clues as to why this is, and how we can fix it – primarily focused on three causes, and what I think are their solutions specific to the Joomla community.
It’s been a rough year for Joomla. We’ve lost our way a little bit. We’ve lost a lot of talent, and we’ve lost a lot of direction.
We stand here on the eve of momentous change for our project. No matter what happens with the current structure proposal vote, a lot of change is ahead of us. Most of us are exhausted, discouraged, and on the edge of just giving up. If you have a minute or three, let me share with you what I see for our future.
When I look at the current group of people involved in Joomla leadership – when I push everything aside and just look at them as individuals – I have every faith and confidence in each member of our Joomla leadership.
We have some amazing and talented people, when you think about it; people from five continents, with a combined experience across a range of industries, who have volunteered an incredible amount of time and effort, all unpaid, and all because they believe in Joomla. This isn’t to say that every decision they make is perfect, but I do believe that they are sincerely working towards the best result for Joomla.