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 Monday, September 20, 2021, and a video recording of the presentation.
About the Topic
In our Meetup on October 7th, Colleen Gratzer, an accessibility specialist and CCO of Gratzer Graphics, shared the cost of ignoring accessibility for developers, designers, agency owners, and their clients.
Thanks to Our Sponsor
Leon Stafford, is a developer at Strattic and creator of WP2Static. He also maintains the Accessible Minimalism theme for Hugo and is in the process of porting that to WordPress. He thinks accessibility is one of the most important goals of technology, but also one of the hardest to get developers and stakeholders to care about. He gives thanks to all the champions in the a11y space and for everyone just becoming aware of its importance.
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:
- Leon Stafford’s Website
- Leon Stafford on Twitter
- Admin Bar Facebook Group
- WebAIM Million
- Lainey Feingold Legal Website
- Gratzer Graphics
- Creative Boost
Read the Transcript
Amber Hinds 0:00
A few announcements before we dive into the awesome topic that you all came here for. So, we do have our own Facebook group as well. It’s kind of small still, but we are getting started. So, if you go on Facebook, and you just go, it’s either facebook.com/groups/WordPress.accessibility, or you can search “WordPress accessibility,” there is a Facebook group that you can join if you want to just talk, like, accessibility and WordPress.
We have live captions today. This is our second meetup with live captions. We are super excited. I will talk a little bit more about our sponsor in just a minute, but huge thank you to Leon Stafford for sponsoring captions for this event.
We are, we are working on ASL interpreters, we’ve reached out to a few different organizations that are approved through the state of Texas, since that’s where we’re located, because we wanted to make sure that we got someone who is going to do it right. And I think we’re still waiting to get some quotes for them. And we have reached out to a pretty big number of companies to see if any of them would be interested in that. So our goal, of course, is we’d love to have live captions and ASL interpreters on every Meetup, so we’re doing our best on that front.
Um, beyond those items, if you ever have any suggestions for the Meetup, if there’s a topic that you would like to hear about, or if you have any ways that we can make the Meetup work better for you, please feel free to contact either Emma or myself, and I’m Amber, and you can email us “@equalizedigital.com,” so I’m Amber@equalizedigital.com, and Emma is Emma@equalizedigital.com. I stuck our logo there so you can see it. And you can also reach us through the Meetup page as well, but I know sometimes that doesn’t work as well for people on screen readers. So, if there’s anything we can do to make this work better for you or make the recordings work better for you after the fact, please do feel free to reach out and let us know.
Amber Hinds 2:12
So, our sponsor today is Lee- Leon Stafford. Leon is a developer at Strattic, and the creator of WP2Static, which is a plugin that- or tool that helps people build static WordPress sites. He also maintains the accessible minimalism theme for Hugo, which is a different content management system. And he’s in the process of porting that over to WordPress. So, looking forward to having another possible starter theme that is accessible in the WordPress environment.
Leon thinks that accessibility is one of the most important goals of technology, but also one of the hardest to get developers and stakeholders to care about. So, he just wanted to thank all of the champions in the accessibility space. So, if you aren’t familiar with it, that’s “a11y,” stands for accessibility. It’s our short way of writing accessibility on Twitter when we have limited characters. And he wants to thank everybody who’s here just for becoming aware of its importance. If you want to learn more about Leon and some of his projects and work that he does, his website is Ljs.dev. I have it there at the bottom.
And the other thing that I always like to ask is, if you are so willing, and you have a Twitter account, after the Meetup, go on Twitter, and if you can just tweet a thank you, I like to say, to our sponsors, I think it shows them like this really does matter, what you did makes a difference, and hopefully it encourages them to sponsor more captions again in the future. So he, on, his handle on Twitter is “@Ljsdotdev” all written out, which you can see right there.
So, our upcoming events. On Monday, October 18, at 5 PM Pacific or if you’re like me, and you live in central time, it’s going to be 7 PM Central time, we will have Nick Croft, who is a developer at Reaktiv, which is a WordPress VIP agency that does a lot of enterprise level WordPress builds, sharing best practices for screen reader text. So this will be a combination of what it should be, like text and writing it, but also we’ll get to see a little bit more of the code side, how can you actually improve, or code in screen reader text in certain places. So, from a developer perspective, this will also be a good Meetup. But I think that even if you’re not a developer, you will have some big takeaways as well.
And then, after that, on Thursday, November 4 at 8 AM Pacific or 10 AM, so this same timeslot, on November 4th, we’re gonna have Brian Gardner, who you may know him as the original founder of the Genesis themes and StudioPress. He has a new theme out called Frost WP, and he recently rejoined WPEngine. And he’s going to be talking about his transition to building themes with accessibility in mind, because that’s something that he’s been putting a lot more effort and thought into. So, both of these should be really great, exciting, um Meetups, and I look forward to seeing you all there as well.
So, what you came here for today, I’m so excited to introduce Colleen. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her speak at some other events, and also see, you know, comments, and advice, and information that she’s shared in various Facebook groups, and she’s also a member of the IAAP, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, and, so I really value everything she has to say, so I was so excited when she agreed to come speak. So, Colleen is an award winning designer, she has over 25 years experience in branding, print, web design and development. And she also is an accessibility specialist that does InDesign accessibility training and design accessibility training, so she’s done that to the U.S. Department of Interior at the CreativePro InDesign + Accessibility Summit, and has appeared on several podcasts and given presentations, as I mentioned, about website accessibility as well. So, Colleen, I’ll let you take over sharing, and introduce yourself any further that you would like to do, but we’re so happy to have you here, and looking forward to your presentation.
Colleen Gratzer 6:39
Well, thank you! Those were really nice comments, I appreciate that, especially coming from you. [Laughs]
Amber Hinds 6:44
Colleen Gratzer 6:45
Yeah, so, yeah, I have two businesses, I have a consulting business, Gratzer Graphics, that I started in 2003, and it was just design, and web, and print, like pretty much everything design, except accessibility, which I didn’t get into till 2016, which was a game changer. And I have a second business, Creative Boost, where I put out the Design Domination podcast. And then I have, I offer mentoring, and I also have accessibility courses for designers, and also for, web designers and developers specifically.
So, I’m actually really excited to talk about this. Well, I’m always excited to talk about accessibility, but I’m really excited about talking about this, because so many designers and developers ignore accessibility, and so do their clients. And, so, I just want more people to understand, and know about it, and how it actually can benefit them, instead of thinking about, like, “Oh, it’s a thorn in my side,” or “Oh, I have to do this or have to do that,” so. Let me see if I can go ahead and share my screen.
Amber Hinds 7:50
While you’re getting that queued up, do you have a preference on, do you want everyone to save questions at the end? If I see something in the chat, do you want me to chime in? How do you like to handle questions?
Colleen Gratzer 8:01
Um, probably at the end.
Amber Hinds 8:06
Colleen Gratzer 8:08
I’m just trying to figure out, okay, why is this showing with bookmarks? Okay, do you see?
Amber Hinds 8:14
Yep, we can see the slides.
Colleen Gratzer 8:17
Okay, I don’t, you’re seeing all my book- my little tabs too, though. So, let me see if I did something wrong with this when I shared it. Nope, I guess that’s just how it’s going to show. Okay. All right. So, you just see, you don’t see my speaker notes, you just see that screen right?
Amber Hinds 8:52
Yeah, we don’t see your notes. We can see the slides but that’s it.
Colleen Gratzer 8:55
Okay. Not that they’re covert or anything, but [laughs].
Amber Hinds 8:59
We can also see all your little, Firefox, or Chrome, whatever they are, add ons.
Colleen Gratzer 9:04
Right, right. Okay, so, how ignoring accessibility costs you and your clients. So, even if accessibility is not a legal requirement for your clients, ignoring it can still cost them and you. So, to start off, I want to take a look at some of, like, the state of the web, when it comes to accessibility, some statistics.
98% of the top 1 million websites fail a basic test of accessibility. This is what WebAIM found when they tested the top ranking 1 million websites. And this is crazy, right? Because these are just things that can be detected with an automated checker, which can only detect like, usually, 25 to 30% of issues. Some more, and some do less, and some do more or less on certain sites. So, this is really, this is really astonishing.
And, to give you an idea, too, I recently did a website audit that ended up being 120 pages, and an automated checker found only a couple of types of errors that were in my report, and the manual checking that I did was actually the bulk of that audit, and it was about one issue per page. So, we’re talking about over 100 issues.
Now, in these tests, WebAIM found an average of almost 61%, or almost 61 accessibility errors per page. And the number of errors has only been increasing over time. So, it’s not getting better, it’s actually getting worse. When it comes to pages with ARIA, ARIA is, is code that you add that provides extra meaning and usability for users of assistive technology. Well, when it’s used properly, that is. And WebAIM found that 60% of pages with ARIA actually had more errors than pages without ARIA. So, in other words, developers might have used ARIA incorrectly, or they added it where they shouldn’t have. And a lot of times, what happens is, they think they need to add ARIA, and they overdo it, and they actually cause more accessibility issues. Not all websites need to have ARIA in order to be accessible.
One of the most common WCAG 2 failures that WebAIM found was low contrast text. And this was found on 86% of pages. So, that means that users with low vision, or color blindness, may not be able to read the text. Well, heck, not only that, but, I don’t even have a visual disability, and I can’t read text, like, white on a yellow, or light blue background, and I come across that all the time. And then alternative text was missing on images from 66% of pages. And 9.3% of these images that had alt text had questionable or repetitive alt text. So, they might have had alt text that had, like, a file name instead of what it was describing, or maybe it said “dog” instead of “cat,” you know, or maybe it had something that was redundant. So, that means that users of screen readers didn’t get the proper content from those images.
Empty hyperlinks were found on almost 60% of pages. And a lot of times, these are social media icon fonts, or they’re svgs that don’t have any link text. So, sighted users can see the icon, but someone using a screen reader has no idea what it is. So, this means that the purpose of that link isn’t understood, and it’s just confusing, or somebody misses out on that content. Form input labels were missing on almost 54% of pages. So, that means that users of screen readers may not know what a text field, or checkboxes, or radio buttons are for. You know, they don’t understand the text that’s with them, where it goes with that particular field. Or they might go to select a field, like maybe they go to select a tiny checkbox, and they cannot precisely select it because they have a motor disability. And so, labels help with that, too, not just comprehension, but also in case someone has a motor disability.
Empty buttons were found on almost 29% of pages. So, users of screen readers may not know what the button on the form is for, right? So, there could be more than one button, maybe it’s not just a submit button, maybe there’s also a reset button next to it, they hit the reset button, you know, all their information is gone, and that’s really frustrating. And then 28% of pages, were missing a set document language.
So, why does any of this matter? Why do any of these stats matter at all? Especially because maybe you have never encountered issues on a website, or maybe your clients haven’t gotten any complaints. It must not be that big of a deal, right? But, maybe you also think these issues only affect a small minority of people.
Colleen Gratzer 14:02
But, that’s not the case. And this all matters because 1 billion people in the world have a disability, which is about 15% of the population, and actually in the U.S., it’s about 20%. So, I want to go over some of these disabilities, and how our web designs, and how we code can actually affect them.
Okay, so visual disabilities. Now, I’ve found that many web designers and developers, and their clients, think that accessibility is all about designing for people with blindness, or for users of screen readers, or they think accessibility is about older people. And, a lot of times if they do any accessibility testing at all, they’re only testing with a screen reader. Or they ask someone with blindness to go through the site with a screen reader. But, someone who has blindness, and goes through the site with a screen reader, they won’t know if they’re missing out on content.
And that’s also, visual disabilities other than blindness that are much higher in number. You know, like, you’ve got color blindness, which affects 1 in 12 males, and some women a smaller percentage of women. And then low vision, which could be caused by macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, or a cataract. Individuals with blindness might use a screen reader, such as VoiceOver on the Mac, or NVDA or JAWS on Windows, or they might use a Braille keyboard. But, for them to be able to access information, the site has to be built with the proper code, and then the content has to be formatted correctly to allow the assistive technology to access that information, and get around the site.
So, all those errors I previously mentioned, those would all be a huge problem for them. And some individuals with low vision might use a screen reader, but many don’t. I have a friend with legal blindness who doesn’t use any assistive technology. And most users with colorblindness don’t use assistive technology, they don’t use a screen reader. So, low contrast is a really huge issue. And if people can’t read the text on the website, and they can’t distinguish hyperlinks on the page from body text, you know, that’s a huge design fail.
Now, there’s auditory disabilities, deafness and partial hearing loss. And some elements of a website that affects these individuals are captions and transcripts. So, if a site has any audio or video content that doesn’t have a text alternative, these users can’t access that content. But, the majority of people who use captions actually don’t have hearing loss. They might be somebody in a crowded room. I mean, the other day, I was watching a video on YouTube, and I couldn’t hear part of it because my husband was mowing really loudly by the house by my office, you know, so I just turned on the captions so I could understand what they were saying. You know, but they’re also used by people who aren’t native speakers of a language. And they also help people understand someone that might have a speech impediment, and be speaking.
And then, ambulatory, or mobility or motor disabilities, that’s another group. And this could include people with chronic arthritis, someone who has a lost limb, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke, even like traumatic brain injury, or a broken arm. And yes, I say a broken arm because a disability could be something temporary, it’s not necessarily something that someone is born with, and it’s not necessarily something permanent. And many of these individuals can’t use a mouse. And so, instead, they need to use the keyboard. Or they could use a screen reader, or a touchscreen, or a sip and puff system where they breathe into something that communicates to the computer. There’s also a joystick, and a trackball, and a wand and stick, or a hands free pointing device. So, we’re not just talking about even the mouse and screen reader, so many other types of assistive devices.
Another category is cognitive learning and neurological disabilities. Down Syndrome, Dementia, Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD, seizure disorders, and memory loss. And these individuals might be affected by contrast, and not necessarily just low contrast, but too much contrast. And the use of certain colors, or the use of certain colors together, can actually cause issues in people who had a traumatic brain injury. Or people with dyslexia actually can, certain color combinations can actually enhance or hinder comprehension. But also, we’re talking form instructions, and noting required fields on forms. And then individuals with seizure disorder like epilepsy, they could actually suffer a seizure as a result of flashing, blinking, or other types of motion. And, if you’re ever looking to talk a client out of, like, a slider or a carousel, you know, there’s, like, your best reason to do that. That’s your best ammo for that. [Laughs]
Colleen Gratzer 19:06
But screen readers aren’t just for those with low vision or blindness. Individuals who have a cognitive or learning disability actually might use a screen reader to voice content on the page. Some people, like, I’m a visual person, I have to, I, I, I prefer to read, I comprehend things better that way. A lot of people what they when they hear things they comprehend better than they do seeing something in writing.
Okay, so how does ignoring accessibility affect you and your clients, or even affect your clients, or even cost them? Okay, so the first way is revenue. Let’s look at a few statistics here. Okay, in the U.S., people with disabilities have a total income of about 873 billion, and a disposable income of 645 billion. Okay, so 71% of users with a disability, leave a website that’s not accessible. And where do you think that they’re gonna go? They’re gonna go to a competitor’s site that might be accessible, and, who knows if they’ll return to your client site again. They might not. You know, when they say it takes like eight times, I think to make up, eight positive impressions to make up for one bad impression.
Okay, so some situations that you could consider about how having an inaccessible website could cost your client revenue. So, you could have a veteran who’s lost both of his hands, and he uses an assistive device with his computer. And say, he goes to that site, and he wants to make a donation, but he can’t get to the donation page, because the navigation isn’t accessible. And if it were, he could use his device, or tab through from the keyboard.
You could have a legally blind woman who wants to make a donation to an animal rescue, but she finds it hard to read the small, light grey text on the website. And she doesn’t use a screen reader, so she zooms in on the text in the browser. But maybe it’s still too light for her to read, so, she just gives up, and leaves the site feeling frustrated.
You might have a man with color blindness, who’s shopping for a gift online, and he’s unable to make out the hyperlinks to the products because to him, they don’t look any different from the body text. So, there’s no additional styling to show that they’re hyperlinks, so he leaves, and he goes to a competitor’s site, where it’s much easier to make a purchase.
You could have a woman with full hearing loss, who goes to watch a how to video on the site for a product that she wants to purchase. Let’s say there’s no captions or explanatory text on the webpage, though, so she doesn’t understand how the product can help her. So, your client just lost another sale. Are you still seeing only my screen because some notice just came up that I’ve never seen before.
Amber Hinds 22:02
Yeah, we didn’t get any notice.
Colleen Gratzer 22:04
Okay, that was weird. Ignoring accessibility negatively affects a business’s reputation. Because, when clients don’t consider 20% of their website visitors, it comes across as “we don’t care about being inclusive.” There’s a great saying by Ekaterina Walter of Forbes, “if we do not intentionally include, we will unintentionally exclude.” So, this will give the business a negative reputation. Not only that, but people with a disability are three times as likely to avoid that business, and they’re twice as likely to dissuade others from doing business with it. And we all know how much word of mouth and reviews on Facebook, from anybody, people with or without a disability, you know, we all know how those reviews, how much impact they can have. So they can either really help, or they can really hurt a business.
A lot of sites, in general, are bloated with code, and slows them down, and that can affect search engine rank. And accessible sites can actually rank higher, because they’re using proper semantic tags and code that isn’t bloated. So, leaner website code results in faster page load times, and the site could actually get a boost in Google search results because of that. And ranking higher than a competitor could be the edge to get that sale, or that donation. So, accessibility is also about properly formatted content. And that means that search engines might actually provide more relevant content from an accessible site in their search results. So, that could mean that someone’s going to click through, and stay on the site longer, because that actually was information that they were looking for.
Now, we all know about potential legal issues being another problem with ignoring accessibility. Of course, it’s a huge issue in the U.S., as we saw from that, you know, everyone’s always talking about in Admin Bar, it comes up, and like, that thread yesterday, everybody was, you know, was looking at that one, where someone had gotten the letter about a lawsuit for their client. So, what happens is that, well, these claims can can be like 1,000 to 100,000, but Amber, you shared something yesterday in that group saying that you’ve seen amounts as high as $350,000. You know, and most businesses just end up writing a check. You know, there, these are, this is the cost for legal fines and fees for both parties.
And this also, because I think a lot of web designers and developers, like, they get panicked when this happens, but I think maybe their clients think, “okay, well now that this has happened, we just have to fix it.” And, like, “no one else is going to come around and sue us again. And so we have time to fix it.” Like, even a judge could say, “you have six months to a year to, to fix it.” But you don’t want to wait around, because somebody else could come along, a different plaintiff could come along, and sue, so.
Uh, but the other thing is it also doesn’t relieve them from remediating, which means fixing the site to make it accessible. It doesn’t relieve them from that, that obligation to do that, so. If that happens, you have to get it fixed right away. The business is not off the hook, they can’t just like, “Okay, we got sued, we can just take our time.”
So, here’s a few examples of accessibility laws in the U.S., and the UK, Canada, and Australia. So, in the U.S., we have Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal law that applies to the government and its contractors. And then we have the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to, I think, some some organizations in the public sector, but private entities as well. And then in the UK, there’s the Equality Act of 2010. And then in Canada, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, also called AODA. And then, Australia has the Disability Discrimination Act.
Now, there’s laws in other countries, too. We just don’t, we hear the most about U.S. and Canada, I think, but, there are laws in other countries, and people just aren’t aware that those laws have been in place for a very long time.
Colleen Gratzer 26:12
Okay, so remediation is another cost to consider. It is much more costly to remediate a website and the documents on it, because those have to be remediated too, when accessibility is an afterthought, okay? Than it is to incorporate it into the design process, and into the development, or into your document layout as you go. And some website documents, some websites and documents I’ve remediated, can cost three times as much as they might have if I had been hired to do it from the beginning, rather than being handed, like, the files, or the site after the client had approved everything that someone else did.
So, it’s, you’re going back in, and you’re revisiting the design process all over again. So, the client has approved the design, now it’s got to be redone. And an audit of a website can easily cost a couple to several $1,000. And then there’s also, do they want a desktop audit? Do they want a mobile audit? Do they want both types of audits?
And then, there’s the cost of a developer to fix those issues. And then after that, there’s the cost of a follow up audit to make sure that changes were made correctly by the developer, and to make sure that no new mistakes were made in the process. So, like I said, documents on a website also need to be remediated. And, a lot of times when I’m remedi- remediating InDesign and PDF files for accessibility, I have to modify the client’s color palette, or modify the design in order to get colors to work. Keeping the original colors, maybe, but changing how they’re used.
So, this is an example of that, and you can see these are very different looking. So, it’s the same with a website. Changing a design after the fact, it’s, it’s really costly and time consuming, because again, you’re revisiting the design process, so, it’s like the client is paying for the design work twice. And then the client has to, of course, review the new look, and that’s going to add additional time that they probably hadn’t planned on.
Remediation, though, is not just a financial cost, it can also affect brand recognition, if the branding doesn’t take into consideration, accessibility during the process. And color plays a huge part in that. You know, will your client lose business as a result of the design, or the color changes that don’t keep in mind, the branding, since some people may not immediately recognize that brand with those changes? I mean, think about McDonald’s, what if the Golden Arches were changed to brown in order to meet contrast requirements? That’s totally different looking.
Now here’s an example of what I mean with one of my websites. The branding of my consulting business uses a light green and gray as the two main colors. And purple is what I wanted to use more of as an accent color. The green heading that you see in the first screenshot, that’s actually after I had darkened it, and it still does not meet contrast requirements. And it actually would have had to be a much different, darker hue of green, like an army green, and that would have, nothing’s wrong with army green, but that would have just changed my brand color palette, and the brighter look that I really wanted the overall design to have. And I rebranded, like, a year before I got into accessibility, so, you know, I didn’t know about any of this stuff at the time.
So, you know, addressing color and contrast issues in the branding stage is vital, and it doesn’t stop there, because you don’t want the client’s website to be accessible with a modified color palette, but then all their other materials use their original nonaccessible color palette, you know, because then they won’t be consistent. And that really affects the integrity of their visual branding that they’ve invested in.
Okay, so now, let’s get into how ignoring accessibility can cost you. Okay, I have a lot to say on this one. Okay, reputation. When you don’t address accessibility in the design process, and I, or someone else, has to make the design accessible, the client will ask why the original designer didn’t bring this up. Why they didn’t know about it. And when you don’t build an accessible website, you might as well tell the client, “well, hey, I’m going to build you a website, but is it okay if only, like, 80 to 85% of people are able to use it? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to say that to them, right? I mean, you’re automatically starting out by excluding people right off the bat. When a client has to spend more time and money on making their branding, and their documents, and their website accessible, they’re not gonna be happy about that. Okay, but that doesn’t make you look good either.
Colleen Gratzer 30:53
And it’s our job to inform clients about this. You know, you probably tell them about SSL, and why they need to have that. And you might tell them about privacy policies, and why they need to have those, but you’re probably not telling them about accessibility. And even if you don’t understand it all or know what to do, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by not bringing it up. If the client brings it up first, they’re gonna wonder why you didn’t. But it also puts you in an order taker position. Because you’re the web designer, and, or the developer. And, like I said, even if you don’t know everything about accessibility, you should be bringing it up, not waiting for them to do it. That’s what they’re looking to you for. That guidance.
So, you can always say like, “I don’t know anything about this, but I’m gonna hire it out.” You know, I don’t know anything about SEO, and I don’t pretend to and I don’t want to get into that. If somebody needs SEO, okay, I’m gonna refer it out, you know, it’s the same kind of thing. Another way ignoring accessibility can cost you is losing out on projects. Like I said earlier, this, accessibility has been a game changer for my business. I’ve been in business since 2003, nothing has affected my business more, had more impact, than adding accessibility to it. There’s a gazillion web designers and developers out there, and if you’re not niche, it’s especially hard to stand out. And this is one way you can do that. You know, and maybe you lose out on potential projects, because prospects don’t see how you’re different from the next web designer, or developer, or even agency, so they base their decision on price. You know, the low, lowest price, like, that person never wins, it’s always a race to the bottom line.
So, accessibility can help you stand out and win more work. I mean, it’s helped me, like I said. One of my core students recently just won two jobs, and possibly a third because he brought up the topic. And even if the client doesn’t ask for accessibility, if another developer or agency brings it up, and you don’t, they will probably get that work instead. That’s what I see happen all the time. So, the thing to keep in mind is that accessibility isn’t going away. It’s been around for much longer than you’re probably aware of, and it’s only becoming more prevalent and getting more attention, and clients are starting to ask for it more and more.
Colleen Gratzer 33:12
Now, on the legal side of things, there’s potential things that could happen to you. The number of web accessibility lawsuits almost tripled from 2017 to 2018. And some web developers, and even hosting companies, have been sued. In one case, someone sued the Wet Willie’s bar chain because their website wasn’t accessible. And the plaintiff, who was a user with blindness, he said he wasn’t able to access their menu online. He sued not only the bar chain, he also sued the web developer and the host, because he said they were the creator and operator of that website.
Another case is one that I heard about from a colleague who does accessibility audits, and his client was sued, and then went after the developer, because the developer didn’t bring it up. So they went after the developer looking to recoup some of their legal fines and fees. And again, we’re talking about anywhere from $1,000 to, like, $350,000. And, I’ve also heard personally, from several web developers directly, whose clients got sued, and then they go into a panic and they’re like, “well, what am I supposed to do about this now?” It does, it’s not just like, you know, big companies.
Accessibility is essential for some, but it is useful for all. Instead of looking at accessibility like it’s a thorn in your side, or putting your head in the sand and hoping your clients don’t get, you know, randomly plucked out from the crowd for a lawsuit, look at what it can do for not only the users, but also your clients and you. There’s just so many ways that accessibility adds value. And, it provides a better experience for all users. You know, most people won’t notice that a site is accessible, but they will appreciate the benefits.
And this reminds me of when I had an apartment years ago, I, the only, the only available unit was one that was wheelchair accessible. And I didn’t need that, but they gave that to me because that’s what they had. And I loved it, I had extra wide doorways, which I need because I have really broad shoulders and I’m constantly banging my shoulders on doorways, I’m very clumsy. Uh, it had a bigger walk in closet, which I loved. And it had a huge bathroom. So, that was really, really cool.
Accessibility makes for a better user experience. So, that can be faster page load times on websites, because of the leaner code, and those people are more likely to stay on the site. There is the ability to easily scan a page to find the information they need quickly, you know, because most people, we do not just get on a web page and read everything, you know, top to bottom, we get on there, and we look at headings, and we scan down for headings, and screen reader users can do the same thing when that content is properly formatted.
There’s also the enhanced readability due to good typography and color choices. And clearly distinguishable hyperlinks when you want people to take action. And then forms that they can fill out without having to have this precision to select something to fill them out. And the ability to read captions and transcripts, which serves so many purposes. You know, you could be in a room with kids playing, and trying to hear the audio. Like I said earlier, your husband could be out mowing right in front of your office. You could be in a loud coffee shop and having trouble hearing the audio. You know, if you’re not a native speaker of that language, and you’re seeing the words, maybe that helps you understand what they’re saying. And it can also help you understand the speaker, who might not be a native speaker, like a person with a heavy accent. And again, like I mentioned earlier, someone that might have a speech impediment, and they’re speaking.
There’s also the ability to use the keyboard. I’m a big fan of using the keyboard, I love using the keyboard. If I don’t have to pick up my mouse, I’m not going to do it. I mean, even if you’re just using the keyboard, like in this picture of this woman holding a child on her lap, even if she’s, you know, maybe, uh, right hand isn’t her dominant hand, and she is you know, well, she’s using the mouse, but, you know, if you’re tabbing on the keyboard.
So, all of these things make for a better user experience for all users. You know, and the other thing to think about is that if someone likes being on your client’s site, and they have a good experience, they’re more likely to come back. They’re more like, likely to stay on the site longer. And they’re also more likely to say good things to others.
So, I just want to recap a few points. 98% of the top 1 million websites fail a basic test of accessibility. Again, totally astonishing. There’s a ton of work to be done in this space. You can start building better websites and get more results for your clients. Automated checkers only detect about 25% to 30% of issues. They’re a good start, but they’re not a catch all. And I know a lot of web designers and developers out there think if you pass that automated checker, that’s all you need to do, and that is not the case.
Colleen Gratzer 38:12
1 billion people, or 15%, in the world, have a disability. Ignoring accessibility can cost your clients revenue, reputation, search engine rank, potential legal issues, remediation costs, and brand recognition. And it can cost you reputation, projects, and potential legal issues.
And, you know, another point is that accessibility is not a destination. It’s a journey. So, you don’t, you’re not going to come out of the gate knowing everything there is to know about it. There’s so much to know about it. There’s even, you know, there’s people that do only documents. There’s people that do only websites. There’s people that do only apps. There’s people that only do ARIA. I mean, there’s so many different subsections of accessibility, and just doing something, and just getting started, is so much better than doing nothing, and afraid you’re going to get it wrong, or hope, or the, hope that your, just hope that your client doesn’t get sued.
So, if you want to learn more about accessibility, my website is creative-boost.com. And, that’s where my podcast episodes are, I have a ton of free accessibility information there, and I have three free guides on it. And, like I said, I have courses, and then I have a consulting business Gratzergraphics.com, and we do accessible branding, and we do accessible publication design, and websites, and also remediation and website audits.
Amber Hinds 39:50
Well, thank you. We had some good conversation in the chat, which I know when you’re speaking it’s hard to-
Colleen Gratzer 39:56
-I had to turn it off! [Laughs]
Amber Hinds 39:59
Yeah, let me, let me recap a few things, and then we do have some questions. So, Peter mentioned that he had actually worked at a company that was sued under the ADA for not having an accessible website. So, it does happen to real people. Uh, do want to share any thoughts about that, Peter?
Uh, can you hear me?
Amber Hinds 40:20
Yeah, so this was actually several years ago, before accessibility was even a hot topic among [unintelligible] ’cause, you know, we’re talking about a large site, uh, eCommerce site, and it was sued under the ADA, for lack of accessibility, you know, we just didn’t have basic things like alt tags on images, we had text that was too small, too close together. And these are things that you should be doing for everyone, not just people with disabilities, right? And, uh, one of my pet peeves is not making it clear on a page what’s clickable and what’s not.
Colleen Gratzer 40:54
Not just a matter of hyperlinks. A lot of times, people design components that look clickable, and are not. Or, they have clickable elements that are not called out as clickable. Or, they have design signals that confuse the two. So, that’s one of my pet peeves that, and you can see, really, if you install a software program like Crazy Egg or HotJar on your site, you’ll, it’ll, it’ll amaze you how many frustration, or clicks, clicks, there are on a site that you think is, uh, primo, right? And yet, people are, you know, not just disabled people, but, uh, you know, everyone has trouble figuring out what they should click on what they shouldn’t.
Colleen Gratzer 41:37
Amber Hinds 41:38
Yeah, and for people who don’t know, HotJar, I’m, I’m familiar with that, does screen recordings. I’m assuming crazyegg does the same thing. Is that right, Peter?
It’s very much like, uh, yeah, it’s very much like HotJar, does a lot of the same things. So, it gives you heat maps and videos of pages. And so, whenever we redesign a page, I put HotJar on it to make sure that it’s performing the way we expect it to. And what we’ve found is that, uh, you know, another, or another pet peeve is very small click targets, right? So, you might have a huge graphic at the top of your page, and everyone does this, I mean, I, trust me, 9 times out of 10 people will scroll right past that graphic, and get to the, get to the content, right?
But, you might have a huge graphic at the top, and a tiny button to, you know, get more information. People will be clicking on the graphic, and the text next to graphic, and they’ll entirely miss that button in a lot of cases, right? So, you should design sites with larger targets, especially as we move to, you know, traffic moves to mobile, right? The small targets are really hard for people to, to hit. And a lot of times you’re not called out at all in any meaningful way.
Amber Hinds 42:54
Yeah. So, Mark also added, following up on your comment in the chat, he wrote that another one is that, thing to keep in mind, I think, is that people with disabilities can design and develop accessible websites, hence, the importance of making the operating system and authoring tools accessible as well. I don’t know if you have any thoughts about that Colleen.
Colleen Gratzer 43:18
It’s interesting, because I just came across an article the other day where there was a man who became blind at the age of four after a neighbor with a mental disorder threw acid on his face. So, he was burned, and he was totally blind from that, and, he just won, I forget the name of the award, I can send you the link if you wanted to send it out, but he just won an award for building, I forget exactly what it was, so, it was an accessible, it wasn’t an app, it was some other kind of accessible platform. So, it was really interesting.
Amber Hinds 43:51
Yeah, that’s cool. And, and on that note, I mean, we we did have Taylor Arndt on. She was a speaker a couple months ago, and she showed, talked about WordPress plugins, so, if you’re a plugin developer, if we have any of those here, and some of the challenges that she’s experienced as a blind person using a screen reader, building a website in WordPress, with some of the backend of some of the plugins, so, I think for sure, and that’s something we are trying to continually improve in our own plugin and tool, like, making sure that the back end is accessible. I mean, ours doesn’t output anything on the front end, so it doesn’t really impact the front end at all, but, you know, making sure that it can be used by everyone is important.
Let’s see. So, Colleen, there was a question from Dave, he said, you briefly mentioned that certain color combinations are a problem for people with dyslexia. Could you please explain more about this?
Colleen Gratzer 44:44
Yeah. So there are certain color combinations that are problematic, that can hinder comprehension, and there are some that can actually help with comprehension. So, there’s quite a few of them, I remember them being, like, a light yellow for the background, and an almost black for the text, like a dark, dark gray. And, um-
Amber Hinds 45:09
-That’s helpful or that one’s not good?
Colleen Gratzer 45:11
That one is helpful, what, from what I remember, it was the, it was the light yellow and the warmer, some warmer colors that they gave, there was a study, and they gave these specific hex codes for these certain colors, but it was mostly like a dark gray, almost black for the text, and then these warm, light, warmer colors for the background. But I think, I think a very light blue was okay as well. But there were a lot of the cooler colors that weren’t so great.
But, too high of a contrast can also be problematic for people with Irlen Syndrome. Uh, stark black and white, for example, the highest level of contrast that you can achieve, that actually can make them see text as, like, wavy, or moving, or blurry, all these different ways, except how it actually looks to someone else on the page. It can actually prevent them from being able to read the content. And then, like, saturated reds can be problematic, like if you have a large section of saturated red on the site, that could be problematic for people who’ve had a traumatic brain injury.
Amber Hinds 46:21
Yeah. Um, so, someone asked if you could share where your stats are from. Would you be able to give us a link for the slides that we could send out with the recording? I think I noticed most of them had some citations on them.
Colleen Gratzer 46:33
Mmm, yeah, so, those stats came from WebAIM, webaim.org. And they have a study that they, so I think they do the study every single year-
Amber Hinds 46:43
-In February, I think, right? Every February they scan websites?
Colleen Gratzer 46:46
Yeah, that sounds, that probably sounds right, yeah.
Amber Hinds 46:50
Um, uh, your microphone sounds like it turned off or went low. I don’t know if that’s the case, but, it’s still okay.
Colleen Gratzer 46:57
But it sounded fine before? Because when I just went to select it, it wasn’t on the mic, and then I was like, oh, shoot, maybe during the whole presentation my mic wasn’t on.
Amber Hinds 47:04
No, I think it just changed recently. Alright, so, Mark asked, why do some automated checkers claim to catch up to 50% of the issues? And is it some kind of marketing tactic to distort the truth?
Colleen Gratzer 47:18
Well, I can’t speak for them, but I mean, like, some, some automated checkers are better than others, okay? And then there’s also the, okay, well, one automated checker might work really well, and detect, detect a lot of issues on one particular site, but it doesn’t detect a lot of issues on another site. So, just because it’s like, it works, one checker works really great on one site, it does not mean it’s going to work that great on another site. There’s just, there’s a lot of things that they just cannot check for, too. So, there’s a lot of manual checking that has to be done. But yeah, I don’t know where they come up with these statistics. You know, I have no idea.
Amber Hinds 47:52
So, I, so the one I know of that has the highest is axe by Deque, and they claim 50%. And, uh, axe-con, if anyone’s not familiar with that, is a really great, free, virtual conference on accessibility that’s like, I can’t remember if it’s two or three days long. They might still have, I know they were moving some of the recordings from this year around, but they should be available somewhere for free, if you just look up axe-con, “A-X-E” con. And, I went to a session where they were talking about their tool axe Pro, which we use when we do some of our testing, and they were claiming that their 50% is based on data from using their tool to scan automated, and then, they also did manual audits on these websites, because Deque is one of the major players in accessibility audits, and remediation, I think, I think they might do that, too, but, so, so, they’re, like, saying they manually audited 1000s of websites, and they documented how many problems on each page they found manually, verse, how many problems their scanner identified, and that’s how they came up with 50%. They had tables, and graphs, and stuff, so maybe it’s real, and it’s not just marketing spin.
You know, it’s interesting, like, people ask us that about our tool, and I’m like, “I can’t tell you the number.” I would love to one day have a number, and I would love for my number to be really close to like, I don’t know, 50% or more, right? But I, you know, I don’t give a number, because I, I don’t know how reliable that is. Maybe their number is reliable based upon how they’re coming, arriving at it. I’m not sure.
Colleen Gratzer 49:41
Amber Hinds 49:42
‘Cause they have the volume of sites.
Colleen Gratzer 49:44
Amber Hinds 49:44
They’re a very, very large company, so they probably audit lots of sites every day.
Colleen Gratzer 49:49
And I think Tenon has a higher than average rate from what I’ve heard too.
Amber Hinds 49:54
Tenon? Yeah. But I, and I mean they’re the same way right? So, he uses his software, and sells his software, but he also does audits, so, probably, I think those ones they pull it from maybe, when their team audits something, they only 50% more errors than when the software runs, um, yeah, I’m not sure.
Let’s see what other questions there were in the chat. Um, let’s see. Oh, Ryan Bracey said he also had a client get sued a few months ago, ironically, while they were conducting an accessibility audit for them. That is frustrating. You know, I’m curious to know, Ryan, if you don’t mind unmuting real quick, did they, did they have a, uh, accessibility statement on the website when they got sued? Or had they not put one up yet?
Ryan B. 50:44
I don’t believe they did. So, we, in this case, particularly, it’s an older client of ours. And, as, when accessibility started become a bigger focus for my agency, we started reaching out to old clients, offering up audits, and fixing mistakes we’ve overlooked in the past. And we sold them on this. Obviously, companies are always very tenuous about spending money on things they don’t fully understand, so it was, we’re doing this audit with them, we’re going over recommendations, put a whole report together, and then we get these urgent emails all of a sudden, from their legal team, like “we just got sued. You guys were right. This is important.” Like, yeah, we weren’t just, like, trying to get money out of you. So.
Amber Hinds 51:29
That probably helped them though, I would bet that they could prove they were actually already in the process.
Ryan B. 51:34
Yeah, it had actually been interesting. Um, they’re a pharmaceutical company, so they have two aspects of their business. We handled their corporate site, but they have like an investor relations site, and the investor relations site is the one that had the issue. So, we had actually already done the audit, and fixed their corporate site, and they were like, “thank goodness, you did that already, but now we need to reach out to this other company and get the other side of our business fixed.” So, it got us another kind of audit job off that too, which was nice, but.
Amber Hinds 52:07
Yeah, that’s interesting. Thanks for sharing
Ryan B. 52:10
Amber Hinds 52:10
Yeah. So, Isla said, highly recommend an audit early in the build, this helps you switch gears early, if needed, and gives you a roadmap of things to focus on. This is how we get bigger contracts. Clients realize that you’re really paying attention because you care, they care. That’s sort of what you shared, Colleen.
Colleen Gratzer 52:27
Yeah, I mean, I tell, when anyone contacts me about, like, consulting alongside them to help them build the accessible site, I’m like, don’t bring me in, don’t wait and bring me in at the end, in fact, don’t even bring me in, in the middle of the development, bring me in at the design stage so I can review the design, because again, it’s like, you don’t want that client to revisit the design process twice, because that doesn’t make you look good, and then that wastes their time and money, so. Always bring it up in the very beginning. As soon as you can, like in the design stage. And if you’re designing branding, bring it up then. The earlier in the process, the cheaper it’s going to be.
Amber Hinds 53:05
Yeah, color, I mean, color choice matters so much.
Colleen Gratzer 53:08
Amber Hinds 53:09
So, so on that note, about, why I asked Ryan about accessibility statement, so, do you know Colleen, someone asked this question, is there a way to say on a website accessibility statement, quote, “we’re working on it” without increasing legal risk? And of course, we’ll, I’ll ask you this question by prefacing with, I’m not an attorney, and you’re not an attorney.
Colleen Gratzer 53:29
Amber Hinds 53:31
And maybe, maybe, Ryan has thoughts about this, too, since he’s, but go ahead, Colleen, what do you think?
Colleen Gratzer 53:35
Yeah, so whenever someone contacts me about an audit, I’m like, get an accessibility statement up there right now, you know, and then just change it later to say you had the audit, when it was done, and to what standard the audit was done. But, I mean, even if they’re not planning on having an audit done right away, the accessibility statement, from what I’ve heard from lawyers, is that it can go a very long way in preventing issues because, typically, what people are doing, whether they’re greedy lawyers, or they are legit plaintiffs, right?
Because it doesn’t matter the reason behind it if it’s ethical or not, if it happens, it happens, so, you know that then you can put that accessibility statement up there, because most of the people that are trolling the sites are just going and running like an automated checker and looking for issues. And if they don’t see that you have an accessibility statement, then they think you just don’t know anything about it, and so you can be a bigger target like that. But if you have an accessibility statement, again, from what I heard from lawyers, is that it can, it can help ward off those people who are looking for the people that don’t know anything about it, and aren’t doing anything about it.
Ryan B. 54:40
Yeah, what we’ve started doing for our sites is just kind of template language that’s like, we’re trying our best, we’re keeping up, this stuff is constantly changing, if you see something that could make us better, here’s a form you can fill out and it comes directly to my team in house, so.
Colleen Gratzer 54:57
That’s good. I mean, the other thing though, too is, you don’t want to just slap an accessibility statement on the site, and then don’t do anything. Like, you don’t want to be like, okay, we care about accessibility, but we’re not going to care enough to run an automated checker and look for some low hanging fruit, or, we’re not going to, you know, do an audit, or, you know, so because there’s a lot of, a lot of sites that I’ve been on, it’s like,is this a joke? I mean, the, you care about accessibility, but you clearly have major issues that anybody can find with an automated checker, like, again, yellow on, you know, white on yellow, white text on yellow background, you know? So it’s like, come on, don’t just slap that on there, that makes you look like a hypocrite.
Amber Hinds 55:33
Yeah, I think, so, I’ve heard the same thing from attorneys that you’ve had, you’ve heard that having a statement and say, and even pointing out areas that you know you’re deficient.
Colleen Gratzer 55:43
Amber Hinds 55:44
And this is, we do a lot of work with universities, and, some of them will literally say like, we are currently working on PDF remediation. Because they know they’ve got like, 100s of PDFs, or 1000s of PDFs, right? And they’ll point it out. But, I think what Ryan’s, Ryan’s point is, it’s really helpful to have a way for them to contact you. We tend to not recommend a form, because, sometimes if you have problems with your form software, or it’s not set up right, then that-
Colleen Gratzer 56:14
Amber Hinds 56:14
-causes accessibility problems, so we are like, give them a phone number, and give them an email. And then they can choose what works best for them. And we don’t even obscure the email address, it’s straight up linked. And, so that it’s, like, as easy as possible for someone to, like, send an email saying “I need help,” or call, whatever their preference might be, so. So, Dave had a question, “is there any web browser or plugin that makes it easy for people with disabilities to adjust the colors for themselves if they need light yellow background with black text?”
Colleen Gratzer 56:44
Yeah, there are some. So, some people might be browsing in high contrast mode, like, if they’re using Windows, they might always be browsing in high contrast mode, and so, they may or may not encounter some issues with that. There are a lot of issues that can happen in high contrast mode, though, when things aren’t coded properly, but, like, on my site, I’ve got just a very it’s the WP Accessibility Helper, or it’s WP Accessibility, I always confuse the two, it’s one of them, and I disable all of the options other than toggling the font size, and high contrast mode.
Because my site is, well, I’m not done with the accessibility, there’s still stuff I’m working on, but there’s only so many hours in the day. And I’m not a PHP person, like, I can do certain things, I can’t do other things, um, but, the, so the site is accessible, and, so it’s not like adding functionality by adding this plugin, it’s just making it convenient for people who don’t use assistive technology, and they may not know that they can, you know, use high contrast mode on their operating system or with a Chrome extension, for example, or they may not know that they can toggle the font size in the browser. So, it’s really for convenience of people that aren’t using that assistive technology, to just give them those options right there. It’s just those two options.
So, there are different plugins that do that, that you can install. But again, like, I just only have those two little tiny things activated, because the rest of them are just redundant from what I’ve already built into the site. And, there is a, there’s an extension, I’m trying to, so it’s Funkify, and I’m trying to think, I’m trying to remember if it does anything like that, but they, Funkify is an extension you can install, like, for testing and you can change it to, like, a visual, to certain visual disabilities, or motor disabilities, and it will kind of, like, demo how somebody with that kind of disability is able to get around that webpage. So, it kind of demonstrates for you, like, what they’re seeing, or how things work for them from a mechanical standpoint. So, that could be something you could look at, too.
Amber Hinds 58:52
Yeah. I think, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, I really want to try and get someone, I’m thinking, I’ve been thinking about, I need to go get someone from, like, 10Up to come talk about how, ’cause they added the color contrast, and the font size toggle right to whitehouse.gov, when they launched that earlier this year, and a bunch of people were talking about that. And I always wonder, like, how much is that used? But there is an audience that they don’t know yet that there’s things they can do in their browser-
Colleen Gratzer 59:21
Amber Hinds 59:21
-to make it fixed on every website, so they might use those tools.
Colleen Gratzer 59:24
Amber Hinds 59:25
So, yeah. It’s interesting.
Colleen Gratzer 59:28
Amber Hinds 1:00:01
Yeah, I mean, the one thing I will say, with those, and there’s a variety of them on wordpress.org, the, the one that you’re talking about, WP Accessibility, Joe Dolson developed that one, he spoke a couple Meetups ago, I can’t remember when, exactly, but you can find the recap, and he talked about that plugin and shared some of the features and things. And with all of them, even his, and, like, we talked, he talked about this in the Meetup like you do really need to test it, because there’s some possibility that if you are not adding, like, if cont- if text is being added in a funky way, that the contrast switch, right-
Colleen Gratzer 1:00:44
Amber Hinds 1:00:45
-Might miss it or something like that, so.
Colleen Gratzer 1:00:47
I’ve seen that.
Amber Hinds 1:00:47
Plugins, if you do add them to your website, I think, like, I always tell our clients, like, it’s really important that you turn it on, and go through tons of pages on your website to make sure that nothing’s being missed.
Colleen Gratzer 1:00:58
Yeah, I’ve seen that happen, what you just mentioned, yes.
Amber Hinds 1:01:01
Yeah. Um, someone else asked, let’s see-
Colleen Gratzer 1:01:05
-I think it’s when there’s a background image. Text over a background image, if I remember correctly.
Amber Hinds 1:01:09
Yeah, that can cause problems. Or, I mean, this is it’s whole other accessibility issue, but they usually can’t change placeholder text. So, like you’ll have forms that don’t have labels, visible, visible labels, they could have invisible labels for screen readers, but they don’t have visible labels and they’re using placeholder text. Then toggle high contrast mode, this is what I’ve seen, the background is black, and then, the placeholder text is like dark gray or black. So now, no one knows what there supposed to put in there. So, obviously, there’s multiple accessibility issues happening in that scenario, but.
Um, let’s see, sorry, I’m looking back through. Okay, so can you talk a little bit about PDF remediation? Because I know this is like an area of expertise for you. I know almost nothing about it. Like, I’ve read the Adobe health docs, but some people are have- asking, Angela was asking, what is PDF remediation? What happens with PDFs that are issues? I know you could probably talk about this whole thing for an hour, but-
Colleen Gratzer 1:02:01
-Or more. I’m gonna be presenting on some of it at CreativePro again. Yeah, so, okay, so, document remediation is when you have to make a document accessible. And it is always cheaper and easier to do that when you are working with a source file. So, when people come to me for this work, I have a lot of creative agencies that come to me, and they say, “look, here’s our InDesign files, just make them accessible.” And it’s kind of like handing off a website at the end and going “just make it accessible.” And it’s like, no. But, I mean, I can do it, but it’s like, you know, involve me in the beginning, it’s cheaper.
But, um, so what happens is like, well, the people who specialize in different types of documents, I don’t work in Word, I don’t work in PowerPoint, um, I work in InDesign and PDF, so. Uh, the foundation of an accessible document is tags, which is, like, the HTML code is for accessible websites. That’s the foundation. If you can’t export a tagged PDF, like, Affinity Publisher, I actually just did a podcast on this yesterday, Affinity Publisher cannot export to a tagged PDF, so you cannot use that for accessibility. So, I mean, you can, if you want to do a lot of work in the PDF, but that’s never good.
Amber Hinds 1:03:06
That’s like in Google Docs, that’s my biggest pain point. We used to make everything in Google Docs and we can’t because the PDFs are not tagged.
Colleen Gratzer 1:03:13
Have you tried, GrackleDocs has a, has that.
Amber Hinds 1:03:16
It does some stuff, but yeah, not fully, you still have to kind of fix it in Adobe.
Colleen Gratzer 1:03:22
Oh. Yeah, anything that you have to do in the PDF is always worse, because it’s not just more costly, but, um, like if you have to, like, like InDesign, if I’m doing something in InDesign, like I can get, I can get like 95% of the work done in InDesign, because InDesign can only do so much, right? It doesn’t do everything. So, it’s not like, and a lot of designers think “I’m just going to export from InDesign to a tagged PDF, and poof, my PDF is accessible,” and that’s not the case. Or that if it passes the Acrobat Accessibility Checker, that that document is, it has passed accessibility, but it’s, that’s not the case either, because it’s the same with automated checkers on a website, you know? It cannot check for every single thing.
So there’s other checking, there’s a lot of manual checking, that still has to be done. But, there’s still a lot of work that, like, even if you get all the way that you can in, say, InDesign, and then you make that PDF, you still have to go in and you have to, for instance, do what’s called scoping tables, which is also a thing with websites, but scoping tables is done very differently in documents. So, there’s a lot of, like, manual work that has to be done, and so, you don’t want to have to go back and re-export a file and redo the, you know, redo the PDF work that you just did. I mean, I had a situation once where, I think I did 20 hours of work in the PDF, and I had to go back to InDesign for something. So, you try not to do that. It’s always easier to start with the source file, get everything done that you can there, and then do what you have to do in the PDF, and then do the testing, and like spot checking with a screen reader, things like that.
But like I said, some people do Word document remediation, some people do PowerPoint, everything ends up as a PDF, and a PDF always comes from somewhere else, and that’s where you have to start, with the somewhere else. Whatever program it originated. Now, that’s not to say though, like your clients can have PDFs on their website that have to be remediated, and they may not have access to a source file, or they can’t find it. That doesn’t mean the PDF still can’t be remediated. It can, it’s just a lot more work to do it that way.
Amber Hinds 1:05:17
And you’re talking about some, some specific examples, for people who don’t know, so, when you said scoping tables, that’s like making sure that there’s headers on the table, or in the rows, wherever, so that it will read out properly. And then I’m thinking like, all tags on images, using headings, right? Not everything should be in a paragraph block, just like you would on a website, right? A lot of it is the same.
Colleen Gratzer 1:05:38
Right. Right. So, the, the approach, the not, the approach from a theoretical standpoint is the same. But, the way that it is done, the mechanical way that is done is different, it’s very different. Like, with document remediation, we don’t, when we don’t put, when we want a screen reader to ignore an image, we actually call it artifacting. So it has, there’s some different terms there. And then, so it’s not like, just it’s, it’s, it’s like null, it’s the equivalent of null alt text on an image on the web, but we call it artifacting. So, we do that, so it gets ignored.
What else was I gonna say about that? Um, yeah, so there’s, we don’t have as many tags, and we have some slightly different tags with document remediation. HTML, there’s a whole lot more tags. So there’s that. But, like, it’s still, like, you’re still using WCAG, even though it’s web content accessibility guidelines that WCAG stands for, you’re still using those principles, they still apply to any form of electronic technology, which is documents. So, you’re still applying those same principles. And you’re still, you know, like Amber said, formatting the headings, making sure that headings aren’t used for body text, and that you’ve got, if you’ve got a list, it’s a list, it’s not a bunch of paragraphs, things like that. You’re still using those same types of practices. Yeah.
Amber Hinds 1:07:07
I mean, that’s so helpful. I, this is one area, that is a huge pain point for us, because we don’t, you know, it’s like, we have to spend a lot of time in InDesign, and I keep thinking, I need to just like have someone else do my PDFs. I mean, mostly we avoid PDFs, but every once in a while, [unintelligible]. So, okay, Dave asked, “can nonprofits get sued for having an inaccessible website?”
Colleen Gratzer 1:07:27
Amber Hinds 1:07:29
So, that would be, that would be under the ADA, or-
Colleen Gratzer 1:07:33
Amber Hinds 1:07:34
-It could be Section 508, right, if they had a federal grant?
Colleen Gratzer 1:07:37
Yes, exactly. And I’ve had clients that come to me with federal grant money, so they fall under Section 508. But everybody still comes to me and says, “It’s ADA compliance.” And I’m like, it’s really not, but, you know, that’s what they just call it when they mean accessible, so just because a client comes to you and said, “We need to be ADA compliant,” it doesn’t mean they actually need to abide by the ADA. They, sometimes they just don’t know, and they just say that.
But sometimes it could be the ADA for sure that they do need to comply with, but yeah, a lot of, the people that come to me a lot of the times. It’s Section 508, “Oh, I got a federal grant,” and so, you know. But, it’s still WCAG that you’re following. Because the, the laws are different, but the laws are usually telling you to follow the same, you know, WCAG standards.
Amber Hinds 1:08:16
Yeah, I, I’m trying to think of examples of nonprofits that have been sued. The only ones that come to mind for me are like, private schools. Um, so private, so they’re not getting federal funds, so it is under ADA, that the lawsuit was made, but I’m not sure if I have good examples. I always like to refer, refer people to Lainey Feingold.
Colleen Gratzer 1:08:38
Amber Hinds 1:08:38
She has a blog called, well, her business is lflegal.com. And she’s an attorney who’s been practicing in this area for, I don’t know, like, 30 years or something. And she does legal updates. And so, if you’re super interested in legal, and you want the real, the expert opinion that’s, um, go read her stuff. Um, and on that note, you know, whether or not we can give it, do you think, this was a question, “do you think the high contrast mode in the operating system gives companies a get out of jail card if that fixes the accessibility problems on their website?”
Colleen Gratzer 1:09:17
Can you say that one again?
Amber Hinds 1:09:18
I guess this question is if the only problems are contrast.
Colleen Gratzer 1:09:23
So, what is the question again?
Amber Hinds 1:09:26
“Does the high contrast mode in the operating system, give companies a quote, ‘get out of jail card’ if that fixes the accessibility problems on their website?”
Colleen Gratzer 1:09:37
Absolutely not. Because that, that’s, first of all, that’s, that’s assuming that that, like you said, that’s assuming that’s the only issue, but there’s so many other types of disabilities that aren’t even visual related. So, no. 100% no.
Amber Hinds 1:09:52
I, and I think too, like, I think the spirit of that question, sort of, or the thought behind that, I which I could totally see companies thinking this, is, you know, it, it, it like requires the person with disabilities to find the technology to make the thing work for them. And so, it’s kind of putting the onus on the person with disabilities instead of the company, because they might not know about high contrast mode in their browser. So, is it, you know, their own fault that a low contrast website doesn’t work? Right? So, I kind of feel like it’s, the onus should be on the company, not on the individual, as long as it’s reasonable, right? We always say reasonable accommodation, and most of these things aren’t reasonable, and, so.
Colleen Gratzer 1:10:40
Right, well, and then you’re, what you’re saying about the the onus being on the company, you know, that that’s also like, you know, just because you’re, somebody, like, a third party developed a plugin that you added to your site, it doesn’t mean “Oh, well, it’s their responsibility for this to be accessible.” If you slap that onto your site, it’s now your problem. You have to address that if it’s not accessible.
Amber Hinds 1:11:00
Colleen Gratzer 1:11:04
You can’t just be like, “Oh, well, I installed this form plugin, and my forms aren’t accessible, but it’s not my, it’s not my fault.”
Amber Hinds 1:11:10
Alright, uh, Eve’s wondering what percent of website accessibility issues can be solved with proper semantics. Like-
Colleen Gratzer 1:11:16
-Oh, wow, a lot. I don’t know an exact percentage, I would say a lot of them. Wouldn’t you say that? I mean, I’d probably say-
Amber Hinds 1:11:28
-Yeah, I feel like I need to get a T-shirt that’s like, “everything shouldn’t be a div.”
Colleen Gratzer 1:11:33
Oh, my gosh, yes.
Amber Hinds 1:11:35
Colleen Gratzer 1:12:07
Right? It’s like, you took all these extra steps, and did all this extra work to make a button accessible, when all you had to do was use the button tag, the native button tag that has all of that functionality inherently built in.
Amber Hinds 1:12:28
Yeah. Well, we are almost to time. So, I wanted to see if anybody else has any questions or comments or thoughts, you’re also more than welcome to unmute and speak, if that works better for you, you don’t have to put them in chat. But, real quick, again, Colleen, if anybody wants to follow up with you, what’s the best way to get ahold of you?
Colleen Gratzer 1:12:41
Well, I have a Facebook group called Design Domination that they could join. My email address is Colleen@creative-boost.com. And my website is creative-boost.com. On the consulting side of things where we actually do the work, the accessibility work is Gratzer Graph- Gratzergraphics.com. So, I can also be reached there. And you can connect with me on LinkedIn.
Amber Hinds 1:13:08
Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And I think Angela posted that she wants you to come speak at their Boulder WordPress Meetup.
Colleen Gratzer 1:13:15
Amber Hinds 1:13:17
So, you two should connect.
Colleen Gratzer 1:13:19
Uh huh. Yeah, definitely reach out to me, Angela.
Amber Hinds 1:13:22
Well, thank you, everybody. Just as a quick reminder, our next Meetup will be on a Monday evening, it’s on the third Monday, and of course, I’ve like, made my slides go away, but I’ll grab it real quick. So, the date is Monday, October 18, at 5 PM pacific time, if you live in Pacific, that’s 7:00 Central, or 10 AM in Australia and 5 AM if you’re a super morning person in- or 5:30 AM, if you’re a super morning person in India. And that will be Nick Croft from Reaktiv, speaking about best practices for screen reader text, and we’re gonna get to see some code, which will be fun. So, thank you, everybody. Really appreciate it.
Colleen Gratzer 1:14:05
Yeah, thank you all for attending. I mean, I, like, I always say like, I love talking about accessibility, and it’s nice to like, have all these people show up and want to talk about it too, so. [Laughs]
Amber Hinds 1:14:15
Well, you’ve got to come back for more Meetups!
Colleen Gratzer 1:14:18
Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure. Yeah.
Amber Hinds 1:14:20
All right. Thanks, everybody. Have a great rest of the day.
Colleen Gratzer 1:14:24