A Resolution for an Accessible New Year?

Last updated: March 6, 2015

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This year, Glenda Sims made a wish for a more accessible web. It's not nice to spoil someone's good wish, but I don't think she'll get her wish for Christmas. Santa would definitely need many, many helpers like fairy godmothers, Mary Poppins, and, well, you get the idea.

That's where you come in.

I hope you know about the Fix the Web project. (If not, do hop over and read about it, and then come back here for one more tip.)

There are more fantastic resources for reporting and grading the accessibility of websites.

EOWG and their resources

Here's an entire recipe for contacting organizations about inaccessibile websites. This marvelous resource helps you identify who you need to contact, assists you in how to describe the problem, and strongly encourages you to follow-up as needed. Let's give a round of applause or a waving of hands to the awesome volunteers in the Education and Outreach Working Group in the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative for making such a useful resource available to us.

(Waving of hands?? Yes, that is how deaf people applaud. It's rather cool.)

Access Grade

Next up? Access Grade. Recently, Access Grade has appeared for giving grades to websites on their accessibility. Access Grade wants to

CrowdSource website accessibility! This means we want to use feedback from real users like you that use screen readers or other assistive technologies to navigate the web to inform our algorithms about the accessibility of websites. Our algorithms will learn about the web through your input, and eventually, we hope, get good enough so that they can make accurate predictions about the accessibility of websites, just by examining the HTML code of these sites.


Finally, there's the a11y bugs project. This is a project to squash the bugs in browsers that are barriers to accessibility on the web. Why a11ybugs, and not accessibilitybugs? Accessibility is a long word, so someone somewhere shortened it. 11 is the number of letters between the first and last letter of the word "accessibility". It becomes a plus 11 plus y, which gives you "a11y". You may recognize this trick from internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n).

Let's go!

So… If you think some of these projects are too geeky for you to handle, stop a moment. Why not use your skills of observation, evaluation, and communication to promote these resources? Maybe you don't know the actual code that is causing problems, but you can recognize a frustrated user experience, right? Think about what went wrong and think about what would fix the problem (aside from dropping that website and visiting another). Share your conclusions and practice your communication magic by helping to make web developers and designers aware of the problems on their website.

After all, doesn't everyone have the right to easy access to information on the web? I have the feeling the community of people who care about accessibility – and doing something about it – is growing. It's a personal gut feeling from reading tweets over the past three years and noticing that it's not just the usual suspects tweeting about accessibility issues.

Will 2012 be a tipping point for getting more people involved in making the web a universally accessible place? Your actions count!