Now that the excitement of BADCamp has worn off, I have a moment to reflect on my experience as a first-time attendee of this amazing, free event. Knowing full well how deeply involved Kanopi Studios is in both the organization and thought leadership at BADCamp, I crafted my schedule for an opportunity to hear my colleagues while also attending as many sessions on Accessibility and User Experience (UX) as possible.
Kanopi’s sessions included the following:
- A case study on a complex franchise-based business with geolocation features by Sean and Jim
- A concise, informative breakdown of metadata and schema for enhanced SEO opportunities by Jim
- A step-by-step overview of a series of clever tactics for gathering indirect data about your users by Kat
- A comprehensive breakdown of considerations for updating versus rebuilding a website with a review of pros and cons for D7, D8 and D9 by Anne
The rest of my schedule revolved around a series of sessions and trainings tailored toward contributing to the Drupal community, Accessibility and User Experience.
- Navigating the Issue Queue – A beginner’s guide to contribution by Amy June Hineline, John Nguyen and Daniel Rose of Hook 42
- Web Accessibility 101 Training by Aimee Degnan, Amy June Hineline and John Nguyen of Hook 42
- Accessibility 201: Tales from the Front End Caroline Boyden of UC Berkeley
- What’s for Dinner? Using Predictive UX to Help Users Decide by Gurwinder Antal and Lauren Motl of Elevated Third
- Designing for Drupal: Tips & Tricks for a Clean, User-Friendly Website by Valerie Neumark and Andrew Goldsworthy of Rootid
- Making Accessibility Audits Easy: Tips and Tricks For Auditing by Michaela Blackham of Aten Design Group
For the sake of this post, I want to cover a topic that everyone who builds websites can learn from. Without further ado, let’s dive a bit deeper into the accessibility portion of the camp.
Who is affected by web accessibility?
According to the CDC, 53 million adults in the US live with some kind of disability; which adds up to 26% of adults in the US. Issues range from temporary difficulties (like a broken wrist) to permanent aspects of daily life that affect our vision, hearing, mental processing and mobility. Creating an accessible website allows you to communicate with 1 in 4 adults you might otherwise have excluded.
What is web accessibility?
Accessibility is a detailed set of requirements for content writers, web designers and web developers. By ensuring that a website is accessible, we are taking an inclusive attitude towards our products and businesses. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a globally acknowledged set of standards that help us publish content that fits within the established success criteria. These guidelines are organized into the following four categories.
- Is your website perceivable? This applies to non-text content, time-based media (audio and video), color contrast, text size, etc.
- Is your website operable? This ensures that content is easy to navigate using a keyboard, that animations and interactions meet real-user requirements, buttons are large enough to click, etc.
- Is your website understandable? This means that text content is easy to read for someone at a ninth grade reading level, that interactions follow design patterns in a predictable manner, that form errors are easy to recover from, etc.
- Is your website robust? This means that content should be easy to interpret for assistive technologies, such as screen readers.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community whose mission is to lead the Web to its full potential. They have also published a checklist to aid our efforts in meeting WCAG success criteria.
How can we be successful in making the web accessible?
Industries have varied requirements when it comes to web accessibility. WCAG has three levels of compliance, ranging from A to AA to AAA. A conformity has the lowest set of requirements and AAA has the strictest set of requirements; so strict, in fact, it may be impossible to achieve across an entire site.
Efforts to meet these standards fall on every individual involved in the process of creating a website. Although there are many tools that aid in our journey, we reach accessibility through a combination of programmatic and manual means.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that achieving success in the world of accessibility is a journey. Any efforts along the way will get you one step closer towards a more inclusive website and a broader audience base.
Please Remember: Once Kanopi helps you launch an accessible site, it’s your job to maintain it. Any content you add moving forward must be properly tagged; images should have proper alt text and videos should have captions. Users come to your site because they love your content, after all! The more you can make your content accessible, the more you will delight your users.
Interested in making your site more accessible? Check out some of the resources I linked to above to join in learning from my peers at BADCamp. If you need more help getting there, let’s chat!