In this episode, we focus on the art of selling accessibility and the specific strategies and arguments you can use to convince other people to adopt these best practices. We are joined by two special guests: Bet Hannon of Accessicart, and professional accessibility advocate, Anne-Mieke Bovelett.
Mentioned in This Episode
>> CHRIS HINDS: Welcome to episode 18 of the Accessibility Craft Podcast, where we explore the art of creating accessible websites while trying out interesting craft beverages.
This podcast is brought to you by the team at Equalize Digital, a WordPress Accessibility company, and the proud creators of the Accessibility Checker plugin.
In this episode, we focus on the art of selling accessibility and the specific strategies and arguments you can use to convince other people to adopt these best practices.
We are joined by two special guests: Bet Hannon of Accessicart, and professional accessibility advocate, Anne-Mieke Bovelett.
For show notes in a full transcript, go to “AccessibilityCraft.com/018.”
Now onto the show.
>> CHRIS: Hey, this is Chris, and I have the privilege of introducing our guests today. And I am here with Amber.
>> AMBER HINDS: Hey, everybody, it’s Amber.
>> CHRIS: And we have two very special guests. First up is Anne.
>> Anne-Mieke BOVELETT: Hi, I’m Anne.
>> CHRIS: Anne, what is it that you do?
>> Anne-Mieke: I’m an accessibility advocate with vengeance, explaining to people that they shouldn’t wait to make things accessible.
>> CHRIS: Awesome. And we are also here with Bet Hannon. Bet –
>> BET HANNON: Hello.
>> CHRIS: – Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
>> BET: Yes, I’m Bet Hannon. I run Accessicart, and we’re a services agency much like Equalize Digital. We’re kind of colleagues. But we focus on e-commerce pieces a lot of the time, on high-interaction sites. So membership sites, e-commerce, learning management systems.
>> CHRIS: Awesome. So if you need someone who needs to be shaken back into reality to adopt accessibility best practices, talk to Anne. If you know someone who needs a more accessible online store, talk to Bet at Accessicart.
We are here today to talk about selling accessibility. But before we get to that, we have a unique beverage to all taste together, and that is Lindemans Framboise, and it is a Belgian lambic-style beer. So we’re all going to taste it, give our first impressions. You’re going to get a very broad swath of impressions. Because for Bet, Amber, and I, it’s very early in the morning; and for Anne, it’s more drink o’clock because she’s in Europe, so it’s a little later in the day.
So this is a beer that’s made with oats and hops and things like that, but it’s also brewed with raspberry juice, which is kind of cool.
>> BET: Very raspberry smell to it.
>> AMBER: Yes. So we’re going to be judging whether or not this is an appropriate breakfast beer.
>> CHRIS: Yes. Yes.
>> AMBER: To go with our [inaudible].
>> BET: I was just introduced to that. I’m sorry, I’m kind of, I don’t know, an old fuddy-duddy. But it’s, like, breakfast beer? It’s like, “Ugh.”
>> AMBER: I mean, let’s be real.
>> BET: All right. Are you tasting this now?
>> CHRIS: Yes, we can taste.
>> BET: All right.
>> CHRIS: Go ahead.
>> AMBER: I don’t think that I’ve actually had a breakfast beer since college. [chuckles] I don’t think that’s a thing once you become a real grown-up.
>> BET: I’m a lot further from college than you are.
>> Anne-Mieke: I stopped believing in alcohol for breakfast once I discovered that drinking alcohol is not medicine against the hangover.
>> AMBER: Oh, yes.
>> BET: It kind of tastes like raspberry juice. I mean, it’s got a [crosstalk ] really strong fruit flavor.
>> Anne-Mieke: Mine is very sour.
>> AMBER: Can I say that this is a little bit cheating? Normally, we’re supposed to try things we haven’t had before. But this was what I sometimes drank in college when I felt very fancy.
So I’ve had this before. It doesn’t taste like beer at all.
>> Anne-Mieke: No. No.
>> BET: I don’t taste any hops or any… I mean, you can’t really taste the malty. It doesn’t taste malty, like beer.
>> Anne-Mieke: No, not at all.
>> AMBER: Yes. I mean, it’s even fruitier than, like, a sour.
>> BET: Yes. I could see where it could go down really quick and easy.
>> CHRIS: Yes, it can go down quick and easy. The thing I appreciate about it, though, is it’s clearly not loaded or supplemented with sugar. It is like a more dry, sour, and it’s just very berry-forward. I also like that –
>> Anne-Mieke: Berry forward.
>> CHRIS: – It’s not. Yes. I like that it’s not, like, heavily bubbly or effervescent too. It’s just a good, easy drink. And since some of us are having this earlier in the morning, I was like, “What’s good and easy, and also available in Europe?” And this immediately came to mind.
Anne, you need to comment. Is this like the equivalent of a Budweiser over there or something, where it’s, like, people who don’t know beer drinking…
>> AMBER: Is it something you’d actually buy?
>> Anne-Mieke: I might be offending a lot of Belgian people here, but to me, this is Kitty beer. It’s exactly as Amber says. I used to drink this kind of stuff… There’s another one called Kriek lambic [phonetic], and there are some others full of fruity flavors. And I used to drink those in college. A little after college. A lot of people do. Yes, so…
>> BET: So the demographic profile of people who would drink this in Europe is more young adults. Is that what you’re saying?
>> Anne-Mieke: I think so.
>> BET: I don’t know. Maybe women more than men? I don’t know.
>> CHRIS: Yes. Possibly.
>> AMBER: It’s like the Rosé of beers. [laughs]
>> CHRIS: Yes. But like a sweet Rosé, right?
>> AMBER: Yes, yes, yes.
>> CHRIS: Like…
>> AMBER: [inaudible].
>> CHRIS: Chabli [phonetic] or whatever it is.
>> AMBER: What’s the alcohol content? So I’m drinking mine out of [crosstalk ] bottle. How strong is it?
>> Anne-Mieke: 2.5%.
>> BET: 2.5?
>> CHRIS: Wow.
>> BET: Oh.
>> AMBER: Yes. It’s not really alcoholic at all. I mean, it’s a little bit. Not really.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. The chocolate beer I bought is 11. But.
>> CHRIS: Yes, it’s definitely…
>> BET: Quite pretty.
>> CHRIS: Yes. It’s pretty.
>> BET: For folks that are not on video, it’s a very dark red kind of raspberry color, but it’s beautiful.
>> CHRIS: This is the beer that I would give to someone that hates beer. This would probably be the beer I’d pick, because it’s the least beer-y beer that I’ve ever come across, just in my drinking history.
>> BET: It’s bubbly. It’s kind of nice because it’s kind of like a fruity champagne, almost.
>> AMBER: Yes. Although it’s not as…
>> BET: Yes, it’s very sour. Sour, yes.
>> AMBER: Yes. It’s not as bubbly as a champagne.
>> BET: No. I was expecting it to be more bubbly.
>> AMBER: Yes. I think it’s a little flatter than I remember it being, or that I would like it to be.
>> Anne-Mieke: Same here. And I mean, I was trying to be a little melodramatic and hold my glass really close to the mic and pour the beer so you would get the [mimics bubbly sound] but I don’t think that worked because that stuff is, like, dead in the water.
>> CHRIS: Yes. I mean, that’s true. When I was pouring it, I didn’t hear a lot of the sound of the bubbles going off. And I poured it straight into the glass without being careful and it didn’t really generate that much of a head either.
>> BET: I had read that you should serve it in more of a champagne [Unintelligible 08:15], which is what Amber’s drinking hers in. I did find champagne… but I was afraid I was going to knock it over at 07:00 in the morning, so.
I went with a regular wine glasses.
>> AMBER: [crosstalk ] having Mimosas every morning then, are you, Bet?
>> BET: [laughs] No, I’m not. And I did read that if you like yeasty things, like craft beers with kind of that yeasty flavor, that you should kind of, like, swirl the bottle around and get the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> BET: At the end of the beer.
>> Anne-Mieke: No. Not enough yeast in this one, though.
>> BET: Yes, but I’m thinking… I don’t know. I didn’t really try to do that because I was a little afraid of, like, if I do that, then it might get shaken and then it would really pop, like a champagne.
>> Anne-Mieke: Oh, yes. I’m looking in the bottle. I’m really glad that this is a podcast and not [inaudible]
>> AMBER: Everyone who cannot see it, looks like she’s holding it up like a telescope, like, she’s a captain or [inaudible]:
>> BET: What do you see in the bottom of your bottle?
>> Anne-Mieke: Well, I see you guys in a beeroscope [phonetic], and then some…
I do see a little bit of yeast. And now I am actually sad that I didn’t think about swirling it because that’s the best part of the beer.
>> BET: Oh, yes. It’s the healthiest part of the beer. All the B vitamins.
>> AMBER: So would everyone drink this again? Is it like a “Definite,” or just a, “Maybe,” or a, “No. not really worth it”?
>> BET: I don’t think I’d go out of my way to get it. But if I were offered it, I would drink it.
>> Anne-Mieke: Oh, yes. I judge foods and drinks by numbers. Like, our school system has numbers from one to ten. One is, “Thank you for being here.” 10 is “Best.” And I have decided, for my health, not to put anything in my mouth that is below an eight. And I would say, OK, this is an eight minus.
>> CHRIS: Yes, yes. So it just barely passes the threshold.
>> Anne-Mieke: This would go very well together with a nice salad… With a fruity salad. [crosstalk ]
>> AMBER: Yes. What about a cheese plate? Like a cheese board?
>> Anne-Mieke: No.
>> AMBER: No? It’s not strong enough flavor, it’d be overpowered?
>> Anne-Mieke: No. And the thing is…
>> CHRIS: It is light-bodied.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes.
>> BET: I’m not big on the sour edge [inaudible]. I don’t like Belgian beers most of the time, so.
>> Anne-Mieke: Oh, Bet. If you ever come to Europe, I’m going to introduce you to some Belgian beers you may not have had yet.
>> BET: I’m actually going to be there in about three weeks.
>> Anne-Mieke: Where?
>> BET: We’re doing a tour. But we’re flying in…
>> AMBER: Are you going to WordCamp Europe?
>> BET: Well, I had thought about tacking it on on the end, but then I decided not to. We’re flying into Frankfurt, and we’re spending a day in Nuremberg and then we’re taking the train to Hamburg and we’re on a Rick Steves tour.
Rick Steves is the public television person who does it. And they just do these lovely tours that are; A, you’re staying in local places, eating in local places and local stuff. And then it’s all public television, people who like history and culture and food and all.
We’ve done tours with them for Ireland and Scotland too. So you start in Hamburg and then kind of work counterclockwise and end in Berlin. Two-week tour.
>> AMBER: You are going to get to see Rick Steves?
>> BET: No. No, you don’t get to see Rick, but…
>> AMBER: It’s just a tour that he went on and probably showcased on his television.
>> BET: They do hundreds of tours all through the summer, and they’re lovely. They’re really lovely…
>> AMBER: That’s neat.
>> BET: Yes.
>> CHRIS: Very cool.
>> BET: So I’m very excited about that. My big thing I want to try that I have not had before is currywurst.
>> CHRIS: I was literally going to mention it. Yes. [laughs]
>> AMBER: What is that?
>> BET: It’s like a sausage with curry flavors in it.
>> Anne-Mieke: If you mix ketchup with ginger and curry powder, then you get curry sauce, kind of.
>> BET: Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: If you want to do it quick and dirty.
>> BET: And that’s what it is? It’s, like, just got the sauce on it?
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. It’s like a general bratwurst. It’s just…
>> BET: Oh, that you put the sauce on?
>> Anne-Mieke: That you put this sauce on, and the bratwurst has kind of a soft structure. But to me, it’s like a general bratwurst. But, maybe, I’m offending people of other countries again. [laughs]
>> BET: My plan is to sort of eat my way through Europe. A lot of the[crosstalk ].
>> CHRIS: Good plan.
>> BET: I was thinking currywurst. I don’t know. You let me know if there are other things I should be trying.
>> Anne-Mieke: I’ll let you know for sure.
>> BET: Mayo on my fritz.
>> AMBER: That is the only way to eat French fries.
>> BET: Oh, I love mayo. Yes.
>> CHRIS: All right. Well, that was…
>> AMBER: So what are we talking about today, Chris?
>> CHRIS: Yes. So that was Lindemans Framboise. Now we are going to be shifting over to talking a little bit about selling accessibility.
I want to start us off by just framing the subsequent discussion. We’ll have more detailed questions later, but let’s start with just some high-level ideas… And anyone can chime in. Like, what are some reasons we should be selling people on accessibility? Whether we’re an agency owner, a freelancer, a department head at a university, or whoever you are, why should we be selling people on accessibility?
>> BET: You can increase your potential audience by 25%. Accessibility is a form of user-experience optimization. Most other optimizations are doing really well if they get a two to 5% increase. It’s the best you could hope for in terms of that optimization.
>> AMBER: Yes. So where does that number come from, Bet?
>> BET: The 25%?
>> AMBER: Yes.
>> BET: The CDC in the US says that 25% of all US adults have a permanent or temporary disability that requires an accommodation. And UN says, globally, that number is 20-ish percent around the world.
>> AMBER: Yes. Like, one in five, I think.
>> BET: Yes. So pretty high compared to other optimizations. For me, that’s a huge way to sell accessibility when people start talking about that.
>> AMBER: I think it’s interesting. A lot of people don’t realize how many people it impacts. And then if you start talking… Like, I’ve talked to multiple people that have just told me, like, they’re colorblind. That’s really, really common.
>> BET: 10% of people are colorblind.
>> AMBER: Yes. I thought on this Week in WordPress… A couple of weeks ago, the WP Build Podcast/Show… I don’t know if it counts as a podcast when there are videos too. But they were talking about WP Accessibility Day because we just really started organizing it. And they had this whole thing where they were talking about, like, font size. And Nathan held up his mobile phone with a text, and you can see maybe 20 words on his screen because he has to zoom in so much. It was actually a really good conversation. I recommend people go watch it.
>> BET: Yes. I was on a plane coming back from a conference recently and I just happened to glance over and that… Not an older person, really. Somebody younger than me had their phone and had a giant phone. But the font sizes and stuff were huge. I think there are a lot of people that it’s not necessarily that they have to have it, they could make do, but they take advantage of the optimization.
It’s kind of like, in the last year, I’ve started wearing hearing aids. Do I have to wear hearing aids yet? No. But my doctor has said that it will help prevent neurocognitive loss if you start using them early, if you start making those optimizations early. So I think more and more of us are finding things, that accessibility can impact our user experience for a lot of people.
>> CHRIS: So yes, improving user experience, increasing conversions. Like, improving lives, right?
>> BET: Absolutely.
>> CHRIS: It goes through a lot of that. I think one thing that we’ve been talking a lot about internally and even publicly recently is that in terms of indicators of quality code, accessible code is one of the biggest indicators of quality.
If someone using a system technology, using a keyboard, or just interacting with the content in those types of ways, it has to be good, clean code; otherwise, it will not work.
>> AMBER: Yes. The other big reason to try and sell it is, of course, the laws. And there are laws around the world. Here in the US, we have the Section 508 for government federally-funded things, and the Americans with Disabilities Act [phonetic]. Ontario has the Accessibility for Ontario [inaudible] Disabilities Act, which has some pretty strict requirements for website accessibility. And there’s the European Accessibility Act [phonetic]. I don’t know if you want to talk about that, Anne.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. June…
>> AMBER: Because I think [inaudible]. In 2025, it’s going to have, like, [inaudible] where it’s going to start getting enforced.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. June 28, 2025, is the Day.
>> BET: That’s the big day.
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>> Anne-Mieke: It’s a big day. I was attending a meetup this morning on LinkedIn about this topic as well. And one of the things people said, and I agree, is that a lot of companies are going to wait until it’s five to 12. But there is something very significant… I’m sorry. I’m giggling because I see Bet almost choking.
>> AMBER: Bet almost spit out the drink.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. It’s because…
>> BET: Which is what happened with GDPR too, right? [inaudible].
>> Anne-Mieke: Well, that’s what they were saying as well. And that was a wake-up call for me because I never even realized it. Especially in Europe and especially in Germany, GDPR is pursued with a vengeance, and it set back accessibility by 10 years because of all the inaccessible traps. Keyboard traps.
For the listeners, if you don’t know what a keyboard trap is, it is when you navigate by keyboard or if you navigate with a screen reader and then you get stuck inside an element on the page and you just cannot move on.
Another great example that a lot of people can relate to is YouTube videos. If they are embedded, and then you pause the video, then it’s going to show you “related videos” in the bottom. And you are happily listening in with your screen reader, and it’s going to list all those “related videos” that are usually not related to anything on your page at all. And then everybody is confused and they’re gone.
European legislation is going to be pursued with a vengeance. And one of the things that GDPR taught us is that the rest of the world will follow, because the US and all the other countries want to do business with us, and we’re big.
>> BET: And the important thing to recognize for all of these accessibility rules is, it’s not where your business is located; it’s where your customers or your users are located. So if you have customers in the US, if you have customers in Europe. And it’s not just those countries. Amber named out a few, but there are dozens of other countries that have some level of digital accessibility requirement; you know, Japan and Australia, and all kinds of other places too. So it’s where your customers are.
One of the important things to know about that European accessibility laws… So, you know, the EU is kind of a funny animal, right? So there are still individual countries, but this big overarching piece. The overarching government told each of the individual countries, “You need to come up with your own accessibility law. Here’s the minimum.”
So some countries in the EU will have more… For instance, Germany will have much more strict laws than others, and some may be more inclined to be aggressive about enforcing those than others. And then shorthand for folks. Typically, in most other countries of the world, including the EU, you get a complaint filed and you get a fine levied, pretty much. You can push back a little, but it’s kind of straightforward in terms of enforcement and a fine. It’s kind of like a speeding ticket.
In the US, we have this sort of Wild West sort of free for all. And so you can get sued under Section 508 or ADA or [crosstalk ].
>> AMBER: Yes. We put the onus on people with disabilities to enforce the law instead of the government, which is not really great.
>> Anne-Mieke: No, it’s bad.
>> BET: And I think a lot of people, especially people who probably listen to this podcast, know that there are some predatory lawsuits. People are trying to take advantage of all that. So you can get this demand letter, you can settle out of court before you even get to court. And so, yes, it’s really more the fear of the lawsuit and the fines. I don’t know what the fines are in the EU in terms of some of these laws…
>> Anne-Mieke: I don’t know either.
>> BET: Do they compare with the settlements that we’re seeing here? That would be interesting.
>> Anne-Mieke: I don’t know either. I cannot tell you. And I have good reasons not to want to know that because it’s the last argument I ever want to use in convincing someone to go accessible because kicking someone in his wallet works a lot better.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: This is what I generally do. I’m kind of notorious for it. I will stand in front of an audience, whether it’s a marketing team or if it’s a team of directors. You people call them C suite [phonetic], right? I had to Google that expression, actually.
You in the US, you love your acronyms. And we in Europe are, like, “Ugh. what is that?”
>> AMBER: You must have acronyms in Europe?
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes, but not so many. Not so many.
>> BET: A lot of the Germans have all the long… you know.
>> AMBER: You just like long words with many letters.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. We win Scrabble games. We win Scrabble games. [inaudible]
>> CHRIS: Nice. Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: But over here, for example, the German LinkedIn, which is not as successful as they hope to be, We call them Xing, because the Europeans don’t know it means crossing. X-I-N-G.
Anyway, so this is what I do a lot. I mean, I’ve got ADHD on steroids. I’m always wandering off the path.
>> CHRIS: All right. But actually, what you said about that being, like, the last lever you want to pull, you know, the fear of a fine or the fear of legal repercussions, actually perfectly segues us to what the next question was going to be anyway, which is, what are some of those other levers that we pull to successfully sell people on accessibility? Because I think we’ve given a lot of reasons why accessibility is important, and why we should be selling it. And within those levers, what has worked better for us versus worse? And what has been more effective? Is it the carrot? Is it the stick? Or is it something entirely different?
>> Anne-Mieke: I think it’s a combination, for me, of the carrot and empathy sauce. So I will put people in other people’s shoes. And I will do that by asking people, like, “OK, we’ve all been young, or we’re still young, and you’ve been going out on Friday, and you’ve been going out on Saturday. And on Sunday, you’re tired. And suddenly you realize you need to do your online shopping and you’re a bit hungover. Do you recognize it?” And of course, everybody goes, like, “Yes. Yes, we know that.” “Yes, yes, going out is fun.”
So I’m, like, “OK, so you’re sitting there with your hangover, and there is this fancy new online web store that is going to deliver all your stuff in front of your bed, if you want to say like that. And you open up that website and it is so incredibly bright that it kind of explodes in your face, what do you do?” “Oh, yes, that’s horrible. We’re going to close that site. We’re going to postpone it. We’re going to procrastinate on this.” So this is a sale that the customer didn’t make. But I said, “Are you aware that a lot of users feel this every day? And when you do not realize that and you use stark black on stark white, people are jumping ship.
So this is the carrot and the empathy, because that’s what it’s like, or when I tell them from my own situation. I mean, it took a while, but I realized I’m part of the target group. So, yes, I can give them my own examples. And I think that works very well. Because first, the decision-makers with the money have to decide, “OK, we would like to hear more about this.” And then they will invite me and put me in front of a group. And then by putting people in all these other people’s shoes…
Like, I’m telling stuff, like, “You know, you go to IKEA, and you have to go through all those lanes. Can you imagine you just had a chili concarnar that was a bit off? And then you have to go find the bathroom, but you can’t, and then you land up in a hall, and all the doors say, “Here.” Doesn’t say “Toilet” or “Ladies room” or “Men’s room.” They just say, “Here.”
That’s what I explained to people. That’s what you do in your content when you say, “Click here.” And this works better than anything else, I found.
>> AMBER: That is one of the best examples I think I have ever heard that translates, why “click here” links or ambiguous links are bad to a real-world scenario.
>> BET: I love that example.
>> AMBER: Yes. High five.
>> CHRIS: Yes. And I think that’s a sense of urgency everyone’s felt at some point in their life. And to put them directly into that, that’s really good.
Bet, you were about to say something.
>> BET: Well, I was going to say, we talked about, where are the motivations for… How are we doing the selling? And so we talked about the carrots, like, pointing out the benefits for people. There are all kinds of benefits. We talked about conversion rate, blah blah, SEO improvement, and user experience. So the carrots.
Anne’s talked about the empathy, and I think that’s important. I think there’s a moral argument, its just the right thing to do. But in many, many ways, most of what I ever hear is the fear piece, right? And we have this conversation among accessibility folks about, “We don’t like to sell from the fear.” “We don’t want to sell from the fear.”
About a year ago, I was having a conversation with someone, and I said, “Oh, no, no, I don’t want to sell from that place.” And they said, “Why not? There are whole industries that sell from that place.” Risk mitigation. And so it made me stop and think. The whole insurance industry is built on risk mitigation.
Now, that’s not my first go-to, but it did make me stop to think more about people’s motivation there, and maybe be a little less judgy about… Not entirely judge-free, but a little less judgy about that as a motivation for some people, because that is old.
Frankly, that’s what I get a lot of. That’s what I hear a lot of when folks come to us, is they’re just afraid of being sued or fined or having…
>> AMBER: Let me share something, Chris.
So one thing that is sort of interesting on that front is… I think we could probably judge a little bit like the overlays, which we don’t love. But a lot of them, they use fear-based marketing.
>> BET: Absolutely.
>> AMBER: And many of them are very large. But one thing that’s interesting, when we first launched our “Equalize Digital” website, we used Google Optimize, which, sadly, is gone now. But we were running Google Ads to funnel people to the website, because it was a brand new website, new domain, like, nothing. So we had large amounts of traffic for several months. And then I used Google Optimize to test the H-1 heading and the images that were on the top of the homepage because I was trying to figure out what would work. And I tried, like, four different varieties of text, and I tried, like, a video and an image or whatever.
Although I did have, like, a “don’t get sued” or “reduce your legal liability” kind of headline. And then I had a few other alternatives. And the one that won based on the goal we had was… We had, like, a into your website to get a free-risk assessment. So the one that got the most people filling out that form is the one we currently have now, which I don’t remember the exact word off the top of my head. But it’s something to the effect of growing your bottom line. So it’s a more positive message.
>> BET: Yes.
>> AMBER: Now I don’t know. I’m sure, like, accessibility has run way bigger AB tests with way bigger budgets than I have, and maybe my audience, for whatever reason, was just skewed or something. But that is like a data point, that, like, we got more people filling out that form when we had a positive message instead of a scary message.
So I don’t know, maybe… You know, I don’t know about that [crosstalk ].
>> BET: I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t done that level of kind of testing, number crunching kind of piece. Just anecdotally, that’s what drives a lot of people to contact us.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> BET: When somebody contacts me about an audit, and I say, “What’s motivating you to get an audit?” “Well, I’m afraid of getting sued,” or, “I’ve gotten sued,” or, “I had a friend that got sued.” Or, you know…
>> CHRIS: Yes. And those [crosstalk ].
>> Anne-Mieke: Well, it’s probably a good thing to kick in the door… Sorry.
>> CHRIS: No, no, no. I was just going to say that, in my experience, those tend to be the most motivated right-now purchasers, those people that are coming from a place of fear. And again, this is somewhat anecdotal, but, like, thinking in my head about which customers have stuck around, and which customers have ultimately spent the most. I feel like they are long-term lower value.
>> BET: Yes, I think you’re right. I think they’re there to do the minimum, and they want to do it for the least amount of money…
>> Anne-Mieke: Exactly.
>> AMBER: Those are the people that go to overlays.
>> BET: Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: But this is my pet peeve, actually. Because, yes, it’s easy to kick in a door by scaring people. But then you are within an organization, and the management is probably afraid of getting fined because they are paying the bills when they do. But when everybody working on accessibility, which is; first of all, a [inaudible]; second of all, it’s an ongoing project. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop at the minimum. If this is engrained into an organization because they want to understand and want to know, through empathy, then they will also continue to discover a lot of things for themselves.
One of the most satisfactory things that happened to me last month was an assistant from one of my customers calling me and saying, “I found an accessibility issue in another project that we have.” And she thought of looking at it. Now, if they had been a business who just does the minimum… And besides, let’s get real here. The minimum is not enough, not by far. And I’m saying this because if you talk to the users, it’s something that companies that do things by the minimum… They do not converse with their users, with their clients, with their customers, with their…
I’m someone with cognitive issues, and if your site turns me off, it turns me off. It’s like a bad smell in a restaurant that just had a sewage problem.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: I’m walking out and not coming back. Or a restaurant with fancy chairs that are really horrible to sit on. I’m not coming back. If there was some ISO certification for the best restaurant chairs in the world, maybe those chairs would pass this certification because of the shape and the whatever. But if they suck, they suck, and you can’t help suck.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> BET: But you raised a kind of an interesting piece there at the end. And so here’s my question. If we want to move people away from that fear-based place in terms of selling accessibility, should we stop using the word “compliant”?
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes.
>> BET: But that’s what clients often are bringing. The clients want to know [crosstalk ].
>> AMBER: Clients want to hear that word.
>> BET: They want to hear the word. I know.
>> AMBER: I mean, we get pushback… Or at least I know in the marketing I do… Chris, you’d have to speak to the sales conversations because you have all those. But on the advice of our attorneys, we don’t ever write, in marketing, that we offer compliance with any laws. Like, I was giving a talk and someone asked that, “Well, do you guarantee ADA compliance?” And I was, like, “Nope.” We can offer compliance with web content accessibility guidelines because those are not a…
>> BET: But even then, I mean, there are some of those that conflict with one another in certain contexts. I mean, I hear what you’re saying, but…
>> AMBER: That’s not what they totally do, but…
>> BET: I’m really trying hard now to use the word “compliance” to talk about improving toward compliance.
>> AMBER: Yes. So we’ll say, like, “What we do is a step towards complying with…” [laughs]
>> BET: It’s kind of that sense of movement. We’re kind of helping you improve. And we’re using the word improve a lot. And that’s the piece. I think we need to figure out a way, as accessibility professionals, to talk more and help explain more that no site is ever 100% compliant or 100% accessible.
It’s kind of like some of the reasons Anne was talking about, right? It’s kind of… So much of it is really contextual. So much of it is such a diversity of particular disabilities. I mean, all of those pieces. You could just never have something that’s 100% accessible.
>> CHRIS: That always comes up in the conversations with me.
>> BET: Because the overlays are trying to promise that. They’re trying to imply it even if they don’t say it out. They’re trying to walk the tightrope, but they’re implying that. And so how do we begin to combat that or counter that in a way that’s most helpful for folk that don’t want to hear it? I mean, they don’t want to hear that.
>> CHRIS: Yes. I mean it’s hard to get the reality check of what it’s actually like to go on an accessibility journey versus what you’re promised with some of these enterprise marketing teams. And I’ve had to talk to people, like, talk people through that.
I was having a conversation recently with someone who said, “Hey, we’re not going to use your tool because we found this other tool that their scans are going to cover 100% of the web content accessibility guidelines automatically.”
>> Anne-Mieke: Good luck with that.
>> CHRIS: And I’m, like… Well, I wish I could have just said that, but I’m, like, “Hey, partially scans for web content accessibility guidance literally describes every scanning tool out there, not just Accessibility Checker. You’ve been lied to.”
>> Anne-Mieke: Well, just an example. I just created a video for one of my customers this morning. It’s a web agency that tries to do better in accessibility. And I guide them. And it was so interesting to see. I said, “Do not trust your tools alone.” I opened their page with the Wave extension and it gave me –
>> AMBER: I bet it says, “No problems.”
>> Anne-Mieke: – Two things. No, that one said two things. And then I opened Axe [phonetic] and it also said two things, but they were two completely different things. Axe was going into the code much deeper.
Also, a great thing I like to show to people is an example of a site that Manuel Matuzovich [phonetic] built. He created this website… And I hope we can find the link so we can maybe put it in the show notes, Chris.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> Anne-Mieke: …Where he shows a reversed-engineer website. So he says, “How to create a 100% accessible website that no one can use.” And this wasn’t Lighthouse.
>> AMBER: Oh, yes. That it technically passes… Yes, it passes Lighthouse, but it’s not actually…
>> Anne-Mieke: And he’s reverse engineering that. It is fantastic.
>> AMBER: So circling back on this “how do we convince people” kind of side of things. I mean, it’s a little easier when you’re talking to large businesses or, like, C suite kind of people that get marketing in general, I would say. Because you can draw a parallel to SEO. Like –
>> BET: Conversation rate optimization.
>> AMBER: – Someone who is the VP of marketing at some company is never going to think SEO is done. And so if you draw that parallel and be, like, “in the same way.” Like, it’s an ongoing practice, they’ll be like, “Oh, I understand that.”
I think it’s a lot harder, though, with the small businesses, which unfortunately in the US at least, are the ones who are frequently getting sued. Like restaurants that have one location or something like that, where their whole marketing budget is very small.
I don’t know if we can reach that audience on the services side, which is why we need the website-building tools to just do it for them.
>> Anne-Mieke: Well, this is why I’m the flea in the fur of so many page builders. You know, big companies… And we’re not going to go name names where they get named enough, but a lot of them have millions of installs. And I’m, like, “Guys, you are putting out that code. You have the power. Use the power and make sure these people creating their websites, these small businesses that you are catering to with your no-code bullshit, that at least the code that they could never influence, even if they hire 20 developers from the last grandmother’s inheritance…” If they cannot fix it, they cannot fix it because you didn’t do your code in the correct way.
Also, in that regard, there’s another thing that segues me into… I learned the new word “segue.” I just love that so much. There’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of bitterness. There is a lot of pointing. There is a lot of disdain. I mean, can you imagine a small business owner who buys a product, a theme, whatever… I mean, we’re living in the WordPress bubble, but there’s a lot more out there. And then they get sued, and then they didn’t know why they got sued? And maybe they got everything right. Maybe they got their colors right. Maybe they got their contrast right and their fonts, and they did everything right, but the code is kaka [phonetic].
Now, this creates a wedge between people, between their customers, between their vendors. And I think at the base of everything, we should find a way to bring this into the world with a more positive vibe, with a more positive energy. And one of the things that I love is something that Meryl Evans likes to say. She says, “Progress over perfection.” And that people are not afraid to take responsibility for the stuff that they do or use when they know they have a responsibility to take.
So this is also a lot about education. And in my fantasy universe, I don’t think we’re going to teach the adults so much anymore. But I think if we start setting up programs in schools, in grammar schools, and we teach these children that actually hack their own school’s website because they can, at the age of 12. If we teach them about the importance of digital accessibility and why, this is where we’re going to win.
I think we all started out in accessibility because it’s the right thing to do. I couldn’t think of anything better. I mean, it’s like the crown on… I don’t know how many years of website creation. And I think that is something that we miss and this is something that I also like to use when I sell accessibility. I say, “Listen, you’re also doing this for your children and for your grandchildren.”
>> BET: For your future self.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. And for your future self. Exactly.
>> BET: [inaudible]. Yes. I like to talk to theme and plugin developers about; A, their responsibility – “You you need to make this accessible,” And then; B, to plant the seeds. Well, a lot of times your users are faced with choices where they can make less accessible options, and it’s not that hard for you to build in a way to just… You know like that Gravity Forms thing of, “Oh, doing this might create problems for some users.” So you get a little warning that they can click through. But you’re doing that education piece as a part of that.
Although, people do seem to, like, “Oh, that’s a great… Yes, that’s a great idea.” But I don’t know. [crosstalk ]. It’s not just about making your own stuff accessible. Because there’s the responsibility definitely to do that; what you were saying, Anne. But additionally, be proactive about educating the users.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes, you’re striking a big chord with me [laughs]. I’ve been hired by a company to create with them exactly that.
>> BET: Awesome. That’s great.
>> CHRIS: That’s great. So we’ve talked a lot about different ways, different levers we’ve pulled to sell accessibility. But in the process of doing that, I’m sure everybody on this call has heard the dreaded two-letter word “No” before.
We have a few minutes left before we’re out of time, but I would love to just hear from everyone, like, what are some things that you’ve been able to say or do that have pushed people over the edge after you’ve gotten the “No” to turn it into a “Yes”?
>> AMBER: Like from a client project, like a proposal situation. That’s what you’re talking about?
>> CHRIS: Or even in the midstream on a project, if it was something related to accessibility that they push back on, but then you turn the “No” into a “Yes”.
>> BET: [laughs] Well, we talked about how we have the… Well, we didn’t say it specifically, but there’s no way that we can make something 100% accessible. So we have a little clause in our contract about that. And I think you all do too, I’m pretty sure.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> BET: So then when the client comes back and they push back, “No, no, we have to have that inaccessible color combination because that’s part of the branding.” So one of the things that I take into doing, which is… I don’t know if it’s legally required at all, because I think we’re covered by that clause in the contract. But I come back and I make them sign a further statement that says, “Accessicart has advised you that this may be an inaccessible piece. You’re choosing to pursue it anyway.” And then I ask them, even more, to commit to, in the event that this or any other accessibility issue is the point of litigation, they agree to pay all of our expenses related to that. Because you know that you have to travel…
>> AMBER: If you have to testify.
>> BET: If we have to testify or go somewhere or do anything or just our time. And I would say eight times out of 10, that is just sort of, like, “Oh, this is a more serious thing than I thought.”
>> AMBER: And that’s what makes them change their minds?
>> BET: It’s a fear-based thing, but it certainly does draw the line, where we’re saying, like, “I’m willing to do this for you, but you need to know that there may be consequences for you.”
>> Anne-Mieke: This is interesting because in Europe this is uncharted territory because the legislation is not as forceful as it’s going to be in 2025. So I’m going to ask you to email me that paragraph. I’m going to make it into my contract right away.
>> BET: But we have had people sign off on it, and they were like, “OK, we’re good. We’re good.” And then I’m, like, “I don’t know. Was that marketing manager, or director really the person who should have been signing off on that?” I think maybe they liked that color really. Or, like, Maybe the CEO should have been signing off on it.
>> AMBER: I don’t know if in Europe and other places like Canada where there are fines from the government… As far as I’ve seen, all of those are specific to the company that owns the website. I don’t know that there’s any way to pull in the web developer in the same way, unless maybe you had a contractual obligation that you delivered to a certain standard and you felt then that company could approach you, maybe.
>> BET: But I think it’s unique in the US, where you have that…
>> AMBER: But in the US, we’re in a weird, unique thing where…
>> CHRIS: In the US, if they’re going to sue one person, they’re going to pull in every single entity that they can to maximize their money.
>> BET: It’s two different vectors. It’s two different vectors. It’s like getting sued. Like, the person who’s the plaintiff who’s suing the company that you built for. And they may sue you as a part of other people. But then there’s also that the client will turn around and want to share the pain and turn around to try and sue you too, that you didn’t deliver.
>> Anne-Mieke: Oh, yes.
>> BET: So it’s kind of protecting yourself from both of those vectors.
>> AMBER: Chris, I’m curious because you do all of our sales. What do you do to close deals or to turn “Nos” into “Yeses”? Or, like, if somebody, maybe they haven’t said no, but they’re not, like, committing. What is the sales magic?
>> CHRIS: I think that it’s twofold. The first one, which we didn’t really mention before, about tactics to sell accessibility, but it’s authority. Rob Howard talked about this.
So if your company has a certain reputation, you know, say you have, like, an amazing CEO, as we do, that’s out publicly talking about accessibility all the time, and everyone knows who she is…
I’m a little biased because I also happen to be her husband. But that helps build authority. So if you have a business with authority, you can be, like, “This is just how we do things. And if you don’t want to do things this way, you can take a hike, because we’re not interested in working with you.”
I’m paraphrasing. I usually say it way nicer than that.
>> AMBER: I hope so.
>> CHRIS: Unless they say something to offend me, like they hate individuals with disabilities or something horrible like that, which has never happened on a call with me, thankfully.
So authority is number one. And just saying, “This is how it’s done. And you can get on the train or you can get run over by it, basically.”
The other one, I think it’s more on the carrot side, but we do a lot of consultative selling, where we listen very closely to what their goals are. And the way my brain works, I’m pretty good at pattern recognition and tying things back to other things. And so I find ways, sometimes creative ways, but ways to tie their objectives to accessibility. And that, generally speaking.
So start with their goals, work backwards to accessibility if you can. And that generally convinces them if you show them…
>> Anne-Mieke: I love that. Yes.
>> CHRIS: Yes. Create alignment. So you’re both pulling in the same direction. You’re pulling on the accessibility angle, but also you’ve shown them how accessibility serves their goals. And that’s the number one thing. Because, again, in sales, at any and all points, it has to be about them.
Like, it’s not about any of us. It’s about their goals. It’s about what they want and the outcomes that they’re envisioning. And it’s our job as the salespeople to think creatively and convince them, pull them over the edge to do that accessibility piece.
>> BET: And critically, when it’s about them, it’s probably also not about people with disabilities at some level. It’s about figuring out how you can get them to care about people with disabilities as a part of these other goals that they have.
>> AMBER: But here’s the thing, though. Of course, we want them to care about people with disabilities. We want them to do it over the whole time. But if it is a new website project, I don’t know if it matters whether or not they care that they’re buying an accessible website. What ultimately matters is, are they willing to commit the budget necessary for us to build an accessible website. And then we’ve delivered an accessible website that helps the world and helps them, whether or not they necessarily cared about it.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes.
>> AMBER: The people with disabilities, which [crosstalk ] and then hopefully during that process, we can continue to educate and train. And then if we’re doing things like, “Hey, you care about SEO, let’s make sure your headings are all in the right order.” They’re going to do it for SEO value, but it’s going to help people with disabilities.
>> BET: But, again, it’s figuring out how to align that internal interest that they all already have around their own particular goals, but bring those concerns around accessibility to get them kind of moving in the same direction. But it’s a challenge sometimes. It really is.
>> AMBER: Chris, you do the anti-follow-up too, which I think has changed a lot. So maybe you can explain what the anti-follow-up is?
>> CHRIS: Yes, I can explain this, and I’ll credit where it’s due. This is a Troy Dean. thing. If you don’t know who Troy Dean is, look him up. He’s a WordPress person.
>> BET: Agencies. Yes.
>> CHRIS: Yes, he helps agencies. But we went through some of his trainings, and this non-follow-up or anti-follow-up thing is basically following up with someone and providing them a bunch of upfront value and useful resources after you’ve delivered the proposal, and not asking them for anything, and doing that multiple times during your follow up sequence.
We create a lot of resources through our meetups and through our education efforts and things like that. And so I will frequently, as part of my sales follow-up process, make those connections and find things that are related to accessibility that tie back to their goals as part of their follow-up sequence.
The advantage for us… And this advantage is, like… I genuinely hope this. I hope that our advantage dissipates over time as more agencies adopt accessibility best practices. But our biggest advantage right now is that we are geared towards accessibility, whereas a lot of agencies aren’t as much.
>> Anne-Mieke: They’re all late to the party.
>> CHRIS: They’re late to the party. And so that is our number one differentiating factor, and it’s the number one reason that we’re able to charge what we charge. And when I gear all my follow-ups around accessibility, again, tying it back to their goals, but providing them just useful resources, like, “Hey, did you see this tool?” “Hey, here’s this checklist.” “Hey, here are two meetup talks or presentations that we’ve recorded about this particular topic that ties back to this thing you wanted.” And it’s never asking about the proposal.
>> AMBER: Not, “Hey, are you ready to sign yet?”
>> CHRIS: I mean, I do have emails later in the sequence, like, emails, six or seven where I’m like, “Hey, about that proposal…” But the first three or four are just providing value, value, value. And invariably, email, two or three, they’re, like, “Hey, we want to start. How do I sign?” But yes, again, it’s tying it all back to accessibility.
>> Anne-Mieke: I think that also works… Maybe I’m a bit spiritual, but this is about the vibe. You’re bringing the vibe. There is a “why” to what you’re doing, and it’s not purely to make money. We’re trying to make money because we have to make a living, but making money with something that benefits an entire community? I mean, holy cow.
>> BET: Well, it’s sharing your value, right? –
>> AMBER: It’s the best way to make money.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes.
>> BET: – That you’re kind of living consistently out of some values. Not value in terms of monetary or financial gain, but, like, those personal values in terms of that. And I think people like doing business with people that have a kind of moral grounding of some sort or another. So yes, it’s attractive.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes, I think so too.
>> CHRIS: Yes, I mean, that’s the other thing, too. And everyone sells differently. But my vibe, personally… And maybe Anne and Bet, you can speak to what your vibes are as salespeople. But my vibe is I’m pretty laid back and I’m not super high-pressure.
>> BET: Yes. Very conservative.
>> CHRIS: And I know other people do it differently.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes. I just like to use harsh analogies so it sticks. I mean, I can stand in front of an audience and say, “I don’t give a flying fart why you’re making your stuff accessible, whether it’s for money or because it’s the right thing to do as long as you do it. Just do it.”
>> CHRIS: And Anne and Bet, you’ve both influenced me in terms of sales and conversations we’ve had elsewhere. But your, “I don’t care when or how…”, that whole attitude has shifted what I do a little bit, just so you know.
>> Anne-Mieke: Oh, that’s nice. We should do those sessions more often.
>> BET: Yes, [inaudible].
>> Anne-Mieke: I really like that. And I think, in general, I just love it when people cry out on social media and say, “Listen, I’m struggling with this and that and that.” And then she just can go and say, “Let’s get on a Zoom meeting, and let’s talk about this.” Why not?
Before, when I was a kid, you couldn’t phone America. Your parents would kill you because of the bill. And look at us here. I’m 52 and I’m still baffled that you are on the other side of the phone, and we’re just talking to each other. We can see each other. I mean, I think it’s…
>> BET: Pretty cool.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes, it’s cool.
>> CHRIS: It is cool. So to close us out here, and as a thank you to you all’s time, Bet and Anne, I want to give you the opportunity to talk about the cool things you’re doing right now related to WordPress and accessibility, or anything else you want to shout out before we sign off here, because we’re out of time for the episode.
>> BET: How long is it before this episode will be released?
>> CHRIS: I can actually tell you the release date. It’ll be released on June 5th.
>> BET: OK.
>> CHRIS: So.
>> AMBER: Also, don’t forget to include where people can find you.
>> CHRIS: Yes, include where people can find you.
Bet, let’s start with you. What cool thing do you want to shout out? And where can people find you and learn more about what you’re doing?
>> BET: People can find me at “accessicart.com.” And I’m still on Twitter occasionally. It seems like you all are too a little bit, right? But it’s probably more like a ghost town. But I’m at “@BetHannon,” and we have Accessicart there too.
It’s interesting because it was actually a referral from Chris, but we just launched, last week, the Transgender Law Center website, where we…
>> Anne-Mieke: Yippee! Great.
>> AMBER: Very cool.
>> BET: They came to us to do… Did you look at it?
>> CHRIS: I haven’t looked yet.
>> BET: We improved it. Not to say it’s 100% accessible, but we drastically improved their accessibility. And they were one of the first clients that we had that really just wanted to be accessible. It wasn’t about in terms of just really 100%. They just want it to be accessible, including just tons of remediation work in a 13-year-old site. A 13-year-old site with dozens of content creators over the years.
>> Anne-Mieke: Wow.
>> BET: It’s pretty wild to clean up.
>> AMBER: I’m looking at it now. It looks neat.
>> Anne-Mieke: And this is the downside of a podcast. I mean, if people could see us now, we are, like, beaming like little stars here with big smiles on our faces.
>> BET: One of the stereotypes for accessibility is often that accessibility has to be ugly. But this is, like, such a wildly beautiful site, which I had nothing to do with the beauty of it. That’s [inaudible], but I’m just really proud of that one.
>> CHRIS: That’s awesome.
>> AMBER: Congratulations.
>> CHRIS: Transgender Law Center. Go look it up, everybody, and support them if you can. And check out Accessicart too.
So Anne, what’s something cool you’re working on? And how can people find you?
>> Anne-Mieke: I was approached by a German designer a year ago, saying, “I would like to show you our product.” And it was something block based in WordPress, which with you can [Uninteelligible ] together your website [Uninteelligible ], and some other functionalities. And I loved his enthusiasm, but I gave him the $1 million question after five minutes: “Does your stuff generate accessibility-ready output?” And he honestly said, “I don’t know. I’m a designer.” And that was the start of a long-lasting love affair.
A couple of months ago, we started working on something. First of all, making sure that all the blocks they create and the theme they create have accessibility-ready output.
>> BET: Awesome.
>> Anne-Mieke: But also, we are working on a product, and this was something that Bet was touching on from Gravity Forms, and I love Gravity Forms.
We actually want to create something where you log on and you’re going to drag in a certain block, and it’s going to say, “Are you sure you want to use this block?” “This is why it’s not a good idea.” Or, “This is the alternative.” And it’s going to teach and guide and…
>> AMBER: That’s so exciting. Absolutely.
>> Anne-Mieke: [crosstalk ] Yes. So every time I talk about this, you can’t see it, maybe, but I get goosebumps every time because these people are so courageous.
If you want to know more, you can find more info about them on my website. It’s “Annebovelett.de.” Or if you’re a lazy typer, type B-O-V-E-L-E-T-T.eu. It will get you there as well. And there I have some articles about that. Where you can find them, the company is called Grayd.de, which I find a nice word game. G-R-A-Y-D.de. They have an English version as well. And I just love these people for their courage and for creating something that will make the world better.
>> BET: That’s awesome.
>> Anne-Mieke: Yes.
>> AMBER: Really is.
>> Anne-Mieke: Every time I think about it, I get really emotional. Because I never dreamed someone would have the courage to put their money on this at this, at this stage.
>> CHRIS: That’s so great. So great. And with that, we are going to wrap things up.
Anne and Bet, thank you so much for being here. Amber, thank you for joining us as well. And we’ll do something with the lambic. But shout out to Lindemans Framboise, you are a staple that’s been around for forever. I personally enjoyed getting reacquainted with you today after the last time I had you, which was, like, in college, a very long time ago.
So we’ll make something with it or do something with it.
Thank you, everybody, for being here.
>> Anne-Mieke: And thank you for having me.
>> CHRIS: All right, bye.
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Accessibility Craft is produced by Equalize Digital and hosted by Amber Hinds, Chris Hinds, and Steve Jones. Steve Jones composed our theme music.
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