As part of our commitment to giving back and sharing knowledge, we have partnered with the WordPress Foundation’s community team to run an official WordPress Meetup centered around building more accessible websites with WordPress. This post has a recap of our Meetup that took place on Thursday, September 2, 2021, and a video recording of the presentation.
About the Topic
In our Meetup on September 2nd, Joe Simpson, Jr., an organizer of two WordPress Meetups and host of WordCamp Santa Clarita, discussed four ways that you can learn about web accessibility.
About the Meetup
The WordPress Accessibility Meetup is a global group of WordPress developers, designers, and users interested in building more accessible websites. The meetup meets twice per month for presentations on a variety of topics related to making WordPress websites that can be used by people of all abilities. Meetups are held on the 1st Thursday of the month at 10 AM Central/8 AM Pacific and on the 3rd Monday of the month at 7 PM Central/5 PM Pacific.
Learn more about the WordPress Accessibility Meetup Group.
Watch the Recording
If you missed the meetup or would like a recap, watch the video below or read the transcript. If you have questions about what was covered in this meetup please tweet us @EqualizeDigital on Twitter, or join our Facebook group for WordPress Accessibility.
Links Mentioned In This Video
The following resources were discussed or shared in the chat at this Meetup:
- Joe’s Presentation Slide Deck
- Knowbility Website
- Knowbility AIR Rally Program
- Ahmed Khalifa’s YouTube Channel
- WordPress TV
- edX Intro to Web Accessibility Course
- a11y Weekly newsletter
- webAIM Website
- webAIM Million Project
- PublishPress Website
- Lainey Feingold’s website
Read the Transcript
Amber Hinds 0:00
So I’m super excited to have Joe speak with us today. I’ve had the opportunity to hear him speak a couple of times. And I’ve always appreciated everything he has to say. So I’m going to stop sharing my screen and hand it off to you, Joe.
Joe Simpson 0:14
Thank you, Amber. Good morning, everyone. Greetings from Southern California. Let me share my screen here. Alright, so can everyone hear me?
Amber Hinds 0:28
Joe simpson 0:30
All right. So again, greetings to everyone that, and, and thanks for joining me here today. I’m so honored and pleased that Amber and the team asked me to speak because I love talking about accessibility. I love WordPress. And today, I want to share four ways, I think you can learn accessibility.
So, with that in mind, I was laid out flat on a cold, hard operating table similar to the one that you see here. As I counted backwards from 100, 99, 98, 97, all I could think about was yesterday. The previous day, my wife was here, my son was to my left, and my daughter was right across from me at the round kitchen table that we’ve had ever since she was a little girl, and I would pick her up and put her on that table and say, “we’re the same height!” But unfortunately, on this day, I had to break some really terrible news. My wife and I, we didn’t want to trouble her during the school year and tell her this information, but we had to tell her today, because at this time tomorrow I may not ever come home again.
Joe Simpson 1:56
As a doctor called to me to wake me up an hour later, I found that I had, I found out that I had two 100% blocked arteries. And fortunately, he was able to help, put in a stent. And my life changed forever. I had to make a decision. Where was my life going to go from this point? I had no idea what tomorrow meant. This procedure stripped me all the way down to zero. I couldn’t get out of bed and go to the restroom without possibly passing out. Every time from that day forward that I do something where I exert myself, I have to be concerned and have a bottle of nitroglycerin nearby.
So, as I laid in bed recovering, I said, “What do I want to do with my life?” And at that point, I decided to take a leave of absence from my office. I would take 90 days to fully recover physically, mentally, and emotionally from what had just happened. And sort of, I did, I decided to dedicate my life to doing things over these next 90 days and forward that I truly loved. I decided to pick up a pencil again. After all, I was a designer at heart, I was an illustrator. From as early as I can remember, I used to draw on paper bags and create artwork. I decided to pick up my pencil.
I also decided to really focus on other things that I truly loved. And one of those things was WordPress. But it was difficult. As I mentioned, it was really hard to do things physically. And as I slowly went through cardio rehab, I would go to the park each day, and each one step turned in three steps, turned into five steps. And eventually I was circling the park. And one day I stood at the base of the tallest hill in Santa Clarita. And I said, “I want to climb this hill.” Now imagine someone that has heart disease, that, that’s concerned about what the next day would bring. I set a goal I said, “I’m going to do this.”
So to give you a little perspective about how high this this hill is in Santa Clarita, when I first gave this presentation way back at WordCamp Chicago, I picked out a couple of buildings in Chicago that were as tall as this hill. So imagine these, and the building you see on the right side of the screen is sort of in between the distance of the hill at Central Park. So I had to decide. Each day, I took a little chunk. And as I was doing that, I was getting back into WordPress. I designed, um, I redesigned my brother’s site. He’s a printer in the Southern California area and I redesigned his site in word, in WordPress to get my, you know, get my chops.
I decided to go to a Meetup. I hadn’t been to a WordPress Meetup ever. For one reason or another, you know, I, the Meetups were downtown, I’m 40 minutes from downtown, I didn’t want to get home at 11 o’clock each night. So I had never gone to a Meetup, I decided to do that. And three months later, I stood atop that hill and overlooked the valley. And it gave me more confidence. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do more with WordPress.
And so you may be wondering, why do I tell you this story? Because from that point forward, I did anything and everything to learn more about WordPress, and to rediscover accessibility. Now, I’ll take you, we’re going to jump back and forth in time during this presentation, and what I’m hoping is that I’ll share stories that will inspire you to want to do more with accessibility. Hopefully, I’ll inspire you to want to do more with others. To learn more. To share more. And to advocate for accessibility.
But my journey in WordPress started around 2012. A couple of months earlier, our Lead Developer and CSS Goddess both left our company at the same time, and they handed me a WordPress site. I had no idea what WordPress was, I was a front end HTML person. And I had to learn how to design our first child theme. Fortunately, we had budget that year, and they sent me up to the Napa Valley, to the WordPress VIP Intensive Developer Workshop. Now imagine me, a graphic designer turned HTML hack, going to, uh, the WordPress VIP workshop.
Joe Simpson 6:49
And actually, back then I inherited a Headway theme. And for those of you that have been around WordPress a long time, Headway was sort of the first framework, or one of the first frameworks, in WordPress that people built sites in. So this was, we had a news blog that, we had an editorial team that covered our board. We’re run by a board of directors, which is made up of the mayor of Los Angeles and city council members, as well as our own executive staff. And this blog would be our news agency, our sort of, our news arm, which reported on all the projects that we’re doing around Southern California to improve traffic.
So as I mentioned, I had to learn how to do a child theme. I had to get up and running really fast, and heading up to the Napa Valley was an incredible experience, but imagine, the first day they asked me to spin up a virtual box, I had absolutely no idea what that meant. Matt Mullenweg was there, all the top developers in the WordPress ecosphere were there. But amazingly enough, someone pulled me aside and spun up my box for me. Everyone was so helpful. I learned what the WordPress way was. What the WordPress community really meant about giving back, sharing with others, contributing to the open source project.
So spin ahead 12 years. And before I do that, let me give you my origin story in terms of accessibility. At Metro, well, let me, let me do this, I’m sorry. We’re going to talk about how to learn. One of the best ways I think we can all learn is to learn from others. And I always share a quote, and I’m big on inspiration, I’m big on self motivation, and one of the quotes that I always share throughout my presentation is one from Mahatma Gandhi. It’s “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, and learn as if you were to live forever.” So I sort of live by that, I’m always trying to learn, and those people that know me, say, “Hey, Joe, you must have a clone because you’re doing anything and everything.” And during this period of 90 days, I tried to do everything. I think I went to 20 Meetups, I went to five WordCamps. I was trying to absorb so much about WordPress, and that was sort of keeping me going. It was sort of helping me heal.
But to talk about my accessibility journey, it goes back to around 2014. For those of you that are in the Austin area, there’s a, a group called Knowbility. And they were, at that time they were doing conferences around the country. And they were doing one at Cal State Long Beach. Our IT group had a couple of free tickets, and they offered them to us in the Communications group, and so I decided to go. That’s where I learned all the things you always hear at Meetups or in accessibility conferences. They tell you the definition of what WCAG is. They talk about when it was established, when it was updated when it became a W3C recommendation. And all that stuff, I’m not going to really get into that in detail today. What I really want to do is I share my story, and hopefully inspire you to do something great with accessibility.
So as I learned all these things, it opened my eyes to making every, each and every website accessible to everyone. And a lot of times, in the experiences since, and I’m sure you’ve had the same experience, a lot of folks don’t consider accessibility because they don’t think they need to. One of the incredible things that happened during the pandemic is that we were all forced to stay indoors. We were all forced to use websites in ways that the people that created those sites hadn’t considered. How many of us have tried to order food during the pandemic, and there was no online service? Or no online service that was really accessible? I’ve done a number of presentations, and one presentation that I do, I start with telling people to launch their favorite site and hit the tab key. That’ll tell you immediately if your site meets a minimum of accessibility, because that tab key should toggle through your menu and jump around your site.
So it was incredible how many sites, for instance, my favorite Japanese restaurant here in the Santa Clarita Valley, where I get ramen, they shut down because they didn’t have a website that could take online orders. There were so many companies that weren’t prepared. But just imagine someone that has a disability. And they have to deal with your site on a daily basis, and you just ignore them. You’re ignoring potential customers. Who turns down money?
Joe Simpson 11:41
Who refuses additional income? But oftentimes, developers, developers, designers, people that build websites, ignore everyone. And what I try to stress is that making your site accessible to everyone improves so many things that make your site rank better, that makes it easier to use. So why not do it up front? I usually do a “Scared Straight” slide, I show you all these companies that have been dinged for accessibility. And most people think it can’t be them, or, it can’t be the people that they build sites for. But in California, things have picked up. And usually I show a bar chart where it’s sort of an exponential growth in terms of people being dinged for, for website issues. So it’s really important that you do work for others that keeps them out of the crosshairs of these trolls. A lot of times, people are looking for these lawsuits to ding you with.
So anyway, I’m not going to do the Scared Straight today. I’m going to take you to my first WordPress and accessibility experience. It was 2010. And I mentioned, oh and actually, Amber mentioned at the top, that I worked for a transit agency. And there was this, a couple that sued my company, they sued Metro, they said, “your bus stops aren’t accessible. The signage isn’t readable, your, your digital displays aren’t accessible to someone that has a disability.” But they decided to tack on our website as well. They said “your writing information, your trip planner isn’t accessible as well.” So there was a class action suit. And my first experience with accessibility on the web team, and I was brand new to the web team back then, we had to mitigate a lot of the PDFs on our site. So I worked with a vendor that we brought in, so I learned how important that was.
But again, doing the Knowbility conference, and having this hands-on experience just taught me that you can do basic things to get your site up and running. And you can learn how to test and make sure things are working as well. I generally do quizzes throughout this. And again, I sort of trimmed it back because I had so much information I wanted to share. But in the chat, if you would, I want to hear about your first time. What was your first accessibility win? Go ahead and put it in the chat. Maybe we can chat about it near the end during our Q&A session. What have you done to the sites that you’ve worked on, or that you want to do? Let’s say, for instance, you haven’t done it yet, and you’re here to learn for the first time.
Part of what I love to do with WordPress, I generally focus on new users in the WordPress community. I feel like those people, you know, there’s so many levels of, of growth that we all go through as as we progress in our career, and I feel like being that person that welcomes someone into the WordPress community, and sort of encourages them is really important. A lot of times in the Meetups that I have, folks come to our Meetup and say, “Hey, Joe, this theme doesn’t work. It doesn’t look like you know, the theme that I see displayed on their site. Why is that?” And a lot of times, they’ll buy a premium theme, they’ll overbuy before they even learn the basics. So a lot of times they’ll get frustrated, and their site will dead end, so I love to be that person that can onboard folks in terms of WordPress or accessibility.
So please share in the chat, if you don’t mind, what your first accessibility win was or what you’d like to do as a first step in getting into accessibility. The second way I encourage you to learn accessibility is to learn by doing. A lot of times, we’ll say, “Hey, I’m going to rebuild my website. And that’s going to be my first access, accessibility project.”
Joe Simpson 15:27
The issue that can happen there sometimes is that we want certain functionality, we want it to be fancy, we want it to do a lot of different things, and again, you can become overwhelmed, and you can dead end. What I found is, for me what worked, and I mentioned when I went to my first Meetup, there were two gentlemen there that were talking about WordCamp Los Angeles, and they needed volunteers, and normally, I would never raise my hand, but during this 90 day period, I said yes to everything, I decided to volunteer. And the most incredible thing about volunteering is that you have access to people that you normally wouldn’t.
If you attended a conference, how many people do you go out of your way to speak to? Unless you’re there to do business, or you’re a sponsor, a lot of times you’ll sit, you’ll talk with the people around you. But as a volunteer at a WordPress event, I worked the front table, and I met everyone that came to that event. And I made so many connections that I still have to this day. So I would encourage you to volunteer. And the shirt that I have on, for example, is from the Knowbility group last year, and I’ll talk about it in a minute, I was a part of a competition. And this year, I’m going to volunteer. So I’m going to learn from people that are part of an organization that’s been around for 25, 30 years, that have been doing great things in accessibility. And a lot of times just having those side conversations with people that put these events on, you learn so much that way.
Also, during this time, I mentioned I went to a lot of, I went to a number of WordCamps. I also did WordCamp U.S. virtually from over on the other side of this man cave. So, the incredible thing, and again, this, this came up during the pandemic, everything turned to Zoom, like I’m joining you today from Southern California, normally, Meetups were in person. But a lot of folks felt like they had Zoom burnout or something like that, but I took this as an opportunity to meet more people, to touch more people, to teach more people, to learn from more people. And I would encourage you to do the same.
I’m going to go through sort of the whirlwind of the past 18 months in terms of what I’ve done. And again, it’s sort of also part of the overall four and a half years since my heart event. In the past year, these have been accessibility-specific events that I’ve participated in. Locally, some folks that I know were, they wanted to start their own Meetup. They wanted to focus on accessibility in the San Fernando WordPress Meetup. I sort of gave them tips on how to start a meetup, I helped them find a mentor, and so I’m really proud of the work that they’ve done. They were part of our Santa Clarita WordCamp as well. And they sort of drive the discussion in the northern valleys of Southern California.
Also, we did a WordPress Accessibility Day, mega Meetup. We were one of the first Meetups during the pandemic to collaborate with other Meetups on sort of a joint Meetup. And during the Meetup, we had three groups, all that were interested in accessibility, and we had six speakers and we did it over like a six day, uh six hour period. So it’s like a mini WordCamp. And we were sort of promoting WordPress Accessibility Day, which someone that spoke recently at an Amber’s Meetup, Joe Dolson, was putting on. It was a 24 hour event. I decided to volunteer for that. I was the volunteer wrangler. So again, I got to meet all the speakers, I got to talk to all the speakers, I got to look at all that great content. And I met so many people there. It was another incredible experience.
So again, every opportunity I get, I try to learn something. And again, when you learn from like, for instance, Joe Dolson is one of the leading voices in accessibility in the WordPress space, and I’ve developed the relationship with him, and fortunately, I was really honored to be able to interview him during our WordCamp as a keynote. So again, I try to learn as much as I can, I’m a sponge, I try to soak up as much as I can. I, then I turned around and I began to speak on accessibility at WordCamps.
Again, you’ll find your voice, and I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to find your voice and get in front of people and talk about what you know. You’ll find you’ll touch so many people by sharing your story, that it’ll just sort of stoke the fire and it’ll get you going. And I know for me personally, that’s part of why I do it. And again, these are again, some of the things that I’ve done in the past year and a half. Again, I mentioned we started up the Meetup here in, in the, in the San, San Fernando Valley. And again, I, I’ve spoken there as well, I talked about video players that were accessible as well as a part of this project that we did for Knowbility.
Again, we did our WordPress Meetup Day, Accessibility Day. And again, I mentioned, the great thing was that I got to see 24 hours of accessibility content, talk to the speakers, pick their brains on questions that I may have. And that’s the incredible thing about the WordPress community. Folks like Amber, for example, have built plugins, they’re running companies, and you get to have access to those people and talk, have access to Amber, and people like Amber, and ask specific questions. I know for me, some of the goals that I have set for the next phase of what I want to do with my life is I want to maybe build a theme, I want to build a plugin, so having access to people like Amber, and just, and I heard her speak at a at a Bakersfield Meetup, which is one of the Meetups here in the northern Valley, and it was inspiring. I’ve heard, I’ve heard her speak a number of times, and just being around people like that helped me grow, and I’m sure it can help you as well.
So again, that’s one of the ways I tend to recommend folks learn about WordPress. Then in the Fall of last year, I was part of a team that participated in the AIR rally, the AIR, Accessibility Internet Rally, which is put on by Knowbility in Austin. And last year, because of the pandemic, it wasn’t on site in Austin. So it was global, which meant a lot of teams could participate from all over the world. So we were a virtual team, all over Southern California, our mentor was in India, it was an incredible experience, we had to build a site in a six week period. And the awesome thing about that was, and by the way, um, they’ve extended their deadline, I think the deadline was the 31st, but I think they’ve extended it to Friday, so it’s an incredible experience, you’ll be teamed up with other designers, developers, marketers, and a client, a nonprofit client to build a site for them.
And it’s an incredible, it’s an incredible experience, because you have the same pressures of dealing with a client that you normally would, but you have to really focus on hitting those accessibility markers to make your site accessible, and then you have to collaborate with others.
A lot of times in the WordPress space, we’re solopreneurs. We, we, we have our own businesses. How often do we work with other people and collaborate with them? So it was an incredible experience from that as well. These were the team members. Again, Colleen, who Amber mentioned, is going to speak later during, at this Meetup, she was on our team, she was an incredible, incredible developer, and she’s an incredible speaker, has a great podcast. So we got, I got to work with these incredible people. Here’s an example of some of the checkpoints that we had to meet along the way. And again, it was incredible because we had one person on our team who works for lawyers, and has to mitigate things through the legal process, so she had a perspective. We had a front end developer, who was an incredible developer, but had a more limited experience in accessibility. We had Colleen, who was a tried and true heavyweight in, in the accessibility area.
So, we had a great team of people working together to make this site work. Excuse me. And my job on that team was to be the user experience person. And, and do some initial wireframes, and testing on colors, and things of that nature, in terms of accessibility. So I developed wireframes. I did color studies. We did a site for an artist. She was a pour artist, so what that means is she would have a canvas, and she would pour colors and make these incredible patterns with them. But she also had the desire to have interaction with her clients. She had a YouTube following. She wanted to expand into social media. So we leveraged the tools in face, uh, in WordPress to do that. We integrated an existing logo. She wanted to have counseling sessions where people can sign up. So we had a number of different things that we had to balance with the timeline, or the deadlines, as well as the client requirements.
So it was, it was incredible. We also, and, you know, I also came up with some, some studies, went from where, from the wireframes to color studies that we then handed over to our development team. So it was, it was an incredible collaboration. You can, and again, I’ll share the slides after the presentation, our leader of our team did a video for the Knowbility competition, and sort of described what we did and it’s here at this URL. And again, I’ll share the slides. I’ll put the link in, on the Meetup page afterwards for you. Actually, we’ve already done that, so ignore that.
The next thing is one of the key things, and I mentioned it a little in number two, is to learn by connecting. One of the great things, and, unfortunately, it may be annoying to folks, is I tend to connect with people, and I try to get them to participate in some of the things I like to do, and vice versa. Because again, I’ll volunteer for anything. I’ll volunteer to share, to participate in anything, just so I can learn. So, over the past five years, I’ve met so many incredible people that way. And they’ve been kind enough to come and speak at our Meetups, or participate in our WordCamps as well.
Here are some of the people just in the last, during the pandemic that I met on a lot of these events that I’ve done. And these, all these people have taught me something. Again, Sumner runs the San Fernando Valley Meetup, and she’s considered, like, the godmother of accessibility in this area. I first saw her present at the Mission Hills Meetup here in the North Valley. And I said, “I have to have you speak at our our first WordCamp.” And ever since, we’ve been good friends, she was the lead organizer this year. And all the names that you see here, including Amber’s, are people that I’ve seen, that have really impacted my, my, my path and my direction. And I’m so thankful. It’s, it’s, it’s been an incredible, it’s been an incredible experience.
I also, at WordCamp Europe, last year, on their first online event, I saw Ahmed speak, and he spoke about “craptions.” I don’t know if you’ve heard that term. “Craptions” is what he considers auto-captioning.
Joe Simpson 26:41
Google, YouTube sometimes, can create these automatic captions for you. And he was so funny, and so insightful, and had so much great information on some of the faux pas of doing it this way, and why you should never do it. I reached out to him, and I said, “Ahmed, you have to come and speak at our Meetup.” And he spoke at our WordPress Accessibility Day Meetup.
So again, he influenced me, as well as someone else who spoke at your Meetup, Meryl Evans, I met her during this time. And when I did a presentation on captioning, we began to collaborate. And I found out she was a big fan of musicals. And we talked about some of the issues that she had. And I folded that into my presentation that I did at word, WordCamp Austin on, on captioning. So to me, it’s a give and take. So it can be so rewarding.
A lot of the times, we’ll go Google something, and we’ll try to self teach, self teach. But imagine having some of the experts in every subject you can imagine, at your fingertips. And that’s what’s so awesome about the WordPress community. You’ll find people that want to help you, that want you to succeed, and want you to do something great. So I really appreciate Meryl, and we’ve gone back and forth, she spoke at our WordCamp as well, and we talk about our kids, her son just went off to college, my daughter is a senior in college.
So you connect with people on a number of different levels, not just in accessibility. And you find that, you find some really great people. Again, she inspired me to open, open word, WordCamp Austin with, I compared the original Lion King to the live action version, to the onstage version. And I talked about the first minute and 40 seconds, and how that shaped how accessibility and captioning could be done effectively. And it sort of was a jumping off point. And again, it was a conversation starter. I was going back and forth with Meryl and Ahmed on a lot of questions. And it helped me really build a strong presentation. So it’s a lot of fun. And again, this is sort of what I talked about at that event.
Also, in the past couple months, we had Wordcamp Santa Clarita, and as Amber mentioned at the top, we wanted to do something totally different. This is the third year, and part of my story was, the reason during that 90 day period that I was doing all these crazy things, was that I didn’t want to continue to drive down to Los Angeles, spill coffee on my lap at night trying to drive home at 11 o’clock at night and not drive off the road. I wanted to have something local. I wanted to build a WordPress community here in Santa Clarita. So I decided, “Hey, I’m going to do something crazy. I’m going to start a Meetup.” And then I started the second one. I said, “You know what, I’m going to do something even crazier.
Joe Simpson 29:39
I’m going to start a WordCamp.” And we had a WordCamp, and our third annual WordCamp, working with the folks that, in San Fernando that generated their Accessibility Meetup, in all the area, like Mike, who brought in Amber to speak, we got everyone involved to put together some ideas for the camp. And I said “we want to do something that’s different.” Although WordPress Accessibility Day was the first 24 hour WordPress event, it wasn’t a WordCamp. And most of the time when you attend a WordCamp, for those of you that don’t know, a WordCamp is sort of a Meetup on steroids.
So currently, you’re having like an hour and a half of my presentation, and other things, other news and notes that Amber’s sharing with you, but imagine, uh, two full days, sometimes three full days, of presenters talking about word, WordPress topics. And it’s not just anyone, again, you get the best and the brightest, the people that build the plugin, that build the themes, that develop the great great businesses. They’re there presenting and sharing with the community. So you get, again, that kind of connection with those folks.
So we decided, instead of just having maybe one or two accessibility topics, over the weekend, we’re going to do a full track each day. That meant eight speakers day one, eight speakers day two. That had never been done at a WordCamp before. And it was incredible. It was, it was so awesome. And like I said, to me, as part of the organizing team, one of the things that I appreciated most was that a lot of the topics that our our speaker team picked, were things that I wanted. I wanted to see how someone would develop an accessibility plugin. That was Amber.
I wanted to see how someone talked about how the backend of WordPress, the admin can be improved. We had one of those speeches. We had someone, a blind user, talked about his experience during the pandemic, that was eye opening. We had someone speak about how you can contribute to the WordPress community on the Accessibility Team. That was amazing. We had someone talk about typography and accessibility, and I’m going to share, we’re putting the videos up on WordPress TV right now, and for those of you that don’t know WordPress TV is where WordCamp videos go. They generally take all the sessions, and they put them on WordPress TV. So you can go there, and enter “Santa Clarita,” and you’ll see all of our videos from our past two years. And I would encourage you, like I said, right now, I think we’ve got part of the accessibility track up, and what we’re trying to do, and the reason for the delay is we’re trying to caption everything, we want to be one of the first camps to make sure that all of our videos, when they go up on TV, are captioned. But I’m going to share with you a preview link that has all of our accessibility track information on it, and you can take a look there, so I’ll share that with you as well.
But the amazing thing, again, was that it was two full days of all the best and brightest in the accessibility community presenting WordPress topics. Again, here’s a peek at the schedule. Now I’ll share a few accessibility resources. Again, I’m going to share this slide deck with you. Here are some great resources, again, you’ve heard in the past couple of years about the WebAIM million. What they did, they took, they did a survey of a million websites for accessibility, and it was incredibly shocking at how small the number was of sites that were accessible, accessible off the bat. And, and I shared that because it tells you that the work that we do is incredibly important. But also, it’s, it can be very beneficial to you as a business owner. There is a niche for people that are developing accessible site or designing accessible sites. So it’s the best time to learn about this.
Joe Simpson 33:30
And to me, one of my points also is, it’s important for people that truly care about the subject to get in. Unfortunately, there have been people that are getting in for the wrong reasons. There’s a company that I’m not going to mention, that our keynote discussed at WordCamp Santa Clarita, that claims to create an accessible, an easy solution to making your site accessible, which is sort of the wrong message, and so many people in the community spoke out against it. So I tried to share as much information through these links to get you informed about a lot of news and notes and important things in the WordPress community or accessibility in general.
I also like to share other resources. Meetups are a great place to find out about accessibility. Meetups like this one meet monthly, sometimes they meet twice a month, and talk about topics. So I’ve shared a couple of searches that bring up different types of Meetups, but they’re all either general accessibility, or web accessibility. Or, in this case, the first one is, it considers itself a, a11y, and for those who don’t know, a11y means accessibility. There are 11 characters between the A and the Y. Again, this may be too basic for you, but again, I try to make sure I cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. Here are direct links to a couple of Meetups I think are really doing important work. There’s two inclusive design Meetups, one in Austin and one in San Francisco. Amber’s group here is a great place to learn, as well as the San Fernando Valley Meetup. And there are a number of other ones as well. And I would suggest find one that works for you.
One of the reasons again that I went to so many Meetups during my 90 days was that I wanted to see how other people did it. There are a number of different formats that Meetups can exist in. Some people do sort of a happiness bar, where you bring your problems, you say “I have a website. The theme is broken. Can someone help?” They have the happiness bar style. Some of them, there’s one in Orange County that’s incredibly large, it’s one of the largest in the country, and they’ve broken their Meetups into multiple, based on subjects. So they have a Designer Meetup, they have a Developer Meetup, and they have a General Meetup. There’s one in Pasadena, where the gentleman is incredibly funny, and it’s a lot less formal. I’ve also been to some that are super serious, like the Bay Area is a professional Meetup on accessibility, and they have serious, you have to be, you have to join it and they have to accept you, and they really want professionals to participate.
So it can go from very serious and very topic driven to a little less formal. I, my Meetups here in Santa Clarita, again, focus on basics. I try to bring people in to teach the basics, and we do a lot of hands on. So again, try out a number of these different Meetups, and you’ll find one that works for you. Or, start one of your own. There’s also learning materials, and I apologize for that quick scroll. What you’ve seen here is a picture of the edX website, which offers, and another theme, and my Meetups are free, I try to suggest that as you learn something, the best way that I learned, and it may not work for you, is to learn in a free setting. Try a free theme first before you jump up to a premium. Try to learn accessibility through a free site before you pay for it. But, I know some people may work better when they pay for it, it forces them to get a deadline, you know, you have a year to, you know, in some cases, some of these courses give you a year to learn it before it expires. So you may work better on a deadline.
But for me, I encourage folks that are trying to learn at the beginning to learn free. edX has an introduction to web accessibility, you can try that for free, but if you want a certificate, you can pay for it later. So I think that’s a great place to start. Also, there are a number of sites that will send you newsletters, email newsletters to your, to your mailbox. And A11y Weekly is a great one. And, actually Amber, you were in the, I think you were in, not two days ago, you’re, one of the articles that you wrote was there, so that was pretty awesome. So you get the news delivered directly to your mailbox. And you can just click through.
And I mentioned, during my presentation earlier, about restaurants and accessibility, the link on Accessibility Weekly, in this particular email, linked to a New York Times article that talked about that specific subject. So again, this is a great way to stay topical. One of the, the issues that I find when I’m trying to learn, is that the world keeps moving. You know, technology keeps moving. So, while you’re learning, new things are being developed. So you always have to sort of bounce back and forth and try to make sure that you stay current.
Joe Simpson 38:32
Again, this is an easy way to, and I’ll share the link as well in my slide deck. You can just click on here and it will take you to the site so you can subscribe. So that’s a great resource. Again, I mentioned WordCamp, Santa Clarita, we’re putting the videos on TV, but I put previews up on our, our, our Meetup site, so, you can look at, not just the accessibility track, you can look at them all, but I’m going to share the curated playlist for our accessibility topic.
So again, all the folks that spoke on accessibility, you can sort of work through those one by one until the captioned videos are on WordPress TV. Here’s WordPress TV. For those that don’t know, again, it’s at wordpress.tv. You can enter in the search term “accessibility,” and it will give you a list of all the videos that were tagged “accessibility.” I invite you to enter “Santa Clarita,” you’ll see our videos. And again, I think we started, I think we have six up on our current accessibility track. And again, they’re working to put the captions up, and we get them up as soon as possible. Again, this is for this year’s event, which was accessibility focused. I encourage you to take a look.
Another resource that I love to share is the webaim.org site. It has a color contrast analyzer, which is one of the easy ways that you could work towards accessibility compliance. It also has a number of different, uh, training, it does have training, but unfortunately, I think there is, theirs is paid. It also has a lot of great articles on how to caption, how to use alt tags. It has some great examples on the proper way to use alt tags versus how a lot of folks caption, I mean, write alt tags.
Again, here’s the WebAIM Million page. Again, the report itself talks about a number of things. Can you believe 97.4% of homepage, they have detectable WCAG 2.0 failures? That’s an incredible number. And then, across the 1 million that looked at, 51 million had these errors on, 51.4 errors per page, which is incredible. So that means as you work through the page, there are 50, at least 51 errors on each of the pages that they reviewed.
Joe Simpson 41:05
So I encourage you to take a look at that. I apologize, I haven’t really spoken in a formal setting since the WordCamp, so I’m starting to lose my voice. And our final way to learn is to be in the room. I can’t tell you how many times, I’m at a large bureaucratic agency, we’re, I think we’re the third largest in the United States, and accessibility, if it wasn’t for these lawsuits, it wouldn’t be on the radar at all.
And I’m sure that you may run across clients that don’t give a rip about accessibility. During the AIR competition, there was another team that, unfortunately, their project ended because their client didn’t, you know, they thought they were getting a free website, but the catch was that it had to be accessible, accessible. And when they found out, when the client expressed that he didn’t really want an accessible site, he just stopped cooperating. So sometimes you run into that.
And the important thing is for you to be in the room. You need to be there to convince them why it’s important to make the site accessible. Use examples like, you know, I used an example of the pandemic, and how certain websites didn’t have online delivery, or, um, or curbside pickup as part of their website. And it’s really important now, because it’s hit home. So many businesses had so much difficulty during the past 18 months that the message is getting through.
But again, being in the room and being that person that says, “hey, make sure all your images have alt tags. Hey, your colors are kind of weird. Hey, why are you using no underline for links?” There’s so many things that just by bringing it up, it brings it to the forefront, it brings it to their, it brings it to their consciousness. Because a lot of folks will build a site, and then at the very end, they’ll think about accessibility, which is the wrong time. You’ve already laid out what you want to develop in terms of functionality. You’ve already designed the site on how you think it should flow.
So bring accessibility into the room with you. Be that advocate, be that voice for accessibility. And I’m going to leave you with this. Currently, the Paralympics are running in Japan. And there are some amazing images. People that have disabilities, for instance, some of the runners, they have someone that helps, that doesn’t help, they have to be there to assist them to keep them on track, but they can’t lead them, they can’t pull them, they have to make sure that they’re just there to support them, to make sure that they can be their best.
So I encourage you to be that person to speak on behalf, to build on behalf, to advocate on behalf of accessibility. And there are some incredible world And there are some incredible world records that are being set, and some heights that are being reached that you can, you can’t even imagine until you see these incredible athletes in action. One of the, there’s a swimmer who’s just set the record for gold medals at the event. And she said “Paralympics doesn’t mean the paralyzed Olympics. It means a parallel Olympics.” And you know, my family and I, we’ve volunteered at a Special Olympics when it was here in Los Angeles, and it’s so incredible to see all athletes playing the same sports, participating in the same arenas. And I sort of take that lesson onto when I’m working in the web space.
Again, when you make a site accessible to everyone, just think about, one of my presentations starts with a picture of the parking lot at the market that I go to, and the pho place that I go to buy Vietnamese food. And it shows a cut curb. That benefits everyone. Imagine racing out of the door at the market, when there was just a dip off the curb, or trying to get your, your, your cart up onto the curb. Accessibility and making things accessible, or open to everyone, benefits everyone.
So I encourage you to be that voice. And I’ll leave you with this quote. There was someone that just retired, she was in television for 49 years. And she was one of the first writers, female writers that were, that was able to cover certain sports, be in the locker room. She was a groundbreaker, a pilgrim. And during the show, they brought in people that she touched.
Joe Simpson 45:52
The young female sports writers that are now just breaking into the industry, that see her in a certain way. The people that have been around, that had been her colleagues. She was one of the first people, female to be on a certain type of talk show. And they asked what she wanted, what she thought her legacy would be. And she thought of this quote. And she thought, she said, “I’m planting trees that I won’t climb. But others will.” So I want you to be that person.
I want you to be like Mike in Bakersfield. Mike mentioned to me, and it’s so very flattering, that he saw me speak and share the story that I shared at the top at WordCamp Orange County, and it inspired him not to give up on his Meetup. Or the folks in the San Fernando Valley. We were so excited about doing an accessibility Meetup, we decided to do that. You can impact and make a difference in an incredible way.
I know for me, this year, I want to participate more on the WordPress Accessibility Team. I want to have a voice in where WordPress goes, and making sure that it’s accessible on the back end, on the front end. And I encourage you to join me. Thank you for for listening today. Thanks for hearing my story. I’ll put the slides up here on this bitly link. I’ll put it on the Meetup. And Amber, I’ll share it with you, I’ll send it to your assistant to share as well.
Thanks again, for listening. Generally, when I speak, I have a lot more examples and things of that nature. But like I said, I felt like today’s presentation is more to really get you inspired to do more. And I welcome you to join me at our Meetups, or join me here in discussion, and we could talk more. Again, here’s the URL for the slides. You can find me on any of these. I’m generally Joe Simpson Jr., so if you do Facebook/JoeSimpsonJr., or LinkedIn/JoeSimpsonJr., you’ll find me that way. JoeSimpsonJr@gmail, I welcome, if you have any questions or anything, just reach out to me here. Our Meetup is here. It’s WordPress SCV. The same sort of file naming convention. Our WordCamp, we generally do it in the Spring, this year because of the pandemic, we had in Summer. I encourage you to join us for that.
Joe Simpson 48:28
Amber Hinds 48:31
Yeah, I think we have a few questions, Joe. Do you mind posting, pasting that bitly link in the chat?
Joe Simpson 48:38
Amber Hinds 48:40
I did try and throw a few links in the chat. But definitely I did not get them all, so.
Joe Simpson 48:45
Okay. No problem.
Amber Hinds 48:46
Let me look through and see what some of the questions were. So, I know one person asked, she’d “like to learn how to be confident enough in what she knows to help build accessible sites for others. Do you think that certification is helpful?”
Joe Simpson 49:05
Oh, definitely. And definitely, one of the slides, unfortunately, I had 110 slides, one of the slides that, that, and actually I can put it back in for the PDF, what I’ll do after the meeting, is I’ll go through and I’ll add a few more resources, and I’ll make sure I add that in.
Certification is important. And I, again, I would, I would suggest, once you start, and actually, yeah, I also recommend, like, LinkedIn has a great, a great way to start, and get, get your feet wet. But there’s also certification on a much more professional level that you can do, but I do think that you, you, a lot of folks, you’ll hear in the WordPress community, people speak about the imposter syndrome. And that means a lot of us don’t feel like we’re qualified to speak in this sort of setting, or, or share our opinion in a professional setting.
But the fact that you’re learning, the fact that you’re advocating, just be confident in what you, want, you, if you feel strongly about it, for instance, if there’s something you want personally, aren’t you really adamant about that? I would say, there’s a way to do it. And again, you’ll attract the people, you will attract the businesses that want to do it right. And those are the people that you can work with. But I know one of the people that spoke at WordCamp Santa Clarita, and was part of our WordPress Accessibility Day, her name’s Alicia St. Rose, she brought up, she, she saw Sumner speak, and she immediately went back to one of her clients and said, “You’ve got to change your site this way. And it, it only is going to take this, this and this.” And I would say, by providing an examples, providing reasons why it’s beneficial, a lot of folks, a lot of businesses may say, “hey, you’re just trying to bill me more,” this and that, talk to them about the benefits, or the financial benefits of having a site that loads faster. That, a site that’s found on SEO more, more easily.
There are a number of different things that you could point to, in terms of accessibility, that can sell your message. That can give you the confidence you need. But again, don’t feel like you’re not the expert, because again, most people ignore it. So again, there’s a large swath that you can cut across, and make your niche and carve out your space.
Amber Hinds 51:25
I think too, like I liked how you talked about learning by doing, and I think you’re right, like, there’s a little bit of imposter syndrome, which is, “I don’t have an accessibility certification,” or “I haven’t been doing this that long, I’ve only just started learning about it. And so maybe I can’t help.”
But I think the the AIR rally that you mentioned through Knowbility, they have a ton of support to help people ensure and you can join teams, so I think if you’re interested in accessibility, and you want to learn more about that, but you still want to help try and give back, participating in that is a great opportunity to actually do it and learn at the same time.
I think, you know, we spend, there are still moments when I feel like I’m actually doing, like I’m auditing a website, and I’m spending time looking at something and saying, “huh this doesn’t seem right.” And then we talk about it internally, and we go back, and we look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and we read the details. And then we look back at the code again, and we’re like, “okay, no, this is how it can be fixed or improved,” right? And, and, and I feel like I learn things sometimes that I didn’t even know, you know, or sometimes I see things on websites, that’s like, “boy, I didn’t even think this could be a problem.” But it is, right?
And so, you know, I don’t know, if you ever, obviously you can be more experienced or less experienced, but I don’t know if you ever get to a point where you stop learning about accessibility. And so sometimes I think, you know, if you want to help, or you want to advise people, you know, jump in, just be willing to know what you don’t know, and say, “Hey, I don’t know about XYZ, so let’s pull in someone else, or let’s go find a resource for that.”
Joe Simpson 53:02
And like you mentioned, the AIR competition was incredible, because, for instance, we had an issue with the theme that we chose, and how it rendered the menu. And Colleen was able, Colleen was able to look at it, and talk about the fix, and share it with the rest of the team. So we all learned just from seeing her work. So again, a lot of us feel like we’re not qualified to speak on things, but like Amber mentioned, we’re all learning, we’re all at different stages of learning.
But again, this work is so important that I would encourage you, just speak up, and you’ll be surprised that they’ll be more receptive than not. And again, it’s just a matter of convincing them. It’s sort of the foundation of your, your home. You know, you don’t want a bad foundation, or it will create, you know, trouble for you, for your home down the road. So again, creating that great foundation of accessibility will create a great site.
Part of some of the presentations that I do also, is I talk about how to find an accessible theme. Like most people don’t know that there’s a filter in .org or .com that’ll show you accessible, Accessibility Ready themes, that gives you a starting point for building an accessible site. Whereas, you know, some people may find a theme on Google, which I always recommend against. I recommend using the repository before you go the premium route. The premium themes don’t have to meet the accessibility standards that were set forth by the WordPress Accessibility Team. So there are a lot of little things that you can do to make your site accessible and make your client’s site accessible.
Amber Hinds 54:40
So Dave was asking, “why did, do you know more details about why that particular person from the AIR rally didn’t want an accessible website and dropped out?”
Joe Simpson 54:51
Well, um, I don’t know the exact specifics, but I think part of it was that challenge for the client is that they have to provide the content.
Amber Hinds 55:06
Yeah. Oh, we might have just lost Joe. You know, I You know, I could, hopefully he’ll join back in, but I actually have a thought about that. Obviously, I was not there. I have no idea about this particular client.
But I would say some of the things that we’ve gotten pushback when we’re doing websites, like I remember that there was someone where we were talking to them about color contrast and colors, and they were just like, “No, we don’t care about accessibility. We want our brand colors,” right? And so, I, like as much as it seems, like, we’re just like, “how can someone not want accessibility,” right? Because that seems crazy to us. But at the same time, like there are things like that where I’ve experienced that. And yeah, it is frustrating. And hopefully, over time, people will start to realize that the brand colors, and color contrast, maybe color contrast is more important than maintaining a brand color. And you just have an accessible version that you use on your web, and hopefully in your print materials too. Change your brand colors completely.
Here’s Joe coming back to join us again. While he’s getting in, let me look and see. Peter said in the chat, “something that I think people find intimidating is the feeling that they need to be perfect.” I think this is right –
Joe Simpson 56:21
-I am so sorry. I ran out of power.
Amber Hinds 56:25
That’s all right. We were just chatting.
Joe Simpson 56:28
Read the question to me one more time, please?
Amber Hinds 56:30
Um, so. Well, I just commented a little bit on the why someone might not want
Joe Simpson 56:37
-Sorry, I’m unhooked here, I had to switch computers. Hold on one sec.
Amber Hinds 56:40
Joe Simpson 56:41
Amber Hinds 56:56
While he’s getting connected, if anybody has any questions, too, you’re welcome
to unmute. You don’t have to put them in the chat. Either way works. I’m happy to read out questions from the chat or comments from the chat. But also feel free to just unmute. And then hopefully when Joe can hear us again. That’s all right. We’re all good.
Patricia Chadwick 57:18
I have a technical question, which I hope is okay to ask.
Amber Hinds 57:22
Patricia Chadwick 57:23
So the, when we launched our website, we, it used to be that I did all the content updating, but now we’re having other people, and they’re, in Drupal, we were able to require alt text fields to be, uh, you know, to have text in it, and, but on this WordPress site, it’s not required. And I, even though I’ve told people they have to put it in, I always find missing alt tags, and is there a way to require that field be, um-
Joe Simpson 57:57
-Okay, okay. I’m sorry. Okay. Now, now, I’m back. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Amber Hinds 58:01
That’s all right. Can you hear?
Joe Simpson 58:03
Go ahead. Yes, I can hear, sorry.
Patricia Chadwick 58:07
Want me to ask that again?
Amber Hinds 58:09
Yeah, Patricia was just asking, is there a way that you know of in WordPress to require alt text be filled in on images? Because her content editors are forgetting it no matter how many times she tells them that they need to do it.
Joe Simpson 58:22
Oh, I know, and I’ve heard that particular question broached to the team, I think because it’s an open source tool, they don’t want to really put too many restrictions in the back end. It’s a, I would say that’s a great idea for a plugin, but I don’t think though, the Accessibility Team is going to do that currently. But I shouldn’t speak, I shouldn’t say that too soon, because, if you notice, if you use 2021, it has a color picker that will, as you select a color, it’ll show you the, it’ll adjust the complimentary colors to make sure that they’re accessible. So if they’re doing that, then maybe they will reconsider the alt tag. And again, as someone that’s going to be more involved in the Accessibility Team in the next 12 months, I’ll make sure that I bring it up.
Patricia Chadwick 59:13
Amber Hinds 59:14
Yeah, I think um, so, Eric said in the chat “PublishPress checklists will do it.” Eric. I’m not familiar with that. Do, would you mind-
Eric Leuthardt 59:23
-Oh, PublishPress is slick. They’ve got a couple of plugins. They’ve got one called Revisions, but they’ve got one, which is great, obviously for for protecting content, but Checklists, you can custom say, I, “you have to have a featured image,” “you have to have alt text.” There, there’s a variety of things that you can pre-select and say “you have to have these” in posts, pages, etc. You can make them-
Amber Hinds 59:51
-Before the publish button will work?
Eric Leuthardt 59:54
Yeah. Yeah, you can make them optional, you can have, allow certain roles to override that. It’s really slick, and it’s free in the repository. There is a pro version that also allows you to integrate with some of the calendar plugins and WooCommerce.
Amber Hinds 01:00:12
Yeah, I know we’ve, like we’ve talked about this too, like, if we can add some sort of more proactive, within the Accessibility Checker plugin, because we’re doing scanning, I mean, we will warn people, or present an error if there’s not alt text.
I think the one thing that you have to be cautious about is you can’t always require alt text, because it’s not actually correct for every image to have alt text. If it’s a purely decorative image that adds absolutely no meaning to the page, and it’s not linked in any way, then it shouldn’t have alt text. So if there was an override, or something that required it, you’d want to have an override where somebody could check a box that says “this image is decorative,” or something, right? And and then that way, it would allow it to go without an alt text.
Patricia Chadwick 01:01:03
Couldn’t you just put in the quotation marks? Two quotation marks?
Amber Hinds 01:01:08
Well, I mean, I don’t think that would work that way, because I’m pretty sure, I’m not sure how WordPress core, I don’t know if anyone here knows, how they handle the alt text, but potentially, if you put quotes in there, you’re just gonna get quotes with quotes inside them. Because normally, most, either themes or core implementation of images, you don’t need to put the quotation marks, it’s going to add that around whatever text you filled in on the alt text box.
Joe Simpson 01:01:36
And I think near the, if your core is updated, I think near the alt tag area, I do think they put a note about decorative images and leaving it blank. So I think they have put a note in the admin window when you’re adding media.
Amber Hinds 01:01:52
It sounds like- Andy has said that they also use PublishPress. They said “we have a much larger problem with images that need alt text than decorative images,” so PublishPress works for them. I will have to check that out, PublishPress Checklists, I have not heard of that before.
Joe Simpson 01:02:08
Yeah, I’m looking it up right now.
Amber Hinds 01:02:09
Yeah, that’s cool. Does anyone else have any questions for Joe? Let me look back and see if we missed anything. Or comments? Suzette does. Go ahead, Suzette.
Joe Simpson 01:02:19
Suzette Franck 01:02:20
I had some questions, you, you touched on it briefly in your talk, but more about, I wanted to know more about, like, the, the legal, lawsuits that have happened that have created this big movement of people wanting to make their websites
accessible. Um, any, like, was there any major cases, or something that were law, or when you were talking about lawsuits, and people getting sued for not having accessible sites. Do you have some good examples, like, of bigger companies that
Joe Simpson 01:02:55
Oh, sure, and, uh-
Suzette Franck 01:02:57
-Or is there a resource?
Joe Simpson 01:02:59
Yeah. And it’s one of the slides-
Suzette Franck 01:03:01
Joe Simpson 01:03:02
-I sort of had all the logos of the companies. And the reason I use that slide was that there was higher education. So Harvard was sued. There was banking, Bank of America was sued. Disney was there. Pizza Hut. So every sector has been sued. So the point of that slide is that, you know, we think that our client is maybe niche, or too small, or everyone is getting, getting dinged. And let me see if I can pull up, I think I edited the slide where I had the bar chart, but again, like I said, I’m making notes, so I’ll make a note to put that in there.
But I think over the last, it didn’t slow down during the pandemic, um, the same number of cases came about when people were at home, and you know, companies were still being sued, so, it’s, it’s pretty important that you even consider it. In terms of le, legal, I know, we had Lainey Feingold during our WordPress Meetup Day, and she’s an incredible speaker in the Bay Area, and-
Amber Hinds 01:04:07
-Yeah, I just put her website in the chat. That’s who I was gonna recommend, because she’s-
Joe Simpson 01:04:10
-Yeah, she has a great blog that always talks about cases, when they, when they’re, were finally litigated, and and their impact on, in terms of how they relate to accessibility. So, I mean, I would say just as a, as a start, just read up on that kind of stuff to find out. I guess it, it’s, again, it’s part of my Scared Straight part of my presentations, because most people don’t think it applies to them. But, again, just keep in mind that if you’re doing work for someone, and they get sued, they can turn around and sue you because you’re doing the work. So, so it’s not like you hand the site over and then you’re off the hook. So, so again, check out the link that Amber put there and hopefully that answers your question.
Suzette Franck 01:04:54
Joe Simpson 01:04:55
Okay. Thanks, Suzette.
Amber Hinds 01:05:00
Donald posted in chat, I don’t know if you want to say this, Donald, otherwise I’m happy to read it out for the group, but he said he’s “74 years old, retired multiple discipline engineer electronics mechanical software with defense contractor. Even though I’m not in the business of building and developing websites, and as I’ve mentioned before, he’s a volunteer for the local Veterans Administration facility at the Blind Rehabilitation Center, and have learned about aids available for the visually impaired. Until I started attending the various Zoom sessions accessibility in websites did not occur to me as an issue, as I’ve only normal age-related vision problems corrected by glasses.” So he said, “Thank you to everyone for making this topic of importance and sharing your knowledge and skills.” So thank you, Joe.
Joe Simpson 01:05:46
And thank, and Donald is, is a, comes to our Meetups here quite often. So thanks again. I’ll share this other thing, and most of us, I did share at the top that I had a heart event, and during that 90 day period, I was I was considered disabled. And I’ve broken an ankle, I’ve had rotator cuff surgery, where I’ve been off from work. And you know, during that spell when I was bedridden with my heart event, or with my shoulder, for example, try using a computer and going to a website with your opposite hand. Or not being able to use a, use a keys, or type in a certain way. There’s a book on my shelf here. And the designer talked about mystery meat, a lot of folks have that like, like, have the menus hidden, or you have to sort of search to find what the links are because everything’s the same color.
There’s so many things that we could do. So many basic things that we can do. Because again, we’re all eventually going to be some form of disabled as we go. Like, for instance, I never wore glasses until I hit 30. Again, I broke my ankle, and I wasn’t able to walk from the train to my desk at the office, and I had to do something different. We’re, and again, during the pandemic, we were all at home, and we had to do a lot of things online. So again, it touches us from time to time, but just keep in mind, and there’s also a joke that someone shares that this is the world’s first assistive technology, your glasses.
So, so just think, as we get older, again, we usually don’t act until it impacts us. I know, I mentioned Sumner earlier. She’s an incredible spirit. She mentioned, uh, people in her family, it impacted her, and she became an advocate, because it impacted people she loved. So again, we all have different reasons for why we do it. But again, I’m just hoping that you take up the mantle and and make it part of your, your practice.
Amber Hinds 01:07:59
Um, I think you got cut off, sorry. So someone messaged me, because I think when you dropped off was right, when you were starting to answer the question about the person not wanting an accessible website. Were you gonna say that you weren’t sure the ex, explicit details?
Joe Simpson 01:08:15
Yeah, well, I know part, part of it was the, the client for these nonprofits, they have to provide information to us. So for instance, they had to write the content. They had to provide logos, or camera ready artwork, or provide guidance, or sit with the team and give feedback. I guess, that person was so busy, that they didn’t want to do that. They thought we were going to do all the writing, you know, the team was going to do all that kind of extra stuff. So that was just an added irritant to that person, I guess they weren’t really sold on why they needed an accessible site in the first place.
So I guess it was a number of factors, including they felt like they didn’t have time. And I think in a lot of cases, when it’s a nonprofit, if it’s a smaller nonprofit, maybe they didn’t have the staff, he couldn’t delegate it to someone else to follow through. So there’s a number of different reasons. I know, initially, we were reassigned to another team. And again, the Knowbility AIR competition, I think the team’s close tomorrow, so if you’re, are interested in doing that, I would, I would suggest checking that out. I know in the starting phases of the project, we got a different client, because the initial client couldn’t provide a lot of the information. So, again, they have certain guidelines, and they have some expectations of the clients. So sometimes they can’t meet those.
Amber Hinds 01:09:42
Yeah, I think too, like, on that note, if you are building websites for people and asking them to provide client, uh, content, like that’s where you have to, to some degree, be able to educate them on accessibility and content. Right? Like, so earlier when you asked us, you asked people to put in the chat some of their first wins. And I feel like one of the first wins that we had with accessibility was changing our content request process to be really clear about how headings need to be used. And like heading order, right? And, and if the clients are writing content, they have to know, like, this has to be a heading or not a heading, and what number heading should it be, and why. And I think you know, for somebody who’s maybe having a hard time getting content at all, and then also to be told, you can’t link the word “here,” you need to actually have the link-
Joe Simpson 01:10:35
-That’s a big, that’s a big one, “Click Here”-
Amber Hinds 01:10:37
-right? Or you need to tell us what the alt text for your images is. You know, we were talking about that, like, alt text, right? If you’re getting images from clients, who’s writing the alt text? Are you doing that? Or are they supposed to give you the image and the alt text? Like, it is definitely, I think, more work on the client end. For a good reason, but, yeah.
Joe Simpson 01:10:59
And part of the process, too, with the AIR competition, and again, it’s something that we took away from that, is that it’s, part of your task is educating the client on the importance of these things that you’re suggesting that they do. So, that was also enjoyable to see, you know, our client would say, hey, I want 15 images, and not really have a reason why other than 15 was a number that she thought was a good number. So yeah, so a lot of times, you do have to go back and forth with the client, and sort of have good reasoning as to why you do certain things or why you can’t have like a flashing rainbow on your website, so. So again, it’s give and take.
Amber Hinds 01:11:45
Well, are there any other final questions for Joe before we wrap up? Nope, I think, so, well, I really appreciate your presentation. And I love your message about learning by doing, and jumping in, and you shared a ton of great resources that, I think Joe said the slides will be up around noon. We will post the recording next week with the transcript and captions once we get that all sorted out. I appreciate everybody coming, and then our next Meetup, it will be in two weeks on a Monday evening. So thanks so much.
Joe Simpson 01:12:27
Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Have a great day.
Amber Hinds 01:12:29