As part of our commitment to giving back and sharing knowledge, we recently began working 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, August 5, 2021, and a video recording of the presentation.
About the Topic
In our Meetup on August 5th, Bet Hannon, Founder and CEO of BH Business Websites, discussed five reasons to make your website accessible besides the fear of lawsuits and other legal ramifications.
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:
- Bet Hannon on Twitter
- A record-breaking year for ADA lawsuits from Usablenet
- Checklist for Website Accessibility on the a11y Project
- Why Accessibility Overlay Solutions Fail on Accessibility Works
- AccessiBe Will Get You Sued from Adrian Roselli
- The Risks of Using WordPress Accessibility Plugins on BH Marketing
- Milk Bar Store
- Luke’s Lobster
- Form 8826
- Taylor Arndt’s YouTube channel
- Recap from previous Meetup
- Samuel Proulx on Accessibility NYC YouTube channel
- Meryl Evans’ website/blog
- Meryl Evans’ Twitter profile
- Accessibility Ready themes in the WordPress repository
- My Calendar plugin from Joe Dolson
- Example accessibility statement from a Hilton hotel
- Max Mega Menu plugin
- How to build an accessible mega menu from Adobe
- Monster Contracts
- Accessibility checklist for Gravity Forms
Read the Transcript
Amber Hinds 0:00
Well, I think we’ll go ahead and get started, I’ll let anybody in who comes in. I wanna just run through a few announcements first, and then we’ll hand it over to Bet. We are recording, and we’ll post the video with captions and transcript up for anyone who missed later on or wants to review it later. Um, so real quick, on our announcements, we do have a Facebook group, if you want to connect with anybody in between, it’s starting to get more active, it’s a relatively new group, so there’s not a ton of people in there yet. But we’re getting, sometimes a couple posts a week, which is awesome. So you can join that. Our next two upcoming talks are Joe Dolson, who is a Core contributor, and he makes the WP Accessibility plugin, will be talking on Monday, August 16, at 5pm Pacific. And he’s going to be talking, uh, in the beginning about his plugin, use cases for it, what it can do, and what it can’t do. And then the other, the second half of his talk is going to be more open q&a for anyone who has questions about accessibility in WordPress Core since he’s on the Core team. And then on Thursday, September 2 at 8am Pacific, we’re going to have Joe Simpson talking about, so we have two Joes in a row [laughs], talking about WordPress Accessibility Basics, which is great if you’re just getting started. But maybe also if you want a refresher on maybe some things that you need to share with clients. Because sometimes we forget, the things that seem intuitive to us are not intuitive to people who are just getting started. So it should be a good talk either way. And then other announcements, if my, there we go. We are working on, we’ve had requests for live captioning, we are doing the best we can, I’m working on trying to find a sponsor, or multiple sponsors who can cover live captioning, unfortunately, I checked in with the WordPress Foundation, and they don’t have funds to just provide that on an ongoing basis for our Meetup. So if you know of a company who you think might be interested, and you want to recommend, we’d be happy to reach out to them. Or if you want to get them in touch with me or Emma, so we can talk about that. And then also just a reminder, if you ever need any accommodations, contact Emma or me, and we’re happy to do what we can to make this more accessible for anyone, either in the recording afterwards or during the event. So today, I’m excited to introduce- I don’t know what’s up with, my Magic Mouse is being really jumpy, maybe it needs to be charged- today’s speaker, Bet Hannon. So Bet has worked with businesses and nonprofits for over 12 years, helping them build WordPress websites, integrate other communication channels, and learn how to use digital marketing tools more effectively. She’s the founder and CEO of BH Business Websites, and, that designs, builds, and maintains accessible websites, including membership and eCommerce sites. So we heard ben- Bet lives in Bend, Oregon, and she’s an organizer of the Meetup there, and we’re super excited to have her speaking to us today. So I’m going to stop sharing and let you take over, Bet.
Bet Hannon 3:18
Sure. And then when I get to do that, let’s see.
Amber Hinds 3:24
Did it work?
Bet Hannon 3:26
I hope so. That better? Are we sharing the slides now?
Emma Crowe-Fleming 3:32
Rian Rietveld 3:33
Bet Hannon 3:33
Perfect. Great. So as Amber said, you know, I’ve been a WordPress user a long time, helped a lot of people develop their websites. We do a lot of stuff with accessibility, but we also do a lot of stuff with Gravity Forms and integrations, API integrations and things like that. And you can find me at @BetHannon on, on Twitter. And I hope that if, if later there are questions, we’re gonna have time for questions at the end, but if you have questions that occur to you later, don’t hesitate to reach out, DMs are open on Twitter. So, our accessibility story starts with a client, and a client’s needs. So about four and a half years ago, we had a large California Water District, they were an existing client for us, and they became aware that some new laws were coming up that were going to require them to be more accessible with their website. And they, they reached out to us, we offered to refer them to other people, but they really wanted to continue working with us on a long term basis and, and invited us to dive into accessibility with them. And we didn’t know a lot then, and the client didn’t but we all dove in and we learned a lot about accessibility. And one of the things that happened for our team when we started learning more about accessibility was we just really got hooked and passionate about making the internet as widely available as possible. Now, I’m not the most technical person around accessibility on our team. There are other people who are much more technical about this. But today, I want to talk mostly about why we should make websites accessible. And I think it’s important to talk about why, the why, because that helps motivate people to start making their sites more accessible. Usually, what we see is that people start wanting to learn about accessibility or start engaging accessibility because they want to avoid a lawsuit. And that’s certainly the case, you know, you can see on that little chart, over the last three years, there’s increases every year in the number of lawsuits that are coming. In terms of ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, in the U.S. offers legal protections for people with disabilities. It’s not entirely clear just yet how ADA relates to websites. The diff- various, both, both parties, U.S. administrations have sort of pulled back from giving specific guidelines about what makes a site accessible or not accessible, or what, what qualifies in all of that. And so what we’re left with is lawsuits that are coming up under Title III of the ADA, which deals with public accommodations. And so, typically, in the U.S., and this will be very different in other countries, especially like the European Union. We have some folks who can speak to that if there are questions about that. But the business might receive what’s called a demand letter. And it’s basically notifying you that there’s an intent to sue because they found an issue on your site. Those letters can look really spammy and not real, super legitimate, but they can be. Don’t ignore them, in other words. We, we had a client that got a letter and when we looked up the attorney, that person had been disbarred more than once, but they can still have a legitimate case. And so what happens is, we often see what are called “Surf By” suits where you’ll have one attorney and one plaintiff, and they’re, they’re filing dozens of lawsuits. But those sites still can be held legitimate in, in court. So I don’t want to talk about fear- fuel the fear mongering around this, I think it’s important that people understand that there can be legal issues, but I think talking about the business-building, business positive reasons to make your website, the broader humanity issues around making your website accessible, are much more important. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that probably the biggest, if you, if you wanted to reduce it to something like ROI, return on investment, the, the biggest ROI is probably avoiding, avoiding legal issues.
Bet Hannon 8:15
So I don’t, probably don’t have to explain a lot of this to people on this call, on this event. When I do give this, so I’m going to recap sort of what is website accessibility, just in case we have some folks, I know we have some folks who have a lot of experience with accessibility on the call today. But when I go to networking events, and I introduce myself and I say, “my agency specializes in doing website accessibility,” it’s almost like I see a little confusion thought bubble forming over the person’s head. And in one side of that is a person in a wheelchair, and in the other side is a website, and they just can’t quite figure out why a person with a wheelchair would need accommodations for a website. And we want to talk about “what is website accessibility,” because I think when you understand what it is, you can be more committed to it. So the big picture is that while a lot of times people assume that the number of people with disabilities that might come by their website is very, very small, there are actually a significant percentage of people who have a permanent, or, sometimes we say temporary disability, that means they cannot use your website in the same way as the majority of folks. So a temporary disability might be something like, I’ve broken, badly broken my hand and I can’t use it for mousing anymore. In the U.S., the CDC, that’s the Centers for Disease Control, estimates that around 25%, and that is, holds true about that same percentage in all developed countries so we could round it to 20 to 25%. That’s one in four or five people. So it’s not a tiny number of people that we’re talking about affecting, it’s quite a few people. And the thing to remember is that this number goes up as we age. And in the U.S., at least, the, and other developed nations, the average age of populations is going up. So the number of people that might need some accommodation is actually going up over time. So website accessibility, simply put, is giving people with diverse abilities equal access, equal opportunity to access your web content.
Bet Hannon 10:37
So, for instance, a lot of people don’t know that if you are a person who has severe visual disabilities, maybe even total blindness, there are tools like screen readers that will be able to read out loud to you the content on the web page, and help you navigate through the page if it’s formatted properly. One of the older screen reader technologies is JAWS, and a license for that might cost you $1,000 a year depending on the license. It’s not cheap to have disabilities. But there is a newer screen reader available called NVDA, Non Visual Display Access, which is open source. And if you’ve never looked at a screen reader, you can go to the NVDA site, you can download that software, you can try it out, if you do that, I would encourage you to make a small donation to support that open source work, which is making tremendous impacts in the lives of people around the world for being able to access the web. You should also go to YouTube, and you can search for videos of what it’s like for people with visual disabilities to use screen readers. I want to stress that it’s important that we not assume that, that as we play around with a screen reader that that’s the way a person who is blind or visually impaired might use a screen reader. We sent, about a year ago, sent our developer to do training with the trainer for the Oregon Federation for the blind. And that was the big takeaway is that people who get trained to use these who have visual disabilities use them differently than a sighted person would do. So definitely test them out, see what they’re like, get a sense for understanding how these things work. The big thing that you’ll see in, if you go to look at the videos on YouTube, is that those screen reader technologies are largely keyboard driven, keyboard shortcuts. If you’ve ever used like a Ctrl S or you know the Command key on Mac, or Ctrl S to save something, you’re using a keyboard shortcut. And there are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that people with disabilities use, because the screen readers, but also, all kinds of other assistive technologies, really come back down to keyboard navigation. So Stephen Hawking had ALS, couldn’t use a mouse, but ended up using a sensor on his glasses to navigate around. And all of those sorts of technologies and adaptive devices, essentially come back to keyboard navigation. So you can begin to test your site by just trying to use the tab key and the Enter key to navigate through your website. Just as a little tip, let’s talk about, huge pieces of accessibility have to do with a couple of things using semantic markup. In other words, the heading tags you don’t, you never skip from an H2 to an H5, and making sure that there’s alt text on all your, your images. And you can find all kinds of tutorials and technical pieces around that. And there are all kinds of disabilities and the accommodations that they require- visual and mobility disabilities are just two- you’ll want to address the needs of people who have color blindness, making sure that there’s a good contrast between the font and the background. If you’re using videos, you’ll need to address the needs of people who are deaf with captions or transcripts. You don’t want to have things that are flashing for, uh, that might induce seizures. All kinds of presentations on WordPress TV and other places where you can begin to find out the technical pieces of making your website accessible. And if you’re interested in really looking at all of the guidelines, the fullest place that you’ll find those is the WCAG, the W-C-A-G, Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. And that’s the website where you’ll find them. There are three levels single A, double A, triple A. Almost always the double A is the focus of effort for most people. And that’s where you’ll want to go if you want to start learning more about the, what are the requirements for web accessibility.
Bet Hannon 15:16
I’ll do a quick PSA. And that is, you want to avoid overlay plugins. So things like AccessiBe, and other overlay plugins. And what those plugins are trying to do is use artificial intelligence, AI, to, on the fly, as your web page is being loaded, they’ll try to fix your problems, your accessibility issues. The problem is that AI only detects about 30% of the issues anyway. And then, often, these sorts of accessibility tools that you’re trying to add in may conflict with the tools that a person who is, already has a setup and tools on their computer for using websites, they may conflict, and actually make problems worse. And so, I’ll be sharing these slides at the end, but here are three blog posts about accessibility overlay plugins, and the problems that they have. Really the only use case, in my opinion, for overlay plugins is if you are being sued, and you need to quickly get some things corrected. While you are fixing things, it’s a stopgap measure. I do want to mention that there’s a moral case for accessibility, that when we stop to think about how much of our world today revolves around the internet, when we do our banking online, we do our, you know, a lot of our business, things that we’re doing, I made an appointment this week to have my gutters cleaned online. So all of the ways that we are interacting with the internet today, and website accessibility is what enables people with disabilities to live independently, with human dignity, without having to depend on family members and friends, or maybe even strangers, to have, ex- access content and services. So, accessibility is really just the right thing to do. There’s definitely a moral case for accessibility, and we want to keep coming back to that. But the reality is, for a lot of people, that isn’t enough to move them into the, taking the extra time and money to make and keep their websites accessible. So not everyone is completely swayed by the moral case for accessibility. So I think we need to start talking also about the wider benefits of accessibility, how making websites that we build and run is good for not just the, people with disabilities, but can have advantages for us as the site owner and the business behind the website. So, what are the advantages for making your website more accessible? Well, you know, there are services out there, where you will pay money to try and increase the traffic to your website by just even 5%. And increasing the audience for your website by 5% would be amazing in many cases. But if somewhere around 20 to 25% of adults need some kind of accommodation, why would you not want to increase your potential audience by 25%? People with disabilities have money to spend just like everybody else, and you want to do everything you can to make it desirable for them to spend it with you. And you don’t want to get derailed, sometimes I hear business owners talk about “well, people with disabilities can’t use my product.” So, you know, if you sell a hunting rifle scopes, traditional hunting rifle scopes, then a person, George, who’s legally blind might not be your primary customer. But why would you want to prevent George from researching or buying hunting scopes for his family members? And you should know that there are actually hunting scopes for people who are blind, and why wouldn’t you want to include those on your site and make the site accessible and tap into that market? So you can expand the accessibility of your website and expand your potential audience. One of the most basic accessibility tasks is to add alt text to your images. And as I said earlier, that’s what a screen reader will read out loud, or, that’s, that’s the text that the screen reader will read out loud to the person who’s using it.
Bet Hannon 19:49
But alt text is also what the Google bots index to know what it is that your image is about, and then to help decide how relevant your content is for particular searches. So screen readers and assistive technologies also need that proper semantic markup with heading tags, and increasingly, Google algorithms are using that sort of information to assess and index your content and all of that, your alt text, and that semantic markup, helps with your SEO. Improves your SEO. So when you add alt text, and it, to your images, and you use heading tags properly, you’re making your website more accessible, but you’re also giving Google more to work with, and you boost your SEO. It’s a win win, all around. One of the things that accessibility does is improve everybody’s experience. If you think about curb cuts in sidewalks. The curb cuts are put into the sidewalks for people who use wheelchairs and mobility carts, and they absolutely help people with with wheelchairs and mobility carts, but when I’m hauling my luggage around, I am super happy for those curb cuts. When I push my granddaughter around in her stroller, I’m super happy for cur- curb cuts. So when you make your website accessible, you’re going to be looking at things like how many clicks does it take to get down to the information, do the colors have enough contrast for good visibility, and those things will, will make it easier for everybody to use your website. Consider that some people won’t necessarily have a legal disability, but will have contextual limitations. If I’m using your website while I’m trying to hold a wiggly baby, or I’m on my phone in bright sunlight, then accessible websites are going to be easier to use when people are in those situations as well. And when people find your website easier to use, they stay on it longer, they enjoy the experience more, this increases the chance of them converting to customers. So I like to call this the curb cut effect. You know, let accessibility make your website better for everybody. And, by the way, all kinds of accommodations and technologies that were, have been originally developed to assist people with disabilities, have spilled over into the mean- mainstream to make all of our lives easier, all of our AI assistance that we use, like Alexa and Google Home and all of those started, as ways that AI could help people with various disabilities. So, make your website accessible and improve everybody’s user experience. It is almost always a lot less expensive to keep current customers than it is to acquire new customers. And when you consider that the likelihood of developing a disability increases as we age, and our, you know, our difficulties in that realm can start small, I admit I’m finding it harder and harder to see the small print, and sometimes I come upon, you know text that’s not got a good contrast in color, smart businesses want to do all that they can to keep their customers even as they might develop disabilities. And so making your website accessible is an investment in retaining your customers. Now, if your website is really just, just an online brochure, then perhaps this is less of a factor, retaining customers, your, your existing customers, maybe don’t go to your website as much. But if you had, do any kind of customer interactions on your website, things like paying invoices or scheduling services, then you’ll want to do everything you can to make those functions as accessible as possible. And by the way, that same can be said for employees. If you use any kind of web based computer system for employment applications or for performing work, you’ll want to make an investment in your employees or potential employees in terms of expanding that and making those things accessible. We like to feel good, most of us, about the brands that we associate with- there are, experts call these people belief-driven buyers- we want to buy often from local shops that invest in our community. We want to turn away from a brand if we discovered that it’s using a sweatshop. Dan Edelman is a researcher in this area, and he estimates that nearly two thirds, 64%, of consumers around the world will either buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue.
Bet Hannon 24:48
Bet Hannon 29:35
You always want to start your projects with accessibility in mind. When you start to learn about accessibility, you’ll understand that it’s much more cost effective to start at the beginning, in terms of the design, and, and mock ups and all of those pieces and get the client to approve that, than if you create the mock up, and get the client to approve, and get into building and then at the very end, start doing some accessibility checks and realize that you need to go back and get the client to approve some changes to that, then, you know, that, that just takes a lot more time and money, and money lost. The best piece of advice I ever got for us as an agency was not to offer accessibility as an option to be declined in proposals. To simply make it a non-optional part of every project we do. Essentially, when you make it optional, you’re offering your client the option to save money by excluding people with disabilities. So this is an investment in your brand, as a developer, and as an agency, to stake your values on inclusion. And just like today, no self respecting developer would build a website without making it mobile responsive, we want to begin that, that process of making accessibility a part of every single project we do, because we have the client’s best interests in mind. We would, you know, we want to pay attention to best practices for SEO as well, right? But, but we want to, this is the client’s best interests in mind, and we’re wanting to make that a part of making the web more accessible to everybody. And the fin- the last one is find some ways to include accessibility language in your contracts. I’m not a lawyer, you need to consult your own lawyer, but accessibility law is changing rapidly, and a website may come out of WCAG compliance, any time content is added. So if you’re having the client, especially if the client is going to be adding their own content later, you want to make sure that you’re putting some language in your contracts, so that there’s a release of liability for you when, whenever the, with a client moving on, and especially if they decline your accessibility recommendations. So, we had a situation recently where we were building, and we said to the client, “this salmon color, that’s a part of your branding guidelines, is not compliant with white text on the button,” right? “The salmon button with the white text is not compliant, you need to darken it to this color, or, you know, here’s some choices.” And they said, no, that this is their approved color, and they they couldn’t, they didn’t want to do that. And so we made them sign a, an additional release of liability. Typically, when we ask them to sign that additional release of liability, they somehow take it all much more seriously, and usually change their minds. But this particular client did not, we’ve only had that happen twice, where we’ve come back with a recommendation that the client declined, and then we’ve, we’ve, they’ve signed the release. Here’s a little bonus tip, this isn’t necessarily a reason to make your websites accessible, but I recently became aware that in the U.S., there is a, businesses, if you are a business, you may qualify for a 50% tax credit for making your website accessible. So if you begin a new project, and it doesn’t even have to be just the accessibility parts of the prod- of the project, but the entire project, if it includes accessibility, may qualify for up to a 50% non-refundable tax credit. So you get a credit, so they have to pay for everything up front, and then they get a credit later. But you have to have under 30 employees, or under a million dollars in gross revenue. But that’s the entire form for claiming the credit, it’s really a simple, quite straightforward thing up front, and is a kind of a great way to entice people to try and make things accessible. And additionally, I also learned that, in the U.S., there are, is at least one company now offering businesses insurance against ADA lawsuits for their websites. And more of these will likely surface, and it’s actually at a fairly reasonable cost. And it comes paired with some kind of coaching and a bit of remediation, discount on some remediation work. So if, they don’t have a landing page for this now, but reach out to me if you want more information about remediate, uh, the ADA insurance. So accessibility is the right thing to do, but it often makes business sense too, and I really hope that folks have some questions and we can explore a little bit about, more about accessibility. Thanks.
Amber Hinds 34:52
Thank you so much, that was great. I put a couple of questions in the chat to get us started, but anyone is welcome to either unmute themselves and ask their questions, or if you feel more comfortable, you can put it in the chat and I’m happy to relay them. I do like to read out the questions, though, just for the transcript and the recording so that if someone doesn’t watch the video or see the chat, they have context. So the two that kind of came to mind to me when you were talking was, the first one you mentioned following or checking YouTube, which I think is a great recommendation. I’ve been following Taylor Arndt, who was our speaker last time, I think I wrote last week, but it wasn’t actually last week [laughs], for, at our last Meetup. ‘Cause she shares some stuff on YouTube, and then she also podcasts, so sometimes I listen to it, which is, works out, okay, because then I just hear what she’s saying, and her screen reader without actually seeing. But I’m wondering if you have any recommendations for other people? Because I haven’t spent enough time looking. Do you know of anyone you recommend following to get more experience of how they interact with the web? Or did I stump you? [laughs]
Bet Hannon 35:57
Well, I’m trying to remember, there was one that I used to use, and in fact, when I’ve done a form- you know, a previous version of this, like at a WordCamp, I had a little clip, there’s a guy from USC, that, that does a thing- and he, and it’s kind of nice, because he, he shows his hands on the keyboard, and what he’s doing, as well as what what’s happening. Yeah, no, I don’t have anyone in particular. The thing that’s always just super amazing to me, when I watch, and when I’ve been with people who are using screen readers, is that some people may not really, you know, when you, when you listen to a podcast, or you’re listening to an audible book, and you can increase the speed of the book, or the read back, people who use screen readers are, often have that speed up to like four, five, you know, it’s extremely fast. And it’s just like, what was that? [laughs] It just flies by me, and I’m always amazed at, you know, the just, they become really adapt at, and, and super quick at navigating through things. The other thing that is surprising to me sometimes when people are using screen readers is that they really don’t read through all the content that they’re really surfing through to, to, to get the, what they want the screen reader to read to them is the H tags and the links. And so if you’re using, the link text that you’re using, so if you use a lot, if your link text, what, what you know, the text that shows inside the link, if all of it just says “click here,” the screen reader will just go “click here,” click here,” “click here,” and about the third one they’re just off, they’re, you know, that doesn’t make, there’s no context for that, so.
Amber Hinds 37:39
Yeah, I think Taylor, she uses headings a lot to jump around on the page in my observations of her on her screen reader. And so it really shows the importance of headings. Hey, Emma, want to read my question, because I’ve got background noise, apparently, again. So I’m going to mute myself, maybe you can read my other.
Emma Crowe-Fleming 37:59
Yeah. So Amber’s other question is “64% is a bigger number than I realized for people that make values-based buying decisions. In your experience, what is the best way to communicate the investment in accessibility to customers? Do you recommend anything else in addition to the footer Accessibility Statement?”
Bet Hannon 38:21
I think the footer- I don’t know that you want to, you know, there’s a there’s kind of sometimes a fine line between becoming performative in a kind of unseemly way, right? And so, I think having it in the footer is, is clearly the easiest way. But I think, you know, when you’re introducing a new website, and you’re talking about the new features that you did, or the new design you did, that could be a way to talk about what you did, right? So we did this new design, and we’re doing this, uh, we have a new feature for doing this, and we intentionally spent some time with our developer making the site access- I mean, it’s just, that it’s one thing as a part of a broader news piece of what you did.
Amber Hinds 39:17
Yeah, that makes sense.
Bet Hannon 39:18
Does anybody have any other ideas?
Amber Hinds 39:19
I mean, we have, we have like a whole, I mean, we’re a little different ’cause we’re a certified B Corp, so we spent a lot of time thinking about values. So on our about page, we talk about our values, and then we have a whole page that’s about our values, and I think the accessibility piece comes into it there. But you know, so like, that’s something that we sort of try, I mean, I love to get people to be more values based in their businesses, so with our customers, we talk about that a lot, like, you know, what can you do to improve your language as a company, but I wasn’t sure we haven’t done a lot, I don’t think on social media, per se, with, you know, trying to promote that. So I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s done more to promote it on social media, but.
Bet Hannon 40:04
I don’t know, I think I think there is sometimes among us all a little, a little hesitancy because you know, no website is 100% compliant. And so if you put that out there, there’s a little anxiety about, will somebody start picking, you know, being nitpicky about some relatively small thing, right? If that’s what they find, like yesterday-
Amber Hinds 40:29
-Well, and some- Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Bet Hannon 40:31
Oh, I was like yesterday, we discovered, as we’re doing a QA check on a site, that, well, we had put the Google invisible CAPTCHA on a contact form, but we’re doing our Lighthouse checks, and we’re, we’re sort of like, “Where is this problem coming in?” Well, it’s the invisible CAPTCHA from Google that has two links in it to read more about privacy or something. And it’s like, oh, yeah.
Amber Hinds 41:01
Why are there links in an invisible item? [laughs] Right? I mean, I guess, people on screen readers can reach them, but sighted users can’t reach those. Yeah. [laughs]
Bet Hannon 41:10
Yeah. But it, but they didn’t have, yeah, there was something about, oh, they, they’re there, but yeah. But it was like, I don’t, we’re not gonna be able to change that. And then, so should we just go to “I am human” click box? That’s the next accessible option. But that, I don’t know. We’re kind of like, but you know, it’s sort of like, as you’re sort of sorting that through, you don’t want people to be I don’t know.
Amber Hinds 41:36
Well, I think, I mean, we had this come up, our, we put our plugin on AppSumo, and somebody on AppSumo put a comment, and they’re all like, “how can I trust your plugin works to scan for things because I ran Lighthouse on your website, and it has a problem.” And I was like, oh, that’s funny. So I went, and I looked, and I was like, oh, well, lighthouse flagged a color contrast on my screen reader text. So it’s like a false positive, right? Like, it’s not actually a problem. But I mean, that is something I think that is, you know, nerve- because there, a, a bunch of those things, and ours too, like, it’ll sometimes give false positives. So any, like, you run WAVE on a website, and it could say there are errors, but they’re not really, or it’s like, well, yes, this image doesn’t have alt text because it’s decorative, and it’s not supposed to have alt text. So it’s like, it is definitely hard as a business to put out there. We do this because some people know enough to like, make a PR stink, but not actually know whether or not it’s accurate, right?
Bet Hannon 42:37
Well, and I think that’s what just makes accessibility hard in general, is that there, there’s a lot of times where it’s not a, it’s not a black and white thing, right? Yes, you should have alt texts on all the, but not on all the images, right? So then it’s like we, it’s just harder to teach people and help them understand, when there’s all of these, in these cases, but not these cases, right?
Amber Hinds 43:09
Mhmm. Um, just looking at the chat real quick. So, Peter put a couple of things, he said he enjoys Samuel, and I don’t know how to pronounce this, I apologize, “pro-lou?” “Proulz?” P, R, O, U, L, X’s, of Fable, has a talk. And then he says Jonathan Mosen/Mosen At Large, also the 13 Letters podcast. And I haven’t heard of that one, so I have homework. I’m going to go check them out.
Bet Hannon 43:38
Yeah, for sure.
Amber Hinds 43:39
Uh, Nick put in a link to Taylor’s YouTube channel so we can make sure that that is in there. And Nick, what’d you say? Your- “my coworker once said Lighthouse is a dad that never approves of you.” [laughs] No matter what you do you can’t make Lighthouse happy. [laughs]
Nick Galvez 43:53
Bet Hannon 43:55
That’s for sure. I love that analogy. [laughs]
Amber Hinds 43:59
Um, Does anybody else have any questions or comments for Bet?
Nick Galvez 44:05
I do have a, I have one, um, kind of specific to a situation I was thinking about, which is a, for a band website that I work on. It’s like an instrumental band. And I’m wondering, like, I think if they had vocals, it would be you know, easy to add captions and stuff to their videos, but like, you know, there’s just audio players on like SoundCloud and stuff. And I mean, it’s nice to see the waveform, but I’m wondering how you can do anything with like instrumental music to make it more accessible or if that’s even something that people want. I mean, I know, like, that as, as like my hearing, and, you know, declines. I’d still like to be involved in the music scene and stuff. But you know.
Bet Hannon 45:00
That’s a really good question. I don’t have any, I’m not sure I have any good suggestions for you though.
Amber Hinds 45:08
I mean, I guess you’d want like a written equivalent of an auditory description, so like a or, sorry, like a visual description- I’m forgetting what the exact word is for it- you know where blind people, you can have a track, a separate track on video that literally describes what’s happening in the video. So I’m wondering if you need like a written out, like description of the instrumental, you know, what instruments are included, if they’re loud or not, what emotion it’s conveying, maybe something like that?
Bet Hannon 45:42
Drum solo. [laughs] Y’know?.
Nick Galvez 45:45
Yeah, I was thinking about, like, how Netflix and stuff does it where, you know, it’ll just say like, tense instrument- instrumental, but like, I’d rather have something more detailed where it could show like, what, when the instruments are coming in, you know, kind of like a grid or something. And then, like, it could tell what the instrument is, and what, like, kind of tone it’s trying to convey. But the only way I could think to describe that is like, “Hey, here’s a Steely Dan sounding guitar solo,” or, when, like, you don’t know what Steely Dan sounds like, how are you gonna? You know, I mean, it’s already difficult to kind of explain musical motifs and stuff. I don’t know.
Amber Hinds 46:26
So, later, yeah, I don’t know, but I will say, um, later in the year, it’s gonna be a while, but we’re gonna have Meryl Evans speak. And she is going to talk all about captions and transcripts. She is a deaf individual, and is going to talk about that. If you’re able to attend that one, I think this would be a fabulous question for her. Like, what does she like to see?
Nick Galvez 46:51
Amber Hinds 46:52
Bet Hannon 46:54
Or she’s very active on LinkedIn and Twitter, too, I think but you could reach out to her there. And-
Amber Hinds 47:01
-Yeah. And she’s, she provides, she’s got a blog. We can maybe, Emma, do you have her website address? Maybe you can throw it in the chat, because she might have information on there already.
Nick Galvez 47:14
Amber Hinds 47:16
Doug has a question.
Doug K 47:21
Yes, thank you. My name is Doug. I am from Salem. Somebody was mentioning Salem, just as I popped in here, so. I’m not sure where that came from. But I know that you’re-
Emma Crowe-Fleming 47:34
-Yeah. Uh, my parents live there. So. [laughs]
Bet Hannon 47:37
And I’m in Bend.
Doug K 47:39
Right now it’s smoky Salem, Oregon.
Emma Crowe-Fleming 47:42
Yeah. Ugh. Not the fun Salem.
Doug K 47:47
My question has to do with the form 8826, that you mentioned Bet. Or, does anybody have any experience with that as far as success rate? I was told before that it’s not a guarantee, you have to be accepted. You fill out that form, and they assess whether you’re, you’re a valid person, or a valid business for that. Uh, do you have any experience on success rate?
Bet Hannon 48:21
I don’t, I know that we have, I only became aware of the form in the last three or four months. And I do know that we have two clients who are planning to submit it for this year’s taxes next year. So we’ll see what happens with it. But, but I won’t, I don’t have any information about people being refused, although, it, that, that tax benefit thing came from Ryan Kenny, so. An attorney. So.
Doug K 48:57
Bet Hannon 48:58
I’m assuming that we’re on the right track.
Amber Hinds 49:02
This one was new to me also. So I unfortunately don’t have any experience with it, either. But we could potentially, maybe we can try and find a speaker who’s like an accountant, who knows about this, that could come and talk about this.
Bet Hannon 49:20
That would be cool.
Amber Hinds 49:21
That would be cool. So, maybe we can put that on our to do list. Kathy has a question about “being new to WordPress, I’m unsure which template results in more accessible websites. Also, how does using a page builder affect accessibility?”
Bet Hannon 49:38
So, you’re getting into the technical side, and I’ll just say you’re the theme that you choose may have a huge, may impact accessibility, and I generally dislike page builders, so I, but I’m going, so we don’t use them, and I’m going to assume that they negatively impact accessibility, am I right? Amber? Rian?
Amber Hinds 50:02
I think it depends on the page builder and how it’s used. So, I mean, because it’s not any different than, than the block editor, right? You could choose blocks that are just like a normal heading block, and it’s tagged as a heading. Or you could choose a block that inserts a carousel. And the carousel has a whole bunch of issues. And I think that’s the same thing, and it, you know, whether it’s Elementor, or Beaver Builder, like, there are blocks or widgets, whatever the different page builder calls them, that are just fine and can be used to build out accessible content, and there are blocks and widgets in them that no one’s thought about accessibility at all, when they built that block or widget. So I think it’s a little bit-
Rian Rietveld 50:44
-If you want to start out with a good template, all the default themes that are added to WordPress, like 2016, ’17, ’18, ’21, they are all accessible. So if you want to have a good start, just take one of the themes that are available with WordPress itself. And that’s a good start. And if you need a page builder, you really need to understand why do I need page builder? What do I need, that it’s so complex that I need to base builder for? Maybe you just need the functionality with the Gutenberg blocks, and that’s enough. So don’t overthink the functionality and work with what you got. Maybe that’s enough for you.
Bet Hannon 51:28
And be aware that things like carousels, or sliders are almost always inaccessible. Mega menus are typically inaccessible, although there is one mega menu plugin that is accessible. There are, there are some plugins that you’re going to add to your site that will not be accessible. So, we, uh, you know, we work with a lot of nonprofits, and as well as businesses, and the nonprofits especially have events things, and we’ve used the Events Calendar, but it’s, has accessibility issues, we’ve, in a couple of cases really worked to, kind of worked around them. They’re not, they’re supposed to be working on their accessibility, but, and we’re not seeing that. It’s a little further back on the road map I think.
Amber Hinds 52:19
I’ll put a link in the chat. Um, this is the Accessibility Ready tag on wordpress.org. Which, these are all free themes that have been vetted for some basic level of accessibility.
Bet Hannon 52:37
And it’s kind of hit and miss, though, in terms of their-
Amber Hinds 52:40
-Yeah, I think like, they have things, like, they have skiplinks in them, if you don’t change the colors that come out of the box, they have appropriate color contrast. So they have some of the, like, basics to get you started, but I don’t know, it’s not a guarantee of complete accessibility. But it’s certainly better than maybe just a random theme that you might find. Uh Kathy mentioned, “Joe Dolson has an accessible calendar widget, something like My Calendar.” I was not aware of that. We could maybe ask him about that next time.
Bet Hannon 53:15
Emma Crowe-Fleming 53:15
Yeah, I think that’s one that Taylor said she liked.
Amber Hinds 53:20
Okay, yeah. Well, and that’s another thing, which she talked about last time, if you’re interested, you can catch the recap, I think is on our website now, but, a whole ‘nother side of if you’re ever going to have anyone working on your website in the backend, who needs to use assistive technology, some plugins, their output on the front end might be fine. But if their backend isn’t good, it wouldn’t be usable for your employee or contractor or staff member who is actually editing the website, so. Uh, Graham.
Graham Venning 53:52
Hello, everyone. Bet, thank you very much for this.
Amber Hinds 53:54
You’ve got a hand up, I don’t know if that’s a question or-
Graham Venning 53:58
-Yes. I do have some questions, actually, if there’s time. I know we’ve reached an hour. Are we still okay to continue?
Bet Hannon 54:06
Graham Venning 54:06
Yep. Okay, great. I just wanted to say that I looked up the Luke’s Lobster site, and their accessibility information there, Bet, which is, you know, great insight for me because I’m currently putting together something similar for my, my, my client right now. And I liked how they actually put in a little limitations and alternative sort of waiver within that too. But the other day, I came across a hotel, which had a similar one, and I could even share that in the chat here. I can do that now. Which I thought was fascinating too, because they actually went into providing information about browsers that could help with links, and accessibility references, and software and services for HDML validators and things. But my, real quick question here that I wanted to bring up was, in your experience, who should be the point of contact on these statements? Should it be the developer? Or should it be the customer? The owner of the website?
Bet Hannon 55:20
Typically, we make it the owner of the website, because then they’re the ones that are legally responsible, at least in the U.S., right? And so they, they would need to follow through on that. They need to know that the issue’s coming in.
Graham Venning 55:40
Yeah, and that, that’s-
Bet Hannon 55:41
-Are you thinking you would do it, you would put yourself there? I mean, you, the, the, the site owner is, sometimes, maybe frequently, not able, able to implement anything, but they’re going to be in charge of that customer response, right? You would want them to have the, kind of interaction with their customer, their client.
Graham Venning 56:05
That’s, that’s where I would have gone with it. And I’m just interested, because you know, the, the customer probably wouldn’t have much of an idea as to, you know, how to handle this, they just forward it on to whoever has developed the site. And I can, I can understand that. But I suppose also, there’s this aspect, that if you’re building a site, primarily, you know, with the sort of, almost the promise that you’re building it to a certain level, and you’re taking ownership for it. And again, that’s probably not something that, you know, the liability waiver would hopefully, sort of give you some distance from it. But I’m very much aware that I don’t want to over promise and have my customer sort of get hit by things that they have no clue about, and just trying to protect them with, you know, they hopefully, they’d be part of one of my care plans, which, you know, hopefully, you know, would maybe mean that in this case, I would have them come to me and CC them in to the customer as well.
Bet Hannon 57:04
Well, maybe you set up a couple of forwarders. And so there’s a you know, “email accessibility at domain name,” but it sends an email to both you and the client. I just think in terms of the relationship between me and the client, I want the client to know this work came in that we’re going to take care of them for that.
Graham Venning 57:23
Bet Hannon 57:24
Right? I want them to understand and, and communicate, I want them in the loop of all of that. And, and they should be on the front loop of that, I think but.
Graham Venning 57:35
Yeah, I agree now. Thank you. And I have one other question, which was, you mentioned, there’s a mega menu plugin that is accessible. Could you mention what that one is?
Bet Hannon 57:44
I knew you were gonna ask me that when you started, I said mega menu, and I don’t remember. I’ll have to look it up.
Graham Venning 57:49
That’s alright. Okay, fine. Thank you. And those are really my points. But thanks so much for today. It’s been great insight.
Bet Hannon 57:57
Amber Hinds 57:58
I did a fair bit of testing on these, and I think recently, so, Max Mega Menu is the one that I thought was the closest.
Bet Hannon 58:09
I think that sounds right.
Amber Hinds 58:10
There, there was a few interactions with regards to triggering the open and close of dropdowns, and then being able to escape out of them that I think needs some improvement, but it is most certainly, I think, the best. But again, this is another interesting scenario, because with this plugin, you can basically build it as if it’s like widgets. So if you randomly stick a rogue H6 in your mega menu, right? Like, then you have headings out of order, because you’ve done something like that. Um, if you’re, I don’t know if you’re a coder at all, um, but the, let me find it real quick, Adobe has an open source mega menu that’s accessible, [To self: Uh, accessible.], that really shows, yeah, it’s, it’s this. So this is the front end, but it’s, it’s on GitHub, so you can look at the, the code if you want. But it talks about how mega menus should function in order to be accessible. And the one that’s up at the top that shows the WCAG sections, perceivable, operable, understandable, robust, is actually an example of it, so you can experiment with moving through it from a keyboard only perspective.
Graham Venning 59:42
Thank you. That’s great.
Bet Hannon 59:43
Amber Hinds 59:44
Yeah. So we’ve been looking at this and trying to figure out, you know, like, how could we better build mega menus when people ask, utilizing this, like, just within the theme, I’ve had moments when I’ve thought maybe we need to use this and build an accessible mega menu plugin, but, you know, you can only manage so many plugins. You know? [laughs] So if somebody else wants to take this make a plugin, I’m sure that we would put it on client sites. [laughs]
Bet Hannon 1:00:10
Good luck with that.
Graham Venning 1:00:11
Amber Hinds 1:00:15
Uh, anybody else?
Nick Galvez 1:00:18
Oh, I have a question about the insurance. I was, uh, I was just wondering, like, since the cost of the insurance looks like it’s less than hiring a developer to actually work on accessibility, is that going to be a problem going forward?
Bet Hannon 1:00:37
I don’t know. So the insurance, it’s interesting how the insurance works. So you the premium is $2,000 a year, they work with a, they work with a firm that does education and some remediation work. So when you you first pay the premium, I think you get $5,000 of coverage. And then you move through some milestones with this coaching and remediation thing, now some of the remediation may cost you additional, but it’s at some special rate, I guess, but there’s, there are these sort of milestones that you meet, and as you meet the milestone, the amount of the coverage goes up to, and at the end, it goes up to $50,000. So initially, you do 5, and I think 10, and then 25, and then 50. So it’s a really interesting concept.
Nick Galvez 1:01:29
I think I misunderstood it, I thought it was $5,000 a year for-
Bet Hannon 1:01:36
No, it’s $2,000 a year. That’s what, what I, they’ve told me when I last was in contact with them. $2,000 a year for up to $50,000 in coverage, but you start at a much smaller coverage rate, and then you go up, but that you’re working with this team of people who are doing some coaching with you, training with your people about accessible content management, pieces of that, that you’re checking off these milestones that you’re getting, and then there’s kind of a, you know, a kind of a regular check about whether you’re maintaining those pieces or not. And, yeah, it’s kind of an interesting concept. And I have to, I mean, I just put it in there as a kind of, I think we will see more of these products kind of emerging.
Nick Galvez 1:02:20
I was just worried because I’ve worked for some companies, like, particularly in the payment industry, where they would rather hire a legal team that’s very aggressive than to actually take care of any issues, because it’s just cheaper for them. And I would hate to see that happen with accessibility.
Bet Hannon 1:02:41
Amber Hinds 1:02:42
I wonder about that, though. Like, I mean, maybe for very large organizations, it is cheaper, but I have a hard time, like, balancing that, like, I don’t know, my-
Bet Hannon 1:02:56
-Because each, cases can be repeatedly broad, right? It’s not just one time that somebody might sue them. But it’s sort of like they, they have to begin to look at the costs over a long haul of repeated lawsuits.
Amber Hinds 1:03:13
And you have to pay, I don’t know, you know, is your attorney $250-$500 an hour, or whatever it is, depending on your attorney, right? And, and however many hours, and that’s just for the going back and forth. And what I’ve heard from attorneys is frequently you just settle because it’s cheaper. Like, going and fighting it isn’t worth it, even if you think you’re right. Like, you just settle. So.
Bet Hannon 1:03:37
And then you settle. But you’re, usually the agreement is that you have to implement the accessibility in the end.
Amber Hinds 1:03:43
Nick Galvez 1:03:45
Oh, okay, well, that’s good, then. I’m glad, uh, that they’re-
Bet Hannon 1:03:50
-Usually the settlement is you have to implement the accessibility, and you have to implement the accessibility on an expedite- what we would think of as developers- as an expedited timeframe, so you’re having to pay not just to have the accessibility implemented, but to do it within a very tight timeframe, which you have to pay more for.
Nick Galvez 1:04:10
Ah, makes sense. Good.
Bet Hannon 1:04:18
Well, I’m hoping that actually we’re building just, well, more widely as a community, we’re building more incentives for people to just do the accessibility. Right? And, there’s carrots and there’s sticks. Some people only respond to sticks.
Nick Galvez 1:04:35
[Laughs] That’s for sure. I do have one more quick question, if you have the time. I was wondering if, I think I, yeah, contact forms for accessibility issues, any recommendations?
Bet Hannon 1:04:54
Well, Rian worked with Gravity Forms recently and we’re loving the Gravity Forms accessibility these days.
Nick Galvez 1:05:01
Okay, cool. Alright, thank you.
Bet Hannon 1:05:06
Yeah, good work Rian.
Amber Hinds 1:05:11
Yeah, we also use Gravity Forms and much appreciated that. Are we, have you, have you completely, did you, were you using the WCAG 2.0 form fields for Gravity Forms plugin?
Rian Rietveld 1:05:21
Amber Hinds 1:05:22
And have you stopped using that now? Or do you still use it?
Rian Rietveld 1:05:26
So, sorry, what was the question?
Amber Hinds 1:05:28
Um, so we used Gravity Forms before, and we would always install the, it’s a free plugin on the WordPress-
Rian Rietveld 1:05:36
-Oh, you can, you can disable that, because Gravity Forms has taken care of all the stuff itself. There is a page on the documents of grav- uh, in the knowledge base of Gravity Forms where you can set up a complete accessible form. And that’s WCAG, 2.1, AA accessible, so that’s stricter than for the U.S. necessary.
Amber Hinds 1:06:01
Rian Rietveld 1:06:02
And then you have to keep the theme intact. So keep the color contrast, a note overall colors and stuff like that. Yeah. But you don’t need the plugin anymore.
Amber Hinds 1:06:13
That’s good. We have a lot of clients sites we can go remove that from. [laughs] So. Yeah.
Graham Venning 1:06:24
I’ve just shared a link in the chat. And it’s something that I can’t vouch for personally, but I, I’ve heard some good things about Monster Contracts. And I just scrolled down through their page, and they seem to be referring to accessibility as well. So somebody may find that useful. I’m gonna have to look at it separately, but, uh, thought I’d share that.
Bet Hannon 1:06:41
Yeah, we worked a little bit with Nathan in terms of sending some suggestions and then they, they worked with Rian, I think, Ryan, I think.
Graham Venning 1:06:48
Oh, fantastic. Okay, that’s great.
Nick Galvez 1:06:52
Is Nathan somebody at Monster Contracts?
Bet Hannon 1:06:55
Nathan Ingram is the the lead at, at Monster Contracts.
Nick Galvez 1:06:59
Bet Hannon 1:07:00
Yeah. So if you don’t know, Monster Contracts is, you can, you, you pay in and you get access to some contract templates for developers and agencies.
Bet Hannon 1:07:15
So it’s, it’s an alternative, that’s cheaper usually than hiring an attorney to do it for you. But you know, you always have to be careful when you’re doing that.
Amber Hinds 1:07:25
Well, we’re at 12:15, so I think I’m going to wrap this up. Um, Bet you can find on twitter, @BetHannon, right?
Bet Hannon 1:07:32
Yep, that’s me
Amber Hinds 1:07:33
You can DM her, she said, if you want. And if you want to join our Facebook group, that’s another great way to connect in between Meetups. The recording- it takes us a little bit, we’re getting a little bit faster, but we want to make sure we have a full captions and transcripts -but as soon as that’s available, we’ll post a comment on the meetup. So thank you so much Bet, this was fabulous.
Bet Hannon 1:07:53
Oh, you’re more than welcome. Good to be with you all.
Amber Hinds 1:07:56
Yeah, and thanks, everyone, for joining.