In this episode, we talk about HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit 2023, and the topics and speakers we’re looking forward to the most. The HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit is an annual event that provides individuals in higher education the opportunity to learn best practices and share stories related to web accessibility.
Mentioned in This Episode
- Bhakti Chai
- Key Considerations for Accessibility in WordPress Websites
- HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit Schedule
>> CHRIS HINDS: Welcome to episode 24 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 talk about HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit 2023, and the topics and speakers we’re looking forward to the most.
The HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit is an annual event that provides individuals in higher education the opportunity to learn best practices and share stories related to web accessibility.
For show notes and a full transcript, go to “AccessibilityCraft.com/024.”
Now on to the show.
>> AMBER HINDS: Hey, everybody. It’s Amber, and I am here today with Chris.
>> CHRIS: Hello, everyone.
>> AMBER: And Steve.
>> STEVE JONES: How’s it going?
>> AMBER: And we are going to talk about the HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit, which is going to happen right after this podcast airs, and we’re very excited about it. But of course, we always need to start with a beverage.
What are we drinking today, Chris?
>> CHRIS: We are having a favorite from our time in Colorado. But now getting introduced to the podcast, it is Bhakti Chai.
>> AMBER: See, you just outed the fact that we’ve tried this before.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> AMBER: It’s supposed to be new, and so we’re totally cheating. Steve hasn’t tried it, though, right?
>> STEVE: Yes, I haven’t tried it.
>> CHRIS: Yes. Well, the old is becoming new again. What I will say is, it has been literal years since we’ve had this, and I have missed it terribly for that time. But I saw it on Amazon, and we were able to get it shipped to multiple states now. So they’ve come a long way from being only available in coffee shops locally in Colorado to now Amazon.
>> AMBER: Yes. I also really feel like we need to get Amazon to sponsor this podcast because of how much you talk about buying beverages on Amazon.
>> CHRIS: Hey, it’s convenient.
>> AMBER: If anybody at Amazon listens to this episode, we will take your money.
>> STEVE: Please use our affiliate code.
>> AMBER: [laughs] I do not think they have a WordPress website, though.
>> STEVE: No.
>> AMBER: Probably.
>> CHRIS: But a little bit of backstory on this. The story goes that the owner of this company spent a long time traveling it throughout India, which is, of course, the point of origin for chai. And trying all the local chai teas, and kind of came up with their own formula for a spicy chai that kind of harkens back to those traditions and those flavor profiles.
I would say it’s not your average chai in terms of [crosstalk ].
>> AMBER: It’s not Starbucks is what you’re saying. It has more flavor and less sugar.
>> CHRIS: It kicks like a mule, in a good way. It’s definitely got some spice to it. And they’re a certified B Corp like us, which is cool.
>> AMBER: Yes. Got to support other certified B Corps.
>> CHRIS: It’s very ginger forward. It’s going to be very gingery. It’s like if a more traditional chai and a really spicy ginger ale got together and had a baby, this would be it.
>> AMBER: So does that mean it’s time for us to have a sip and try it?
>> CHRIS: Yes, let’s have a sip. See if it lives up to memory in Amber and I’s case.
>> AMBER: I got to stir mine. I have mine mixed with oat milk, and I’m having it cold. Are you having it hot, Steve? You’re, like, in a mug?
>> STEVE: No, it’s cold. It’s cold.
>> AMBER: OK.
>> STEVE: Yes.
>> CHRIS: Mmm, Just like I remember.
>> AMBER: Yes. What do you think, Steve?
>> STEVE: It’s got the chai flavor, but it’s… Chris got the unsweetened one here, so I’m definitely like…
>> AMBER: Missing the sugar?
>> STEVE: I’m missing the sugar. Like, I need some sugar or some stevia for Steve over here.
>> AMBER: Yes. I like spicier, not super-sweet chais. Like if I make… Or even tea at home, I usually do mix milk in my tea, but I rarely put sugar in my tea or a sweetener of any kind. I don’t put honey. My kids like to have tea with honey, and I’m, like, “What? No.” [chuckles]
>> STEVE: Yes, some cream or something on top would be good too.
>> AMBER: Actually, I have a funny story about when we were not able to buy this. At one point, Chris was, like, “I’m going to try and make my own chai mixer that is like Bhakti.” And he took fresh ginger. And I don’t know if you grated it or what you did, but maybe you can answer that question.
>> CHRIS: I juiced it. I juiced it.
>> AMBER: Oh, you juiced it in our juice machine and put it in, and it made a really good spicy mix. But I like to drink hot tea more than I normally drink iced tea. Well, I drink iced tea, but chai I would tend to drink hot. And I mixed it with milk, and it was real milk then.
Currently, I have oat milk, but in Colorado, we used to be able to get milk the delivered to our doorsteps in glass bottles from a milkman that came from cows, and it wasn’t homogenized or anything. And so I mixed it with milk and put it in the microwave for about two minute. When I pulled it out, it was, like, chunky. [laughs]
>> CHRIS: Yes. The acidity from the ginger had curdled the milk.
>> AMBER: Turned it into cheese, and I was just, like, “What the heck happened?” I took this video of me pulling it out of the pack with this spoon and being, like, “Chris, what is wrong with this?” [laughs] That’s when I learned that if you have a really spicy mix, it doesn’t always play well with milk.
>> STEVE: What’s interesting about this is, when you first drank it… I did it like 50/50.
I don’t know if I’m getting quite a kick, but what’s kind of weird is that a few seconds after, it stays hot on the tongue, the spices or something?
>> AMBER: The ginger, I think.
>> CHRIS: Yes, it’s the ginger. The lingering heat from the ginger.
>> AMBER: Yes. It’s not spicy to me, like eating spicy food, but it has a very strong ginger flavor.
>> STEVE: Yes. It’s just interesting how it stays on the tongue for a while.
>> CHRIS: Yes. I will admit my mistake. I did not intend to order the unsweetened one. I intended to order the sweetened concentrate. So that was my fault. And I will agree, I think it benefits from sugar immensely.
>> AMBER: What we have here is like a carton, which people have probably seen these. They’re kind of like Starbucks Tazo. They make them. You can buy them in the grocery store. It’s the same kind of thing intended to be mixed.
On the back, it says “Equal parts milk…” Milk alternatives, like oat milk. “…Or lemonade.”
So I guess you could make a spiced… Would that be an Arnold Palmer?
>> CHRIS: Arnold Palmer.
>> AMBER: Is that what that’s called?
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> AMBER: So maybe that would be an interesting experiment to do with some of this and see. That would give you some of the sweetness.
>> STEVE: Yes, that’d be interesting.
>> AMBER: Yes. I like it. It’s kind of fun, since we haven’t had it since we lived in Colorado.
>> STEVE: Does it take you back?
>> AMBER: Yes. We wouldn’t normally buy, like, a chai concentrate because I don’t like, super sweet. I like this. I’m, like, “Oh, yes, we should buy more of this.” Except for I don’t really know if we should be buying beverages on Amazon all the time.
Until they decide to sponsor this podcast, then I will buy beverages there all the time.
So this episode is coming out right before HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit, which is on Tuesday, July 25th. It’s a virtual event, and we’re a gold sponsor of the event. We were also a top sponsor last year because we really like HighEdWeb, the association, and of course, we want to try and support accessibility education, so sponsoring it feels like a good fit for us.
So I thought maybe it would be interesting to talk about the summit and see where we meander. We might end up with a little bit shorter of an episode, but of course, it’s not super expensive. Anyone listening, you can still get a ticket. I think it’s only $85 if you’re not a member of HighEdWeb, and it’s just one day, which maybe makes it easier. There’s some virtual events that go a whole week, like, Axcon is that way, and I feel like it’s hard to attend.
Do you guys have a preference on virtual conferences? Should they take an entire week, or should they just be one day?
>> CHRIS: I like the one day where they kind of concentrate it in. I have trouble with what my to-do lists tend to look like, and I know you all can commiserate with this, like, just blocking off multiple days on my schedule to do a thing.
I’m saying this coming fresh off of… I’m going to dip into personal life a little bit here, but our older two daughters, Amber and I’s older two daughters, do competition dance. And I have spent the last three days getting up between four and five in the morning, driving to a city south of where I live and spending eight, nine hours at a convention center with people running around and thumping music, and I’m hunched over my laptop trying to get work done in between cheering for one of my kids competing. That’s a lot.
So I love the virtual where I can just be in my own space. My opinion right now is kind of influenced by what my experience has been like for the last 72 hours.
>> STEVE: Yes, totally. The virtual ones, I think, like, Axcon is only a few days, right? Like two days?
>> AMBER: I thought it was about three or four days. Maybe I’m wrong about that.
>> STEVE: Is it that long, though?
>> AMBER: They also have a lot of tracks too. There’s a lot of there.
We sponsored earlier this year, Atarim’s Agency Summit, which is an entire week that runs Monday through Friday. But I think it’s a single track.
What’s hard for me about the virtual multiple days is that, I think when it’s virtual, I am less likely to engage.
>> STEVE: Yes, totally.
>> AMBER: Because I’m at my desk, and so I’m, like, “OK, well, I’ll just put the talks on using a different monitor, and I’ll try and do my work.” But then I’m, like, “Oh, if I need to focus, it’s distracting.” So I’ll turn the talks off.
If it’s a single day, I think it’s easier to say, “I’m going to block this on my calendar. I’m going to say, ‘no meetings’ this day.” “I’m going to actually go to the talks.” But when it’s a whole week of virtual, then you’re asking yourself, is it worth it to block off a whole week for a virtual event? You’re getting the talks, which are valuable, but you’re missing out on some of the networking that you’d normally get when you go in person.
>> CHRIS: Yes. The networking, for us, it’s huge. There’s a reason we’re sponsoring this event.
Amber, correct me if I’m wrong. When you’re going to events, because you go to more events than Steve and I put together, you’re spending most of your time in the hallway, aren’t you? Rather than sitting in sessions listening to people?
>> AMBER: Yes. That’s the thing that probably has changed a lot. When I first started going to WordCamps, those were my first virtual events, I would go to almost every talk. Or I would pick a track, and I’d mostly be in that track.
Steve and I went to WordCamp US last year. I think I saw two talks. When I went to Access You [phonetic]… Granted Access You ended up being a little bit odd because I thought I was getting sick. And they had a hybrid, so I only went for one day and then I stopped, because I was worried I was going to take germs. But that one day, I also had a sponsor table, so I was mostly at the sponsor table.
I do spend a lot more time talking to people now than I do necessarily going to talks. Or where I’ll go to a talk if I know someone’s giving a talk and I want to support them. CloudFest, it was that way.
>> STEVE: I think WordCamp US last year seemed like a little bit of a special case because it had been, what, two or three years since they had one? I think it was just this pent up energy. And then everybody got there and it was, like, “Ooh, people.” And some of the tracks and talks got kind of put to the side because it’s just, like, “Oh, there’s people to talk to.”
>> AMBER: One thing I’ll say, though, is virtual events, they don’t have that going for them, but if they’re really targeted… So this is one reason why I like the HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit is it is very specifically targeted to an area of interest for us. Although, we didn’t do it this year, but in prior years, we’ve done things where we tell everybody to go to Axcon because Axcon is free, and there’s a design track and a dev track and a project manager, so there’s stuff for everyone in our team.
There was a year where we did that and we had everyone go, and then the Monday or Tuesday after Axcon ended, we did a Lunch and Learn, where we got pizza delivered to everyone’s houses –
>> CHRIS: Oh, my gosh, I remember that.
>> AMBER: – In all their different places. And everybody gave a ten-minute… This was my favorite thing I learned at Axcon, because there were so many talks that there’s no way we could have watched them all, and a lot of us were going to different things. And I thought that was actually fun, but it was also a way for us to incentivize our employees actually paying attention, and not just turning it off and prioritizing their work.
We were saying, “We want you to be at this virtual event because we want you to learn about accessibility. And in fact, there’s going to be a mini ten-minute quiz, where you have to prove that you attended talks.”
I think if you have team members and you’re trying to encourage them to really be involved in a virtual event or learn at a virtual event, that the way to do it. Because I think it’s easy for all of us to just sort of be, like, “Oh, I have other work I have to do,” and deprioritize virtual events.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> STEVE: Yes, totally. I think that was a great way to involve the whole team, and to make us all pay attention.
>> AMBER: Even our office assistant did it. He barely had anything to do with any client work, but it was still, like, “We want him to know what accessibility is and understand what our company is doing.”
>> STEVE: Right. And then Chris had to figure out how to get us all pizza.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> STEVE: In, like, four different states.
>> AMBER: Yes, well, that was easier then. Now we have team members, like, Paula is in the Dominican Republic.
So Logistics. Logistics are hard as you become more global.
>> STEVE: That’s right.
>> AMBER: Let’s talk a little bit more about HighEdWeb Accessibility Summit. Because as I mentioned, I like that it’s a focused day, and because it’s not broad. In WordCamp, there’s so much there, and there’s going to be stuff that’s relevant to you, and there’s going to be stuff that’s not. But this is very accessibility, higher education focused.
So for sure, if you work in higher ed or you have clients in higher ed, this is a summit that I think is well worth actually attending and prioritizing it on your calendar, and it’s only a day, so it makes it easy.
>> STEVE: Amber, you mentioned that higher ed was an area of interest for us, and of course, we’re sponsoring this event. For our audience, could you explain why higher ed is an area of interest for a company like ours?
>> AMBER: Yes. Also, I’ll note that when this comes out, we will have just returned from sponsoring WPCampus, which is a WordPress in higher ed conference.
We are interested in higher ed because of Section 508. In the United States, there is a law, or parts of the Telecommunications Act. Section 508 and Sections 504 have to do with providing equal access to information and resources for people with disabilities. And Section 508 covers that federally-funded things cannot purchase inaccessible IT.
So if you do anything in accessibility, then, you know, we get into this, like, selling accessibility. I think we had a podcast episode about that recently, like, thinking about who your customers are. Higher Ed universities and colleges in the United States are usually pretty aware that they have to focus on accessibility, so they make good customers on that front. Also, generally, I think they’re nice to work with.
>> STEVE: Yes.
>> CHRIS: I think it’s worth pointing out that higher education for us specifically, is I think what really got us our first major foray into accessibility when we first started. And I think this goes back to episode one of the podcast. We talked about this, how that initial work we did with Colorado State University was what got us into this all those years ago. And now here we are with products, and sponsoring the events that they probably attend.
I would bet that people from CSU would go to some of these. It’s also a great inroad into accessibility from the service side and the product side.
>> STEVE: This episode of “Accessibility Craft” is sponsored by Equalize Digital Accessibility Checker, the WordPress plugin that helps you find accessibility problems before you hit “publish.”
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>> AMBER: Before I started as a freelancer, I actually worked at two different colleges on the East Coast. I worked at Marist College and then Bard in admissions, and doing marketing and all that kind of stuff. In general, I also like higher ed a little bit because of my background. That was my pre agency days, working in higher ed. I like the pace of it. Like I was saying, they make good clients.
Sometimes their budgets are a little tighter than very large enterprise organizations. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve really encountered somebody who I thought was unreasonable. I always feel like they’re nice people and they have good timelines and that kind of stuff.
So if you’re an agency owner or a freelance developer and you’re trying to figure out a new niche to go into, maybe higher ed is the place to go.
Let’s talk a little bit about the conference. We’re meandering, you guys. This is going to be a kind of random podcast episode, but
I’ll just give a pitch, if you do decide to go, that I am talking. I’ll be speaking at 11:30 am Central Time, on key considerations for accessibility in WordPress websites. So specifically talking about WordPress.
What’s different about HighEdWeb versus WPCampus is, WPCampus is all WordPress. HighEdWeb is not going to be all WordPress, folks. So there’ll probably be a lot of people there who also have Drupal websites, or only have Drupal websites. But usually, in my experience with campuses, it’s a mix. They’ll have some Drupal and some WordPress, depending upon when the website was built and for which college or department and who actually built it.
When you guys were looking at the schedule, is there any talks that popped out at you, or anything you’re excited about?
>> CHRIS: I mean, the keynote goes without saying, because there’s a big name there.
>> AMBER: So who is it, Chris?
>> CHRIS: Pretty much anyone who’s been in the accessibility space for even a little time will recognize the name Lainey Feingold, the well-known disability rights attorney who’s been in practice for decades. So she’s going to do something that she’s calling “The Power of Digital Accessibility to Build Bridges and Open Doors in Higher Ed.” I will, at the very least, be tuning into that.
I like talks that are more organization level, like, high level versus things that get into the nitty-gritty of things. Not that the nitty-gritty talks are unnecessary. And Steve may have some thoughts about that here in a minute based on some pre show conversation we were having.
The other one that stood out to me was someone who I haven’t met. She’s from Cornell and her name is Annie Heckle [phonetic]. She’s doing a presentation called “Breaking Accessibility Out of the Silo.” And it kind of references that in a lot of universities, accessibility is like a one-team project. And her talk appears to be focused more on turning that into an organization-wide culture shift, where everyone’s thinking about accessibility on some level or as it relates specifically to their job, which, I can imagine that if that’s actually achieved, that will make the actual accessibility team’s job way easier to ensure accessible outcomes, if everybody at the university is thinking about accessibility at some level.
So that’s one that I want to attend, because those are some of the conversations that I end up having with our agency partners. More from an agency perspective, but also from potential customers reaching out and saying, like, “Hey, we need to figure out how to get accessibility practices adopted at every level of our organization.” And normally, I’m trying to convince them to set up consultations with Amber because she’s done that exact type of thing for large government orgs, but sometimes they just want to have a loose conversation. So if I can have more ways to add value and give them ideas.
Long story short, those are the two I’m looking at. Keynote, obviously, and then “Breaking Accessibility out of the Silo,” with Annie Heckle from Cornell.
>> AMBER: I think that one is actually a really important topic. There are probably a lot of organizations beyond higher ed where if there is an accessibility person, there is one accessibility person, right? And so really figuring out, like, that is a big thing that organizations have to do. And as you mentioned, we’ve done some consulting on that front to help people figure out how to shape that, how to roll that into different roles.
Even for agency owners, I think that is a really… Like, that topic and that talk… You might not be in higher ed, but that would be really applicable to you, because you don’t just want to make accessibility your developer’s problem. It needs to be part of everything you do throughout your entire process, and you need to have a lot of stakeholders involved in it.
>> STEVE: Totally. To go back to what Chris was mentioning, I definitely live in the nitty-gritty. I tend to want to go deeper on a lot of things, especially when it comes to accessibility.
We go to a lot of these conferences. There’s a lot of virtual conferences. Not to be disparaging in any way, but there can be a lot of the surface conversation a lot of times when it comes to accessibility. And I understand why that discussion is always ongoing and always happening. It’s because people still aren’t getting on board with accessibility, so we have to keep having these basic conversations to explain why people should be thinking about accessibility.
Personally, I like to go a little deeper. I do like to get into the weeds of things, and I do like to get more in the technical and code side of things.
For the HighEdWeb Summit, there are not a lot of code-heavy talks here, but I did find one that I thought was pretty interesting. The speaker is Jason Patoniac [phonetic]? I’m not sure if that’s how you say it, but he’s doing a talk titled “Hacking Browser Validation: Take control of form air handling without third-party libraries.” So it’s pretty interesting.
He talks about it in the description here, where HTML5 brought enhancements to web forms and semantic field types. But there’s certain things in client-side validation that we can’t control. And it looks like his session is going to explore the constraint validation API, and how it can be used to create reusable accessible client-side form validation, with full control over the air handling experience and messaging. It sounds pretty cool, you know, with typically…
>> AMBER: So it explains something to the non-developers, which I am signing myself on. Constraint validation API, that sounds like a third-party tool?
>> STEVE: No, I think it’s built into the browser. It’s an API utilized inside the browser.
>> AMBER: There are APIs in the browser that you can…?
>> STEVE: Yes. [laughs]
>> AMBER: [laughs] I am learning new things right now.
>> STEVE: Open your inspector. There’s all kinds of APIs running in there. Lighthouse is running in there, and that’s an API. You can run Lighthouse from the command line. You can roll Lighthouse up into a GitHub action and run… When you submit your code base, like, if you want to do… Lighthouse has an accessibility component to it. You could run a GitHub action on commit or pull request that rolls up Lighthouse’s API and validates your code against Lighthouse right there in GitHub.
>> AMBER: What’s the API endpoint? It’s not in the browser, right? It’s on some server somewhere from Lighthouse, isn’t it?
>> STEVE: Yes. But the browser is utilizing it, which…
>> AMBER: So you don’t have to pay for any sort of [crosstalk ]
>> STEVE: No, I don’t think so. I think this is something that’s in the browser, that he’s going to utilize to be able to do client-side validation.
Before, when we would do form validation before HTML5, How did we do it? So you have an input field, and you want to validate that it’s a phone number or that it’s an email address.
>> AMBER: Yes. Even though they filled it in when it was required, right?
>> STEVE: Right, right, exactly. So how would we do that before? We would probably do it with some kind of git or post, and the page would refresh, and then we would present the page with the error message that we decided to output. But HTML5 came along and gave a little bit of that validation kind of built in out of the box and made things more semantic. But we don’t have full control over some of the messaging that comes out of that. Like, what is output with some of that error handling?
>> AMBER: So with this scenario, as it doesn’t require a submit, that would mean that you could validate when the user leaves the field?
What I’m assuming Jason is going to go through is how to have more control over your validation by utilizing this constraint validation API that’s, I think, baked into the browser, and being able to be an intermediary between that, and using that to do your validation, and then you can output whatever you want, wherever you want.
>> CHRIS: He found the nitty-gritty, you all. He found it.
>> STEVE: I found the nitty-gritty, the nerdy…
>> AMBER: Hey, all, I’m going to give a…
>> CHRIS: It’s fascinating, though.
>> AMBER: …A pitch right now that you will be very happy. I can’t say, but we just finished going through speaker applications and starting the speaker selection process for WordPress Accessibility Day, and there will be lots of developer-focused code talks at WordPress Accessibility Day, which is going to be at the end of September.
So you will be very happy with that one, Steve.
>> STEVE: Cool. Do I have to get up at 3am to see the…
>> AMBER: Yes. WordPress Accessibility Day is a little different. HighEdWeb Summit runs from, let’s see, 9am Central until 5pm Central, I think. So it’s like a nice work day. You can fit it in.
Of course, WordPress Accessibility Day is full 24 hours, and probably we should have a podcast episode before it. So there might be some in the middle of the night. We make all of our videos available, so if you don’t want to watch it. Or you can get popcorn and have an all nighter watching the talks.
I found a couple that I’m looking forward to watching. So first of all, “How to kill your PDF and get away with it.”
>> CHRIS: I knew you were going to pick that one. [laughs]
>> AMBER: You know that because I spent so much time trying to convince clients that they should not use PDFs, and universities and colleges are one of the worst. I do love them, as I said earlier, but they want to make everything a PDF.
>> STEVE: Yes.
There was one where they had a PDF that was linked in their NAV and it was just a plain white, not even designed. PDF is supposed to be a design thing. It was just like somebody had written a paragraph in Microsoft Word and then they saved it as a PDF. It didn’t have headings, it didn’t have anything, and it was linked across the whole campus. I was just, like, “Why is this not on a web page?” It’s one paragraph. Like, “Why does it need to be PDF?”
So of course, yes, I was happy to see that. That’s Patrick Kelly [phonetic] from Harper College. Anyone who is working to try and convince others at colleges and universities not to use PDFs, I think is good.
The other one, of course, that I think might be interesting is, Jeff Dylan is going to be talking about achieving a 93.5% reduction in accessibility errors. And it’s a case study from National Park College, which, first of all, I was, like, “There’s National Park College? How did I not know that? Because I would have loved to have gone there.” But I love case studies. I think they’re so fascinating, like, to just see, this is what the problem was, this is how someone approached it, and these are the results? I love case studies, so I’m excited about this one.
>> STEVE: That’s a very specific number, 93.5%.
>> AMBER: Yes. It says that they had over 200,000 compliance errors and they got it down to just 13,000 in one year. Now, the one thing I do want to say about those numbers… And I feel like, oh, my gosh, we should have Carl Groves [phonetic] on as a guest at some point to talk about the numbers.
He gave a really fascinating talk about how you measure accessibility compliance at meetup, and I think we should probably mark that for a future podcast. But was that one error? If they’re saying 200,000 errors, maybe that’s one error on 200,000 pages. And you fix that one thing, and then you’re, like, “We’ve fixed 200,000.” That is the one thing that’s a little dubious about numbers. So I guess we have to tune in to figure out how they’re describing their numbers.
>> CHRIS: I don’t know. Efficiency should be rewarded. If you’re able to fix 200,000 problems with one code change…
>> AMBER: Is it really 200,000 problems, or is it one problem that was repeated 200,000 times?
>> STEVE: Well, it’s probably…
>> CHRIS: Potato, po-ta-to.
>> STEVE: Right. It’s probably a set of global things that were, you know, there was some low-hanging fruit where it was easy to resolve a lot with a little work, which is typical, right?
Our plugin does that. If you buy the pro version of our Accessibility Checker plugin, you’re able to kind of group those global things together so that you can determine where you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
If it’s one error on 200,000 pages, in my mind… I’d have to go back and ask the legal expert. What was her name?
>> AMBER: Yes, Lainey.
>> STEVE: Lainey. In my mind, I think that’s 200,000 potential lawsuits, right?
>> AMBER: Yes, I don’t know. I think it probably depends on what it was. That’s the thing. There are things that any accessibility tool including ours flag that are problems, but they’re kind of minor when it comes to actual usability versus, you know, if you have an image that is maybe kind of arguably decorative and it’s in the footer, but is not linked, adding alt text to that is probably way less important than being, like, “Your open and close button on your mobile menu is empty.” Which would also be on every page in the header.
So if you had to choose between one or the other, which one should you focus on? Of course one has more importance. And I think that’s something that we’re hoping to achieve with the plugin, to be able to evolve towards providing more clear guidance on how to prioritize.
>> STEVE: Right. Right.
>> CHRIS: Severity.
>> STEVE: Well, there’s different levels, right? Right now, the plugin prioritizes just based on… That was Chris finishing his chai tea.
>> AMBER: I know. I was a little bit, like, “Chris liked it because he’s slurping down the bottom.”
>> CHRIS: You know what? I’m leaving that in. I’m not even going to edit that out.
>> STEVE: He’s right. Leave it in.
>> AMBER: I don’t even think I asked the question, which is, would you buy it again? I think the answer for Chris is very clear. [laughs]
>> CHRIS: The answer was given.
>> STEVE: [laughs] But right now we’re basically just saying, “Hey, these are the errors that you would get the most bang for your buck.” Basically, based on the count. But there’s definitely more intelligent categories. I could see more as the plugin moves into being kind of… Not to use an overused word, but it becomes more intelligent. It has more AI-like algorithms to where it can say, like you said, “This is an image in your footer.” Or what if those 200,000 errors are the checkout link to buy your insulin supplies? That’s a huge problem, right?
>> AMBER: So it’ll be interesting to see this case study talk; one, just to see, like, what do they mean by that 93.5% improving in compliance. But also, how did they prioritize? Because it sounds like they still have some things left. They didn’t say they’re down to zero. So how did they decide what to do first and whatnot?
So I think it’s definitely going to be an interesting talk since we do a lot of accessibility remediation as all. We’re frequently having these discussions and doing it, so it’s always interesting to see what other people have to say.
>> CHRIS: And National Park has 13,000 accessibility issues, so reach out to Equalize Digital if you need some help there, National Park.
>> AMBER: I want to Google it right now, because I want to know where National Park’s College is, and I really hope they have a mount, like, a rock-climbing major or something like that, like building… Let’s see, where is it?
>> STEVE: Is it “Np.edu”?
>> AMBER: Hot Spring, Arkansas? OK, well, they do not have a rock-climbing major in Arkansas, but they maybe have a National Parks Director or whatever you would call that. There’s something there.
>> STEVE: I’m not seeing any errors on the home page.
>> AMBER: Well, then they did a good job.
>> STEVE: Yes.
>> AMBER: OK, I don’t know if we want to go down the rabbit hole of talking about a specific person’s website on this podcast, or that specific person might not be very happy with us. [laughs]
>> STEVE: A live website audit.
>> AMBER: We usually do that on the meetup, which I think we have a couple of those as podcast episodes. So if you’re listening and you’re interested in hearing, Alex Stine and I occasionally do them. But we always do them with permission from the… Usually, it’s WordPress product owner, and they’ll be on the call too, so they know.
I think of course it’ll be interesting to get Lainey’s take. I’m wondering if she’s going to say anything about this. Did you all see the news from late May that there was a $240,000 jury verdict that awarded that money to blind students, two blind students, against a community college? I’ll throw a link in the show notes for anyone if they want to check that out. But it says in here… I love this. She has the simplified summaries at the top of every article, like we have in our plugin. You can add them.
So it’s like a really quick, like, what it was about. But the Los Angeles Community Colleges District, math and other courses, and I think some of their websites too were not accessible to blind students who use screen readers. And so they were awarded $240,000 by a jury, not even a judge.
>> STEVE: Is that per person?
>> AMBER: I don’t know if it was for the two students, and they had to split it or if each. It didn’t say each. So maybe they have to share it.
>> STEVE: They got to pay tax on that? No, I’m just kidding.
>> AMBER: Actually, that is a really great question.
>> STEVE: Probably not.
>> AMBER: I don’t know. Probably not, because the community college was failing to provide them with equal education.
>> STEVE: Yes. And if you’re trying to get educated to get a job, loss wages is a valid argument there.
>> AMBER: Yes. But I mean, math. Everyone needs math.
>> STEVE: Right? So don’t pay lawyers. Pay Equalize Digital. We’ll help you be accessible.
>> CHRIS: Yes.
>> AMBER: So this podcast has officially turned into a sales pitch.
>> STEVE: It’s a total sales pitch.
>> AMBER: No. Here’s the other sales pitch. If you’ve never heard of it, go check out HighEdWeb Association. It’s a really great membership association for people in IT typically technology that work at colleges and universities in the United States. And, of course, check out the Accessibility Summit, which is going to be on Thursday, July 5th, 2023. It’s not very expensive, and it is a great way to go and learn more.
>> STEVE: There you go.
>> AMBER: So I think we can sign off because I’ve given the official sales pitch. What do you guys think?
>> STEVE: That’s it. I think that’s all we got.
>> AMBER: All right. Thanks, everybody. We’ll be back soon.
>> CHRIS: Bye.
>> CHRIS: Thanks for listening to “Accessibility Craft.” If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe in your podcast app to get notified when future episodes release. You can find accessibility craft on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and more. And if building accessibility awareness is important to you, please consider rating “Accessibility Craft” five stars on Apple Podcasts.
“Accessibility Craft” is produced by Equalize Digital and hosted by Amber Hinds, Chris Hinds, and Steve Jones.
Steve Jones composed our theme music.
Learn how we help make thousands of WordPress websites more accessible at “EqualizeDigital.com.”