Getting started with accessibility – one step at a time

Would you like to make the world around you more accessible and build your accessibility skills at the same time? Would you like to start today?

Some easy projects appeared on Twitter recently that I wanted to share. They are all different, so there should be something for everyone.

Help Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons by transcribing small pieces of text

This is an idea from @pigsonthewing. Help transcribe and caption images, audio, and video files on Wikipedia. Oh, you'd be contributing to Wikipedia, too, which is rather cool. (P.S. There's even a Wikipedia accessibility project that we recently mentioned on Twitter. They aim "to make Wikipedia accessible for users with disabilities". Check it out!) You may also contribute through Meta=Wiki, which is the global community site for the Wikimedia Foundation and the WikiProject Directory categories and related projects, from coordination and documentation to planning and analysis.

Other meta-focused wikis such as Wikimedia Outreach and Wikimedia Strategy are specialized projects that have their roots in Meta-Wiki.

Help internationalize the (WordPress) web

Contribute to WordPress core, themes, and plugins by translating them into your language.  The tweet from @JoeDolson has a great project for many of you who dabble with WordPress and know a second language or two: help translate Joe's great WordPress plug-ins. If you are not familiar with Joe's plug-ins, check these out. Joe Dolson's WP Accessibility plug-in alone might be the one that really accelerates the accessibility improvements on your blog!

By the way, did you see the post about trying to contribute to WordPress core one hour per week? Why not contribute to improving the accessibility of WordPress at least one hour per week? (There's an app, uh, site for that. Go see Make WordPress Accessible now or when you get warmed up.)

Make eLearning more accessible

Are you really into eLearning? Have you considered how accessible (or inaccessible) it is? The W3C recently held an online symposium on that subject. Grab some coffee or tea and dig into these symposium proceedings from Australia, China, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Consider how you can apply these ideas in your own work. Start the discussion in your workplace. Start making a difference in the lives of everyone you are teaching. (Thanks to @catroy and @webaxe for sharing this tip.)

Learn sign language

Personally, I think sign language is so cool and beautiful. There are apps for that, but it's a bit tricky – there is no universal sign language, so you will want to learn the right one for your country. @IBMAccess tweeted 10 reasons ASL lessons make a great gift. Most of the reasons apply to any sign language, not just ASL (American Sign Language). So, start investigating the Auslan (Australian Sign Language), (British) BSL resources, or… what about StreetSigners who teach Danish sign language, Deutsche Gebardensprache at the Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf, and German National Association of the Deaf, or langue des signes française at Websourd, a site for French Sign Language (LSF)? [Websourd was a cooperative society of collective interest based in Toulouse which provides services to deaf. The company was born from the meeting of the network of associations of the deaf and the network of cooperative enterprises but disappeared 30Juky2015.] See also:


Stay tuned to our Twitter account @accesstechcomm, or our Facebook account where you can find more obvious and not so obvious ideas for learning about accessibility one step at a time.

PS: Credit for the title goes to Derek Featherstone and his "one step at a time" article.

Help with the WebAIM WAVE Translation Project

Another great project for technical communicators is happening right now over at WebAIM. As announced on the WebAIM blog post, September 30, 2008 "Update on Wave", they have started a translation project for WAVE, WebAIM's web accessibility evaluation tool. After all, who says web accessibility evaluation is only necessary in English! For the full announcement see the September 30, 2008 blog post "Update on Wave", Coming Soon (we hope) / Internationalization.

First stop is Spanish.

The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University is funding an initial translation of a Spanish-language version of the WAVE web-based tool and Firefox toolbar and the development of a framework that will support translation into many other languages. Diogenes Hernandez and Jon Whiting, both Spanish speaking members of the WebAIM team, will be coordinating these efforts.

In what ways can you, dear reader, help this project? You can

  • Improve translation of the WAVE feedback.
  • Improve the accuracy of WAVE rules.
  • Improve the translation of the WAVE site and toolbar. (Includes Help files!)
  • Identify WAVE bugs and offer suggestions for improvement.
  • Spread the word.
  • Be ready for translation into other languages.

WebAIM says the initial Spanish translation project must be finalized before beginning any new translation projects. However, let WebAIM know if you have skills they can use for future projects. They'd love to hear from you! Use the WAVE Feedback form at