I’m pleased to say that a paper by myself, David Sloan and Sarah Lewthwaite has been accepted for the W4A 2010 conference, the 7th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility. The theme of this year’s conference is “Developing Regions: Common Goals, Common Problems.

Our paper is entitled “Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World“. The paper builds on previous papers which have been presented at the W4A conference (papers have been accepted in 4 of the past 5 years – I didn’t submit a paper at least year’s event). The paper argues that it would be a mistake for developing countries to simply require use of technical guidelines for addressing Web accessibility guidelines, as increasing evidence across developed countries is demonstrating the limitations of such an approach.  Sarah Lewthwaite has contributed a new insight to previous work, based on her thoughts on ‘adverse disablism‘ which she has described previously on her blog.

I will describe the ideas from our paper at a later date, after the paper has been presented at the conference. In this post, however, I’d like to describe how I first met Sarah and how our initial contact led to our successful collaboration on a paper which has been accepted at an international conference.

As you’ll have guessed from the title of this post, it started with a tweet. Sarah tell me that she started following me on Twitter in July 2009. Sarah then spotted a tweet I posted on 21 July in which I mentioned UKOLN was looking for Web 2.0 case studies, especially from Arts/Humanities sector & research students.  Having thus being alerted to a researcher with an interest in Web 2.0 and a willingness to write a case study (which was subsequently published on our JISC SIS Landscape Study blog) I looked at Sarah’s Twitter feed and profile before deciding to follower Sarah (@slewth) on Twitter.  Sarah’s profile had a link to her blog and it was here that I noticed Sarah had an interest in Web accessibility in addition to her Web 2.0 interests.

As we were now following each other on Twitter I was able to send Sarah a DM (direct message) in which I said “BTW was interested in your short paper on Aversive Disablism and the Internet. We’ve similar interests. See http://bit.ly/8BVFt“.

That initial exchange led to a couple of email messages and phone calls, which led to an agreement to collaborate on a paper which built on our complementary ideas on Web accessibility. And that paper was accepted and will be presented at the W4A conference next month.

So if anyone  asks you for examples of the tangible benefits which Twitter can provide, feel free to give this example of how Twitter brought together two researchers who were previously unaware of each others interests and resulted in this successful  collaboration.