Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2017, Detroit

Thursday, May 18, 2017

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Bamboo Detroit

1420 Washington Blvd, Suite 301, Detroit, MI
$5.00 /per person

Event description

Back for the fourth year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day Detroit is a day to gather together to learn about digital accessibility and how to make the web more accessible for everyone. Events will be held around the world to raise awareness about web accessibility.

This year’s event is jointly hosted by Refresh Detroit and Ladies That UX Detroit.

Who is this event for?

If you’re working on the web, creating, developing, or designing websites or content for others to use, this event is for you! Or if you want to learn how we can work together to make the web accessible to everyone, we’d love for you to attend.

For our event, we’ve invited two local experts to talk about the importance of planning for accessibility in your design project and how to use an automated accessibility testing tool.


6:30pm to 7:00pm: Welcome, food, refreshments, and networking
7:00pm to 7:10pm: Introductions
7:10pm to 8:20pm: Presentations
8:20pm to 8:30pm: Announcements and thanks to sponsor
8:30pm: Time to leave


Design Before Code: Thinking About Accessibility from the Ground Up 
Caitlin Geier, UX Designer at Deque Systems

Think about accessibility when designing: don’t wait till it’s coded!  Caitlin will offer accessibility tips for designers so that time will be saved in development.

Introduction to aXE
Matt Isner, JavaScript Developer at Deque Systems

Learn how to check the accessibility of your web projects with aXe, a free Chrome extension and open source JavaScript accessibility testing engine.


Caitlin Geier


As a UX designer, Caitlin’s work with accessible design flourished once she began working for Deque. She is passionate about understanding the users she’s designing for.

Caitlin continually strives to incorporate accessibility elements into her work in order to ensure that all users can benefit from inclusive design.

Matt Isner


Matt specializes in teaching development teams to plan, test, and code for accessibility and has helped orchestrate large remediation efforts of complex enterprise applications.

He is intrigued by the idea of the computer system as an expression of human neurobiology, and champions the notion that accessible web content is better understood by both humans and computers.


Deque Systems is a leading provider of web and mobile accessibility software and services. Our mission is digital equality, and the Deque team consists of leaders and innovators in accessibility and testing tools development.

We strive to provide practical accessibility solutions that reflect real-world development environments, and we work with a broad range of clients to not only fix their inaccessible content but to integrate accessibility into their existing design and development processes through the use of automation and training. Not sure about your site’s accessibility? Check it with aXe.

Meetup: Block__Element–Mag­ic: CSS Modularity for the Masses – March 16, 2016


CSS is hard, we all know that. There has to be a more effective way to facilitate the modularity and flexibility of our code.

When tasked with creating new components for a Web project and inheriting over 8,000 lines of code, where do you start?

When you are told to keep it modular as possible, what solutions do you have at your disposal? This is when you break into your bag-of-tricks with one of the many modular CSS architectures out there.

B.E.M. is a great method to use to keep code very flexible and modular from component to component, and page to page. Three benefits of using B.E.M. are:

  • Reusability of the code
  • Maintain code in small pieces rather than large blocks with excessive declarations and generic naming
  • Style naming. Be as specific as you want. Name the style according to where it is being applied and what it is being used for. Help other developers who inherit your code as well as your future self!


Chris DeMarsChris DeMars is an associate software developer for DTE Energy in the Detroit headquarters. He is an instructor and teacher assistant for the Ann Arbor and Detroit chapters of Girl Develop It.

Chris is also very passionate about coming up with solutions for enterprise applications, which include modular CSS architectures, performance, and promoting Web accessibility.


6:30 pm to 6:40 pm: Welcome
6:40 pm to 6:55 pm: Introductions
6:55 pm to 7:00 pm: Info about Grand Circus
7:00 pm to 7:40 pm: Presentation and Q & A
7:40 pm to 8:00 pm Networking

Venue and parking

Grand Circus is located in the Broderick Tower near Grand Circus in downtown Detroit. The entrance is on Woodward, through two gold-colored doors.

Once inside, go to the end of the hall, and take the elevator to the third floor. Look for signs when you get off the elevator.

Parking is available at the Detroit Opera House parking garage, located on Broadway. Parking is $10 (unless there’s a special event). There’s also street parking on Woodward and Washington Boulevard.

The Detroit Opera House parking garage is a short walk up Broadway and around the corner from the Grand Circus space. Here’s parking information from the Broderick Tower website (PDF).


Special thanks to our sponsor Grand Circus for offering venue space for our Refresh Detroit meetups!

DetCoffeeCode – Show and Tell @ Barnes and Noble – December 14, 2013

logoAs a member and leader of a handful of Detroit tech groups I can say that the community is second to none. If you’re interested in anything tech related there is surely an event every day of the week to attend.

DetCoffeeCode is one of those  groups, free to attend, and offers a great place to learn and network. Their next meeting is real close to home, right on Wayne State’s campus at Barnes and Noble.

DetCoffeeCode – Show and Tell

The afternoon will start with a networking session. Later, people will be able to show and tell their projects for 2014 to the group. If you don’t have a completed project then cool, show us what you have so far and we’ll help you out. Follow the Meetup event or @detcoffeecode for the updates!


Saturday, December 14, 2013
1:00 PM to 


Barnes and Noble
5221 Gullen Mall
Detroit, MI 48202,

HigherEdLive – Creative Team Leadership – March 14, 2013

On Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7pm EST I’ll (Nick DeNardis) be hosting HigherEdLive. I’ll be joined by some amazing guests to talk about Creative Team Leadership. It’s one thing to bring creative ideas to life as an individual, it’s another to lead a team of creatives to produce the highest quality work and always push the envelope. I’ve asked some of the best creative leaders to join me to talk about what makes a team successful and what skills/environment is necessary to sustain it long term.

My guests, in no particular order, are Ben CallahanBob Crisler, and Nick Johnson. They are not only accomplished in their own right, but also lead successful creative teams inside and outside higher education.

Mark your calendars, it will be an information packed show with plenty to take away as a director or member of a creative team.

Ben Callahan

Ben CallahanPresident of Sparkbox and founder of the Build Responsively workshop series, Ben shares his ideas about the Web on the Sparkbox Foundry and other industry blogs. His leadership at Sparkbox has driven the team to be a pioneer in responsive Web design techniques and he continues to push for great user experiences outside the context of specific devices.


Nick Johnson

Nick JohsonNick Johnson is the Managing Director of Marketing Communication at the University of Notre Dame. His Web team handles design, development and content strategy for most of the university’s Web properties, working within a cost recovery model.

With an entrepreneurial background in marketing, design and management, Nick’s greatest professional joy is creative problem solving and the hunt for the correct strategic path.

Nick and his wife, Anna, recently welcomed their first child, Zoey Marie, in to the world.

Bob Crisler

Bob CrislerBob leads the overall Web development effort of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as Director of Internet and Interactive Media. IIM is organized as a partnership of University Communications and Information Services at UNL. Bob also leads the UNL Web Developer Network, a 300+ -member group formed to support UNL’s unique single-codebase Web development path. A 1986 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Bob has been with UNL since 1992, working first in print design, and stepping out to lead UNL’s Web effort as the university’s first staff member fully dedicated to the medium (in 2000).

UNL occupies a unique position in higher education Web development. At UNL, a single codebase underlies all sites that are part of the university organization. The UNLedu Web Framework is continually strengthened through the efforts of IIM staff and the contributions of partners through the WDN organization. See for more information.

This is a cross post from

Announcing the HighEdWeb Michigan Regional Conference – May 20-21, 2013

The past few years I have been attending and speaking at the HighEdWeb national event. I’m happy to announce that we are bringing a HighEdWeb regional event to Michigan! I am co-chairing the event with Alaina Wiens from University of Michigan Flint. The Conference will be held Monday, May 20, and Tuesday, May 21, 2013 in downtown Flint, Michigan.


HighEdWeb is an organization of Web professionals working at institutions of higher education. We design, develop, manage and map the futures of higher education Web sites. ~ About HighEdWeb 

Straight up Michigan

UofM Flint

Michigan has always had a strong root in education, we have 106 public, private and community colleges across the state. We have a rich community of sharing and collaboration. This conference environment is the perfect opportunity to continue those themes in person. If you’re a Web worker inside or outside of Michigan this is a conference you’re not going to want to miss.

Keynote – Kristina Halvorson


We are also pleased to announce the keynote speaker for this year’s conference, Kristina Halvorson.

Kristina Halvorson is widely recognized as one of the most important voices in content strategy. She is the owner of Brain Traffic, the author of “Content Strategy for the Web,” and the founder of Confab: The Content Strategy Conference. Kristina speaks all over the world about the importance of content strategy and how to get it done. Her agency Brain Traffic is home to a team of renowned content strategists, serving clients like Autodesk, Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Thedacare, Dell, Wells Fargo, and the University of Minnesota. Kristina lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her two kids, who often get quoted on Twitter (@halvorson).

This year’s keynote speaker is made possible by Higher Ed Experts. Higher Ed Experts has always been a strong supporter of conferences held by HighEdWeb, and has committed as the Silver-level Keynote Sponsor for all five of HighEdWeb’s 2013 regional conferences.

Submit a proposal

Downtown Flint, MIPresentation proposals are being accepted until Feb. 13, and are welcome on a variety of topics. We’d love to hear from you, and are happy to offer presenters a discounted registration rate. Find more information and submit your proposal.

Attend the conference

The conference is going to be held Monday and Tuesday, May 20 – 21, 2013, hosted by the University of Michigan-Flint. Registration will be open soon.

In the meantime, keep up with HighEdWeb Michigan on Twitter by following @hewebMI, or using the #hewebMI hashtag.

Refresh Detroit: Developing an Idea with special guest Tyler Paxton – Nov 14, 2012

When: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Developing an Idea

An idea is not a business. We’ll talk about how to get through the early steps by building a team that can move from the idea stage through customer discovery to an MVP. Developing an idea takes more than technical talent but many non-technical people struggle to engage the development community correctly and we’ll address how you can avoid common pit falls and how to make yourselves valuable.

About Tyler

Tyler Paxton is the founder and CEO of Are You a Human which uses simple and fun games as a replacement for CAPTCHAs. Are You a Human is based in Detroit and has grown to serve 20 Million games a month on over 3000 sites. Tyler previously founded and IT services and consulting company and attended graduate school at the University of Michigan where he founded Are You a Human. Tyler currently lives in the Detroit area and spends all of his free time with his wife and three kids

Meeting Location:

The Qube
635 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI. (map)

This month’s event is being hosted at The Qube or more commonly known as the Chase Building, one of the recent additions to the Quicken Loans family of buildings! The entrance is located on Fort Street, once inside head to the front desk located on the south side of the building. Just mention that you’re with the Refresh Detroit group, and you will be directed to the Asteroids meeting room.


We suggest parking in the Compuware parking structure, located on Farmer and Monroe streets. Parking is $5 and is a short 5 minute walk to The Qube (see map below). The address for the Compuware building is 1 Campus Martius Detroit, MI 48226‎

May 2012 Commencement Wrap-up

In years past I’ve done wrap-up posts about Commencement communication and the live stream (OK, I guess only one made it public). I wanted to start this tradition to ensure we have a historical record of statistics and lessons learned.

Below was our homepage and live streaming page on commencement day. We decided not to take over the entire homepage but instead use the standard banner area to promote the event. The homepage typically drives the most traffic to our live events page, but this year it was different, 95 percent of visitors came directly to the live streaming page. Let’s dive in to why this was the case this year.

A few differences this year

Typically we do everything in-house, this year we decided to move commencement off campus to Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. We also decided that instead of using Ustream we would use a vendor to provide streaming services. With that came the need to find an interactive chat system that met our needs. We decided to use Chatroll because it offers the open ability for guests to participate and allows people to log in with their Twitter or Facebook information. Plus it offers the ability to moderate the chat if needed.

Physical Event

The May commencement was a single ceremony, 2,600+ graduates with ~20,000 total guests. This was a big event so we knew the live stream would be popular. The event also took place from 7-10 pm on a Monday. Typically the event is smaller and takes place during the day on a weekend.

Total Viewers & Chat

On commencent day we had 5,579 page views and 3,087 total users watch the stream. This made the live stream page the third most popular page on that day. We were able to put up an archive of the stream right away, which continued to make the page popular for days after the event. In total we had 4,239 unique pageviews from 100+ countries. 1/3 of all the viewers were from outside of the US. We knew having the stream available was important to international students since that feedback has been consistent year after year.

Above is a standard screenshot for each of our moderators who were checking the live stream from a remote location to make sure the video and audio were up at all times. They were tasked with reading through the entire public chat looking for anything suspicious. Then there was the additional monitoring of email, Twitter, Instagram and of course, a backchannel on Campfire so we could discuss all the strings we were pulling in real time.

Chatroll made it really easy, actually much easier than Ustream’s IRC client, to mix in promotional messages, links for users to share on their social networks, ability to paste links in the chat for all to see, and even ban certain words. I’ll say the interface and features of Chatroll is far superior to Ustream but at the same time there is a cost associated with it. We estimated around 500 chatters based on previous years, apparently we hit that 500 in the first 20 minutes. What we didn’t know was even if someone is viewing the chat they are considered “online”. Obviously we had more that 500 people viewing the live page at a time which basically closed up the chat to those first 500.

In the end we had 289 active users who posted a total of 3,281 messages. 74 signed in through Facebook, 12 through Twitter. 24 percent of users who signed in with Facebook “recommended” the event to their friends. 92 percent of signed-in Twitter users tweeted about the event through the chat. Although not a lot of people used their existing social accounts, it was nice to see the ones who did take action to spread the event.

Traffic Sources

This year we had a lot more people promoting and pushing commencement material out (because it was a combined ceremony) so we were not able to get a fine grained picture of which medium drove the most traffic.

By looking at our traffic sources the one thing that struck me as interesting was the number of people who landed on the page by searching some variation of “”. Apparently it was the most distributed URL for offline material which caused a lot of direct and search traffic (not to mention direct traffic).


Social & Photos

Surprisingly our students decided that Instagram was the place to post photos this year. Of all the photo sharing services it was by far the most popular. We ended up favoriting all the commencement shots we could find, 65+ in total. A lot less than we were expecting but it seemed like most people were just tweeting instead of sharing photos. In total we saw 600+ twitter mentions during commencement. That is in line with the percent of our followers vs the total number of students we have 8,000 (twitter followers) / 33,000 (enrollment) = 25 percent. 600 (mentions) / 2,200 (graduates) = 27 percent. Facebook on the other hand saw far less activity during the event.

Here is a snapshot of some of our Instagram favorites:

Commencement in 2 minutes – timelapse

Lessons Learned

From the Web communications perspective we learned a lot this year. The first is that we should have mandated that everyone use a single URL for promotion. That URL should have been The reason is two-fold, the first is we would have been able to customize the page for the event and include “extra” context that may have enticed an outsider to learn more about the university. The second is it would have reduced the number of searches for “”. It’s an unnatural URL that most students and family members are not use to visiting.

Secondly, chat is crucial, especially the ability to sign in as a guest. If we would have known the 500 chatter limit was including people who were simply viewing the chat window and not signed in we would have handled it differently. We probably would have had a screenshot of the chat window with a button to chat. Once clicked it would have loaded the chat window in its place. This would have given the more interested chatters the ability to join in.

Lastly, we learned that knowing the program beforehand is crucial. We knew a little about who was speaking and the general format but when the event started late then started to run long the online audience started to get a little antsy. In total we only had to ban six people from the chat for causing a disruption and continuously swearing.  But it’s the little details that matter, which schools will be walking across the stage at what approximate time, who is talking at any given time and some of the history of the event and why it’s such a structured event.

Overall the event went really well and the live stream gave friends and family who couldn’t make it the ability to be part of the ceremony.

An archive of the event is currently up at

Refresh Detroit – From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web with Molly Holzschlag – April 19

Join Refresh Detroit for “From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web” – in which Molly Holzschlag will discuss the entire state of Web development/design and show the Open Web Technology Stack visually from back end to front end.

About Molly Holzschlag

Molly E. Holzschlag, known to many as “mollydotcom” or just plain “Mols” is an author, teacher and Open Web Evangelist. She has spent the majority of her 25 years in IT working with the Internet, and observed the Web emerge and evolve from its first days at CERN. She has spent the years since educating herself and others about the Web, its languages, and its core philosophies.

Currently an invited expert to the W3C, Molly works globally to connect consumers, businesses, Web designers, developers, browser implementors and tool makers; encouraging cultural diplomacy, technical interoperability and professional excellence.

Honored by multiple organizations and sites as one of the most influential women on the Web, a long-time friend and colleague once quipped “If Tim Berners-Lee is the father of the Web, than Molly is its fairy godmother.” Warm, colorful, and interested in everyone’s stories and successes, be sure to say hello at an event or on Twitter: @mollydotcom

Register for Event

Thanks to Our Sponsors

We are grateful to the following sponsors for helping make this month’s event possible:

Quicken Loans Inc. is the nation’s largest online home lender and a top five retail lender. The company closed a record $30 billion in retail home loan volume across all 50 states in 2011. Quicken Loans generates loan production from five web centers located in Detroit, Ohio and Arizona. Quicken Loans ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among all home mortgage lenders in the United States by J.D. Power and Associates in 2010 and 2011.

Skidmore Studio is a kick ass design studio based in Detroit’s historic Madison Theatre Building. A fun, fearless and fanatical group, Skidmore is dedicated to generating inspired ideas that translate to extraordinary results. Their team of designers, illustrators and strategists work best with those who appreciate design thinking and have a willingness to build their brand with bold strategy and design.

TechSmith provides more than 50 countries with screen capture and recording software for individual and professional use. Founded in 1987 by William Hamilton, who remains the company’s president today, TechSmith has seven products that do anything from taking screen captures, to screen recording and managing consumer content.

Venue: M@dison Building

This historic theater building, where Detroit came to see what was new, was reshaped as a long-awaited hub for high-tech entrepreneurial activity and special events. Features include inspiring spaces for anchor businesses, a desk-for-a-day environment for enterprising techies, a 150-seat theater for technology events and a rooftop terrace overlooking Comerica Park and Ford Field.


The Detroit Tigers will be playing a home game on the night of this event. The game will start at 7:05pm and since the M@dison is located so closely to Comerica Park we suggest you allow plenty of time to arrive and park.

Limited parking will be available at the Detroit Opera House parking structure, located on Farmer Street between Gratiot Avenue and Monroe Street. Cost for parking at the Opera House parking structure is expected to be $20. You may be able to find cheaper parking further away from Tiger Stadium, taking the People Mover, getting off at the Greektown Station, and walking to the M@dison.

Refresh Detroit – Plain Language Concepts for Digital Environments – Feb 22, 2012

Your English Teacher was Wrong

Learn linguistic tips and web copy tricks to get findable, stay optimized, and say what you mean. Plain language is the practice of replacing fancy words, seven commas deep, with the language of your audience. Straightforward words express ideas more clearly than verbose marketese or industry jargon: trousers might seem great to the marketing team, but the 2 AM shopper is browsing for pants. In this hands-on talk, study linguistic concepts and technical implementations for the keys to precise, usable, and elegant communication.

About Lauren Colton

Lauren Colton is the Information Architect & Editor at Gravity Works Design & Development. She is a grammar nerd who loves talking about the importance of words, and a geek focused on how people interact with technology to find and use information. A graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University, her editorial work includes the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Macmillan Reference USA) and Encyclopedia of Modern China (Charles Scribner’s Sons).


HTC Global Services
3270 W Big Beaver Road
Troy, MI  48084


Wednesday, February 22 at 6:15 pm

Register for Event

About Refresh Detroit

Refresh Detroit is a part of the Refreshing Cities organization. We are a group of web professionals whose goal is to promote web standards, usability, and accessibility, and to spread the knowledge of web design in metro Detroit Michigan.

Thanks to HTC Global Services for hosting

HTC Global Services, Inc. is a leading CMM Level 5 certified global information technology (IT) services provider.  Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, it is staffed with more than 5,000 highly qualified IT professionals working across North America, United Kingdom, India, Australia, Malaysia, and China.  It offers business consulting, technology and outsourcing services in publishing, government, automotive and manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, finance, retail, and education sectors.

Originally posted at:

2011 Presidential town hall streaming insights

We have streamed events in the past including the presidential town halls so this wasn’t anything new. The presidential town hall is an event where President Allan Gilmour provides an update on campus activity and progress achieved in regards to preparing for the upcoming academic year. The target audience for this event is mainly faculty and staff.

Promotion for the event starts with a campus-wide email. We collect RSVP’s to attend in person and a reminder email to watch live online if you cannot attend. Typically we have the entire video online within minutes of the event but we ran in to some technical issues with Ustream that prevented it.

I just wanted to share a few stats about the number of viewers for this internal event. To give you some context we have roughly 9,800 employees who were the primary audience for the event. We have ~32,000 students, some of which did watch the event but it was not promoted to them specifically.

Stats about the stream:

  • 1 hour running time
  • 868 unique viewers (275 last year)
  • 559 concurrent viewers
  • 583 viewer hours
  • 870 chat comments (345 last year)
  • 35 questions (20 last year)
  • 169 clicks throughs from Twitter (133 last year)
  • 48 click throughs from Facebook (35 last year)
  • 1,627 unique page views to (122 last year)
The event was streamed without ads, something we have been doing for all large scale events. We have found the cost to remove the ads is worth it, specifically with the open chat. With ads the chat consistently turns to discussion about how other institutions are being promoted on our stream.

A second lesson learned during this event was the importance of doing a run through with the actual equipment that is going to be used during the event. Our University Television department streams events on a consistent basis but moving to a new location always introduces new issues. This time we had a small issue with the audio only broadcasting in the left channel. It was still audible but a third of the chat at the start of the event was about the audio, this could have been and will be prevented in future events.

If you are interested in viewing the entire event, you can below: