I spent Thursday and Friday at the @media 2005 conference near Waterloo. The subject was web standards and accessibility so it was all about standard web technologies: HTML and CSS, but also enabling technologies for disabled people and related subject. The venue was completely full. In fact, the conference had been sold out, showing how many people are interested in this subject. Another interesting fact, it seems that a quarter and the attendees were from abroad: definitely quite a few Germans, Dutch, assorted Scandinavians but also Americans and French.
The keynote was given by Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the most vocal and best known advocates of web standards. The list of speakers included some other well known names such as Molly E. Holzschlag, Joe Clark or Douglas Bowman from Stopdesign.
Every single presentation was of extremely high quality but the best of all was the one given by Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet. The subject was 'Web Accessibility and Disability - A Practical Introduction'. It couldn't have been more practical. Robin is blind and demonstrated some of the technology available to disabled users, in particular screen readers. For someone like me who had never seen a screen reader at work, it really brought home what it means and what sort of problems those users can experience. Awesome!
It simply was the best technical conference I have ever attended and I think I am not the only one in the audience to think this. So thank you to all the speakers and the organisers.