The Basics

My name is Brian DeConinck. I live in Chicago, Illinois with Dr. Emily Barnard, a mathematician at DePaul University. I’m so fortunate to be with her.

We have two cats. I’m fortunate to be with them too.

Early Life

I grew up in Tecumseh, Michigan, not too far from Ann Arbor. I have some very mixed emotions about life there, but ultimately I’m glad it’s a part of who I am. I think about my friends from growing up all the time, even though I’ve lost touch with many of them and I’m too scared to reconnect.

I graduated with a BA from Northwestern University, where I double-majored in Mathematics and Science in Human Culture.

Both of those programs have deeply influenced how I think about problem-solving and the work that I do. I particularly credit the SHC program for sparking what would eventually become my interest in accessibility and inclusive design.

What I Do

I work for North Carolina State University’s central IT office, where I’m part of a web consulting team that supports dozens of campus units, departments, and projects. I do front-end development, manage WordPress multisites and a few non-WordPress services, lead training workshops, and provide tier 2/3 support.

In my work at NC State, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and focus on web accessibility projects. I’m incredibly grateful to my colleagues and management for supporting my interest in accessibility as I’ve defined my career path.

See my résumé for more details on my work history and responsibilities.

Working in higher ed is incredibly rewarding, and I highly recommend it. My work often has an immediate and visible impact for a campus community of 50,000 people. That feels pretty good.

What I Value

When we build things, I think we have an obligation to think about the consequences of how they might be used—and when possible to ensure that they’re used to help others, and not to hurt, exclude, or take advantage of.

Everyone has ethical and moral obligations, but all too often people who write code find ways of rationalizing away their own culpability. Sometimes you have to make tough choices, and sometimes you have to make compromises. But you’re responsible for those choices and you should own them.

I think people should be kind, generous, and humane. I’m not always good at those things, but I try to do better whenever I can. And I’m fortunate to have people in my life who help push me in the right direction.

When I can, I support several organizations that I would encourage you to consider supporting as well.

Conference Biography (Short)

Brian DeConinck is a Chicago-based front-end designer and developer with NC State University’s Office of Information Technology. In his work, he is committed to inclusive design principles and empathy for the users he supports.

Conference Biography (Long)

Brian DeConinck is a front-end designer and developer with NC State University’s Office of Information Technology. He helps manage university WordPress environments, builds custom themes and plugins, and helps students, faculty, and staff use the web more effectively. He is the design and development lead for the central IT unit, the campus auxiliary services unit, and over a dozen other academic and administrative departments.

In his work, Brian is committed to inclusive design principles that serve the diverse community that uses his websites. He believes designers and developers should prioritize user empathy and have an obligation to build things that make their users’ lives better. He works to empower content creators with tools and resources to make smart and informed decisions, and to help them publish accessible content.

With Rachel Cherry, Brian coordinated the creation and release of the WPCampus-sponsored accessibility audit of the WordPress block editor. With Jen McFarland, he is co-host of the WPCampus Podcast, where he gets to talk to interesting people about the amazing work they do in higher education.

He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife, Dr. Emily Barnard.