About the Topic
Thanks to Our Sponsors
AccessiCart: Website accessibility can be complex for eCommerce sites, where many functionalities involve user interactions. AccessiCart offers customized assessments, consulting, and strategy. We evaluate the eCommerce store and its processes, prepare a detailed report about its accessibility issues (an audit), and offer a prioritized gameplan for making and keeping your website more fully accessible, focusing on the most impactful and important changes first.
About the Meetup
Watch the Recording
If you missed the meetup or would like a recap, watch the video below or read the transcript. If you have questions about what was covered in this meetup please tweet us @EqualizeDigital on Twitter or join our Facebook group for WordPress Accessibility.
Links Mentioned in This Video
The following resources were discussed or shared in the chat at this Meetup:
- WordPress Accessibility Facebook Group
- Equalize Digital Web Accessibility Resources
- Equalize Digital Focus State Newsletter
- Equalize Digital Website
- Equalize Digital on Twitter
- WordPress Plugin Accessibility Checker
- Empire Caption Solutions Website
- Empire Caption Solutions on Twitter
- AccessiCart Website
- AccessiCart on Twitter
- Ryan’s Presentation
Read the Transcript
[00:00:00] AMBER HINDS: I am going to get us started here, so that we can have a lot of time for our presentation. I am going to start with a few announcements. Let me just find a spotlight here, to make this easier. If you are just joining us, I want to let you know that we have a Facebook Group. You can connect with members in between events.
[00:00:25] If you just go to Facebook and you search “WordPress accessibility,” the group will come up. It’s a good place to ask questions, share ideas, get feedback on things you are working on. So please join us in between if you are on Facebook.
[00:00:42] People always ask is this meet up being recorded? Yes it is being recorded. A recording will be available. It usually takes us about two weeks. I think we are a little delayed on our last recording because of Thanksgiving. But after the event, we cut out the beginning and the end as needed. Then we get a corrected captions file and full transcript. It will be available on our website.
[00:01:06] The easiest way to find recordings, if you are looking for one, is to go to Equalize Digital dot com slash Meetup. You can also join our email list. In theory, if I did things right, you will get a prompt that says “Thank you for joining” in your browser, after attending the meetup.
[00:01:29] You can join our email list there or Paola added the link in the chat. It is just Equalize Digital dot com slash focus dash state. We send about two emails a month, generally. I know Black Friday was a little bit crazy for everyone’s email lists. They have the links to the recaps and they have information about outcoming events and they also have some links to news related to web accessibility around the internet.
[00:02:00] So please join that. This meet up has some sponsors. I will introduce them in just a little bit. We are continuing to look for sponsors for 2023. We rely on sponsors to help us cover the cost of live captioning, and if we are able, we would like to go back to having sign language interpretation as well. If you or your company would be interested in sponsoring, please reach out to us.
[00:02:25] You can reach out to us at meet up at email@example.com. That will go to Paola and myself. We can send you over all the information. If you have any other needs related to the meet up, or you have any questions, or need anything else, of have ideas or would be interested in speaking next year, because we are booking speakers for the end of Q1 next year, and Q2.
[00:02:52] Please reach out to us at that email as well. I am Amber Hines. If you haven’t met me before, I am the CEO of a company called Equalize Digital. We are the lead organizer for the WordPress Accessibility Meet up. We focus inward for accessibility. We have a plugin called Accessibility Checker.
[00:03:17] There’s a free version available. We started this meet up mostly because we wanted more opportunities to learn. I say it’s like my private tutoring sessions that I get to have with all of our phenomenal speakers. That is a little bit of who we are. If you want to learn more about my company, you can go to Equalize Digital dot com.
[00:03:37] We are on Twitter at Equalize Digital, and I am on Twitter as well –as long as it lasts. We will see how long it lasts! I might have to change these slides up, and be on Masedon or somewhere else. I don’t know. But we are on Twitter right now.
[00:03:50] We have two sponsors today that I want to thank. The first one is AccessiCart. AccessiCart is our live caption sponsor for today. So they are covering the cost of the live captions. They specialize in making eCommerce and WooCommerce websites accessible. They can come and do customized assessments, consulting and strategy sessions for Ecommerce websites.
[00:04:19] They will help with your processes, providing audits, and helping to prioritize the gameplan for making fixes to make the store accessible. If you are interested in learning more about AccessiCart, you can find them at –I’m going to spell it out. A-C-C-E-S-S-I-C-A-R-T dot com. Accessicart dot com.
[00:04:49] They are also on Twitter, as long as it lasts, at AccessiCart. We always like to encourage people to thank our sponsors. Send them a Tweet, and say thank you for sponsoring it. It helps them to know it is important, and encourages them to want to do it again.
[00:05:04] If you are on Twitter, and you are willing to do that, we appreciate that. We have our transcript and SRT caption file sponsor, Empire Captions Solutions. They do a ton of things beyond captioning. They do live captioning, they do audio description, they do sign language interpretation. They are a phenomenal company to work with. They have been donating their services for the meet up to us. We actually ended up hiring them for the WordPress Accessibility Day Conference. They did a really great job. So I highly recommend them.
[00:05:42] You can learn more about them at Empire Captions dot com. They are at Empire Caption on Twitter. We have three upcoming events that I want to tell you about. The first one is our next meet up will be at Monday, December 19th at 7:00pm. I know a lot of kids will be out of school and it is getting close to the holiday.
[00:06:07] But we will still have our normal meet up later this month. Alex Stine will be joining me. He and I will be doing a live audit of the Underrepresented in Tech website, to give feedback to the founders of that website, Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons. We are super excited about it.
[00:06:29] Next month, in January 2023 already, we will have How to Counter Arguments from Developers and Designers with Anne Bovelett. That will be Thursday, January 5th, at 10:30am central time. Then Joel Snider will be talking about audio descriptions, what those are, and how to create them for media, web, and other live events. That will be on Monday, January 16th at 7:00pm central time.
[00:07:04] I am very excited to introduce our speaker for today, Ryan Bracey. Ryan is the director of web development and user experience at Second Melody, which is a branding firm in New Jersey. They build websites for clients of all sizes, across a variety of different industries. Actually, Ryan, Second Melody has also sponsored in the past, which we very much appreciate, that they have been a sponsor of the meet up as well.
[00:07:35] I know that you have done a lot to try and bring more clients into accessibility and realize that it is important. So we are really looking forward to hear how you have approached that. So, thank you.
[00:07:45] RYAN HINES: Of course. I am excited to share.
[00:07:49] AMBER: All right. I will stop sharing my screen and I will hide myself so you can start sharing. We do have a Q&A widget. It is a little bit helpful for us, if you can put questions in the Q&A widget. Then, you can use the chat if you just want to have side conversations, or other comments.
[00:08:08] Ryan, do you have a preference? I forgot to ask you this. Do you want to take all of the questions at the end, or do you want me to pop in if I see some?
[00:08:16] RYAN: Feel free to pop in. The format of this presentation I’m giving is one I share with clients. When I give it live to a client, we have a lot of interaction. So, it’s kind of natural for me to get questions throughout. So please, pop in.
[00:08:34] AMBER: All right. Well, take it away.
[00:08:37] RYAN: All right. Thank you, Amber. Today I am going to be talking about selling your clients on accessibility. When I say “selling,” I kind of more mean education. In sharing our websites are accessible, should just be an integral part of every website build process process.
[00:09:02] Not only because it benefits users with disabilities, just because it generally improves the site experience for every user. Not to mention, it is just simply the right thing to do. We should be doing it. Unfortunately, these reasons alone aren’t always enough for a client, since accessibility requires an investment of time on our part.
[00:09:25] It requires an investment of money on the client’s part. Many clients might not thing it is worth it for them. The reason I say selling through education is because we don’t really give our clients a chance to opt out of accessibility best practices when we do work for them.
[00:09:42] Rather, we use this conversation to educate them on what accessibility is, what success looks like, and just help them better understand why we make some of the decisions we make, how come some things take a little bit more time than other things.
[00:09:58] This comes up a lot when we end up getting brand guidelines from a client, where maybe they have been using yellow text on a white background. We have to all of the sudden say, “We know this is an integral part of your brand, but we can’t do this. This is why.”
[00:10:13] What I am going to do is share with all of you, the presentation we actually give to our clients. Just to help start the conversation with them on what accessibility is. I know many of you on this call are pretty well-versed in accessibility already. I just want to note at the top, that this presentation is meant for people who are really new to it.
[00:10:38] So, a lot of the concepts have been generalized or simplified in a way that is a little more intentional for that audience that is receiving the presentation, to not get too far in the weeds with them. So, from this point forward, I am going to switch over to the presentation that I actually give.
[00:10:56] I will now be talking to you all, as if you were a client just learning about accessibility for the first time. This is our presentation on accessibility. I have this picture of Mr. Rogers over here on the right. I really like to share an anecdote I heard with him a few years ago that really resonated with me.
[00:11:21] When I first started my journey into accessibility, I came across this story where he had received a letter from a young girl who watched his show, saying, “Dear Mr. Rogers. Please say when you are feeding your fish, because I worry about them. I can’t see that you are feeding them, so please say you’re feeding them out loud.” Katie, Age 5. Her dad then added a note to the bottom of that letter.
[00:11:44] He said, “Katie is blind. She does cry if you don’t say you have fed the fish.” From that point on, I am sure many of us on this call grew up watching Mr. Rogers. If you remember at the end of episode, he would feed his fish. He would say, “I am now going to feed our fish. Some of our viewers get worried if I don’t always feed the fish.” Then he sprinkles the food in the bowl, while a flute sound plays.
[00:12:12] This was all done, to make this seem more accessible for people who are vision impaired, because of this one letter he received from a fan. I like to bring this up at the top of my presentation, just to set that mood that while we are talking about web accessibility, which is something that is rather new. We have only really had the web for the past 25 ish years.
[00:12:36] Accessibility as a whole has been around for a very long time. It is something people have been fighting for, for a long time. I just want to get us in that mindset, that what we are talking about, while in context to web is very new. The context to humanity has been around for a long time and has been important for a long time.
[00:12:59] Also, hi. My name is Ryan Bracey. I am the director of web development and user experience at Second Melody. In my presentation, we’re going to go through four sections. I’m going to start with an overview. What accessibility looks like in practice, how we measure success, and I will wrap everything up at the end.
[00:13:22] To start with, the overview. I am going to start by generally introducing accessibility. I’m then going to talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act. I will finish out by talking about the website accessibility guidelines. Accessibility or A11Y, is essential to making sure every user visiting your site can access its content.
[00:13:47] I have a quote over here, too, that says, “If you want people to access your content, then you want people with disabilities to access your content. Finito.” This is Rene Jaun, Swiss Accessibility Consultant, Activist, and Evangelist. I do also want to acknowledge this abbreviation, A-11-Y.
[00:14:06] When we talk about accessibility on the internet and within technology, we use this acronym because it makes it a lot easier to write or talk about accessibility. It also helps if you’re searching. If you search “A11Y,” you know you are getting results that are relevant to what you are looking for. Also, helps save characters when you make social media posts.
[00:14:33] I always like to start, too, by just opening up to the group, and asking what do you all think we mean when we say a website should be accessible? It is at this point, where our clients will usually say with like, “Colors need to have proper contrast,” or we might get someone who is like, “I have heard the word, but I don’t really know anything else.”
[00:14:56] Or, anywhere up to screen readers need to be able to read the website. Someone might even surprise us and say we need WCAG compliance. So we get a variety of answers here. Then I move on to what do we actually mean when we say a website should be accessible? What are we talking about?
[00:15:19] What we mean when we say it, is literally that everybody should be able to access your website. We do this by ensuring that the website’s content is available to everybody and that the website’s functionality can be operated by everyone.
[00:15:36] To make sure we are succeeding at these things, we have to start to consider the way people use our website, access that content. To do this, we have to break some assumptions. A typical user, and I will quote that for now, experiences the internet by using a point and click interface, such as a mouse or a touchpad.
[00:15:58] We often think of ourselves as the typical user. But when we do this, we’re making a lot of assumptions about our users. When we make that assumption, we assume our users are equal in language ability, they are equal to us in technical literacy, they have an equal physical ability, they are equal to us in financial status. They have an equal amount of time, or that they have a similar social support.
[00:16:28] When we use ourselves as the baseline, we end up excluding everyone who’s experience differs from our own. What we are really trying to do is exclude that exclusion. When it comes to people, there is no such thing as typical, which is why I had it in quotes.
[00:16:47] If we assume that all users can see and use technology in the same way we do, what ends up happening is we’ll create something that might be easy to use for some people, but it is difficult or even impossible to use for everyone else.
[00:17:03] When we say “accessible,” what we are really talking about here is users that fall outside of that typical range. These users access or experience things differently from that of a typical user. More often than not, this is referring to users who are experiencing some type of impairment or disability.
[00:17:21] I have a quote on this slide that says, “The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability, is an essential aspect.” That was said by Tim Berners-Lee, the W3C director, and inventor of the world wide web.
[00:17:41] Now that we have talked a little about the concept of accessibility, introduced to that little bit, let’s take a look at its legal necessity. The Americans with Disability Act of 1990, or the ADA, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.
[00:18:02] So far, in 2022, over two thousand federal digital accessibility lawsuits have been filed under the ADA. This is a stat from accessibility dot com. The ADA as it applies to the web, gets a little murky. The Department of Justice has long held that the ADA applies to websites, and other digital services. Even in March of this year, March of 2022, they published a set of guidelines describing how state and local governments, as well as businesses, can ensure their websites are accessible.
[00:18:40] Despite these affirmations, the Department of Justice though, has not published any regulations for what standards websites should be held to, or how they should be enforced. This complicates things in court a little bit. So since the web accessibility is not explicitly mentioned in any federal law, courts are kind of left on their own to interpret the ADA.
[00:19:06] Often times, courts will look to Title 3 of the ADA, specifically. Title 3 states in its fullness, “No individual shall be discriminated against, on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place, public accommodation, by any person who owns, leases or leases to or operates a place of public accommodation.”
[00:19:34] I know that is a lot of legalese. To break it down, it is basically saying that Title 3 of the ADA forbids public accommodations from discriminating against disabled Americans. That mention of “public accommodations” is very important. Since this is what plaintiffs often look to when argue that a website counts as a public accommodation, when they argue that it is covered under the ADA.
[00:19:58] Unfortunately, there is no definition of public accommodation within the ADA. So this definition is left open to the courts, who are somewhat divided on that, on a case to case basis.
[00:20:13] There is, however, precedent for web accessibility under the ADA. In 2019, probably one of the most –prominent cases or famous cases of accessibility was Robles vs. Domino’s Pizza. It was a case where a blind man named Guillermo Robles filed a suit against Domino’s, alleging that the website and mobile app were not compatible with his screenreader, which made it impossible for him to order pizza.
[00:20:46] His case was originally dismissed by the central district of California. He later appealed, brought it to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that the ADA does protect access, not just to brick and mortar public accommodations, but also to the websites and apps.
[00:21:06] Domino’s in turn appealed this to the Supreme Court in October of 2019. The Supreme Court declined to resolve this circuit split. That 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stands today. It has kind of set a precedent that has been used in many courts across the country, that the ADA does apply to websites.
[00:21:30] It hasn’t really done much to address the ambiguity of the ADA’s application to web accessibility, though, other than set this precedent.
[00:21:41] “Ryan, I am confused,” is probably you right now, what you are thinking. I know. It is a lot. I would like you to imagine how frustrating this must be for people living with disabilities. The big takeaway here should be that accessibility is not just a suggestion. It is not just an add-on service. The ADA, which as I mentioned, does have precedent to apply to websites.
[00:22:09] It is a real civil rights law, when this law is not met. It does hold real legal consequences. Thankfully, there is some work being done today, to extend the ADA definition to explicitly cover websites. There is a bill currently on the floor that was introduced to congress in October of 2022 by Senator Tammy Duckworth.
[00:22:34] It is called the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act. If this bill does pass, it would build upon the ADA and start setting out some clear regulations for digital accessibility requirements. I am very excited for this bill. I hope it does go through.
[00:22:51] Some of the big takeaways of it, I have the bill linked in my presentation, too. It can be read in its entirety. Some of the big takeaways are that it would require the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to set, enforce and periodically update standards for websites and applications.
[00:23:11] It would also require entities to adhere to these standards. That would mean businesses, websites, and applications would need to be accessible. One of the things I think is the coolest in it, is it lays out that these regulations would have to be updated every three years. Three years is very quick for a government to do anything.
[00:23:33] So, this would allow them to be super nimble and really keep up with advances in technology, as they came out. Now that was a lot. Now that we understand a little bit about what accessibility is, how the law kind of looks at accessibility, I want to talk about how we go about making sure our websites are accessible.
[00:24:02] The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, is a standard for web content accessibility. I have a quote over here, that says, “Technology doesn’t make accessibility hard. People who don’t care do.” This is a quote by Sheri Byrne-Herber, who is a CPACC certified. That stands for Certified Professional Accessibility Core Certified Competencies.
[00:24:32] What WCAG is a set of guidelines that get maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium. It covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. They define web content as information which is inclusive of text, images, and sounds, and structure.
[00:24:53] It covers the code or markup that actually builds the site. The way we use WCAG is basically, they provide a set of referenceable, technical standards. They organize these standards into four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
[00:25:14] Each one of these principles contains a set of about twelve to thirteen guidelines. Each one of these guidelines has their own testable success criteria. These criteria are even broken down into three levels: A, AA, and AAA. We will get into specifics on this later, so don’t worry about that right now.
[00:25:35] I also want to really emphasize that ensuring your web content meets the outline success criteria is really just the first step in assuring the creation of successful websites. To kind of pull it back to what we were talking about with the ADA, is WCAG a legal requirement?
[00:25:58] Does this actually satisfy that legal need to be accessible? If it wasn’t confusing enough, whether this was a legal requirement or not, I will confuse it a little bit more here. For federal agencies, yes, WCAG is a legal requirement. In 2017, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 got revised to require all federal agencies and contractors must comply with WCAG.
[00:26:29] If you are a private business though, kind of. Under the ADA, websites are required to be accessible. However, noncompliance with WCAG is not a violation of the ADA. While it’s not actually the standard set out that we have to follow for conformance, many states and courts do upheld that WCAG compliance provides reasonable accessibly.
[00:26:56] While it is not required, it does help us cover our bases. I know this is very US-centric. There are a lot of other countries that have much more defined regulations surrounding accessibility. Most of them do cite the web content accessibly guidelines as conformance.
[00:27:16] All signs really point to that at a time, where this does get rolled into US law that WCAG will become the guiding light of that. We now have a basic understanding of accessibility. I want to look a little bit at what this looks like in practice. I am going to start with the categories of user impairment.
[00:27:47] I have a stat here that says 61 million adults in the United States, which is about 26% of adults, live with a disability of some form. While some disabilities are visible, many others are not, such as color blindness. This is from a CDC study.
[00:28:07] When we talk about the category of user impairment, we start by redefining what disability means. It is no longer looked at as just a personal condition that defines a person’s health. It’s much more accurate to view a disability as a universal experience, stemming from mismatches in human interaction.
[00:28:29] To address these mismatches, we really need to start to consider the categories and temporalities of impairment. There are four main categories of impairment. The first being visual, which covers people living with blindness, low vision, people suffering from color blindness.
[00:28:54] Hearing, which encompasses people living with deafness or who are hard of hearing. Motor, which is anyone suffering from slow response time, limited fine motor controls, someone who might not have the physical ability to use a mouse.
[00:29:14] Cognitive is any person living with a learning disability, someone suffering from distractibility, someone with an inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information. Each one of these categories really requires a deliberate strategy in content design. Often times, these strategies promote usability just in general, beyond people with disabilities.
[00:29:41] When trying to satisfy the needs of anyone who might fall into one of these categories of impairment, we end up helping a much larger audience just because everybody benefits from helpful illustrations, or logically organized content, or an intuitive navigation.
[00:30:00] Similarly, while a user suffering from a disability might benefit from having captions or transcripts, these things are also helpful for anyone who uses multimedia in a silent or very noisy situation. That brings me to temporalities.
[00:30:17] There are three of these. The first being permanent, which is someone who was born with or lives with a permanent disability. Temporary is someone who is suffering currently, from an injury or illness. Situational is someone who is experiencing something due to their external environmental circumstances at the time.
[00:30:44] What I would like you to consider is three different people: someone born with just one arm, a person suffering from a broken arm, and then a parent that is holding a baby in one arm. Each one of these three people is experiencing the same motor impairment, just within a different temporality at the time.
[00:31:09] When I said before more people benefit just by doing these things that help that person living with a permanent disability. By being mindful of this full range of temporality, in which a person can experience an impairment, we are just really able to scale our solutions to create something that benefits a much larger audience overall.
[00:31:30] In the US, 26,000 people a year suffer from a loss of an upper extremity. When we start to include people within these other temporary impairments or situational impairments, that number grows to be greater than 21 million. Just again, thinking about that larger audience, we are able to now create a much better user experience for close to 21 million people, just by considering that person living with a permanent disability.
[00:32:03] These stats come from Microsoft’s Inclusivity Handbook. I want to take another look at this guy, who we met earlier on in the presentation. On the surface, I know I present as pretty typical. I’m also hyper aware of the fact that as a white male living in my ’30s, the world is very accessible to me. That is not lost on me.
[00:32:28] This doesn’t change the fact that I do live with two permanent disabilities. I have a persistent situational one. I am color blind, so I have difficulty discerning between blues and greens. I live next to a train-track. There is a train about 20 feet to my front. About once an hour, a train drives by and makes it very hard for me to hear anything that is going on.
[00:32:55] I am near-sighted. So I do struggle seeing at a great distance. I wear glasses for that. Again, all of this is just to say that in our efforts to make technology more accessibility to people living with disabilities, but we really end up doing is creating a much better experience for all users on the internet, or using technology in general.
[00:33:19] I want to talk about the POUR principles a little bit, which were those four main principles that I touched on earlier on my slide about WCAG. POUR is an acronym, which stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are organized by these four main principles, the POUR principles.
[00:33:43] The guidelines state that content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. For perceivable, what this means is that users are able to identify content and interface components, even without the use of all of their senses. An example of this being used successfully is by providing alternative text for any nondeclarative images.
[00:34:10] I have this little GIF off to the side. I wrote some alternative text that says, “A T-Rex eating french fries in the rain.” Even if you are unable see that image, you now have a pretty good idea of what’s going on there. I told you there was a T-Rex in the rain, eating french fries.
[00:34:30] For operable, what this means is that users can use interface components to navigate the content. For example, by ensuring all content is accessible, via keyboard navigation. We do this by making sure that navigatable components are set out in a logical order, so people don’t end up having to jump all over the page in a way that is really jarring or confusing.
[00:34:55] We also create what’s called focus states, which really help orient the user as to where they are on the page at that time. While this does benefit people living with motor impairments, or cognitive impairments, anyone who is unable to use a mouse or point like interface.
[00:35:15] This is also helpful for a category of users referred to as super users. These are people who prefer to navigate the internet using a keyboard, just because it is much faster for them. Again, we are just touching on a wide range of users when we do these things. Understandable. What this means is that users can comprehend the content and the interface.
[00:35:41] For example, writing your content at an 8th to 9th grade reading level really ensures everyone can understand the content you are putting out into the world. I am aware this is not always possible, especially if we’re talking about a site that has to include some very technical information, or maybe it is very industry-specific jargon.
[00:36:04] When this is the case, what we do is use things like glossaries and include definitions, so that people are still able to understand those words or that jargon. Then robust. What this one means is that content is compatible with different browsers and assistive technologies.
[00:36:23] For example, as long as we are ensuring that all markup is valid, when we are building the website, we can ensure that that site can be readily interpreted by any type of technology that the user’s using. Then, how do we measure success? How do we make sure we’re actually accomplishing our goals? As I mentioned earlier, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines breaks their criteria into a A, AA, AAA rating.
[00:36:57] This gets a little confusing because on its surface, this appears that single A is the worst, and AAA is the best. Where this isn’t actually the case. Every one of those three levels actually is compliant. They’re just two varying degrees.
[00:37:17] There is actually a new version, a draft version, of WCAG 3 in the works right now. They are relooking at the way they categorize success, to remove that A, AA, AAA rating to make it a little less confusing and more clear.
[00:37:33] The way I have broken it out here, is what we have to do to hit the mark. How we can give 110%, and what we can do to go the extra mile. I also want to point out that there is no way to fully automate accessibility. It is a moving target.
[00:37:51] It is something that is constantly evolving. As I mentioned, WCAG is already in draft for a 3.0 version, with a planned release of 2023. We will see some new regulations coming out pretty soon. I have a quote on this slide that says, “Successful website design is a longterm commitment, not a one-time project.” This was a quote by the Bureau of Internet Accessibility.
[00:38:19] To hit the mark, things we can do are run our own accessibility audits. That can be as simple as using your own website, and seeing if there are any areas of friction, anything that doesn’t make sense, looks a little off. You can go through your own website, using a keyboard.
[00:38:36] You can turn on your voiceover app, and run through the website using a screenreader. Just discussing accessibility concerns internally with other people keeps it top of mind. It lets you hear these other perspectives. Keeping current with evolving standards, just by reading up on anything emerging, doing some Google searches.
[00:39:01] There’s a ton of information out there that you can find. To go a little extra, to hit 110%, you can actually pay an accessibility expert to come in and run an audit on your website and advise your team on how to make improvements, what exactly they see as noncompliant, and how you can address those.
[00:39:24] Then, soliciting feedback on your website, specific to accessibility, is a huge step that you can take. There are a lot of sites nowadays, that I am starting to see including an accessibility statement within their footers, alongside their privacy policies.
[00:39:41] This is something that very simply would often state that there was an intention to build this site with accessibility in mind. Genuinely asking for feedback, saying we have done everything we can to make this accessible. If you see anything that we have not been successful at, just let us know, so we can improve it.
[00:40:05] Then to go even farther, you can pay for user testing and ensure a wide range of abilities are represented when you do this. There are a lot of services out there that offer this. They can have people with varying disabilities come in and test your website, and provide feedback for you.
[00:40:25] You can also partner with professional accessibility services or agencies, just to provide you with continued education, training and consulting. Then I want to topline that with there is no such this as perfect accessibility. As I mentioned, it is constantly evolving. It is a moving target.
[00:40:47] As long as you are working towards it, we’re going to do what we can to really sure the most people can access the content on our sites.
[00:40:59] To wrap everything up, I want to talk about the benefits of having an accessible website. When you make your website accessible, for starters, probably the most important part is it is simply the right thing to do. When more people can access your content, it just means more people can participate in your message, and what you are putting out into the world.
[00:41:23] It is also good for business. Most of the practices that provide good accessibility also improve your website’s user experience. It also helps improve the SEO of your website. We are also seeing a rise in corporations focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
[00:41:50] Having an accessible website fits really nicely into these efforts. Finally, it does ensure compliance. We should really never be doing these things out of a fear of litigation. But we do want to make sure we are protecting ourselves and being compliant does ensure that.
[00:42:15] I have a couple of resources I want to share. Here are three that I have laid-out that help better understand how different people experience the web. The first is a video link to YouTube for an artist named Christine Sun Kim who takes a look at captions. She is basically approaching –captions are not usually well written. So she looks at what makes these captions unsuccessful and how to successfully write captions for people that are actually helpful.
[00:42:53] The second video is a link to YouTube again for this woman named Kristy Viers. She is a blind woman who is going through her phone using voiceover to how a blind person interfaces with a phone, using voiceover.
[00:43:11] This third resource is another link to YouTube. It is a man names Rene Juan, going through how a blind person navigates with a pdf file. So these are just three really nice resources, to get you into the mindset of seeing how other people are experiencing or interacting with technology.
[00:43:34] Then to continue your learning efforts, there’s a great book by Kat Holmes called “Mismatch,” that talks about inclusion. That’s a link here to purchase her book. Stark, which is an accessibility contrast plugin that started for Figma and Sketch, they also have a massive collection of accessibility resources on their website. All super helpful. It is very well curated.
[00:44:05] Equalize Digital puts on this incredible WordPress Accessible Meetup bimonthly. I recommend checking it out. You can check out their upcoming speakers at the link on the slide.
[00:44:18] Then, some of the more technical standards and checklist I went over in the presentation. There is a link to the WCAG 2.2 guidelines. There is also a link to the draft 3.0 guidelines. There are some on the righthand side, some checklists put out by WCAG, just to go through and test yourself, if your site is successful.
[00:44:45] There are some helpful articles put out, and resources by WCAG. I linked a couple of quick reference guides that simplify the guidelines a little bit, and make it a little easier to go through.
[00:44:59] Then I have linked Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Standards. It is just a really well put together document that is super helpful. Thank you all for listening to my presentation. Are there any questions at all?
[00:45:21] AMBER: Yes. That was really great. I have a question before I get to some of the questions people have posted. Feel free, everyone, to put them in the Q&A box. We will go through them. I am curious when do you give this presentation to your clients? Like when in the sales process or the onboarding process? When does that happen?
[00:45:42] RYAN: It happens post sales process, usually. Pretty early in our web process. It will usually come from one of two situations. One, either we are doing something that is getting a lot of pushback and we are like, “We are doing this for accessible reasons.” The client will say, “What does that even mean?”
[00:46:10] We are like, “We can educate you on that.” We’re actually seeing a lot more often, people do already know what accessibility is on some level. So we are starting to get questions very early on in our process. “Is this going to be accessible when you make the site?” Or, “What are you doing to make this site accessible?”
[00:46:29] We can say, “Well, actually, a lot. If you would like some more information, we can schedule some time with you or your team.” We also do get some of our larger clients who have legal departments really want to know this information. We will have this kind of presentation with them, and they are very interested in the extended resources to look into cases and read up on other more technical stuff.
[00:46:53] AMBER: So it ends up being more of an on demand. You can just provide this as a webinar for them, versus as part of your onboarding process, everyone gets this. Is that right?
[00:47:04] RYAN: Correct. It is not every client gets it. On demand is probably the way to best describe it.
[00:47:13] AMBER: That is great. Are there extra things that you’re doing during this sales process to talk about accessibility or does it not really come up? I know you said you are kind of making everything as accessible as possible from the get-go as much as possible, so maybe you don’t have to sell them during the sales process on the pricing?
[00:47:36] RYAN: We include it in our scope, that the work we do will be accessible. Like I said though, it is not really something that we allow people to opt out of. We did have a lot of discussion early on, on whether we want it to be its own line item.
[00:47:54] We realized that could get murky, because someone could very easily say, “What is this? Cut that out. I don’t want to pay for that.” We just kind of rolled that into the greater price of the project –
[00:48:05] AMBER: It’s like, you think about everything for accessibility in doing design, and you just add that to the design fee. That is just the design fee. That sort of thing? Then dev, and everything.
[00:48:16] RYAN: Yes, 100% right.
[00:48:19] AMBER: There were a few questions that came into the Q&A. Let me pull them up. I will go back to the beginning. Someone said, “From what I understand, the Duckworth Bill does not include WCAG as guidelines to use. Is that correct?”
[00:48:37] RYAN: That is correct. All the bill says is that once it passes, hopefully it will pass, it puts a time constraint on the Department of Justice to lay out regulation. I believe it gives them 6 months to write that regulation.
[00:48:54] A lot of people are saying they’re probably just going to use WCAG simply because it’s already the requirement under Section 508. It is already being used by a lot of other countries. It just going to makes the most sense. It is so that already exists. They will roll it in.
[00:49:11] Also that stipulation that it needs to update every three years also goes hand in hand with how often WCAG updates. It allows them to just pull in the newest version whenever it comes out. While yes, it is not included as the guideline to use, there are a lot of people who think there’s a good change it will just become the guideline.
[00:49:35] AMBER: Okay.
[00:49:37] RYAN: I guess we won’t know until it actually happens. We will keep hoping.
[00:49:42] AMBER: Yes. I think you are probably right. There is probably a good chance, considering Section 508 does. That seems to be the standard for most laws, internationally. Of course, you know, we could get a curveball.
[00:49:52] RYAN: It could go and do something completely different. I believe actually that India has its own –I was actually was ready for this. Nope, India uses it. There was someone –Japan uses the International Organization of Standardization Guidelines 71, rather than the WCAG. So there is another one out there, but almost everyone else who has compliance rolled into their laws uses WCAG.
[00:50:29] AMBER: Yes. Another question Gene asked, “Federal agencies are required to have accessible websites. What about other government sites? State? County? Other municipality type sites?”
[00:50:40] RYAN: I believe that is included under those federal agencies.
[00:50:48] AMBER: My understanding is that if they get federal funding –
[00:50:52] RYAN: That is section 504, I believe, of the same act. That requires them to be compliant, but I don’t think it mentions WCAG.
[00:51:05] AMBER: Yes.
[00:51:07] RYAN: Yes, 504 requires recipients of the federal government aid and assistance to provide for accessibility, including websites. It doesn’t mention WCAG as conformance.
[00:51:21] AMBER: I think the ADA would apply to this as well. State websites, or county websites, those sorts of things.
[00:51:30] Linda asked, “As someone with color blindness, which is easier for you to read, black text on white background, or white text on black background? Is there any text that is difficult to read, due to its decorative properties?”
[00:51:48] RYAN: That’s a great question. I actually don’t experience much difficulty reading. Really the only time my color blindness comes in is really light yellows or greens, or really dark blues or purples. At that, it is just that I see the wrong color. If they are next to each other, like if you are denoting a system maybe that uses yellow and green in the key, I might not be able to tell the difference between that yellow and that green. It all looks the same to me.
[00:52:24] AMBER: Like on a chart?
[00:52:25] RYAN: Like if you –Correct. If it was like this bar of green represents this, and yellow represents this. I look at the chart, and I’m like, “Well, there’s just two greens. I don’t know which one you are talking about.” Or if there’s difficult colors overlayed on top of each other, it is hard for me to read.
[00:52:45] The fonts themselves never bother me. Black and white haven’t really been a problem. Thank you for asking. That is a thoughtful question.
[00:52:58] AMBER: I think on that note –
[00:52:59] RYAN: I am curious –
[00:53:00] AMBER: That is why there is the guideline about not using color alone. Right? On that chart, one should be solid and green, and the other one can be striped and yellow. That would handle it for you, because you know a stripe versus a solid or something.
[00:53:16] RYAN: As long as it is not yellow or green stripes. Then that is just solid color again.
[00:53:20] AMBER: That’s a good point. Then color contrast probably comes in a little bit on the color blindness again then, I would think?
[00:53:30] RYAN: I am so good at just recognizing contrast failures with my eyes, because of it. I will see something and just immediately go that doesn’t pass, and it won’t.
[00:53:40] AMBER: You don’t need to use the eyedropper.
[00:53:43] RYAN: I have the built in checker right here. I would be curious if anyone else struggles with white or black texts and background combinations.
[00:53:54] AMBER: If you do, feel free to put in the chat and share your thoughts. We can share them out with the group. I think the other thing that I find interesting about that, and I am curious on that note, is when you have that slide and you are telling your clients, “Hey, this is me. Like you might look at me, and think I am just a typical white man [Laughter] that has no problems on the web.”
[00:54:17] Surprise! There are things that come in. How do your clients react to that? Do you think that is helpful?
[00:54:23] RYAN: It gives me a little bit extra, I think –what’s the word I am looking for? Authority, I guess. I can say, “Well, I can’t see It’s — clearly it is a failure.” They are usually pretty receptive to it. What happens more often than not, is someone ends up telling me their brother or uncle is also colorblind.
[00:54:46] AMBER: Then they are like, “Yeah, I have heard of that, too. I know someone.”
[00:54:52] RYAN: Yeah, “My dad is the same way,” I usually get. They are always very open to it. It does help me with that, having that extra. I can’t see it so I know it’s wrong.
[00:55:04] AMBER: I think having real people, and being able to put a real face on anything when you are trying to sell something or explain it is really helpful.
[00:55:14] RYAN: Right. It becomes more personal that way.
[00:55:16] AMBER: Someone asked, “Content accessibility, a website is accessible, but the content uploaded by the client is not. Usually pdfs, or they have useless alt text. How would you address that?”
[00:55:33] RYAN: We have it built into our contracts, actually, that we are responsible for work we do. They are responsible for work they do. Basically, if they are not paying us to create the pdfs, or update their website, if they are making the updates themselves, we can’t ensure what they’re doing is accessible.
[00:55:53] We can do as much as we can to educate them. Ultimately, if they’re going to go practice bad habits, there’s not much we can do about it. We do protect ourselves in our contracts, with that.
[00:56:08] AMBER: Yes, so we do something very similar. If we are importing in 70,000 products on a spreadsheet, so we are like, if we didn’t build it, or enter the content, or you didn’t pay us to audit it, then we won’t guarantee.
[00:56:26] I think when you’re first starting out, that’s a good distinction. You are never telling someone you’re going to deliver them 100% accessible website. You are just saying the components that you work on will be accessible. But if you don’t work on it –
[00:56:39] RYAN: Exactly.
[00:56:40] AMBER: How would you know?
[00:56:41] RYAN: That even gets murky, too, if the client is writing their own content. We will go through and fix heading and structure and things like that when we input it. As soon as we pass the site over to them, there is nothing we can do to stop them from putting an H1 in the middle of the page, with an H6 under it. Half the time, I don’t even know they have made an edit.
[00:57:02] AMBER: You got to give them our plugin.
[00:57:05] RYAN: We put a plugin on all sites. If they use it.
[00:57:10] AMBER: Yes, I know. We can only do so much, right?
[00:57:13] RYAN: Yes.
[00:57:14] AMBER: They are like, “This is red. Anyway, publish.”
[00:57:17] RYAN: “There are a lot of errors on this site. Can you look into this for me?” Yes.
[00:57:22] AMBER: Extra recurring revenue when you fix all of their stuff. Linda said, “I recently checked one of my websites that I created with accessibility intentions throughout the build. I checked it the Google Chrome Developer tools, and it gave me a score of 99 on accessibility.
[00:57:39] How much should I trust this tool for scoring?
[00:57:43] RYAN: Oh boy. A little bit? A lot a bit? [Laughter.] That is hard. Anything that automates testing, always take with a grain of salt. If you are getting a 99, that is pretty good. That means technically, your site is sound. Really though what helps is actually going through it with a human eye.
[00:58:04] For instance, an automated tester can only do so much as check if an image has alternate text. It can’t actually discern whether that is helpful text or not. So if you write an article about something like cats are reading newspapers now, and you have an image of a cat reading a newspaper, and the text just says, “black cat.”
[00:58:30] That doesn’t really correlate to the content in a way that is helpful. So while it would pass an automated tester, it doesn’t actually pass someone who needs that alternate text to understand the content.
[00:58:46] Any automated test should be part of your testing process, but then you should also be going through it and seeing what does or doesn’t make sense actually for a user.
[00:58:58] AMBER: One thing that I know we haven’t figured out how to automate for, but we catch a lot of times when things are out of order. The tab order doesn’t match the visual order, because the developer has put something and they used Flex to reverse the order of the elements or things like that.
[00:59:18] So I feel like you really do just have to tab through it and turn on a screenreader and listen to it, and all that.
[00:59:24] RYAN: Yes. There’s a lot of stuff. Even with contrast, which is so easily checkable with an equation, sometimes something can pass and still be hard to read. The only way you would know that is to look at it.
[00:59:36] AMBER: I think color contrast is one of the hardest things, actually, to test with an automated tool accurately. There are so many times the color of the text is on one element, and the background is five elements above or something like that.
[00:59:55] If you have text that is over a background image, you actually need to test the lightest point in that background image. Whereas a contrast checker is only going to test the color behind the image.
[01:00:05] RYAN: Just the background.
[01:00:07] AMBER: That is not even visible. Or, it would be visible if the image didn’t load. I feel like that is one of the ones I don’t even trust. We squeeze Axe internally, too, in addition to ours. I will run Axe on a website, and it will be like, “There are 75 color –” It is like everything. They are just like, “No, a human need to look at it. A human needs to look at it.” Every time.
[01:00:28] RYAN: Right. There’s –
[01:00:29] AMBER: It’s like, “We can’t tell.”
[01:00:31] RYAN: A lot of stuff too, I think, that passes. I look at it and I am like how does this pass? It is so hard.
[01:00:41] AMBER: Dennon said, “Following up on Linda’s question, some people have trouble when there’s too much contrast. So black and white doesn’t work for a while. What is the best way to negotiate these factors?”
[01:00:54] RYAN: We use off-whites and off-blacks. We try to avoid true black and true white when we can. We don’t really ever use 000 black. We will use 333. So, it is a little bit of a dark gray. Whites, you can do an F-A-F-A-F-A. I’m getting a little too technical with colors.
[01:01:21] There are a lot of articles where if you just look up “dark mode contrasts user experience” or something like that, there’s a lot of people who write out the best contrast ratios for blacks and whites that are not true black and white. It does really put a strain the eye to look at something that highly contrasted.
[01:01:46] AMBER: Awesome. Jonathan said, “When you are putting in a sales process bid with a client, and the client does not want their site remade, how can we sell accessibility to improve their current site’s accessibility?” Do you have any tips on that?
[01:02:00] RYAN: Maybe this is a little extra, but we kind of avoid maintaining any site we didn’t build. It almost blankets that answer. If we didn’t build it, we don’t want anything to do with it. You get down this tricky road of your shouldering the responsibility of someone else’s failings. Just the nature of development, there’s a million ways to do everything. I have no idea how they did this, or how I am going to rebuild this, without ripping everything apart.
[01:02:35] So it just can become this whole extra snowball effect. But, what we do sometimes is –We actually just worked with a client where we ran an accessibility audit on their existing site, by their recommendations and provided the costs for how we could update that site. They decided to just take down their site entirely. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
[01:03:04] AMBER: I guess that wasn’t super vital to their business then. [Laughter]
[01:03:07] RYAN: We will just get rid of the site then, I guess. We were like OK.
[01:03:10] AMBER: Yeah. Sometimes it is better to rebuild. So we do remediations on websites that we didn’t build. We almost exclusively do them on a retainer based process. We give them a minimum months to accessible, but we don’t ever tell them maximum. [Laughter.]
[01:03:35] Because it’s so hard and something could take five minutes to fix, or could take sixteen hours, right? If we are like, okay now we need to rebuild this entire really complex thing, or more than that even.
[01:03:47] RYAN: It is a markup failure. You are like, well, I have nothing else I can do except rebuild the entire structure of this website now. It also becomes very expensive for the client.
[01:03:58] AMBER: Yes. I think the other thing that is hard about that, too, is we have had some where we are going to redo this, and it can snowball into –well, if we are rebuilding this element, maybe we also should try to improve the performance, right? Let’s not just fix the accessibility. Let’s fix the performance.
[01:04:17] Which is fine, I think, as long as they have the budget. I think that is where being really clear about what the expectations are with the clients. I think if somebody has –I don’t know –sub $10,000 or under $10,000 then unless it’s a very small, basic brochure website, it may be challenging to get 100% compliant.
[01:04:48] It could be better, though. That is what we talk to them about. It is progress. Maybe we can do some now, and then next year, we will do more. Or next quarter, or something like that. Try to create the idea that it is an ongoing thing, is something that we do.
[01:05:03] RYAN: That’s a great point, too. There is also the thing that I know courts will look at your openness to bring your site to compliance, showing if you are progressing towards it, and you are doing what you can already.
[01:05:17] AMBER: Yes. I am not a lawyer, you are not a lawyer. We are not giving legal advice, but I think that is something I have heard from attorneys. So, it’s like –
[01:05:27] RYAN: Some cases where that has been the ruling. You are clearly taking steps.
[01:05:31] AMBER: So if they can document this is what we invested, these are the fixes that we made, this is our timeline and our plan on continuing to make fixes, I think that is helpful if they do get sued, or if they have been sued already.
[01:05:45] RYAN: I realize Jonathan asked how we can sell accessibility. I think you can use some of the arguments that I made, that it is right to do it. It makes it better overall for your business because it is easier to drive traffic to your site if everything makes sense.
[01:06:01] Then you do always have the nuclear argument, of well it’s illegal. You don’t really ever want to pull that out right from the start. We try not to villainize people living with disabilities as they are just going to go after and sue you. But it is a legal requirement at the end of the day. They are breaking the law, if their site isn’t accessible. Which can be a good selling tactic.
[01:06:25] AMBER: Yes. I don’t know if you have had this experience, but I feel like the clients who are most motivated by the legal fear are the less likely to really get behind it. It’s the clients that are more motivated by our corporate values, or we know we have a lot of people in our audience like a nonprofits who serve people with disabilities.
[01:06:52] These are the people who are more likely to invest a lot of money into it. I think the fear-based people are like, “What’s the shortcut I can take?”
[01:07:00] RYAN: Right. These people just want to hit that. What measures compliance? The latter group is –
[01:07:06] AMBER: And do the minimum.
[01:07:06] RYAN: How do we actually make our site accessible? That is a good point.
[01:07:14] AMBER: Erik asks, “In this sales process talking to prospects, are there any specific red flags you have identified, or things you hear from customers that make you adjust the sales process or pass on the customer? Something like, when they lead with cost it is always an issue? Or something else like that.”
[01:07:33] RYAN: I may not be the best to answer this. I am not really involved in that early step of our sales process. I’m sure there are a ton of red flags. Sometimes I will get asked to maybe look at a proposal. A lot of the red flags are when you can tell the person is saying buzz words, but don’t really understand what they are talking about.
[01:07:57] You are like, “Well, what are you actually asking for here?” We have a pretty fluid sales process that is very conversational. So there’s a lot of back and forth to build up to an actual sale. We are able to address any red flags, or pull in people we need to, to have conversations in the pitch processes.
[01:08:19] I hope that answered well. I am not really the salesperson.
[01:08:22] AMBER: I am on the same boat. I don’t do sales. [Laughter.] I am like, “Here, go talk to my partner.” I am sure he weeds people out all the time.
[01:08:30] RYAN: There’s a lot I probably don’t hear about.
[01:08:36] AMBER: Yes. Sometimes for us, one of the things that we get careful about is people coming to us and they are in the midst of a lawsuit. Then we have to have a lot of questions like have they reached a settlement yet, or are they trying to? I think we don’t like the ones that are like, “How do I just get this dismissed,” you know?
[01:08:58] RYAN: Yes.
[01:08:59] AMBER: We are always like, if you haven’t talked to an attorney yet, you have got to go talk to an attorney. Sometimes, I know we have had people reach out, and they are like, “I got a letter.” We are like OK, but we are not a law firm. You know that, right?
[01:09:10] We are like, go talk to an attorney first. We can tell you about our services and everything, but that may not solve your problem. [Laughter.]
[01:09:20] RYAN: I think we have a disclaimer, that basically says we are not lawyers. Do not expect us to give you legal compliance. We’re making your site accessible, the way we know how to. We are not a legal firm in any sense of the word.
[01:09:35] AMBER: Yes. I am pretty sure our lawyer had us put that in our terms of service. We are not a law firm. We do not practice law. [Laughter.] I feel like that comes up a lot in accessibility, more than it did before. I don’t remember having scenarios like that. Maybe it comes up with privacy these days, too. I feel like getting into accessibility, I hear questions where it makes me feel like they don’t realize we can’t answer those.
[01:10:03] RYAN: Yes. Luckily, we don’t get too many. There was one client we had in the middle of doing an accessibility audit on their site, they got a letter from a law firm. All of a sudden, it was much more serious of a project. We had to talk to our internal legal team.
[01:10:25] Their lawyers were asking me questions. I was like, I am not a legal expert. I can point you in the right direction. Don’t take what I am saying as law.
[01:10:36] AMBER: Yes. I do know that my partner Chris, in his initial conversations, he asks them where they are located and if they have any offices or nexus. He will ask about California and New York. He will ask about Ontario.
[01:10:53] We are in the US, so we get a fair bit of that kind of stuff. We slowies want to know. He will ask that. He will ask if they get any federal funding, or any federal grants. I know he asks all of these kind red flag type questions. It don’t necessarily mean we won’t necessarily work with them, but it might change some of our recommendations to them.
[01:11:14] If we know they are in a certain area, or they are getting federal funding, and that kind of stuff.
[01:11:22] If anyone else has red flags, I would be super interested. Throw them up in the chat, so everybody can see them. I know you got two people that don’t know. [Laughter.] It is kind of funny.
[01:11:37] Let’s see. Beverly asked, “Why aren’t developers developing with accessibility in mind? Why does it need to be an add-on for an additional charge?”
[01:11:48] Some thoughts about that?
[01:11:49] RYAN: The short answer is there are a lot of bad developers out there. People who don’t even understand or know accessibility exists. Like I mentioned, we don’t treat it as an add-on or additional. It just is our process. You get a website from us, for developing accessibly.
[01:12:07] Unfortunately, the barrier to entry to be a developer is very low, especially with WordPress and the amount of themes that exist. Anyone can log in, make a WordPress dot com account, and throw a theme up and have no idea what they are doing. I think it is just there are too many bad developers, or people who don’t pay attention or even know about accessibility.
[01:12:32] AMBER: Yes. Isla said in the chat, “Developers can find it very hard to change their process. We –” I am guessing that means her company –“find nurturing them and educating them really helps.”
[01:12:47] I think that is true. When people have had a certain thing, and they are not used to keyboard testing, or running a scanning tool, and figuring out how to fit that in in the beginning, could be challenging.
[01:13:02] Glen says, “Most developers don’t intentionally create inaccessible content. It is more about education.” I think that is along the same line.
[01:13:10] Mike said, “It takes a lot of education on precisely understanding the question of accessibility and developing with accessibility in mind is another pair of shoes.”
[01:13:21] I will say, I don’t know if it is just on developers. When we first started doing accessibility under our previous company name, we would frequently have extra accessibility as an option. It was because in the beginning, we were building –if you’re building a $10,000 website, you are probably using templates, or starter themes. You are not custom doing everything. You are probably relying on a lot of plugin.
[01:13:57] RYAN: Yes.
[01:13:57] AMBER: I do know that is some feedback or some challenges that I have seen with some of the people. We have some agencies that we consult for, or they have us audit their stuff. There have been a few where they’re using out of the box themes, or block libraries. I don’t know if it’s not just because they don’t care.
[01:14:18] Obviously they are coming to us, right? I think that is definitely a challenge on two fronts. One is that when you’re used to doing that, you do have to dramatically increase your prices to account for accessibility.
[01:14:36] If your baseline price is $5,000 you probably can’t build an accessible website. I have heard someone be like, “I committed to be accessible on this, and I am losing money on this project, because I am spending so much time fixing things I never imagined I would have to fix.”
[01:14:51] So, the bottom answer to almost agency problem is raise your prices. [Laughter.] I will say, that is why I think some people do it as an add-on. They are afraid to be like, “My base price is $30,000 or $20,000” or whatever that would be for you. So they are like, “My base price is 10. If you want accessibility, it is going to be 20, because I’m going to have to do all of this extra work that I don’t normally do.”
[01:15:18] So I think you have to find the point where you feel confident enough in this is what we do. Our base starts at this because this is so important, we are not going to leave it out. I know also, does your sales pipeline support that? Does your marketing and branding support that? There’s a lot that goes into getting to that point.
[01:15:40] RYAN: I think there is also a little bit of a misunderstanding to where accessibility is a development thing. Parts of it are. There is a lot of accessibility that comes in during the design phase. There is a lot of accessibility that comes in in content writing. You have to start at the very beginning with, is my content accessible? Then, is my design accessible? Then, is my development accessible?
[01:16:08] We do also get clients who are like, “Well, you will just make this accessible in development right?” Not really how it works. You have to start that way. We have done a lot of work internally, getting every team onboard with accessibility.
[01:16:23] We are at the point now, where even our print branding designers include accessibility guidelines in their brand guidelines for how to use their brand. These colors don’t go together, that kind of thing.
[01:16:36] AMBER: Yes.
[01:16:37] RYAN: It really is so much more than just the development. You have to be constantly think about it, throughout the entire process. We do custom build all our sites. But the development aspect is probably the easiest, just because –
[01:16:53] AMBER: You got a starter you are using.
[01:16:56] RYAN: It is logical markup already. We are custom building our plug-ins. We are using the right roles and labels and all that stuff. At that point, it is just pretty easy it was designed accessibly. It is going to be fine.
[01:17:09] AMBER: Yes. It’s really starting it earlier in the process. Charles said, “You touched on situations with really technical subject matter. I have a couple of clients in that situation. We write the homepage for a general audience. Other technical-minded pages are written at a high level. Aside from rewriting, do you have other recommendations to keep it technical, but improve accessibility? Our rollover type tool tip is accessible for screen readers or keyboard”
[01:17:42] RYAN: So, yes. I believe the actual WCAG requirement is that you have to define an uncommon word in its first instance on every page. Something like that. We actually do have a rollover type tool tip plug-in we developed, that is accessible. It does work with keyboards and screen readers. You can tab to them. It opens the box, then you are able to tab away and close the box.
[01:18:13] AMBER: Is that on WordPress dot org?
[01:18:15] RYAN: It is not that nice.
[01:18:18] AMBER: Is it on your Get Hub? I want to find it now! It sounds cool.
[01:18:24] RYAN: It is still pretty manual. It is easy for me to use, as a developer. I don’t know if it is ready for –
[01:18:32] AMBER: For sharing.
[01:18:32] RYAN: – for commercial use. It is –
[01:18:34] AMBER: This is your 2023 goal. We all want your tool tip plug-in.
[01:18:39] RYAN: There’s a really good query library that it leverages, called tool tipper dot js. If anyone looks it up, they are very in depth documentation on it. You have a lot of flexibility with how you use it. We turned that into a little glossary tool tip plug-in.
[01:19:01] It works with keyboards. So when you tab it opens. It leaves the definition opened if you mouse away from it. It works on mobile and it works for a keyboard user. Screen readers can read it, because it is actually in lined content. I think it wraps it in a span or a div within the content. I can’t remember exactly the markup off the top of my head.
[01:19:24] AMBER: That’s cool.
[01:19:27] RYAN: That’s where we get –
[01:19:28] AMBER: I think –I have tested Wikipedia’s –
[01:19:32] RYAN: Wikipedia is –
[01:19:33] AMBER: – and definition with keyboard.
[01:19:34] RYAN: – an old website.
[01:19:37] AMBER: Those work pretty well. It is possible. I think that’s a good solution. The other one is the simplified summary. If you’re going for AAA, and we have a few government clients that are doing this. If it is a page that needs really detailed –it really dense text. It’s not going to be 8th grade or 9th grade. It’s going to be much higher.
[01:20:07] You can put a blurb. I think the best website that has examples of this is Lainey Feingold’s website. If you look, even at the bottom of her homepage, or every blog post, there is a plain language alternative version that summarizes the page or the post. It is written for much a lower reading level.
[01:20:27] I think her website is a great example of how you can do that. If you are not familiar with her, she is a lawyer in the disabilities space, disability rights space. So she is writing about laws and legal cases and all of that kind of stuff.
[01:20:45] RYAN: I think that’s exactly what the requirement is, too. It is not that all of your content has to be at that level. You just have to provide –
[01:20:52] AMBER: An alternate.
[01:20:54] RYAN: – an alternative for people.
[01:20:56] AMBER: Someone asked, it just says anonymous attendee. “Do you give the client a guarantee that the website is compliant? How do you protect yourself if your client gets sued, so they can’t turn around and point the finger at you?”
[01:21:13] RYAN: I said we do have a disclaimer. I wish I could remember it off the top of my head. It is basically like, we’re doing our best efforts to bring your site to compliance, to make it accessible. We don’t guarantee 100% compliance. That is not something that is possible, even.
[01:21:32] Then just mentioning again, we are not legal experts. I don’t even have an ICAPP certification. We are doing what we can for you, to go as far as we can. There is no really true guarantee. It’s hard to even promise a 100% compliance. It is not even possible to hit.
[01:21:58] I know I mentioned before, and I probably should expand on that. It is difficult, because something that is compliant to one person, could be incompliant to another person. Even to someone who shares a disability. It’s not even a goal that is attainable. You are just trying to capture the most amount of people as you can.
[01:22:16] AMBER: Yes.
[01:22:18] RYAN: We protect ourselves just with disclaimers in our contracts.
[01:22:22] AMBER: I am assuming you probably have liability insurance. [Laughter.] Right? You know, errors and omissions.
[01:22:30] RYAN: I hope so.
[01:22:32] AMBER: So we have errors and omissions, which also covers our accessibility [inaudible at 1:22:39.] Because we got nervous about that, right? Then we have something in our contract which is pretty common, that we are never liable for more than what the client has paid us in the past year.
[01:22:53] So even if we’re going to make a claim on our insurance, they’re only going get back what they paid us. They’re not going to get $2 million or something like that.
[01:23:01] RYAN: That is interesting.
[01:23:03] AMBER: This is why it pays to hire an attorney to write your contracts, and not just go use some contract builder on the web, right? [Laughter.] Free contracts dot com or something like that. I don’t know if that is a real website.
[01:23:17] They are like, here is the things you should have. Amman wants to know –Amman says how, but I don’t know. It says, “How do you convince clients not to use accordions? What do you suggest as alternatives? I am curious first of all, do you recommend against accordions?”
[01:23:41] RYAN: In certain situations, I do. I am very big on that components were made for specific use cases. As soon as you start to use them for what they are not intended for, is when you run into trouble. A lot of times what I see, especially from new designers or people who aren’t used as familiar designing for the web, they will go, “I have all of this content. I don’t know what to do with it. I’m just going to throw that in an accordion to hide it.”
[01:24:10] That is bad use of an accordion. If you have a section of your website, maybe these is features we offer you. We have 20 features. Each feature has a description.
[01:24:24] That could be a good use for an accordion. You give the user that ability to quickly parse through the info, find what they want to find and only get what they are looking for. They don’t need to intake all of the information, so there is no reason to expose that all. So there are proper use cases, and improper use cases.
[01:24:42] We try to avoid the improper use at all times. To make them accessible, it is actually one of my favorite things. It’s probably nerdy, as challenging myself to take these components that are sometimes very inaccessible and make them accessible by adding correct markup, making sure the roles change.
[01:25:04] There’s a great website called inclusive dash components dot design that I reference frequently. They have things like making cards, data tables, modals, sliders, accordions, toggles, how to do those things in an accessible way. They will give you actual examples of markups. It’s a great starting point. Thank you, Bella.
[01:25:33] AMBER: We reference the US Web Design Standards website a lot, for components, too. I think that is helpful.
[01:25:41] We are at 11:31. We have a little bit of a buffer with our captioner. I don’t want to take advantage if you need to hop off. There are a few more questions, but tell me what you think Ryan.
[01:25:51] RYAN: No, I am free. I’d love to answer some more.
[01:25:54] AMBER: We’re going to see if we can power through these really fast.
[01:25:58] RYAN: Speed round.
[01:25:59] AMBER: This is like your lightning round.
[01:26:01] “How do you educate clients on the downsides to overlies and cheap fixes?”
[01:26:07] RYAN: Oh man. Overlays are one of the things that I keep out of my presentations, because I could talk for an hour about how bad overlays are. It is always that they are a band aid solutions at best. At worst, they are worse than doing nothing. Half the time, your site is more accessible without an overlay.
[01:26:33] I have an entire note in my notes app that is just all of the court cases and major media coverage of why you should never use an overlay. Why it is bad. Here is petitions from people who are disabled who just stopped using them. So, I would compile an email. Here are all of the reasons why you should not do it.
[01:26:55] AMBER: And here’s references.
[01:26:57] RYAN: Yeah, here’s references. Here’s all my sources. While it seems on the surface, I can just slap this on my website. You’re not actually doing anything. If anything, you are hurting yourself.
[01:27:13] There have been quite a few legal cases in this past year, where courts have said, “You use an accessibility overlay. That shows me that you are not complaint. So you have lost this case.” So they are even looking at it now, as the use of a widget or an overlay shows noncompliance.
[01:27:31] AMBER: And that they were aware of noncompliance.
[01:27:34] RYAN: Right.
[01:27:36] AMBER: Gary asked, “How do you communicate that automated testing tools may have a place, but are only part of the process, both to staff who think that these tools are the be all and end all? How do you ‘smack them upside the head to see that such tools are only part of the picture?’.”
[01:27:55] RYAN: It just goes back to education. Sometimes, we will get emails from a client who discovered the Google testing tools, or Axe or Lighthouse. They are like, “I ran it through, and it failed for these 4 things or 5 things.” We have to explain to them that yes these images have no alt texts. It is because they are decorative only. It was done intentionally.
[01:28:19] It is failing because it is a system that doesn’t know that. Then we just mention we do a lot of actual human testing, too, to make sure that these things work. It is just that education that this is a part of it. It is important to do. It gives you a baseline to say, here is some really technical failings that I made that I can address easily.
[01:28:40] It is the low hanging fruit. Then we mention we go through the keyboard, we read it with a screenreader.
[01:28:50] AMBER: On the staff side, it is probably just having good operating procedures, and docs, right?
[01:28:57] RYAN: Right.
[01:28:58] AMBER: You have to use a keyboard first, and I’m going to know if you didn’t. If I find it in my testing that this thing is out of order –or not missing a focused date. I am going to know you don’t do it.
[01:29:09] RYAN: It is interesting, we got a new client not too long ago. They had a subsidy website from a company they had acquired. We were talking to the CEO of that company, and he brought up accessibility. He was like, “It’s very important to us. We actually have a fulltime accessibility agency on retainer.”
[01:29:30] I was like, “Oh cool!” I went to the site, and immediately tried to tap through it. I got to the logo, the first menu item, the second menu item, and the third menu item had a carrot, indicating a dropdown. But the tab didn’t open the carrot. It didn’t open the dropdown.
[01:29:45] I couldn’t open it with the down arrow, couldn’t open it with the space bar. I was like what is this agency doing? You can’t open your menu with three clicks.
[01:29:54] They had a search icon at the end, so I went to it. Enter opened the search, but it didn’t move focus into the search modal. I was trapped on the page still.
[01:30:03] AMBER: But you could see the modal open?
[01:30:04] RYAN: Yeah, so I had to tab through the entire page content. It was at the bottom of the dom. They missed two major problems in the header.
[01:30:13] AMBER: That is something that I know Chris will tell in some of his sales conversations. When you are deciding who to work with, he tells clients this. When you are deciding who to work with, if they tell you they know accessibility, or that they do it, or it’s their specialty, go tab through their website. [Laughter.]
[01:30:34] It is not that hard to figure out if they know what they are talking about or not. Let’s see. Mike wants to know, “What do you think about tools like Sim Daltonism, which is a desktop color contrast tracker.” I am not familiar with that. Do you have any opinions on that?
[01:30:53] RYAN: I am not familiar with that either. I use Starks, by Chrome extension. I don’t know Sim Daltonism.
[01:31:03] AMBER: Yeah, I don’t typically use desktop. I feel like we are using Stark in Figma.
[01:31:11] RYAN: Yes.
[01:31:11] AMBER: Or we are using a browser extension to do it.
[01:31:15] RYAN: Same.
[01:31:17] AMBER: Charles said, “Do you build sites with the page builder, block editor, or a custom theme?
[01:31:24] RYAN: All our themes are custom-built. We use the Elementor page builder, just to make it easier for clients to manage their own content. We usually pass sites off to clients. We do continued technical maintenance, but they take ownership of their content.
[01:31:43] We always use a page builder, so they are able to actually go in and manage their content themselves.
[01:31:48] AMBER: Is Elementor only managing the content area and the header and the footer come out of the theme?
[01:31:53] RYAN: Correct.
[01:31:54] AMBER: So you are not using like [inaudible at 1:32:55]
[01:31:57] RYAN: No. The downside with Elementor is they add a ton of markup, as any page builder does. They have done a lot over the past two years, to really up their accessibility efforts which I really appreciate. So that is the page builder we use. All our themes are custom built.
[01:32:20] AMBER: I think we’re going to have to have you come back or have someone from your team give a talk about dos and don’ts for accessibility in Elementor. I think a lot of people would be interested in that.
[01:32:30] RYAN: Yes.
[01:32:33] AMBER: Someone wants to know is there is a good resource for learning the ropes on accessibility overall in a practical manner? I find the guidelines difficult to apply to what I am doing in the backend of WordPress.
[01:32:45] RYAN: There is this fantastic plug-in put out by this agency called Equalize Digital. It really lays out everything in the backend. No, it really is a great plug-in. The Stark resources I had in my presentation, I think it wears Ally dot com they bought, or accessible dot com. I can’t remember. They were a great starting point. They have really good overview articles that breakdown the guidelines into plain language.
[01:33:20] Actually, I probably have it bookmarked. I can drop it real quick. I can’t find it.
[01:33:30] AMBER: I will chime in then. The A11Y Collective, that is A-11-Y Collective, has a lot of training videos that are super good on learning accessibility. I recommend those a lot. I haven’t taken them, but I know a lot of people say that they are really helpful.
[01:33:53] I know Rianne, who helped to make that. She definitely knows what she’s talking about. I think we have time for a last question. I am having to pick. Ryan, before I ask you the last question, if people want to follow up with you, because there won’t be questions we can get to, what is the best way for people to get ahold of you?
[01:34:10] RYAN: You can just drop me an email. I will put my email in the chat now.
[01:34:14] AMBER: Are you on any of the socials these days? Linked In or Twitter?
[01:34:19] RYAN: Linked In, maybe.
[01:34:20] AMBER: Or somewhere random that is getting more attention?
[01:34:23] RYAN: I am becoming a little more active on Linked In. I did want to mention about learning resources. You reminded me. Google has a free accessibility course on Udacity that is really good. It is maybe two or three years old now. It is free. It covers a lot.
[01:34:44] Their accessibility expert over there is a blind user, so he is very insightful. It was a quick class. It was eight hours. I went through it. It’s pretty easy.
[01:34:56] AMBER: Awesome. I am debating. You can pick. We got one about raising your prices to cover accessibility. How do you compete with lowball competitors? We also have one about how would you work with a client who is operating under misinformation about accessibility?
[01:35:15] Which looks like the best question for you? Why don’t you answer that.
[01:35:19] RYAN: Oh boy. Maybe the misinformation one.
[01:35:25] AMBER: OK.
[01:35:27] RYAN: That is really where this presentation I just gave comes in. It is all about how do we properly educate on what we’re talking about, what the world is talking about, how we are supposed to address accessibility.
[01:35:43] Why is it important, why we need to use it. So that is where we really use this resource. I can quickly say that the lowball offers, we just let them fall away. It is kind of like, you don’t want to pay for our service, you don’t want our service. That is just a huge red flag.
[01:36:05] AMBER: Yeah. They probably wouldn’t be the right client anyway.
[01:36:08] RYAN: Yes.
[01:36:11] AMBER: Well, thank you so much and thank you for the extra time answering all of the questions. Thank you everyone for the phenomenal questions. As a reminder, this meet up was recorded. We will have the recording up with accurate captions and a full transcript in about two weeks on Equalize Digital dot com slash meet up We are going to say thank you, wave goodbye, and we are going to sit here quietly for a minute.
[01:36:36] Feel free to hop off everyone. I need to wait to make sure that the transcript gets fully updated, so that people who are reading the transcript don’t get cut off at the end.
[01:36:44] Thanks so much, Ryan.
[01:36:45] RYAN: Of course. It was very fun. I would stay all day and answer questions, but I do have clients knocking on the door. Thanks for having me. Thanks guys, for listening and coming out.
[01:36:57] AMBER: Thank you.