Get to know the podcast co-hosts Amber Hinds, Chris Hinds, and Steve Jones. You’ll learn how we were introduced to accessibility and how we started building accessibility into everything we do. In this episode, we try and discuss Seedlip Grove 42, a non-alcoholic spirit.
Mentioned in This Episode
Chris Hinds 0:08
Hello and welcome to Episode One 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.
Chris Hinds 0:25
In this episode, you’ll get to know the podcast co-hosts Amber Hinds, Chris Hinds, and Steve Jones. You’ll learn how we were introduced to accessibility and explore how we started building accessibility into everything that we do.
Chris Hinds 0:37
For show notes and a full transcript go to accessibilitycraft.com/001 and now on to the show.
Amber Hinds 0:44
Hey, everybody, I am Amber. I’m here with Steve and Chris, my partners. I think we’re gonna introduce ourselves since this our first episode of the podcast. Steve, do you want to go first?
Steve Jones 1:01
Sure. I’m Steve Jones, I’m CTO of Equalize Digital, where I oversee the development of our products and services.
Chris Hinds 1:14
I’m Chris Hinds, I am the COO of Equalize Digital. I oversee all of our sales efforts, as well as all of the backend processes that keep our company running, including HR and finance.
Amber Hinds 1:29
If somebody is interested in working with us, you’re the first person they talk to.
Amber Hinds 1:34
I am of course Amber as I said earlier, I’m the CEO at Equalize Digital, and I do lots of things. I do a lot in the WordPress Accessibility community. This may be the first podcast episode, but you might have heard of me before if you have joined the WordPress Accessibility Meetup or attended WordPress Accessibility Day, which I helped organize.
Amber Hinds 1:57
We are going to do something kind of fun. We’re going to be talking about accessibility on this podcast. But we’re also going to be talking about craft beverages of a wide variety, not always alcoholic. Chris, do you want to tell us about our first one so we can open it and taste it and talk about it? Maybe also tell us why we’re doing this drink.
Chris Hinds 2:25
We are trying a non-alcoholic spirit that is sugar free. It’s by a company called Seedlip and we’re trying their Grove 42 beverage. If y’all want to start cracking open and pouring drinks, you can. The way I’d recommend doing this is you’re either going to mix it with soda water, ginger ale or hot black tea as three of their recommendations.
Chris Hinds 2:53
The reason that this one got my attention, for people who don’t know me, which is probably everybody listening to this for the most part, my background is in culinary art originally. I say I’m a surviving former chef or recovering chef. I’ve been aware of this company for a while and they have supplied their non-alcoholic spirits to some very world renowned well-known restaurants across the globe. This one is sort of their flagship or their most well known. It’s the Grove 42. This one they say they have this infused with botanicals, including bitter orange, blood, orange, lemongrass, lemon, Mandarin, orange, and ginger. I’ve always been curious about their stuff. I’ve never tried their stuff before. We’re getting a first impression here. They got their start in London, and they are now global. I’m just kind of excited to try this. I’m going into this with no impressions, but it definitely has a cool label.
Amber Hinds 3:53
It looks like, well, it’s like a ginger root that shaped like a rabbit face, kind of with a curve. I don’t know. It is definitely cool but hard to describe. I don’t know how would you describe it for someone who can’t see this since they’re listening and not watching.
Chris Hinds 4:13
Yeah, I mean, it kind of looks like a squirrel head. Then it has like a squirrel orange peel, kind of looping behind it in a very stylistic way. The the citrus peels kind of look like a squirrel’s tail. The way it kind of curves over at the top. I don’t know, it’s a very interesting artistic label. But I’m excited to try it.
Amber Hinds 4:40
I will admit. I opened it and I poured but I had the smell the bottle because when you were saying like orange and lemon I was a little bit afraid that it was gonna smell like furniture wash. Because it’s supposed to be diluted, right? It mixed with something so I was like, is it gonna be really strong? I’m a little bit nervous.
Chris Hinds 5:01
I would recommend, having never had this before. What I did is I kind of did like a two second pour like a shot and then I filled the rest of the way with soda water. I think we’ve all got soda water today.
Steve Jones 5:13
Yep, yep. Soda water.
Amber Hinds 5:15
Yeah, so we did not do the ginger ale or the black tea.
Steve Jones 5:19
Yeah. So about a shots worth, right?
Amber Hinds 5:22
I don’t know if I put enough in. Maybe I gotta add more.
Steve Jones 5:26
I mean, straight out of the bottle to me, it has…
Amber Hinds 5:29
Did you take a shot Steve right out of the bottle?
Steve Jones 5:31
No, no, no. The smell straight out of the bottle, has like a Sprite kind of smell.
Chris Hinds 5:38
Yeah. Yeah, I totally get that.
Amber Hinds 5:42
Oh, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had Sprite.
Steve Jones 5:44
Right. Reminds me of…
Amber Hinds 5:47
All right, I’m going to do it. I’m gonna taste it. Would you get mad if I drink this out of the bottle? Since we’re sharing.
Amber Hinds 5:59
Okay, it’s way blander of a flavor that I would have thought for something that you’re mixing in. But maybe it’s also because it’s sugar-free.
Chris Hinds 6:06
Yeah, I’m not sure.
Amber Hinds 6:07
I will totally admit that I’m not the sugar-free person in our house. I instantly hear sugar-free and I think “oh, it must be gross.”
Chris Hinds 6:17
Yeah, it’s interesting. You mentioned flat like that. I feel like it definitely complements this like having it with sort of water definitely complements it i but it is very subtle. I would worry if I had it with a ginger ale or with a black tea like they suggest. I mean, maybe I just diluted mine too much. It definitely I feel like it would get overpowered in that. Or even if you put like a twist of lime or a lemon in with it. I feel like I would lose the flavor.
Amber Hinds 6:47
I just don’t think it’s citrusy enough.
Steve Jones 6:50
Yeah, I think I’m gonna go for two shots.
Amber Hinds 6:54
Steve’s getting wild over here.
Steve Jones 6:58
But it’s non-alcoholic. So I think we’re all right.
Amber Hinds 7:00
Chris Hinds 7:00
Does it say anywhere on the bottle? Because I didn’t read that. How many servings are supposed to be in it?
Amber Hinds 7:04
It says serve two fluid ounces over ice. It just says with ginger ale. But it doesn’t say like, what ratio? Right? Like it doesn’t say how much ginger ale to do. Like, are we talking a highball glass or like a big glass? You know, or Martini? You know, like, I don’t know.
Amber Hinds 7:27
I will say the first ingredient is water.
Chris Hinds 7:32
Amber Hinds 7:33
It kind of just tastes like it. I don’t know, I feel like, if we buy flavored soda water, like flavored seltzer?
Steve Jones 7:42
Amber Hinds 7:43
That has more flavor than me using our homemade seltzer that we made with our Sodastream, then adding this. I don’t think it’s concentrated enough.
Steve Jones 7:55
Yeah. Yeah, I definitely went for a second shot and it still isn’t quite sweet enough.
Amber Hinds 8:03
Well, there’s no sugar in it. That’s probably why.
Steve Jones 8:06
Amber Hinds 8:06
I don’t expect it to be sweet. I just kind of wish it had more of an orange. I don’t know.
Steve Jones 8:11
More of a kick more of a citrus.
Amber Hinds 8:14
Chris Hinds 8:14
Yeah. Well, you know, these are all going to be experiment. And I don’t know, you know, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it as we continue to mix it at home or try different things with it.
Steve Jones 8:37
Yeah, I’m a little underwhelmed. I think a lemon’s slice would help kick it up a bit.
Amber Hinds 8:45
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that would be good.
Amber Hinds 8:48
I do have to do a little shout out here, because I don’t know if anyone else is aware. Part of what inspired us to take this twist, beyond Chris’s culinary background, is also there’s podcasts out there, if you haven’t heard of it called Whiskey Web and Whatnot. They always talk about a whiskey. Obviously, we’re not just going to do whiskey, we’re going to be kind of all over. ButI enjoyed that podcast, so I have to give them a shout out and a little nod to them because the idea of talking web and a drink was definitely inspired a little bit by them as well.
Amber Hinds 9:28
I thought since it’s our first episode, it would be good for us to just sort of talk about some of our bigger goals for the podcast. What people can expect when they tune in next time or in future episodes.
Amber Hinds 9:43
I know we’re definitely talking about, we’re hoping to create something that’s interesting for agency owners, designers, developers, content creators. Not just WordPress, I don’t think we’re gonna talk. I think we’re generally accessibility in the web broadly.
Amber Hinds 10:01
We might talk about some web accessibility news. I do know that we’re going to share some recordings from the meetup. Sorry, the accessibility meetup. There’ll be some of that but even that’s it’s not 100% WordPress focused. I think we might get technical at times. I don’t know how you’ll feel about that, Chris. But I know Steve, and I might dive into some code conversations.
Chris Hinds 10:32
I’ll probably be very quiet during those parts of the podcast episodes.
Amber Hinds 10:40
Well, you can always make sure that we’re not going too much in the weeds, maybe.
Chris Hinds 10:44
Kind of pull us back a little bit. Yeah.
Steve Jones 10:48
Amber Hinds 10:50
I think a good place to start that might be interesting for people is talking about how we got into accessibility, which I know I’ve talked about a little bit. I’m sort of interested to hear you all’s perspective on, how did the three of us, we’ve been working together for a while, how do you describe our journey into discovering accessibility?
Steve Jones 11:15
Sure, well, maybe…
Chris Hinds 11:19
I have this conversation a lot because a lot of agency owners and developers and designers that I talk to on a daily basis, just through sales conversations, they often ask, how we got into this and why we built the tool and all of those things. What I would typically tell them is that it just sort of happened. What I mean by that is we started, it’s like you get one client or this is a priority, right.
Chris Hinds 11:49
I believe for us, Amber, that was Colorado State University. When we landed them as a client in our old agency days suddenly, we found ourselves needing to learn this, much like a lot of agency owners and a lot of developers are doing right now, they’re having to start to learn this they’re becoming more aware of it. We went through that exact same process. We did it, you know, six years ago, seven years ago.
Chris Hinds 12:16
That project kind of led to more projects and more projects. Increasingly, I can only speak for myself personally, although I think we all maybe share this perspective a little bit, I just gained more and more of an appreciation for the importance of accessibility over time. It didn’t necessarily have to be exceedingly difficult, or this barrier on projects that made projects run slower or get more expensive. I think as we got more experienced with it, we learned how to just work it into everything we do, just as a reflex and a second nature. That’s been the journey up until this point, until we started building tools around it and started doing more intentional branding and marketing around it.
Steve Jones 13:06
Yeah, my kind of journey and accessibility started kind of back in my freelance days where I did a lot of work for retirement communities. I’d do a lot of websites for retirement communities, and it would be a thing that would come up, right. It wasn’t necessarily like, always a project requirement but clients were always kind of mentioning it.
Amber Hinds 13:31
Were they using the word accessibility? Or were they asking just make it easier for people who were older? They were using the word accessibility even then?
Steve Jones 13:40
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think both right, they would mention that the website needs to be usable by an older audience. They would actually use the word accessibility at times as well. It was much more casual in those days, right? Accessibility had always kind of been like a little thing that would come up from time to time in those days.
Amber Hinds 14:05
What are we talking about when we say those days? Timeframe?
Steve Jones 14:10
I don’t want to date myself.
Amber Hinds 14:13
It wasn’t that long ago, was it?
Steve Jones 14:14
No, no, no, no. We could go far back where in the web before CSS. Yes, I’m that old. Websites were actually much more accessible because they were just built with semantic HTML.
Amber Hinds 14:34
Around what year did you start hearing about it from clients?
Steve Jones 14:37
2010 and forward, probably. It became much more of a topic that would come up from time to time. Then with our company, I would echo a little bit of what Chris said, definitely with some universities that we took on and became a requirement. Then we took on a very large project for a government agency in Texas and it was a huge requirement. That really required us to go through the site thoroughly, make sure that it’s usable by a mouse and a keyboard. We did user testing.
Amber Hinds 14:37
Yeah, that was the first project we ever brought in and paid people who were blind, multiple people who were blind, to test the website, because it was for people to be able to get government benefits. If everyone can’t do it, then obviously the website would be a fail.
Steve Jones 15:43
Right, exactly. That was definitely kind of, I think that was a big turning point for us, where it became kind of very front of mind for us. Then over time, that led to our plugin that we have, Accessibility Checker. When I was building that out in 2020, having to build a tool that checks for accessibility, definitely tests your skills and your knowledge on getting it right. That was the major dive down the wormhole of accessibility, building that plugin.
Amber Hinds 16:25
Yeah. That for me, I think was really pivotal too in expanding my knowledge, because I remember sitting with you initially, and just saying, what are some of the rules we should have? We looked at Wave, we looked at some of the other tools that were out there to see what are what are they checking for? But they’re not all open source. Then we’re sitting here, if we want to check for this, what do we need to do? And we’ve refined it. An update you did sort of recently, we’ve been from the beginning checking if headings are in the right order, but we were only using the heading tags, and I know you did something to check for heading roles, right?
Steve Jones 17:04
Yeah. Yeah, adding in the ARIA spec, you know, check for that as well. It has the ARIA label for a heading.
Steve Jones 17:15
Accessibility is a process. Our plugin evolves, as our knowledge evolves and as the community helps us refine the product as well.
Amber Hinds 17:28
Yeah. I think for me on the learning front, and with that, we spent so much time just going through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Each one being like, can we possibly devise an HTML check for this? But spending time reading each one, thinking about what does it literally mean? Because sometimes, the explanation of the rule is not explicit. Even the first one “non text content.” That could apply to a lot of things, images missing all tags, buttons that are empty, tons of things. Well, we could have five of our checks that only apply to this one WCAG rule.
Steve Jones 18:14
Yeah, we’ve taken rules and split them into multiple rules to make it more easily definable to the end user to remove some of the confusion.
Amber Hinds 18:31
This is something that people have asked me a lot at Meetup. What’s the best way to learn? And obviously, what we’ve sort of been talking about is how we learn by doing.
Chris Hinds 18:43
That is the best way to learn it. 100% is to just get in there and do it. Do the work and learn as you go. This is a dangerous suggestion, in some scenarios. If you’re, I mean, you should have no business running a major federal agency website if you know nothing about accessibility. We would assume that those people do but for the average person managing a website, if you go in there and you try to make some accessibility fixes, odds are if you’re careful, and you’re diligent, you’re going to make your website more usable. Even if it’s just fixing alternative text on images or just correcting your heading orders, just some basic content related accessibility fixes, you are going to improve it.
Steve Jones 19:37
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.
Steve Jones 19:49
A WordPress native tool, Accessibility Checker provides reports directly on the post edit screen reports are comprehensive enough for an accessibility professional or developer, but easy enough for a content creator to understand.
Steve Jones 20:04
Accessibility Checker is an ideal tool to audit existing WordPress websites, find accessibility problems during new builds, or monitor accessibility and remind content creators of accessibility best practices on an ongoing basis. Scans run on your server so there are no per page fees or external API connections. GDPR and privacy compliant, real time accessibility scanning.
Steve Jones 20:30
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Steve Jones 20:44
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Amber Hinds 21:03
Yeah. I think you don’t necessarily have to jump in and do it for clients right away. We did it unexpectedly with CSU because that was actually on the second website. I mean, we vaguely knew, and we were trying to do some best practices on the first one. And then the second website we built for them. They’re like, “Oh, hey, we have this accessibility committee on campus now and they’re gonna review everything you do. Your work and logic.” We were like “oh, that’s a surprise.”
Amber Hinds 21:37
You could start doing some things on your own website, as a learning experience. The biggest thing too, if you’re learning by doing is finding resources for feedback. Right? Like, can you hire someone, or find someone who’s already in your audience that uses a screen reader every day who can come through and give you feedback?
Amber Hinds 22:03
That was a huge turning point for me, both in me really realizing how important this is, and, and also just changing my mindset about how I looked at certain things. I remember on that first testing session, we tested a website that had an event calendar. This whole conversation came up with some of the users about the grid view on a calendar, that’s like a standard grid view, which weren’t literal WCAG failures.
Amber Hinds 22:40
It wasn’t literally an accessibility problem but it just wasn’t usable in comparison to a list view, where they could just go and be like, here are the two events that are coming up this month, as opposed to having to go through every single square on the calendar. Is there an event here? Or is there not? No. Okay, go to the next day. Right?
Amber Hinds 23:05
Getting that feedback and hearing, and seeing what they were experiencing was a huge learning thing. That’s where if you want to learn by doing you can, but you got to make sure that you’re getting feedback. Or use automated tools, like our Accessibility Checker. I know people have said they like it because it helps them learn how to be better.
Steve Jones 23:31
I’ve even described it to people that way. It’s not just a plugin that checks for accessibility issues. It’s a plug in that aids in the education of accessibility.
Amber Hinds 23:42
Yeah, that’s a goal we have for sure.
Amber Hinds 23:50
What were some of the biggest accessibility challenges that we’ve had on some of those first projects?
Steve Jones 24:01
Chris Hinds 24:03
I’m gonna be very quiet in this segment, I can already tell because I just sell the things and then you guys have the headache of figuring out how to implement them. This segment is going to be all you too.
Amber Hinds 24:13
I mean, for a while Chris, you were doing a little bit of our project management. We went back to me doing all the project management but I mean, I think there were challenges that still come up sometimes with conversations around brand and color palette and having to convince the clients like the color contrast matters. That is probably, it’s so easy to me and I feel like it’s the obvious thing you can test for, and yet somehow I feel like on many projects, it is one of the biggest hurdles we have to get over with clients, which is a challenge in and of itself.
Steve Jones 24:54
Because it could be a modification to the brand guidelines, right?
Amber Hinds 24:59
Yeah. What about on the on the dev side?
Steve Jones 25:03
Yeah, the dev side can be quite a few things. I mean, at the very first, in the early days, when I was talking, like in the mid 2000s 2010, I was basically trying to use buttons correctly and links correctly. Then when it moved into using the actual screen reader and I’m on a Mac so I use VoiceOver. That was a challenge for me at first, just like if you’ve ever turned on a screen reader at first, and it starts speaking to you a whole bunch of things. It’s definitely overwhelming, and it takes a little bit of getting used to. It also opens your eyes to what a blind person would be experiencing.
Steve Jones 25:31
That was definitely a challenge at first. Then just the learning of the spec, the ARIA spec, and learning of all the rules. It can be kind of overwhelming. It’s not that these things, from a development standpoint, I don’t think that accessibility is difficult, but there’s just a lot of rules that you have to learn.
Amber Hinds 26:19
It’s a lot of attention to detail that you maybe don’t have to have, especially in a WordPress development environment where you can just be like, “I’ll just grab a plugin for that. Right?” And then you’re like, “Oh, dang this blog is loaded with problems. Now I just have to code it myself.”
Steve Jones 26:39
It changes your mentality and your dev process too. When you’re given a task to make this landing page or make this web page. You’re thinking, I just need to code it out, make sure that it’s responsive, that it works with my mouse and that everything hovers the way it’s supposed to hover.
Steve Jones 27:01
Now you have this whole subset. It also needs to work with keyboard, it needs to work with the Tab key, with the Escape key, and with the spacebar. When you bring those things front of mind, I think there’s a struggle within a developer to say, “well, this is what I have to accomplish, but now you’re telling me I’ve got to do all this accessibility stuff.” Well, I’ll do it and then I’ll go through the accessibility stuff.
Steve Jones 27:28
If you reorient your thinking and your dev process to put those things, you’re going to do those accessibility things at the same time, as you’re developing. And you tell yourself, this is no longer like, oh, this thing I have to do at the end of the project, right? Now, this is something that’s going to be integral to my process and I’m going to do as I work. Specifically, some of the things that I found most challenging with accessibility when you get past some of the, you know, putting alt text on images, right? Is some very specific things like navigation.
Amber Hinds 28:08
Oh, like creating a good navigation menu.
Steve Jones 28:10
Yeah, creating accessible navigation. Now, we’ve had a lot of conversation about navigation, Amber, and I, but a navigation can be compliant, right? But maybe not built the best way possible.
Steve Jones 28:29
Skipping through the main links in navigation, not going through all the sub menus, not requiring them to go through all the sub menus on every parent menu item. Things like that.
Steve Jones 28:46
Some other things that I found very challenging are modals, lacking focus on a modal. Once a modal is closed, returning focus to where you left off.
Amber Hinds 28:57
I think you’re listing out things that we’re going to have to make you talk about WordPress Accessibility Meetup.
Steve Jones 29:04
There you go, exactly.
Amber Hinds 29:05
He’s giving us our future talk list right now. Yeah. How do you actually do this?
Steve Jones 29:12
Yeah, right, exactly.
Steve Jones 29:14
Then some other things, just like tabs, tooltips. Things that are, I would probably call a little more advanced accessibility items. Those are some of the things that I found challenging, and to some degree, I still find challenging.
Amber Hinds 29:30
Yeah. I think one thing too, which we don’t have as much of a problem with now, because we’re accessibility and people know that and that’s why they come to us.
Amber Hinds 29:41
I think you could probably speak to this a little bit in the early days, we were trying to sell accessibility as an add-on. I don’t know if you had challenges ever, and you probably did because there were clients who didn’t always go for that, like they weren’t willing to pay extra for user testing, or they were like, “no, I don’t have the budget for a fully custom website so I just want to use this template that I found on the internet.”
Chris Hinds 30:14
Yeah, I think that is down to mindset and positioning as an agency, and only the sales lead, or the agency owners are really going to be able to decide this. I think we made the very intentional decision that accessibility was no longer an option. I don’t remember the exact date that we put a pin in that, but I remember that we did.
Chris Hinds 30:41
Ever since then, it became a lot easier, because it wasn’t even really talked about or presented in a way that was like this is an option or an add on instead, it was just like, this is how we do things. That’s just how it was approached and I think that alone, if someone I think the only at that point, the only reason that someone wouldn’t go for it is if they don’t consider you an expert, at which point, you don’t want to work with them anyway. But anyone coming to us, generally is considering us an expert on some level, because they’re entertaining the idea of paying us a lot of money either for accessibility directly or for a new custom website.
Chris Hinds 31:21
The positioning, that expertise is already there, thanks in large part to the quality of our work that we deliver. Steve and the marketing and the public face that we put out there, Amber, like you both have done a fantastic job, proving what I say in sales calls, which makes my conversations a whole hell of a lot easier, right.
Amber Hinds 31:41
You are welcome.
Chris Hinds 31:42
I think that’s really what it comes down to, it’s no longer an option. This is what you’re doing, because it’s in your best interest. It’s much like if you go to a doctor, right. The doctor is telling you what you need and there are people who are going to walk away and not believe someone with a medical degree and way more medical education than they have and then there are people who are going to listen to their doctor, right. We definitely have a preference of which person we want.
Amber Hinds 32:14
I’m sure the doctors do too.
Chris Hinds 32:15
I’m sure that doctors prefer not to work with people who trust Google, and MD, more than the physician standing right in front of you, right?
Steve Jones 32:26
Yeah, what you don’t trust Google?
Amber Hinds 32:29
Oh, man, we Google MD stuff all the time.
Steve Jones 32:32
I know, I’ve got all kinds of diagnosis from Google.
Amber Hinds 32:36
From the the internet?
Chris Hinds 32:38
Everytime I look up a symptom for anything on Google, I learn that I have some rare form of cancer, and I have three months to live. That’s pretty much everything I look up on Google.
Steve Jones 32:46
Chris Hinds 32:46
I have this pain or something. I don’t know, maybe that’s the same level of fear they’re experiencing with accessibility if they know nothing about it, and they’re looking up stuff. Interesting.
Steve Jones 32:57
Chris Hinds 32:58
Amber Hinds 32:58
Amber Hinds 33:00
I mean, I don’t know that maybe that motivates you to live your best life? Yes. I gotta get everything I can get in.
Steve Jones 33:07
Amber Hinds 33:12
I’m gonna throw you guys a little bit of a curveball here, something that wasn’t on our show notes, but I thought of it as Chris was talking.
Amber Hinds 33:24
I do think that yes, there is a point where you just decide like, this is important, right, like, mobile. In the very beginning we charged people extra for mobile responsive websites and then we just said, now it has to be mobile responsive, we’re not going to charge you extra, right.
Amber Hinds 33:41
What do you think that line is for accessibility? Obviously, we’ve made that decision but where do you think that is for all websites? Or the vast majority? Because there are still some websites that get launched that are not mobile responsive or very poor mobile responsive, right? Is that on the developers? Is that on the agencies? The people who make the templates? And what’s going to motivate that to actually happen everywhere?
Steve Jones 34:12
From the tech side, I would say that, like with mobile responsive, I think the thing that really pushed that over the threshold to not being an option anymore is definitely the big players requiring it right.
Amber Hinds 34:24
So like Google.
Steve Jones 34:26
Yeah, Google’s is not going to index or promote your rankings if your site is not mobile responsive. So if big players like Google, and then they may have already I don’t know, I’m a developer, not an SEO guy. But if Google starts not ranking inaccessible websites, and that will be a wake up call for a lot.
Amber Hinds 34:57
Steve Jones 34:57
As far as who’s responsible, ultimately, I think that the person that owns the website is legally responsible. Consult your lawyer, I’m not a lawyer. I think that the owner of the website is ultimately responsible for the accessibility of their website. I think us as industry leaders, we have a responsibility as well to accessibility.
Amber Hinds 35:27
To educate. Yeah.
Steve Jones 35:28
Amber Hinds 35:29
Yeah, I think that’s a big hurdle or challenge in the industry as a whole, is that a lot of people haven’t even heard of it. Like, we were at a wedding for Chris’s brother this summer, telling people what we do, and they’re like, “What? You build wheelchair ramps for websites? I don’t get it.” Right? They had no idea.
Amber Hinds 35:50
Once you start explaining. You’re like, put captions on videos for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They go, “Oh!” But it’s stuff that people don’t really realize. Right.
Steve Jones 36:01
Amber Hinds 36:02
Unless you personally are connected to it and I think that’s a challenge overall to web accessibility. On the Google front, Lighthouse does check a little bit of accessibility.
Amber Hinds 36:17
There’s a lot of accessibility overlap with SEO and I have a plan for us to talk about that. I don’t know if we need to go down that road right now. Future episode, everyone, please subscribe.
Steve Jones 36:29
Steve Jones 36:31
Well, maybe even Chris could speak of this a little bit. We’ve seen this, that maybe there’s not necessarily always a monetary gain from being accessible but there is government regulation, there is litigation that happens as a result of accessibility that could affect the company financially.
Amber Hinds 36:59
Chris Hinds 36:59
Yeah, I think you have to think a little bit about accessibility in terms of there is definitely a subtle gain that can happen in terms of SEO, in terms of conversions, and in terms of just your website being more usable and more easy to digest. In terms of information, if we’re talking about a website that is fully accessible, versus one that has a lot of accessibility problems, it is pretty clear that one of them is going to perform better than the other just fundamentally and there’s a lot of data that shows that.
Chris Hinds 37:32
I think that the thing that I have been talking to people about a lot, and in thinking in terms of like what we’re doing in terms of having the free tool, having education therem having having distribution of accessibility checker and trying to to work within WordPress channels to raise the level of accessibility overall.
Chris Hinds 37:54
I think that accessibility increasingly is going to have to be a bottom up problem and not a top down problem. It has to be the community itself, advocating for accessibility, and bringing up things right.
Chris Hinds 38:11
Just one small example I can think of somewhat recently is someone reached out to me and said “Hey, I’m finding all of these issues that Accessibility Checker is flagging in the header and footer of my template that I bought for WordPress.” And I’m like, “Hey, why don’t you go raise those issues with that theme developer or that template developer and see if they’ll release a patch.” Lo and behold, they did. Suddenly, the outcome of that because that person took a minute to be to do some advocacy is now several 1000 WordPress websites just got patched to make their navigations more accessible.
Chris Hinds 38:47
Just by writing that message, just by making this a bottom up problem and, and doing that little bit of work it’s going to ultimately make the web more accessible. That’s really where I approach it from. The ROI has to be a conversation component for businesses especially. It’s very, very easy to just tie it to conversions, tie it to SEO, tie it to those things that those business already has goals and KPIs they’re trying to need around those things, and just make sure that they understand, if you’re an agency trying to sell this or talk to a business about it, that accessibility is an avenue to get them where they want to go relative to those types of digital objectives.
Amber Hinds 39:40
Yeah, I wish there were more good case studies. I keep looking and I think the thing that’s hard and I’ve had moments when I was like can we try and put one together?
Amber Hinds 39:53
What is most challenging on that front, at least with the work we do is that we’re typically, either we’re in one or two buckets.
Amber Hinds 40:02
One is we’re just doing a complete website rebuild, because the other one was outdated, it didn’t look good, it wasn’t accessible, maybe didn’t have good SEO or whatever, right? There’s so many variables. It’s hard to say that everything improved. We frequently we launch, we look back, and it’s like, wow, they’re doing way better in search. But it could have been because of the accessibility fixes. It could have been because they rewrote or they added more pages, or they actually figured out a better blogging strategy, right? Or the HTML structure was better.
Amber Hinds 40:38
Or we’re doing remediations on existing sites. What is challenging about that, is it happens over time, it’s not one point in time. It’s harder to say our business got better because of accessibility when you’re not doing like a massive, and maybe there are businesses that do this, where they they’re doing a big, massive accessibility release. And they can pin it. But typically, what we’re doing is it’s incremental things over time to fit in people’s budgets. I don’t know, that makes it more challenging.
Steve Jones 41:14
Chris Hinds 41:16
I mean, accessibility touches so many areas, right. That’s the other thing that I think makes it challenging for a very focused case study around conversions, or SEO or anything else. Its because its implications are so far reaching, and it touches every part of a website, user experience, every part of technical best practices. I think that it just makes it hard.
Steve Jones 41:40
Amber Hinds 41:42
Do you feel like, of course, I’m sure I know the answer to this, but despite some of those first challenges we had, and even some of the things we still have now, I think we all feel like it’s worth it to have gone on this accessibility journey and to be on it. But I’m curious, maybe as our last thoughts could share, what is the most meaningful to you about this journey? Or if you’re trying to inspire somebody else, to start making accessibility part of central to what their agency does? Why do you think that? What are the biggest benefits on that?
Steve Jones 42:16
Right. For me, ‘m taking this from a developer standpoint, and maybe, hopefully, I can capture the sentiment of other developers out there. Being completely honest, at first, having accessibility requirements added to a project can be a little frustrating. Because it’s an addition to just trying to get the project done. I think as time goes on, and as we went through the process of creating our own accessibility plugin that checks for accessibility, and we start to have user testers, like blind, I get to see blind user testers using websites I’ve created using a plugin that I’ve created. When you see that it really changes your mind, it makes it tangible, that these are real people, and these people matter just as much as anybody.
Steve Jones 43:26
You start to learn that accessibility first, putting accessibility first, is that you can just replace the word accessibility with people, you’re putting people first. When you look at it from that standpoint, that if I write code that is inaccessible, I’m blocking these people out from being able to use this application or this website that I make.
Steve Jones 43:50
From a business standpoint, if I’m a business owner, and I’m making a website that’s inaccessible to a subset of the population, I could be losing revenue, as well, if they’re not able to complete a purchase, on my website. I think ultimately, for me, I think over time, that I really came to learn that accessibility first is people first.
Amber Hinds 44:17
Chris Hinds 44:19
Amber Hinds 44:20
Yeah. That needs to be our teaser clip at the beginning because when I think about what’s meaningful to me, it really has being able to see real people and I think that’s something that helped me keeping in mind. We had a young man, Devin, who was testing for us for a while, and I would always think of Devin, and be like, “I want Devin to be able to use this thing. Right?”
Chris Hinds 44:20
Amber Hinds 44:22
And I think yeah, it is definitely a people first experience. What about you, Chris? Is there something that you found really impactful or meaningful to you in this journey so far?
Chris Hinds 45:00
Certainly what you both have shared, I feel the same way about the importance of helping people. I think for me, because of my business mindset, from the business angle, I think what I have found particularly meaningful about shifting into this is that it makes us more focused on where and how we can create impact and how we can make a difference for the people that we work with.
Chris Hinds 45:32
I feel like our our business trajectory, the marketing and promotion, we do the sales conversation, we have just the level of laser like focus that we have on accessibility and achieving that outcome has made all of us far better and far more successful professionals. That’s number one.
Chris Hinds 45:52
Number two, I think that we haven’t really limited ourselves by niching into this because accessibility is so far reaching and it touches so many things that if it is digital accessibility is going to be a component of it. And so we have focused, but we have not limited our potential as an organization and I think that that’s something that a lot of agency owners, and a lot of freelancers out there can think about is that this is something that if you can develop some expertise and some capabilities in this area, you can easily just position yourself better as a professional and you can deliver better work, which means you can charge more, which means you can create better outcomes and last longer as a business and be more sustainable. Just everything you said, but also on the business side, too. I feel like it is one of the best decisions that we have collectively ever made.
Chris Hinds 46:52
And yeah, but enough said.
Steve Jones 46:55
Amber Hinds 46:57
Well, awesome. I think we’re about out of time for today’s show. Chris is gonna come back in just a second with official sign off, but I thought it might be good to just tease next week, or our next release, which should be coming out next Monday. That we’ll be talking more about what Steve started talking about building an accessibility first mindset. You’ll have to tune in to find out what we’ll be drinking.
Steve Jones 47:24
Chris Hinds 47:27
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 helped make 1000s of WordPress websites more accessible at equalizedigital.com