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, January 6th, 2022, and a video recording of the presentation.
About the Topic
In this presentation, Karl Groves, Founder & President of Tenon.io, provided an examination of the distance between fantasy and reality in the case of accessibility overlays. He discussed his research into website accessibility overlays and their marketing messages and explained why overlays are not recommended to make websites accessible. They can, in fact, add accessibility problems to websites and make them more difficult to use.
Thanks to Our Sponsors
Bet Hannon Business Websites is a full-service agency with a specialty in accessibility (including audits and remediations) as well as custom development, managed hosting and care plans, and website design and development.
Empire Caption Solutions strives to create inclusive experiences and engage individuals with different abilities and backgrounds by providing high-quality accessibility services for recorded media, such as closed captions, transcriptions, Audio Description, and ASL interpretation. By utilizing both the latest technology and human expertise, ECS is able to help its clients meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria and ADA compliance while offering options that fit almost any budget.
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.
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:
- WordPress Accessibility Facebook Group
- Overlay Factsheet
- Overlay False Claims
- IRS Form 8826, Disabled Access Credit
- Accessibility Advocates Sign Open Letter Urging People Not To Use AccesiBe and Other Overlay Products on WP Tavern
- WP Accessibility Plugin
- Example of code for a custom site-specific overlay
- Web a11y Slack
- How to Meet WCAG (Quick Reference)
- Google Spreadsheet of all the plugins on WordPress.org that talk about accessibility
- Amber’s WordCamp Santa Clarita talk on WordPress Accessibility Plugins
- Creative Boost Podcast Episode on Overlays
- Karl Groves’ Website
- Karl Groves on Twitter
Read the Transcript
[00:00:00] >> AMBER HINDS: Roxy is from New Haven, Connecticut, and is a sponsored contributor working on Learn WordPress, looking forward to learning from all of us today. Kevin introduced himself. He’s from Indianapolis, Indiana, works at Butler University. Hi, Peter. Good to see you again from South Windsor, Connecticut. I think I’m going to get started. We may have a few more people filter in but I want to give as much time as possible for Karl to speak. Feel free to continue introducing yourselves in the chat if that’s something you would like to do. Obviously, we can use the chat for questions and other commentary during the presentation.
[00:00:41] A few announcements, I don’t have this written out, but I will say, you may have noticed that unfortunately, we do not have ASL interpreters today. We are looking for sponsors to cover the cost of ASL interpretation so that we can continue that in 2022. If your company would be interested in learning more, please do reach out to me because we’ve had some attendees who request it and we’re hoping to be able to continue it. Unfortunately, the WordPress foundation doesn’t have budget for ongoing ASL interpretation or live captioning so that’s something that we have to find sponsors in order to cover.
[00:01:19] Other quick announcements, Paul will probably throw up in the chat a link to our Facebook group. If you want to connect outside of the Meetup, we started a Facebook group for WordPress Accessibility. That’s a great place to connect with other people. Feel free to join. We also, after getting a lot of requests about how to find all the information, I just threw up real quick earlier this week a page on our website. If you go to equalizedigital.com/Meetup, it’ll redirect to this longer URL.
[00:01:54] It’s a WordPress Accessibility Meetup page. It has our sponsors on there. It has upcoming Meetup events. We’re not using any sort of event calendar so if you click the link, it’s going to take you back to Meetup. You still have the RSVP on Meetup but you can find the upcoming events. Then it also has links to all of the recordings from past sessions if you miss a Meetup and you want to watch it and get caught up.
[00:02:22] Then the next thing I wanted to talk about is WordPress Accessibility Day or WP Accessibility Day 2022. If you’re not familiar with that, it took a year off last year, but it happened last in 2020, and it’s a virtual conference. It was a 24-hour day of accessibility talks. We had speakers from all around the globe. I’m not 100% certain yet if it will be 24 hours, but it may be, we are just starting to plan it. I’m lead organizing with Joe Dolson, who is one of the core contributors on the accessibility team at WordPress or for Core WordPress.
[00:03:05] We are looking for people to help. It sounds like we will be having meetings on the first and third Fridays. Our first meeting is going to be Friday, January 21st at 10:00 AM. If you can’t attend meetings, you can 100% help to organize. We’re going to need people with a lot of different experience and interest levels from finding sponsors to marketing, to building a website, to organizing volunteers and choosing speakers, all of that kind of stuff. If you are interested in helping, please reach out to me. I can invite you, too. We have a slack channel and get you set up so that you can start talking with the other people who will be organizing. We have a good group so far, but as many people as we can get to help will be awesome so we can all spread out the work.
[00:03:53] >> KARL: Amber, can you give folks the date of the actual event so they can start putting it on their calendar?
[00:04:00] >> AMBER: We have not selected the date of the event yet. That’s something that’s going to happen in, probably, the first or second organizer meeting. Right now we are planning that it’s going to be in October of 2022 this year. Obviously, there’s different work that has to happen at different times and so that is one thing which is like if you know you have time to volunteer in spring, you could help with getting the website set up, or maybe finding sponsors, or things like that. If you are like, “I can’t now, but in the fall I’ll have time or over the summer, I’ll have time,” there will be things that we definitely need help with later at that time.
[00:04:38] It’s between now and October. We haven’t set the official date yet because Joe and I decided that we wanted to give the whole team time to talk about it and choose a date so it wouldn’t just be the date that works best for the two of us. Then to make it a little easier I did also set up an email address, Meetup@equalizedigital.com. If you have any suggestions for the Meetup, if you need to get ahold of an organizer or anything else, that’s the best email, so you have one point and it’ll go to everybody.
[00:05:16] Real quick, who am I? Who is this person talking to you? I am the CEO of a company called Equalize Digital. We’re a WordPress VIP agency and a member of the IAAP and a certified B corporation. We build accessible WordPress websites and we also have a plugin. There’s a free version of it on wordpress.org that scans websites for accessibility problems. It’s not a fixer, it’s not an overlay [chuckles] but it can help you to augment your manual testing efforts by finding problems. That’s called accessibility checker.
[00:05:54] We have two sponsors today that I want to acknowledge. One is Bet Hannon and Bet Hannon Business Websites is her. I can throw her up here. I don’t know if everybody can see her, but if I add a spotlight, then people will. This is Bet. Bet is covering the cost of our live captions for today. Thank you very much, Bet. Bet Hannon Business Websites is a full-service agency with a specialty in accessibility. They do audits and remediation.
[00:06:22] I believe they also are doing audits for plugin and theme developers for their products too, not just in websites, which is super awesome. They also do custom development, manage hosting care plans, website design and development. A huge thank you to Bet for sponsoring captions for today so we can make this meet-up accessible. I’m sure you can get a hold of her on her website or you can find her on Twitter @bethannon if you have any questions or want to follow up with her as well.
[00:06:55] Then our next sponsor is Empire Caption Solutions. They are covering our transcript and our SRT file so that we can have corrected captions after the fact on our video on YouTube. They have kindly agreed to donate those services to us, which we very much appreciate because they have our experts at that, and it was taking us many, many, many, many hours [chuckles] to create corrected transcripts and SRT files. We very much appreciate this. Empire Caption Solutions in addition to doing closed captions and transcriptions, they also do audio description and can provide ASL interpretation.
[00:07:40] [background noise]
[00:07:41] There we go. I think I got it. Definitely check them out. If you have videos that you need caption and you don’t want to have to spend eight hours of your life doing it. [chuckles] I highly recommend.
[00:08:00] I also want to do a quick shout-out. There’s a tweet. If it’s easier for you on our Twitter account that is noting our speaker and thanking our two sponsors, if you want to retweet that, or if you want to write your own tweet, I always recommend, tweet a thanks to Bet @bethannon, and tweet a thanks to Empire Caption @EmpireCaption because that helps to encourage our sponsors to want to sponsor again. It gives them some acknowledgment out there in the world that they’re doing an awesome thing.
[00:08:40] Our next upcoming events on Monday, January 17th at 5:00 PM, Carie Fisher will be speaking about accessible typography. She’ll be showing some examples of websites and documents that had poor typography that were improved for accessibility and readability. This should be a great talk, whether you’re a developer, or a designer, or just a content creator. If you choose fonts to use on your website and font sizing, this is the talk for you.
[00:09:11] Then our next presentation in this time slot, which will be Thursday, February 3rd, we’ll have Glen Walker back again. Glen did a really great presentation on how to configure in VDA last fall. He will be doing a live audit of GiveWP, which is a really awesome donation plugin for WordPress. Matt Cromwell and some other people from the Give team will be present to ask questions and get feedback.
[00:09:41] This is really exciting. This is the second in this time series that we’re doing, where we provide live feedback to products in the WordPress space, because our goal is that if they can improve the accessibility of the output of their product, then every single website, which for many of these it’s tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of websites can be improved. That’s what this Meetup will be about. You will have takeaways and you may get a better feel for how do you test things. Maybe if you see something similar on the website you’re working on, then you could make the same fix that is recommended during the talk.
[00:10:20] Now, what everybody is waiting for, I’m super excited to introduce Karl Groves. Karl is, well, I put CEO of Tenon but now that Tenon has joined the team on Level Access, I’m sure he’ll tell you in a little bit what his new title is, and he works at Level Access. He has nearly two decades of experience in IT consulting and accessibility. He, also, is the person behind the facts about accessibility overlay website. It’s overlayfactsheet.com, I believe. It has done a lot of work on researching accessibility overlays, what they actually can deliver and cannot deliver on. I know that the question that we get asked a lot so it’s something that we are really excited to have Karl here to present on.
[00:11:14] I’m going to stop sharing my screen and I will unspotlight myself and let Karl take over. Thanks, Karl.
[00:11:23] >> KARL GROVES: All right, thank you. All right, I will share my screen now. The website that Amber was just mentioning is overlayfactsheet.com. I’ll be mentioning this again, throughout the presentation. It’s a community-driven statement around the facts, capabilities, and possible lack thereof for overlays. It does provide a clear understanding of what the overlays can and cannot do.
[00:12:06] There’s a particularly important section, in my opinion, here that is to be paid significant attention to which is this section called “in their own words.” It does contain actual quotes from actual people with disabilities, who have made their own stand against accessibility overlays and their false claims. If you want to read an unbiased direct quotes from the people– Well, actually, they probably are biased [chuckles] because they don’t like them but if you want to read what actual people with disabilities have to say about them, that section of the overlay fact sheet, I think, is particularly powerful.
[00:12:45] Another resource that I’d like to share is the overlayfalseclaims.com. This is a white paper that was authored by myself, as well as Michael Beck, who spoke up a little bit ago. Michael Beck and I did research on the false marketing claims created by accessibility overlays. I also want to give a shout-out to Eric Bailey, who did the design the visual design on both of those sites and he donated that visual design for this purpose. He, also, is one of the people who run the accessibility project, A11y project. Big shout-out to Eric because I am not a graphic designer. I’m absolutely horrible at it. He fixed this for us.
[00:13:35] Let’s talk about overlays in a little bit more detail, especially about their capabilities. Before I do that, I do want to say that– I want to give you a warning, and that is that this talk is going to be super negative. I know a lot of times when you attend a talk, especially if it’s at a conference or at a Meetup like this, you want to walk away with some information and some sort of inspiration about how to make your job better, make your work better do things better, things like that. I’m not going to do that. [chuckles] Unfortunately, as a matter of fact, if I’m successful, after this talk, you’re going to be very angry about what’s going on here. We will talk more about that. This talk is going to be pretty fast-paced. I’m doing that on purpose so that there’s time for questions in case anybody has questions.
[00:14:35] One of the things I also want you to walk away with is that overlays are not better than nothing. That’s something that you hear a lot of people talk about. They say that it’s better than nothing. It’s at least we’re improving something temporarily. What we found actually- and we’re actually going to be publishing additional research on this myself, Michael Beck, and John Watts have done a lot of work, specifically, itemizing every single capability that overlay products offer and the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness really on that. This presentation is actually a preview of that research.
[00:15:20] We do have to admit that we have a problem. This is actually the web, the world wide web as a whole has a problem, and that is an accessibility problem. Overall, the web is a hideous mess when it comes to accessibility. Thankfully, governments throughout the world have recognized the importance of accessibility on the web, and equitable access to the digital world for people with disabilities so every major economic region in the world has laws mandating web accessibility. In the United States, we have the ADA. In the EU, there’s the European Accessibility Act. There’s AODA in Canada. There’s ACA, there’s DDA, there’s- everybody has laws around these sorts of things, and that’s really, really good.
[00:16:10] In the United States, we tend to enforce our accessibility laws with lawsuits, whereas in Europe and places like that, a lot of their law enforcement is based upon monitoring and issuing fines and things like that. For the United States, we tend to have these sorts of laws enforced through litigation. In the Obama administration, there was project civic access, which was very active in ensuring the state local government websites were accessible, but in the private sector, it’s almost entirely private citizen-driven websites.
[00:16:55] This has made for a really incredible market opportunity. Okay. As you can imagine, if companies get sued for accessibility, and lots of company gets sued for accessibility, so these companies have to comply with this stuff, people aren’t complying, that’s why they’re getting sued, the penalties are pretty painful, then providing solutions to this problem is a good market opportunity. As a matter of fact, if you look at the history of all the biggest accessibility companies in the United States, you’ll see that a lot of them began their time in the late ’90s, ’99, ’98 that time period. You want to know why? Section 508 came out.
[00:17:45] It’s not a bad thing to recognize this as a market opportunity. That’s how things go. The thing about that is if you can do it very quickly and cheaply, or at least you can promise that and minimum disruption to the website’s UI, well, then you got yourself magic. The overlay. This is the thing, is that the overlay companies promised the customer that they have the ability to do this stuff quickly, the ability to fix your website very quickly, and there you go, your problems go away, your lawsuits are going to disappear.
[00:19:25] Here’s another one. Another thing that makes some of these overlay companies hard to keep track of is that they also white label their products. This is a screenshot from Accessus.ai. They are a reseller of accessiBe. The white labeling, by the way, if nobody’s familiar with that term, it’s the practice of letting someone else sell your software as if it was their own and still accessiBe is well-known to have several white-labeled partners in real estate, auto dealerships, and also in other countries, one of which is in Italy.
[00:20:07] This one is from the United States. Actually, as a matter of fact, for those of us who were in Maryland, this company is apparently in Towson. I think they’re probably- it’s a drop mailbox somewhere. Anyway, another example AccessiWay from Italy. Of course, they’re both just white-labeled resellers of accessiBe, and of course, they perpetuate those same lies.
[00:20:31] Another weird trait that we found in our research for overlay false claims was how much they lie about who their customers are. This screenshot is from Allyable. This contains a list of their purported customers. Interestingly, when we did our investigation, what we found is about half of these companies that are listed on this list do not have any overlay on their site at all. Among the other half, two of them are competitors of theirs, [chuckles] one of which is actually a customer of a different overlay company.
[00:21:11] Then there’s this other one, which is great, which is Microsoft. I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. Microsoft is absolutely awesome at accessibility. They’ve been kicking the crap out of every other big software company on the planet for several years now. I’ve directly spoken with the C-level executive at Microsoft who says that Allyable is not a vendor there.
[00:21:35] The other thing that I think is particularly interesting, personally, as a business owner or former business owner, is that Tenon was a Microsoft vendor. Our MSA with Microsoft says very specifically that we are not allowed to use their logo to do any advertising without their explicit permission and I can guarantee you that they don’t. Some of the names, again, here for those who are non-vision DIVERSEability Magazine, MyHeritage, AudioCodes, Teva, so on and so forth.
[00:22:10] Another thing that you’ll see by the way is when you see a lot of these logos on overlay vendor websites is those logos will actually be for geographically specific companies. For instance, I believe EqualWeb had the Coca-Cola logo on their website. It was actually Coca-Cola in Israel. Not that they were lying in that case, it was like, “Yes, Coca-Cola uses us,” which is, obviously, a massive company, but it was only on that particular website and only, by the way, because Israel happens to have come out, the courts in Israel have said that overlays are sufficient.
[00:22:59] Another lie that vendors tell is how that they’re wildly more successful than they really are. For instance, this company EqualWeb, they say that they’re on over 100 million web pages. This is squishy, anyway, because what is a web page? They’re kinda conflating webpage and website. Is it page? Is it URLs? It’s weird. Anyway, what we found is that, our research says they’re on at most 6,000 websites. Each of those 6,000 websites would have to have an average of about 17,000 distinct pages for this claim to be correct, and of course, that’s probably BS.
[00:23:50] Another lie, this time from a company called Online ADA. They sell a product called Max Access. They say certification is the only solution you’ll ever need. The problem is that there is no independently developed industry-accepted certification for accessibility. Whatever this certification is that they’re talking about, one thing is for sure that it’s going to be completely worthless.
[00:24:19] Another one, this is another one we found in our research called Purple Lens. You, probably, hardly ever heard of it because they’re extremely tiny. What I love about this is they say for a maximum of $16 per month, you can get 100% level AA compliance. If you’ve read any of the information that we’ve published on this, you can definitely see that that’s not going to be true. You can’t achieve, for instance, compliance with color contrast, which is a level AA thing. So many things that you can’t actually do with an overlay and so these claims that all of them make about 100% compliance is just bogus.
[00:25:04] Another one Truablities, these, like the others, they claim all you need to do is install their snippet and– I like this screenshot in particular because I love the fact that you can really tell from their marketing that these companies don’t understand accessibility at all. The reason why I say that is because we have this person here in the little graphic image in a wheelchair, and that’s great, of course, they’re doing representation, but it’s a hospital-style wheelchair. You’ll see this kind of imagery, this clip art imagery in use throughout all the overlay companies.
[00:25:44] As a matter of fact, somebody mentioned the image that you’ll see on the Max Access website is a clip art thing. At least that one showed the guy listening to his phone, which is typically how a person who’s non-visual will use their phone. They’ll listen to it because, obviously, staring at it doesn’t look good as they swipe but. They all also have these wacky, their wacky medical wheelchairs, which again, indicates to me at least that they don’t understand how people in wheelchairs actually- what they use, and they’re not using a hospital wheelchair though.
[00:26:20] As somebody who spent a good portion of my elementary school years in the wheelchair, I could tell you that those things are hideously uncomfortable. You’ll see them in sunglasses like Stevie Wonder with their cane, the white cane resting against the desk. If you know anybody who’s actually blind, they’re not resting their cane at their desks. They’re folding it up and stuffing in a backpack or something like that because, obviously, somebody could walk by and hit the cane. Anyway, that’s another one of my fun things about overlay companies.
[00:26:57] Next one is this. The biggest lie told by overlay vendors is that their product will protect you from being sued. I want you to take note of the timing listed in the top right of this screenshot from LinkedIn. It says five months ago. Here’s CEO and co-founder of accessiBe Shir Ekerling. This is a comment from LinkedIn. He says, “One note on your comment, you have never, not once, had encountered a company that got sued because of accessiBe. You’ve only seen companies that joined accessiBe to be a solution to their already existing legal situation.”
[00:27:40] That’s interesting because at the time that was written, this lawsuit, which is called Murphy versus Eyebobs, had been filed against an accessiBe customer. Eyebobs makes eyeglasses and frames for eyeglasses and I was hired to file an expert witness report in that case. In that case, I found that accessiBe is unable to correct accessibility issues in images in other non-text content, unable to correct accessibility issues in forms, unable to correct accessibility issues in document heading structure, unable to correct accessibility issues in keyboard navigation, and the best part, the accessiBe widget itself introduced net new accessibility issues onto the page. [chuckles]
[00:28:35] Another thing, by the way, I’ll also mention about this particular case is that accessiBe also claims to provide a litigation support package and during documents filed in court– Again, keeping in mind, everything I’m saying here is public information. If you have access to Pacer you can get access to the filings in this, is that Murphy stated that when they attempted to get accessiBe to participate in their defense, accessiBe did not respond.
[00:29:07] All right, Karl, forget it. Okay, you’ve made your case about the automatic fixing. What if they don’t automatically fix things? Fine. They also have these nifty tools. The screenshot on this page, it’s a couple of screenshots from different– Actually, no, it’s not different. It’s the same. It’s from Make-Sense. There are some conflation around what Make-Sense is versus what EqualWeb is versus what Allyable– I don’t want to go into the weirdnesses of how these things relate to one another, but they all have the same kinda helpful tools.
[00:29:47] For instance, in the background here of this slide, we have the widget from Make-Sense. It’s got font size increasing, adjustments for visually impaired, adjustments for color blind, all these sorts of things, accessibility statement. There’s one called typical view, whatever the heck that is. Big white cursor, big black cursor, screen reader navigation, all that sort of stuff. What we’re finding in this research that we’re finishing up, Michael, John, and I are finishing up, is that for the most part, these tools actually do not work as good as the built-in tools that you already get from your computer when you open the box.
[00:30:28] For instance, I believe it’s, I believe it’s the Make-Sense or it’s EqualWeb, one of the two, only goes up to 150%. In other words, it’s only going to go up 150% font size, which is not sufficient for WCAG 200% font size increase. [laughs] Most of them, if not all of them, I’d have to check my notes, most of them with their font size increases don’t go any higher than 200%, okay. Your browser automatically does higher. I believe your browser goes up to something like 1600%, Chrome does at least, and your operating system both offer better capabilities than that. The same thing goes for almost all of these things.
[00:31:18] This is accessiBe– No, wait. Is this accessiBe or UserWay? Sorry, I’m on my notes on this one. Readable font, I love that one, the readable font. Most websites these days use a serif font. This one, in particular, I know, and I recognize the UI, I don’t recognize which one it is, readable font, change it to a different sans serif font. [chuckles] Text magnifier, these things are all bogus. This is a great one, screen reader adjustments. Really didn’t tend to have a whole lot of useful stuff.
[00:31:55] Hiding images, that’s great. That’ll help you make it less accessible because actually showing images and the ability to see images is beneficial depending on the image, of course, for people with cognitive impairments, helping to understand all sorts of– Keyboard navigation, these keyboard navigation, things typically do nothing better than what the tab would do, very odd stuff. Muting sounds is a great one. That’s built into the browsers these days so there you go. The other one, I know that the- this one. One of them has one, that screen reader navigation. The screen reader navigation actually does less than what can be done in a typical browser or typical screen reader.
[00:32:51] Again, just to reiterate, a user who needs those enhancements are going to need the enhancements on every website. UserWay recently tweeted, and then untweeted when I called them out on it, recently tweeted out that their built-in screen reader supports more voices than the typical screen reader. First off, that was wrong because that’s just not the case. Second off, the support for different voices is not built into UserWay. It’s built into whatever speech synthesizer you have on your computer at the time, which is why if any of you have ever used NVDA, you’ll notice that on NV Access website you’ll be able to download additional voices, depending on what your synthesizer is, and stuff like that.
[00:33:49] Again, why would you use a screen reader functionality on a website that has UserWay on it? How did you get to it? If you need it, how would you get to that site in the first place? That’s the really other bizarre things. The other thing is you’re going to need those enhancements on every single application on your computer, not just the browser. It’s not just websites, not just the– Yes, it’s really bizarre.
[00:34:18] This is a screenshot of Windows ease of access settings. Again, this is built into every computer that is out there these days. This is what it looks like if you’re on Windows 10 and you’ll see here display changes, cursor pointer changes, magnifier, color filters, high contrast modes, narrator which is the built-in screen reader. You go here to where it says, “Make the–” underneath the word dammit on the screen. It says, “Drag the slider until simple text is easy to read.” It goes way bigger than any of these things, any of these products that will–
[00:34:56] Not only that you have magnification, you have a built-in magnifier. You can change in the zoom level way higher than the ones that are ever offered by any of these tools. Not only that, but those crazy kids at Apple do it too. This is a screenshot of Mac OS accessibility settings. Again, as you can see, in this case, what is highlighted or what’s showing is that mouse and trackpad modifications for what happens when you click whether the delays between clicking, all these things. These are all built into the thing.
[00:35:32] This is a great one. They have tools for screening. This is what I wanted to show. This is the Make-Sense tool showing up their enhancements. What I’ve done is I’ve clicked on screen reader navigation, and it says, “Click the zone to jump,” and it’s got options for links, headers, lists, and images. Well, that is substandard because you can also do all sorts of other things with VoiceOver and Narrator and JAWS and NVDA. [chuckles] It says the screen reader navigation, and it’s doing a redundant list of things that are already built into the screen readers anyway and also not as many things as the stuff that’s built-in anyway.
[00:36:10] Here’s the headings list in JAWS and the links listed in JAWS. [chuckles] Here’s the headings list, on the left-hand picture, with VoiceOver, showing you the headings list, and they also show you the levels of the headings. In the right-hand side is the heading element lists from Orca. [laughs] I’m sorry, not Orca. That’s NVDA, but Orca does it also. If you’re not familiar with Orca, it’s a Linux-based screen reader.
[00:36:42] Next one here, this is– Look, you get the high contrast mode from the MK-sense tool. This is their high contrast mode. They offer one. If you’re on Windows, you get three high contrast themes by default, and of course, infinite ability to modify that as you need to with your own preferences, and also, hey, what do you know, high contrast mode in Apple as well. Here’s our high contrast options for Windows. [chuckles] Wait, you got a big ass cursor. This is another option. You can use big white cursor, big black cursor. Oh, man, you can do that in Windows and Mac OS, too. Actually, if you have ZoomText you can do even more cool stuff with your cursor as well. ZoomText you’ve got a big circle around it and all sorts of cool stuff.
[00:37:48] I want to tell you why this matters. I mean, I realize I’m being super sarcastic about all this sort of stuff, and calling attention to the fact that these tools, first off, don’t fix the things that they say they can fix, and by virtue of that, don’t cause compliance when they say they can cause compliance. I’ve also highlighted the fact that their enhancements are not as good as what’s already built into your computer.
[00:38:17] A lot of people- you might be wondering like, “Okay, why is this a big deal?” A matter of fact, I’ve said this myself that it’s not a case of just being a crappy product, right? There’s crappy products everywhere. We’ve used them. We use them every day. I use some of them at work. We have applications that I hate at work like Microsoft Teams. I absolutely despise it. It’s not about being a crappy product.
[00:38:44] Why this matters? This picture, unfortunately, looks terrible on the big monitor. It looks great on my small monitor. This is from the Capitol Crawl. If you’re not familiar with the Capitol Crawl, and this is a picture of people crawling up the steps of the US Capitol Building. The Capitol Crawl happened on March 13th, 1990. Over 1,000 people marched from the White House to the US Capitol Building and crawled up the Capitol steps to demand that Congress pass the Americans with Disabilities Act or the ADA.
[00:39:20] What a lot of people don’t realize is that people with disabilities had been slower to get their civil rights then than most other minority population. For instance, the Civil Rights Act came out in 1964. The very first disability-related civil rights law came about in 1973, which is the Rehabilitation Act. It wasn’t until 26 years later, that we had the ADA. Anyway, again, to show you what’s going on in this picture, about 60 of those folks who have done that March cast aside their wheelchairs, crawled up the steps. It was very, very bad optics for the president, George HW Bush at the time and for Congress. This is, at least, in a lot of people’s opinion, the thing that made the ADA capable of being passed.
[00:40:21] What happens when a company puts an overlay on their website is that they are perpetuating discrimination against people with disabilities. This is not necessarily, although sometimes, it’s not necessarily the fault of the customer of the overlay. Yes, they should probably be smarter about it. Yes, they should probably do their due diligence in doing their market research. Yes, they should be more aware of accessibility. I agree with that 100%, but I want to highlight again the false claims website here.
[00:40:58] What we’ve done is itemize all of the things that these overlay companies talk about and claim that they can do. They claim that they can make your site accessible in as short as 48 hours. If you’re a customer, if you’re a company out there who is concerned about becoming sued for ADA stuff, and then this company comes along and says, “For a couple of hundred dollars a month, or a couple of hundred dollars a year, in some cases, we can solve your ADA woes,” they are perpetuating discrimination against people with disabilities.
[00:41:35] With that I’d like to say, thank you very much for listening. My name is Karl Groves. You can follow me on Twitter @karlgroves. My personal website is karlgroves.com. The Tenon website, it’s tenon.io. You can email me here at firstname.lastname@example.org. Actually, it’s better karl.groves@levelaccess, either one will get to me. Does anyone have any questions?
[00:42:09] >> AMBER: That was great. Thank you so much. I’ll give some people a few minutes to put some questions in. I am curious. This isn’t necessarily overlay, right? I’ve read some of this in the report you had in the Eyebobs case, but I’m wondering if you could add some context on tools that do automatic generation for alternative text? I feel like that’s something that we’ve had people, our clients ask us, they’re like, “Oh, I’ve got 10,000 products or whatever.” [chuckles] Writing that would be really hard for all 50 angles of the product or whatever that might be. Do you have any thoughts on those kinds of automated solutions that would be good to share here?
[00:42:51] >> KARL: One of the things we found, if you read the expert report I filed for Murphy versus Eyebobs is one of the things that they do, one of the things that accessiBe does, and I think a bunch of them probably do now, is they do that automatic image recognition. What we found in the investigation of the accessiBe’s product is that it can sometimes get it right but, in most cases, it got it wrong. In a lot of cases, it got the image recognition wrong. There’s two things, there’s two aspects of AI for image recognition. One is recognizing what the item is. Then the second part is recognizing why it’s there. That’s the context.
[00:43:41] AI, we are a long way away. We are very long way away from AI ever understanding why the image is there, but we’re still not doing a good job of having AI understand what the thing is. A great example is show an AI a can of peanut butter and show an AI a can of tahini. It’s not going to get it right. The way AI image recognition works is it actually subjects the picture to the AI, the AI measures its probability of being certain things, and it gives you back what the most likely thing is. They just sometimes- very often they get it wrong.
[00:44:25] If you want to see this in action, use Microsoft Office and put an image in Microsoft Office, and then right-click on it to edit the alt text, you’ll see the autogenerated alt text. Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes it doesn’t. If Microsoft can’t get it right, more often than it does then you can be sure that accessiBe doesn’t. I’d like to see us get more there. Facebook does an amazing job with a lot of this stuff that I upload but sometimes it gets it completely wrong. Again, you’ll never be able to get the context correct.
[00:45:02] >> AMBER: Let’s see. We do have a couple of questions. Joe Simpson is asking, “Karl, could you talk more about your journey in accessibility? Where did your passion come from and how can we make the biggest impact on change?”
[00:45:17] >> KARL: Oh, well, I can answer half of that question. [chuckles] My own personal journey, I started as a web developer myself, and completely selfish reasons are why I got into accessibility, was I started– I started becoming a web developer when the Dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s. I started trying to get a job as a developer and I live in the DC area. That was when 508 started getting a whole lot of attention. What they would do is, I would apply for a job, web developer job, they would invariably submit my work to Bobby, which was the, I guess you could say, the wave or the acts of the day back then. It would come back and it would have silly problems. [chuckles] That was preventing me from getting a job. I was like, “F this. I’m going to be the best there is at this thing.”
[00:46:14] Then the other part that drives my passion is that as a developer myself, I can ensure through the quality of my code that my code will be better for people, with real people, that I can sort point to at the end of the day saying, “I’ve been able to do a better job and more people will be able to access my work as a part of that.” I really like that idea. I’m into usability, ease of use, and that sort of stuff, conceptually. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in those sorts of things. They’re also very squishy, whereas accessibility to me, at least to my brain is at least much more concrete.
[00:46:57] In terms of making a difference. I’m going to give my buddy Billy Gregory a shout-out because Billy Gregory had the best answer to this I’ve ever heard, “Just do it.” Just do it the best that you can, and do it yourself, and demonstrate through your work that it’s not significantly harder, that it’s not significantly more time-consuming. The truth about accessibility is it’s not any harder than anything else.
[00:47:28] If you’ve ever had to switch, let’s say you made a website in old-style jQuery UI, then you had to go learn React or Angular. You had to learn that stuff like you didn’t know Angular, you didn’t know React, and then you learned it, and there you go. The same thing goes for accessibility. There’s very few times when it’s actually more expensive, more time-consuming to do accessibility so do it, demonstrate that you can do it, and others will follow.
[00:47:58] The other thing, of course, the way I’ve seen the biggest impact is doing talks like this. If you’re particularly passionate about accessibility and- maybe you’re not an expert and that’s totally fine because there’s tons of non-experts out there and that’s totally fine, too. Everybody wants to learn. If you have something that you want to share with people, share it. Internally, you got to get that executive buy-in but that doesn’t mean you can’t make incremental changes as well to get other people passionate about it and thinking about it.
[00:48:29] >> AMBER: I really think that’s a great point, things can be incremental, right?
[00:48:38] >> KARL: Yes.
[00:48:38] >> AMBER: I don’t know about during lawsuit because I’m not a lawyer. I can’t say if they suddenly expect overnight accessibility [chuckles] but I do feel like there are things that can be done even without getting buy-in, like you enter content, start putting in your alt text right. [chuckles] Take the extra one minute that it takes per image on everything new as you put it in, and that will make a difference and maybe there’s things developers can do that will make a difference even if you’re not making a huge revamp of something, right?
[00:49:12] >> KARL: Yes. Yes, exactly. The one thing I will say, and this is something you can– For those of you who actually work at an organization that is likely to get sued like a large retailer bank, something like that, the one thing that you can try to get people to understand accessibility or start caring about accessibility is that once lawyers are involved all roads always lead to making your website accessible. There’s no circumstance in which, once lawyers are involved, that the website isn’t made accessible.
[00:49:49] Let’s say, for instance, you get sued and you settle immediately. The settlement requirements are going to be, you fix your website. Let’s say you get sued, and you lose the website. I’m sorry, you get sued, you lose the lawsuit. What are they going to tell you? They have to make your website accessible. Or it’s the other one, let’s say somebody else gets sued, and you want to avoid being sued, the best way to avoid being sued is making your websites accessible. Once lawyers are involved in any phase of any of this stuff, making a website accessible is the predefined outcome in 100% of the cases, even if you go to Domino’s or Winn-Dixie, or any of those big lawsuits, they’ve had to make their website accessible.
[00:50:40] Do it now, save money and time, heartache, headache, that sort of stuff.
[00:50:46] >> AMBER: That’s a good segue into Bett’s question, which is, are there any use cases for an overlay? If someone has already been sued, is it helpful to add an overlay to show that something is happening? Let’s say not permanently, but we put this on today, and here’s our plan for making it accessible the real way. Do you think there’s any case or any instance where having or adding an overlay could help?
[00:51:19] >> KARL: On the legal front, I’m going to say no. On the legal front, what has happened, actually, you’re starting to see this, what has happened, the most recent one was ADP. They got sued by DRA. As part of the settlement from there, the DRA said, “You will not use an overlay.” Same thing goes for a couple of the other lawsuits that I’ve seen around this, which is the settlements are mandating that they do not use an overlay as an attempt to comply.
[00:51:54] The other thing that I know is that there are lawsuits now that specifically target overlay customers. Right or wrong, that’s not my call. These days, it’s not even [laughs] useful as a buffer. Now I’ll answer the other question, is there a use case for an overlay? I’m going to say that there are some overlay features that I will say are useful. Those are overlays that are read-aloud products, that are aimed specifically at users with cognitive impairments for reading the content out loud. That being said, it’s still misplaced.
[00:52:44] One of the other problems that we talk about in the overlay factsheet is that these are misplaced in the technology stack because they’re added on top of an individual website, there we go, are unnecessary and poorly placed in technology stack. Because even for that use case I talked about with users with cognitive impairments, there are already products, very expensive ones, like Kurzweil 3000, or very inexpensive ones, like browser extensions.
[00:53:21] As a matter of fact, I use some browser extensions for reading content out loud for myself because I have ADHD. That’s a browser-level thing, that’s an extension for that. The reason I added that is because Word already has the read-aloud functionality that I use a lot, Acrobat already has the read-aloud functionality that I rely on a lot, and then this one for my browser that I use. I think it’s called– What is it? It’s literally called Read Aloud. That is a text-to-speech reader to read the content on the page.
[00:54:01] Yes, that specific capability is useful. It’s still poorly placed in the technology stack.
[00:54:08] >> AMBER: I’m curious. As a tangent, then I’ll ask someone else’s question, but this came up as you were talking about that. Because you talked a lot about most people who know– If someone knows that they need font to be zoomed 200% or whatever, they probably are doing that already at the browser level. How do you feel about even–? For example, whitehouse.gov, it doesn’t use an overlay. However, it was coded specifically to include a large text version and a high contrast mode, which was built into the theme so they know that it’s doing everything it’s supposed to, right?
[00:54:47] Do you feel like that’s useful for a web developer to build those in? I haven’t seen any stats, and I wish I knew, if they’re collecting it, do people actually use that tool, or is it there and it’s cool, but no one other than developers who wanted to see how it works clicked on it?
[00:55:01] >> KARL: I think you make a good point. First, there’s this whole thing about, should–? There’s this idea that we don’t really know how much people use these things. We know, based upon what’s been said here, on Twitter and social media and stuff like that from people, where I talked about this section of in their own words. We know that there’s a visceral negative thing for people, negative reactions to overlays for people. You’re talking about font resize and color contrast things. I would say, first off, that you should just meet the WCAG Success Criteria. That’s the first one.
[00:55:51] We don’t know how many people actually use those. In terms of font resizing on a website, people might use that to increase the font size because they don’t know how to do it otherwise. I wish we had the data for it.
[00:56:10] >> AMBER: You haven’t seen anything research-wise done on people using that?
[00:56:15] >> KARL: No, I haven’t. I don’t think anybody’s gathering that. You could do it. There you go.
[00:56:22] >> AMBER: I feel it’d be easy if that was your website to track with Google Analytics, right?
[00:56:27] >> KARL: Yes, exactly.
[00:56:29] >> AMBER: Tagging it where you could just add like, “Who place this?” and track it.
[00:56:34] >> KARL: Exactly. You track that event and then you’re good to go. It’d be great if somebody with high traffic did that, tracked that thing.
[00:56:43] >> AMBER: Now, I’m thinking I’m going to go reach out to somebody at turn-up and be like, “Hey, can you check this in whitehouse.gov for us?” [laughs]
[00:56:50] >> KARL: Yes, exactly.
[00:56:51] >> AMBER: I just think it’s interesting because those tools are helpful for– Maybe there aren’t people that would think of themselves as disabled, but I think maybe my grandma might go there and be like, “Oh, this font’s a little bit too small for me”, but she wouldn’t know how to zoom in her browser and she wouldn’t use other things because on most websites, maybe it’s fine. I’m not calling them out. Their font is small. Do you know what I’m saying? On most websites it’s fine, but this particular website it’s too small. It’s interesting.
[00:57:22] >> KARL: That’s very true. When you talk about whether people consider themselves disabled or not, for instance, I have my base font at my operating system level here on my Mac preferences, I have that set to larger. For me, my visual impairment is just very small farsightedness. It’s not a big deal. I’m not even wearing my glasses right now because I have this monstrous monitor.
[00:57:52] My wife is another person who would not consider herself disabled but when she was growing up, in our generation, her glasses were this super thick glass, looking like through a Coke bottle. Now modern technology makes those lenses thinner, but that’s how bad her eyes were. She was wearing those monstrously thick glasses. She wouldn’t consider herself disabled either.
[00:58:16] >> AMBER: Destiny had a question. “Is there a resource with aggregated accessibility compliant information that’s widely agreed upon in the community out there for companies that they can use or consult to get started with doing accessibility right?” I’m guessing we’re going to talk about WCAG right now, but I don’t know if there’s other ones as well.
[00:58:35] >> KARL: I’m going to tell you the most valuable website that I ever used when I was beginning is webaim.org. First of, all the people there are personal friends of mine, but I got started my journey in accessibility and learning, what that guy was talking about, where it came from two places, Usenet, which most people don’t even know what it is anymore. Usenet newsgroups and also WebAIM.
[00:59:05] WebAIM, first up, their articles, their resources, all these things they were immensely useful for me and also the community, the discussion list here. This discussion list goes back all the way into the very earliest days of web accessibility. Absolute legends in our field are archived here. This discussion list is great. It’s also one of the few discussion lists you can get on that is not filled with a bunch of nasty a-holes arguing all the time. It’s a great list.
[00:59:44] Another one that I would use for people would be the accessibility slack. That’d be another great resource that I would recommend. For anybody first starting out, this is the very first website I’d point them to is WebAIM.
[00:59:57] >> AMBER: Great. Then, of course, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, I feel like reading those is very helpful.
[01:00:06] >> KARL: Yes, if you really are a big fan of falling asleep quickly, the WCAG– but actually, so what I will say is the Web Accessibility Initiative also has been doing a great job recently, of doing a lot of work to– the EO, the Education and Outreach working group, has been doing a great job of providing training materials.
[01:00:37] This goes back to the previous question about how to get people excited or interested in the Web Accessibility Initiative. They themselves have a lot of resources for different people and lots of good resource for education and stuff like that, playing a more plainer language than the standard itself. I would recommend the Web Accessibility Initiative for some of that stuff.
[01:01:06] >> AMBER: Awesome. Let’s see. Gary said his workplace uses an extension called Helperbird. It’s helperbird.com. “You don’t plan to fix compliance but improve accessibility, reading, writing, studying, productivity. Has anyone used that tool?” Is that when you’re familiar with, Karl?
[01:01:26] >> KARL: I am. That being said, I don’t know enough about to comment. Oh, that’s right. They have Chrome extensions. I’m going to go ahead and say it’s worth exploring, especially if they don’t lie about what they can do.
[01:01:51] >> AMBER: Yes, so they’re not telling you they protect you from lawsuits and make your things successful.
[01:01:57] >> KARL: Yes, that’s it. That’s your basic litmus test whether somebody is full of crap or not, is if they say that you’re going to become weaker compliant or shielded from lawsuits. That’s when you start running away. The first mention of that is when you start running away.
[01:02:14] >> AMBER: Yes.
[01:02:15] >> KARL: It just can’t happen.
[01:02:17] >> AMBER: Yes. Then you have to start wondering, what else are they saying that you that they don’t?
[01:02:23] >> KARL: Alicia, did you say it says they are trusted by Microsoft?
[01:02:29] >> AMBER: Yes, I think I saw someone say that.
[01:02:31] >> ALICIA: Yes, scroll up to the top. There, keep going.
[01:02:35] >> AMBER: Okay. That doesn’t bring you back a little bit to–? I don’t know how you do your research on who’s using what tool. I don’t know if you go to build with [crosstalk] who has the access to the code on their thing. I was wondering, because you’re like, “Well, it’s obviously not in there”, but that’s an interesting– like our plugin, we have the VA website logo on our thing.
[01:03:05] The VA, the main VA website is not built with WordPress so of course, they’re not using our tool on their main website. They have an internal IT website that uses the tool. That’s an interesting thing. I don’t know. Maybe some of those, they do actually use it, it’s just not on their public-facing customer website. They use it on like an intranet that they’re trying to make more accessible for employees and that’s where they put they’re not like they shouldn’t but I’m just wondering how you approach some of that
[01:03:41] >> KARL: That’s all [inaudible]. In general, these things are particularly poor at fixing or doing anything with interactive content. For instance, your shopping cart or your intranet. You’re not going to– I would be very hard-pressed to say that I’ve ever experienced that. Actually, when I say shopping carts now, I do mention there are a lot of retailers that have it.
[01:04:15] That’s where they really fall apart is that some of that interactive stuff, the more interactive something is, the more likely that they can’t do it. To get really geeky, modern web development with things like ReactJS or Angular or Vue, or something like that component-based stuff. One of the big places where these guys fall down technically is that a web component will encapsulate all of its behavior, all of its appearance within the code for that thing including its own state management.
[01:04:48] If you have a React component that has all of its stuff encapsulated in it, and its own behavior is mutated the internal DOM or focus on all that sort of stuff. That’s where you really see these things as being completely incapable of handling that because they do not have the privileged access to the component code necessary to figure out what the heck is going on. At best, you get some static improvements at an initial state and that’s it.
[01:05:22] >> AMBER: Yes, that will be a little bit like an iFrame, right? If there was an iFrame.
[01:05:27] >> KARL: Yes. I mean, effectively.
[01:05:29] >> AMBER: They probably can’t fix what’s ever in the iFrame.
[01:05:30] >> KARL: No, not at all. If it’s in a separate domain, for sure separate URL, it’s not going to touch any of that stuff, any of the iFrame stuff.
[01:05:43] >> ALICIA: [crosstalk] Gary’s link because there’s something very interesting about this site. They’re trusted by Microsoft, and then on another page–
[01:05:51] >> AMBER: If you click the actual link rather than tagging in?
[01:05:53] >> ALICIA: They do a comparison of their products against Microsoft’s products. They’re trusted at the same time. It’s in there, Gary [laughs].
[01:06:03] >> AMBER: If you click the link out of the chat, I guess, Karl.
[01:06:08] >> KARL: Is this the one, the Immersive Reader?
[01:06:12] >> ALICIA: Yes, now they’re comparing a product against Microsoft but their trusted at the same time, it’s a little interesting.
[01:06:20] >> KARL: Here we go. Not going to make any favor with that stuff.
[01:06:26] >> AMBER: Yes, that is kind of funny.
[01:06:28] >> AMBER: Microsoft trust us but here’s how we’re [crosstalk] Yes. There was a question and some comments about Joe Dolson’s WP accessibility plugin. I will say that Joe gave a talk for us in the fall and sort of Demo Day and talked about some of the features. One of the things that he says right off the bat is this does not make your website accessible. He hasn’t written on the plugin. It might just improve some accessibility. I don’t know if you have thoughts or ideas to add since someone asked about that.
[01:07:03] >> KARL: Yes, I’ve been familiar with that for a long time, Joe, and I actually talked about that together at Accessing Higher Ground, many years ago, maybe 2014, or something. What his extension does, what WP Accessibility does, is it fixed its very common theme-related issues and very common issues in blog posts on WordPress sites.
[01:07:30] It’s useful, especially if you’re going to use an out of the box theme that you’ve just gotten from wordpress.org, or somewhere else because a lot of patterns have emerged over the years with WordPress theme, things like for instance, duplicating the link text inside of the title attribute. Like a title attribute in the link text are the same. That has really dumb implications for having that link text be read out loud twice in certain screen readers, depending on your verbosity.
[01:08:08] That’s what that really fixes. If you’re doing an out-of-the-box theme that you’ve made yourself, or have a starter theme that you’re based on, that’s a bare-bones type theme, you should not have to use that at all. If you are a common customer or an end-user who’s not inclined to like write your theme from scratch, then Joe Dolson’s plugin is pretty useful in wiping out vast swaths of silly common problems. I would recommend it hardly. As Amber mentioned, Joe is very transparent about the fact that it doesn’t fix everything and you should probably go ahead and do your own due diligence to make sure your stuff is accessible and that you don’t even need it.
[01:08:57] >> AMBER: Yes, I think the other thing about his plugin, and you touched on this, but because it’s for WordPress, it’s going to do a better job of fixing a WordPress website. Something is like, “I can fix every website under the planet”.
[01:09:19] >> KARL: Yes.
[01:09:21] >> AMBER: It’s built by somebody who truly understands WordPress.
[01:09:25] >> KARL: Yes.
[01:09:27] >> AMBER: That said, I think, too, we audited a site that had it on there. They had enabled the function to add a skip link while their theme had skipped links, because they didn’t know, and they didn’t know how to hit tab to test. Now they’ve got two sets of skip links in two different places. It’s like, even if you use something like that, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can’t just turn on all the options, right?
[01:09:51] >> KARL: Yes, that’s true. Yes, it really is. It is important for people to take ownership of their own accessibility, regardless of how they’re handling it to avoid things, like I just said.
[01:10:06] >> AMBER: Patricia asks, sorry for the newbie question. There are no newbie questions. I’m assuming overlays are different from WordPress plugins that say they help improve accessibility. Are those plugins helpful? I think a lot of those are overlays, but I don’t know if you have it [inaudible].
[01:10:22] >> KARL: A lot of those are. I think I saw Deborah on the chat and you might even know Amber. There’s one out there that’s plugged in. Is it the true abilities one? Something else that says it automatically fixes stuff and it’s bogus. There’s also similar ones that are for Shopify sites. They’re all overlays. As soon as they start talking about WCAG compliance and [inaudible], you can pretty much be assured that they’re full of crap.
[01:10:55] >> AMBER: I actually have, I’ll throw a link in the chat, a spreadsheet. It’s from last summer, I haven’t updated it recently, but it’s from a talk I gave at a word camp about WordPress successfully plugins. Some of these numbers are incorrect. These were all of the plugins I can find on wordpress.org that use accessibility or claim to help with accessibility.
[01:11:21] >> KARL: I love this.
[01:11:22] >> AMBER: There’s a whole talk that talks more about pros and cons and all that, but if you’re interested, this is what it is and I’m grouping them, are they an overlay? Are they? Obviously, they also fix things beyond the overlays, but there is a lot of them that they’re not outside of WordPress. They’re just a free plugin. Some of them do have paid options as well and that kind of stuff, but this is everything at least and I think that was in July that I put this together.
[01:11:52] >> KARL: I love this. I’m going to copy it. I love it because you’re right. I’ve seen some of these in our research as well. Accessibility press, these sorts of things, fixer plus overlays. The one-click accessibility, I’m familiar with in our research. Equal web, of course.
[01:12:20] >> AMBER: Sorry, I’m scrolling back through the content comments to see if there’s any questions. I apologize to you guys if I miss anything. I have a hard time talking and following the chats. That talk, if you are interested in that for anyone else, that is on wordpress.tv, I’m pretty sure. If Justin’s here, he might be able to weigh in or maybe Alicia knows if they all got put up on there.
[01:12:49] It’s called accessibility plugins to use or not use or something like that. It’s what it’s called. If you go to WordPress.tv and you search my name, it might come up. Let’s see. There are some comments about, “Oh, at any point, we could be temporarily disabled.” For example, Chris broke both wrists in a biking accident and discovered firsthand how inaccessible the web was for people depending on tabbing and couldn’t use it anymore.
[01:13:21] >> KARL: That’s another area where when you talk about trying to get people internal buy-in to get them to understand that, first off, two things. One is that we will be lucky if we become disabled. In other words, we should be thankful if we live long enough that we become disabled. Once you reach about 75 years of age, you’re about 75% likely to have a disability. If you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough and therefore probably we can have some disability.
[01:14:01] The other one too is this concept of the temporary disability. Now, obviously, the truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t have to convince people of this sort of thing anyway but to the extent that we can use whatever coercive tools we have in our toolkit. It is true that we’re all going to become injured at some point in time, like Chris Coyier’s example of breaking both wrists. There’s that.
[01:14:29] I don’t know if anybody’s seen, this arm has a full sleeve tattoo on it that I’m getting lasered off. I’m going every couple of weeks to get laser treatment. Let me tell you, after that, you do not want to move that arm at all. Those sorts of things are common enough that I’m sure most people can recall times when they had problems using technology due to some temporary situation.
[01:14:54] >> AMBER: Captions are a big one, almost everybody uses captions these days.
[01:15:00] >> KARL: Exactly.
[01:15:01] >> AMBER: Especially on social media or the weather. Sometimes if I don’t have my headphones but I’m laying with my two-year-old in a bed trying to get her to go to sleep, I’ll scroll through or I’ll watch the whole show on Netflix with the captions turned on.
[01:15:14] >> KARL: With captions on. Yes. I do that at the gym when I’m on the treadmill. I’ll be on the treadmill and I have Netflix on my phone and watch movies with the captions on because I don’t know why I’m too lazy to take my headphones with me, there you go.
[01:15:37] >> AMBER: I think one more question and then feel free if anyone else has a final question and then we’ll wrap up. Scott asked, “If anyone has encountered an issue with JAWS and counting all tests errors for open graphed images that are located in the head of the website. Yoast SEO plugin specifically removed all tags for Open Graph issues for wicked compliance, but JAWS visitors aren’t counting errors on a client site.” Do you have any experience with that, Karl? I do not.
[01:16:10] >> KARL: I don’t but I do know somewhere, I’ll try to tweet it out, there is a open issue tracker that Freedom Scientific maintains on GitHub. You might even just be able to Google or search on GitHub. Let’s see. JAWS.
[01:16:35] >> AMBER: I think it would be correct for them to remove all types on an Open Graph image because the Open Graph image– Well, I don’t know if would the social media– would Facebook need that alt text to display correct alt text? In Facebook, I’m not sure, but it’s not visible on the page. You probably don’t really want a screen reader user to encounter that image.
[01:17:05] >> KARL: What I was going to do is try to find a JAWS thing because if they’re reading something from the head, there’s probably a bug. I guess the proper source for this first off would be to find out if that’s a known bug and if not, figure out VSO standards.
[01:17:33] >> AMBER: Do they have an open GitHub library for JAWS even though it’s a paid product?
[01:17:37] >> KARL: Well, I think it’s into this freedom scientific standard support.
[01:17:43] >> AMBER: Got you. It’s just their support for him. It’s not necessarily.
[01:17:47] >> KARL: Exactly. You’re not going to find the code for JAWS online. I’ll try to find it and tweet it out. Obviously, I asked Steve Faulkner what the proper link is for that.
[01:17:59] >> AMBER: I think Fred is asking, could you throw the link for that GitHub repo in, I guess, when you find it since you can’t throw at this time?
[01:18:10] >> KARL: Yes.
[01:18:11] >> AMBER: Karl, you’re @Karlgroves on Twitter, right? If anyone wants to follow you.
[01:18:15] >> KARL: Yes.
[01:18:16] >> AMBER: Okay. I think our last question is from Peter. “What do you do when you come across a website that uses an overlay since they sincerely think it’s a good thing? How do you approach that?
[01:18:29] >> KARL: It depends. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some of my sales guys come up against that as well, which is, a sales guy reaches out to a potential customer and the customer says, “Hey, thanks but no, thanks. We’re using equal web or whatever it is.” That’s always hard because psychologically, people don’t want to be told that they screwed up, you know what I mean? You don’t want to go and be like, “You dumbass. You bought this stupid thing.” Because that’s not going to do anything but piss people off. Of course, I’ve used strong language, but even if you say, “Hey, you’re using this overlay and it’s doesn’t work.”
[01:19:13] If you can come at them with real information as an end-user, for instance, that’s a great one. You know what I mean? Like, say, “Look, I want you to know you think you’ve done a good thing, but you haven’t.” Then share with them the overlay false claims, the overlay factsheet. Share with them independent information, especially the overlay factsheet. The reason why I created that was strictly to answer this question. Strictly that say, “How do we tell people that this isn’t right?” You say, “Look, this section, in their own words, tells you exactly how people with disabilities feel about this product they put on there”.
[01:19:54] Then the second one is to say, “Look, over 600 people throughout the world have signed onto this statement that says what you’ve put onto your site is not sufficient.” Let’s see. Where are we now? 651 and there’s probably some poll requests waiting for me to sing. Also all of these additional reading things. These are all that you can share with them to say, “Look, you think you’ve done this right. You think you’ve done this thing that’s good, and it actually has not fixed your problem” But then there’s this other question. I’d like to leave you guys with this, really, is what do we do instead?
[01:20:42] I’m sure all of us really do understand that the way to do this right is to do it right. Do you know what I mean? Like, fix the site. Fix your actual accessibility problems that are resident in your code. Fix your design, if you have color contrast problems or things like that. Make it work properly for people with disabilities. That’s where we are unable to really answer the– really offer a complete and good alternative to an overlay because overlays are attractive because they say they’re going to do it. They’re going to do it quick, and that they’re going to be fully compliant. They say 100% compliant. We know it’s all bull crap, but this is what we’re up against. Is this argument that they do it completely. They do it quickly and they do it cheaply.
[01:21:43] >> AMBER: I think that’s hard for– It’s one thing for those of us that are developers. We’re building new sites. We can build them right from the beginning, but if we’re an average WordPress user, Shopify users, or Squarespace or whatever that is, and they’re DIYing it. They probably never even heard of accessibility. I think that’s where it’s challenging because [inaudible] a personal blog and they make no money or a small business and somebody’s starting out. They don’t have much.
[01:22:17] It’s one thing to be a [inaudible] and a thing to like a small business DIY website person. I think for us, that’s really where I’ve recently gotten on the bandwagon, which if anyone’s in post status, they will obtain a big grant from me about that, but where I heard about plugin and theme developers really need to take this at heart because they have the ability to impact hundreds of thousands of websites because the people who use their tools don’t even know what this is. I think that’s the hardest thing with the overlay is. The overlay does provide something for those DIYers that make them think they’re doing it better.
[01:23:02] I don’t know what the alternative is for that, because I’m not going to lie. Having someone come in and do a real audit on your website and fix things is you’re probably looking at 10K plus. Some of those people didn’t even pay that for their website in the first place.
[01:23:17] >> KARL: Exactly. That’s the big thing that we ran into. Prior to our acquisition, one of the things that tenon used to do is if somebody came to us and they were like, “Look, I’ve been– I’m getting stood and I need an audit”, and I would say, “Well, do you really need an audit?” Like, let’s talk about what’s really going on. “Do you really need an audit? Or do you just need your stuff fixed?” We did a bunch of that for Shopify customers and WordPress customers who– because the prospect here for them was to get the audit, which costs a lot of money, and then fix their site, which they probably can’t do because they paid somebody to do it.
[01:23:59] We were just like, “Forget it, just get out of the way, we’re going to fix it.” We did a bunch of Shopify sites like that. We’ve done some WordPress stuff like that because an audit’s going to cost more than a lot of these companies’ websites do. Do you know what I mean? When you paid five grand for your website and then it’s going to cost you $200 an hour for an audit, which is what I charge, then there you go. It’s going to be prohibitively expensive for small businesses.
[01:24:28] >> AMBER: They might as well just buy a new website.
[01:24:31] >> KARL: They might as well just put up a new website.
[01:24:34] >> AMBER: Like that 10 to $20,000 they could put into audit and remediation could have been a brand new site that’s maybe more up to date anyway.
[01:24:42] >> KARL: More up-to-date and accessible from the get-go.Assuming that the vendor knows how to do that.
[01:24:50] >> AMBER: Yes, that is true. I always feel bad when we get brought in on a project at the end and they’re all like, “This is our new website tested on staging”, and I’m like, “Oh, no.” Here’s a big audit of everything that your developer has to fix and it’s almost like the whole website needs to be scrapped.
[01:25:08] >> KARL: Been there.
[01:25:10] >> AMBER: Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. This has been a great presentation. We will have a recording for this up, on our website. Again, the fastest way to find all of those is to go to equalizedigital.com/Meetup. It does take us a few days because we have to get the transcript and make sure everything is corrected on the captions as well. Thank you again, Karl. Can you just let everyone know where they can find you?
[01:25:42] >> KARL: You can find me, my website, Karlgroves.com. My company levelaccess.com. On social media everywhere, literally everywhere, it’s Karl Groves. It’s @karlgroves.
[01:25:58] >> AMBER: That’s lucky.
[01:26:00] >> KARL: Yes, I feel bad. There’s a bodybuilder from England named Karl Groves, so I smashed him on social media by taking up all the things, and he’s actually a pretty popular bodybuilder. He can’t get Karl Groves.
[01:26:13] >> AMBER: Maybe you get some extra followers out of it.
[01:26:17] >> KARL: Yes, exactly.
[01:26:18] >> AMBER: Well, great. Our next Meetup, just as a reminder is Monday, January 17th. It’s at 5:00 PM Pacific 7:00 PM Central Time. Which is a 10:00 AM Australian, if you’re on that side of the world. 5:30 in India and that will be Carie Fisher talking about Accessible Typography. Thanks so much, everyone and thank you for the awesome discussion in the chat as well.
[01:26:44] >> KARL: Thank you.
[01:26:45] >> AMBER: Have a good day and happy New Year.
[01:26:46] >> KARL: Bye.
[01:26:47] >> AMBER: Bye.