Even though I was several thousand miles away, thanks to the WordCamp Orange County 2019 livestream, I was able to watch several sessions of last weekend’s WordCamp.
Shoutout to the conference organizers for providing livestreaming as an option for attending this year’s event.
There was one WordCamp Orange County session I didn’t want to miss: Natalie MacLees presenting Making the World a Better Place Through Web Design in the first session on Saturday morning.
Here are my notes from her presentation.
Making the World a Better Place Through Web Design
- What is your definition of accessibility? Is it making the web usable to people with disabilities?
- People range in their abilities and capacities, both physical and cognitive.
- Disabilities may be permanent, such as blindness or deafness. Or disabilities may be temporary; think of a broken arm or sleeplessness.
- Another type of disability is situational: remember when you were outside in bright sunlight and couldn’t read your smartphone screen?
- Myths about accessibility: it’s an edge case, there is no return on investment, only developers need to think of accessibility, an accessible website is boring, accessibility isn’t important because it only affects a small number of people.
- Accessibility has a public relations problem: it’s time to rebrand!
- Let’s call accessibility by a new name: inclusive design.
- And let’s reframe the myths: inclusive design is a civil right, with equal access for everyone. It’s an investment that always returns dividends.
- Everyone on the team— writers, designers, user experience professionals, quality assurance, developers, project managers, digital marketers— needs to think of inclusive design.
- Inclusive design makes the web usable for everyone.
- Build inclusive design into your process, from the beginning. (Yes, it’s challenging to rebuild an inaccessible design. It will require time and money. Possibly as many resources as when the site was first built.)
- Change your mindset from thinking accessibility stifles innovation to inclusive design encourages innovation without barriers.
- Other benefits of inclusive design: better usability, faster page download times, and better SEO. Who doesn’t want that for their sites?
- We’re not doing well in making the web inclusive to everyone. In early April 2019, Ovum reported 815,600 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines issues found on Fortune 100 company websites (sample 2,500 web pages per company)
- In February 2019, WebAIM released the results of their accessibility review of the top one million web pages which found 98.7% of the sites had accessibility issues.
- When you caught up in deadlines, what web professional hasn’t done this? From Winston Hearn’s Perpetuating Harm post:
…all of us who build the web collectively decided that we could ignore some people’s needs so that the work could be done faster.
- We all depend on the Internet, from banking, sharing with friends and family, learning, buying, and more. And through our work on the web, we are leaving people behind when we don’t use inclusive design.
- As WordPress professionals, we need to lead the way. WordPress powers one-third of the websites. Let’s set the standard for others in the web industry.
- What happens in the near future, when your client tell you they’re being sued for the inaccessible website you built for them?
- Educate your clients about their legal responsibilities for an accessible website. And the consequences for not having an accessible site.
- If your client doesn’t commit to an accessible website, consider having them sign a document that you’re not responsible for their inaccessible site.
Steps to Take to Move Forward with Inclusive Design
- Be an inclusive design advocate. And a gatekeeper. You have power, become an advocate for the end user.
- Require inclusive design knowledge from the people you hire.
- Expand your thinking about diversity.
- Challenge yourself. Inclusive design can be overwhelming, start small. Learn one thing a week and build inclusive design into your process. You’ll start moving forward toward creating sites with inclusive design.