Camp Digital - thank you for joining us

Headshot of Cat Cutmore

Sales, Marketing and Events Manager

2 minute read

#CampDigital is the biggest thing we do. It's the pinnacle of our year, an opportunity to connect with members of the digital community, many of whom are friends and customers, and brings our wider team face-to-face – a nice thing when we’re spread so far and wide across the country. (and some of us even in Sweden!)

Organising an event at this scale always has its challenges, and we were hit for a second time by widespread rail strikes, announced just two weeks before the conference day. Others were far more impacted than us (including those working in the rail industry who are campaigning tirelessly for better working conditions), but these things are still tricky to navigate. A huge thank you, therefore, to everyone who shuffled plans, shared cars, and navigated changeable train services to be with us. And an equal thanks to everyone who joined us remotely and engaged with some brilliant questions on the feed.

Camp Digital host Shaun Gomm stands onstage at the RNCM, with the Camp Digital logo visible behind and on the wall
Accessibility and inclusion are always in focus for us as we plan Camp Digital, both in terms of the logistics of the day, and the talks on our agenda. It’s an ever-evolving process, involving some trial and error, and we learn new things all the time. We also ask our attendees for feedback, and without fail, we get advice and constructive pointers on things we might have overlooked, and where we can perhaps do better next time.

This year we were lucky enough to be supported by Microsoft who joined us as Access Partners. Their contribution covered the accessibility measures for the day, including a decided quiet room, and live transcription courtesy of the amazing Joanne and Patricia from 121 Captions.

Michael Gillet, accessibility lead in the Microsoft UK Partner Team also delivered a brilliant session demonstrating the practical, meaningful use cases of emerging tools like Copilot, and how they can benefit accessibility. We anticipated this session might be a little controversial, as people are rightfully sceptical of AI as a buzzword. But hopefully, Michael’s talk demonstrated that there are some real, tangible benefits for users when these tools are implemented and approached in the right way, something we’ve also been exploring ourselves recently.

It was a proud moment to see our accessibility team step up to fill in when we sadly lost a workshop due to the strikes. The session was a hands-on introduction to assistive tech, and how organisations can incorporate awareness of them into their own design and development processes. As we approach Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), it’s a timely reminder of the importance of considering diverse user needs when designing digital products and services. We'd be lying if we said we didn't hope Camp Digital compelled some people to act and contact us if they think we can help. When it comes to inclusive user research, product accessibility and services that centre the needs of disabled people, we hope all the messaging and guidance shared on the day encourages people to invest in inclusion, community engagement and funding projects.
Chris Bush gestures towards a screen with a slide reading "Creating an accessible product or service...requires taking an inclusive approach"

We were also delighted to bring back our lightning talks with Sharon O’Dea’s 300 Seconds. The session is intended to give a platform to first time or up-and-coming speakers from underrepresented groups in tech. Last year was our first time running them and resulted in the amazing Coco Chan joining our lineup for a full session this year. This year Laura McKendrick, Galina Ostroumova, Aershey Khan and our very own Candy Ogbebor spoke, and as expected, they aced it! It really is one of our favourite parts of the day now.

The four speakers who made up the Camp Digital 2024 lightning talks

But of course, it’s about more than any one session. For us, the true heart of Camp Digital (and our mission statement for the whole event) is bringing together voices from across the digital realm, sharing and learning from the huge amount of experience among us, and demonstrating the interconnectedness of digital with those using and building the tech.

From Lou Downe’s energetic opener on fraught Uber experiences and designing better services, to Julian Thompson’s inspirational exploration of how Afrofuturism can offer a critical lens to reflect on intrinsic biases and create more inclusive digital experiences. From Shaun Conner’s talk about taking accessibility beyond compliance to Rachel Morgan-Trimmer’s session on creating neurodiversity-friendly workplaces. It’s these individual stories and insights that make up the whole, and hopefully create something both inspirational, but also a set of practical actions to take away and apply out in the world.

Thank you to our amazing speakers for sharing their knowledge and their experiences. Thank you to our partners Microsoft, Siteimprove, Auto Trader and Umbraco for supporting us. And a final thanks again to everyone who joined us, and all the amazing pieces we’ve seen reflecting on your day. They’ve made us smile, and it’s been lovely to hear about people’s individual experiences and highlights. In return, we will share as much as we recorded on the day with as many people who want to consume it. We just need to get it all captioned first so the content can reach more people.

For now, we've shared a few of the reflections below:

By Terence Burridge:

By Matt Jukes:

By Jon Rhodes:

By Sharon O'Dea:

By Lizzie Woods:

Maria Alejandra Hernandez: