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Experience Development pt. 1: Universal Access with Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery


This week we kick off the start of a new series entitled Experience Development where we look at the coding side of UX. This week’s topic is: Universal Access. We sit down with the co-authors of Rosenfeld Media’s A Web for Everyone, Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery to talk about digital accessibility.

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Show Notes


Steve: I was expecting a Canadian and we got an Australian. It was jarring. I mean, whenever you get a surprise Australian, it’s going to be jarring.


Tim: Hello and welcome to “The Dirt.” I’m Tim Wright and today I’m here with Steve Hickey.

Steve: Good morning, Tim.

Tim: Good morning, Steve. I’m also here with the co-authors of “A Web for Everyone,” Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery. Welcome to the show.

Sarah: Hey, thanks. Thanks for having us on.

Whitney: Hello.

Tim: Thanks for coming. This is outstanding. We’re really thrilled to have you. So this is a part in a series we’re doing about experience development. So there’s experience design and then experience development which is kind of the coding side of building out an experience. This specific episode is about accessibility and universal access, which is why we wanted to have Sarah and Whitney on because they are recognized experts in their area.

Here at “Fresh Tilled Soil,” we very much believe in universal access. We host Global Accessibility Awareness Day. We run accessibility user tests. We a have partnership with Perkins School for the Blind, it’s really great. We really push for it and we’re really happy to have you guys on today.

Sarah: It’s great to be here.

Tim: So I guess right off the bat, can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Whitney: Sure. There have been accessibility books before and there are others, but they’re largely very much focused on the “How to” and the coding side. We wanted a book that would speak to developers. I mean, speak to designers that would speak to people who are thinking about how to put a product together. Not just how to code that product.

One of the things that we came to is that a lot of what makes good, accessible design is doing the things we do just a little bit better.

Sarah: Both of us together, when we first started writing together, we both are very enthusiastic about the concept of universal design as a way to approach accessibility because it just has a lot of elegance to it.

So the idea is really basically that to resolve issues or provide accessibility features that are needed for everyone to be able to participate, you embed design into the environment and it’s a concept that has principles and guidelines that are really geared toward the physical environment and the built environment.

But they totally work online, they rock. You just have to do a little bit of extrapolation. But they totally apply.

So what we started out with are these design principles and the first chapter of the book covers them and some other principles that also get us excited. That’s where we started with the universal design principles.

Then from there, really grew into something where it kind of ended up in a surprising place for me, anyway, where we had principles for accessible user experience. When we started out, I think we intended to focus very much on these universal design principles and kind of try to translate them to the Web.

But in the end, as we worked through and iterated and rewrote and rewrote, we ended up with a set of accessible user experience principles and guidelines and we love how it came out, actually.

Tim: We do, too.

Steve: I think it’s such a great approach to the topic. I really wish that there was more focus on that in design school and when designers are just getting started out in the field. Because I remember looking back on how the topic was brought up in my classes and how I thought of it. It was always sort of a “Oh, great. More constraints, that’s awful.”

But the more you think about it and the more experienced you get, the more you realize that it’s not just “Oh, more constraints and now, my design can’t be good.” It’s “This is actually going to make things better for everyone. These are great constraints to have in place.”

Whitney: It’s interesting because we started…in fact, the first principle is “People first.” But then, when we go into the rest of the principles, they’re really about the different aspects you have to think about in design, right? So what’s the structure? What’s the style of interaction? How do people find their way around the app or the site?

That really, for us, was about this extra dimension. There’s devices, there’s diverse people. But there’s also depth to every application. Everything we create has all these different aspects and we have to think about people in all of those.

Tim: I remember the first time universal access…or universal design was explained to me. I think it was at an accessibility conference in southern California. Derek Featherstone was the keynote.

I sat on this session on WAI-ARIA by James Craig. James Craig, he was the accessibility guy at Apple. He was explaining it to me, in real-world terms, the cut in the sidewalk. That it’s there for wheelchairs, but there’s a lot of people who can use it. It’s not just for people in wheelchairs. It could people pushing carriages or someone who…I don’t know. Just some sort of a wheeled device going onto the sidewalks.

Steve: Anything. Dragging one of those rolling suitcases–

Whitney: Rolling suitcases, bicycles.

Steve: Grocery carts. All sorts of stuff.

Sarah: I use it a lot on my skateboard, on my roller skates.

Tim: It made so much sense to me. There’s a lot of things from the accessibility standpoint that we get for free in the browser. Just like natural forum controls and the way they hook up. It’s so frustrating for me to see those natural things that you get for free be broken or just ignored.

Steve: Or even overwritten by some people.

Tim: Overwritten is super-frustrating.

Whitney: If you think about it, the same thing that lets me set my word…I usually run any Word document at 125%, 135%. The same thing that lets me make that just a little bit bigger for my not-so-great eyes also lets you make it really bigger if you need really bigger.

I use a program called F.lux that changes the color temperature of the screen so it’s not so blue and glare-y. But it turns out that that’s really great for people who are very sensitive to harsh blue light so they can just take their screen and set it.

It wasn’t designed for accessibility, but it turns out to be really useful for accessibility.

Steve. Yeah. I would probably fall into the demographic of those people who are sitting there designing things with tiny typefaces because our eyes are great and we can see everything. But recently, I’ve actually been experiencing issues with quality of light and things like that.

So even though at first glance, I might look like somebody who wouldn’t care about that stuff, it is starting to affect me as well. It sort of changes the way you think about that stuff.

Tim: For those who can’t see Steve right now, who just said that he has great vision, he has the thickest glasses that I have ever seen in my life.

Steve: Those are not my thickest glasses, no. I can correct to 20/15 with these bad boys.

Whitney: That’s the point, isn’t it? The invention of eyeglasses made poor vision a correctable disability. We can make lots of things correctable disabilities digitally if we just set out to do it.

Steve: I really like that you said “People first” back when we started this point because I felt for a while that for a lot of junior designers, they really feel like designs are for “Designer first” more than anything else. It’s a huge growth point when a designer finally gets past that and starts to really consider the importance of everyone else but themselves in the work they do.

Whitney: It’s sort of a mastery thing, right? When you’re first starting out, you’re struggling to learn your tools. Then when you finally get to the point where the tools become invisible, then you can start branching out and doing more things. I think it’s more the natural progression than anything like digital design where you sort of go through an apprenticeship. Where first, you do the little stuff and then you grow to bigger and bigger. Then eventually, you get to really be the person in control of the whole vision.

At that point, what we want to make sure is that the people in that vision aren’t just the five people around you, but lots of different people.

Tim: Some pattern that I’ve noticed in Web design, when new things come up, they always get shoved to the back of the list. When I first started learning about accessibility a while ago…oh, jeez, 40, 50 years ago at this point, it feels like. We would build our site and then like “Okay, now, let’s make it accessible.”

Then when mobile came along, it was “Okay, we have this site. Now, let’s make it mobile.” Then user testing came along. “Let’s make the site now, let’s user test…” everything gets thrown on the end. Over time, it naturally goes into the normal process.

I started to see that with accessibility. I’ve actually started to see it get moved back out and I don’t know why that’s happening. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that.

Sarah: I do have lots of thoughts on that.

Tim: Bring it on, bring it on.

Sarah: I work for the Paciello Group and we work with people who are looking at accessibility of their products and services. Digital accessibility, purely, but sometimes, that’s televisions and telephones, too. It’s an awesome job, I’m having a blast.

But I’m a user experience person on that team, but I also do tech work. A lot of the time, sort of the typical engagement with TPG has been that someone has designed a product, built a product, launched a product and now is looking at accessibility. We are brought in to review the accessibility against guidelines and identify all the points of failure and the points that are not failures and provide recommendations for how to remediate them.

I would say that encapsulates a very immature approach to accessibility, but that has been where we’ve been sort of on the continuum. It’s been a retrofitting activity.

But I’m in the user experience area. So what’s been really cool over the, I guess two…almost three years now that I’ve been with TPG is we’re seeing more and more engagements where the people who have been doing this work are like “Oh, it’s just like pain and suffering. You’re giving me all this bad news at the end of a project. How am I going to fix all this stuff?”

It’s just like everybody suffers. The people who use the product, the people who built it. It’s just pain and tears and awfulness everywhere.

So now, what we’re getting is folks coming in and saying “You know, we’ve been doing this wrong all along and we have been putting it in QA or even later. How about we start talking about accessibility right at the start?” That’s what Whitney and I talk about. Our book…that’s the basis for our book.

Whitney: Absolutely.

Sarah: Let’s start from people…right? Like Whitney said, we start from people and go all the way through to process and onward and maintenance.

That’s the good news, really. Is that we’re seeing more and more engagements now that have us looking us at wireframes [SP]. Actually, we’re working with organizations to change culture and practice in a fundamental way so that everyone is adopting their role and responsibility within the realm of providing accessibility as it maps to whatever their role is in the organization.

If they’re a business analyst, they’re learning what they need to specify in the requirements. If they’re a QA person, they’re learning how to test for it.

So it’s a really good time and to your point, I think it’s a time of progress right now. Where we’re really having a much more mature view on what it means to do accessibility and doing it is not after the fact has been mediated.

Steve: Yeah. It’s been nice that the last year, I feel like the clients I’ve been dealing with, it’s been really easy to persuade them that accessibility is a serious concern that needs to be approached from the beginning.

I remember in a previous job trying to explain people that we need to make sure something was accessible. They’re just like “Well, what’ll it cost us to do that?” I don’t care what it will cost us to do that; it’s the right thing to do.

Tim: I have two sides of the “It’s been easy to convince people.” It has been, but I don’t like the method…and sometimes, you have to push people as far to say “Look at all these lawsuits because people weren’t compliant.” I don’t like having to do that.

But the end result is that you’re getting to implement these accessible features. So it’s kind of like “Yeah, I guess.”

Whitney: You know, I’d say there are two big influencers and one is the mobile phone or mobile devices, in general and the other is lawsuits. Even if there’s not a lawsuit, almost everybody I talk to this day…one of the questions I now ask them is “Has there been a law conversation?”

I think they’re hearing more from people who are writing in and saying “I had trouble using your website.” The lawyers are taking that seriously earlier and not just waiting for it to become a lawsuit. We’re both real fans of a lawyer named Lainey Feingold who does structured negotiations instead of lawsuits.

She’s still a lawyer, she’s still writing an official letter. But what she says is “You know, we have a problem. Let’s work on this together.” It’s a very different approach than “I’ll sue your ass.”

Steve: When people feel threatened, they behave much more differently than they would under normal circumstances.

Whitney: But the other one is mobile, right? First of all, mobile has forced us to think clearly about purpose, right? So the whole mobile first movement actually creates things that if they haven’t screwed it up, are often accessibility-first as well because they’re simpler and they’re clearer and there’s not so much stuff to get through. That’s helped.

I think the other thing that’s helped is that with this sort of advent of all the mobile, then digital experiences are now much more every day. When it was a few…a small percentage of people who did stuff online and you could make the case for the cost to the business if their sites weren’t very good.

But now, people expect to be able to get to your mobile site and it’s really pretty broad. I think that’s helped because now, instead of just thinking about the 5% of people who just love digital because they love digital, we’re now thinking about people who just want to book a table at a restaurant or buy something online or find out where they’re going.

That means that we’re now really looking at a much broader range of human experience, even without dealing with the big disabilities. We’re looking at a broader range of people and I think that makes a big difference in how you think about design and who you’ve brought to the table at the beginning affects what that product looks like at the end.

Tim: What are some of the biggest pitfalls…biggest mistakes in accessibility of just seeing people…like commonly…other than ignoring it until the end, obviously?

Whitney: Well, I think the place where I still see a lot of waiting until the end is people will say “Well, we’ll do all our user research and we’ll design the product and then we’ll do some research for people with disabilities.”

So it’s the same kind of pushing it off to the side. We’ve just moved it into that design research area. But I’ve started doing things where I just open up my recruiting. Look for more people. Look for people who have low literacy and low vision as well as people who are blind or deaf. Make sure that you’ve got people who are older and younger and greener and bluer and different dimensions of people.

That changes how we do the research. Because if you’re accommodating who use different computers in different ways, who use different devices, then you can’t just say “I’m going to sit them down in front of the computer that I’ve prepared and it’s a narrowly prepared computer and we’re going to be able to record on it.” You have to be much more flexible about their technology.

Maybe it means going where they are. Instead of bringing people to your lab, maybe you bring your lab to a community center or to a community library and find ways to make it easier for people to be part of your work.

There’s a slogan that’s been going around the civic design community, which is “Design with and not for” or “Work with and not for.” So instead of us, it’s back to that genius designer thing, right? Yeah, we may be great designers. But great designers are inspired by the people they’re designing for. How do we let those people have a voice in what they want their experience to be like? It is, after all, their experience that we’re trying to create.

Steve: We run an apprenticeship program here and one of the things I love most about it is the first time that apprentices see a user test of the work that they’ve done. Within five minutes, they’re just sitting there scribbling notes down madly because they’ve never seen somebody use their work before. It’s crazy, but it changes their perception of the process so much.

Whitney: Setting that all up and getting that into the practice is hard. But it’s like a shortcut. It’s like Chutes and Ladders. “Oh, I thought this was great. Not so much. Oh, this is really cool.” Which things are the ladders that help people succeed? Which things are the chutes that kind of drop them down into that horrible moment when they’re not going to use your product?

Tim: We were talking about something, I think, yesterday in preparation for the show that one of the things that we’re seeing come up is people being 508-compliant, but still open to litigation. Which I thought was really interesting.

Steve: Different cases have established that even though you might be compliant with the law; because a case was decided in favor of the plaintiff, even though there wasn’t a legal violation, that’s established that further lawsuits can happen.

Sarah: So that definitely happens and I guess it’s very complicated, obviously. Let me just even figure out where to even come in on that. One thing is that compliance is make-believe, you know? Well, first of all, a product…let’s just talk about your typical Web application or even just an informational website. There are so many pages within a website.

So you can’t say that there are 500 pages. You’re not going to look at 500 pages as an audit and then evaluate each page against each component on each page against each standard in the 508 specification or in the Web content accessibility guidelines.

What you do…often, some groups will take a sample from that. They’ll cut that 500 down to, let’s say, 20 and look at those 20 representative samples and then say “Okay. Here are the issues with those 20. Now, extrapolate what you’ve learned from these 20 and fix everything.”

That compliance might look like that. It might be “Okay, somebody looked at 20 pages and we fixed everything else that was identified and now we’re compliant.” But that’s even at a moment in time and five minutes later, something happens and you’re out of compliance and your site isn’t accessible.

But that’s just the compliance and the standards piece. All standards are really good for is measuring attributes of an environment, that’s it.

Even if you do have a compliant website, then somebody has to use it, right?

Whitney: Standards are the minimum list of things that we think at the time, we write the standard might produce the result we want. They’re the things that we can agree on as the comrades in arms of the goal. But they’re not the goal.

Steve: They don’t necessarily make it accessible. You’ve checked off all the items on your list, but it still might not be usable.

Whitney: The same is true for usability. There’s lots of usability guidelines. You can check all those off and have a God-awful website.

Steve: Seen it plenty of times.

Sarah: I guess I just want to underscore that there is a huge role for those standards because if you look at them as specifications and not as a yardstick, they specify what needs to be there. In that role, they’re so helpful because they guide you toward doing what you need to do.

But then at the end of the day, you’re crafting experiences for people. That’s really where things come into play and that’s where some of the lawsuits are going to come from.

Whitney: I also think one of the real challenges is that because accessibility has gone a legal route, right? It’s a legal, regulatory requirement. That gives it some teeth, right? Because you have to do it.

But it also means that we tend to get into a checklist mentality about it. So lawyers hate the words “It depends” and usability people love the words “It depends” and you can’t go to your chief compliance officer and he says “Well, is this website going to hold up in a lawsuit?” and you go “It depends.” It’s not an accessible answer, right?

When you have a nice checklist, you can say “Let’s just work the checklist.” I think often, it gets relegated into this either post-QA legal compliance world and you need both of them. You need it embedded in the design world and you need someone checking it.

But you know, just you like check everything. If you built the financial website, you would check that the calculations are right.

Steve: I would hope so.

Whitney: You wouldn’t just trust that “Yeah, the program has got the algorithm right that day,” right? So you need both ends of that. You need to know what you’re aiming for both in a kind of big picture UX way and in a “What does that look like when I look at the code and the application?”

Tim: We’re still struggling with…well, not us, but people in the industry are still struggling with something as simple as alt text. I’ve seen images with alt text which is clearly a violation. I’ve seen people say “My image has alt text.” I’m like “Okay, but it’s a file name. That’s not helpful. Yes, you technically have alt text.”

Steve: My favorite violation of that is when somebody goes and puts in an empty alt attribute just to make sure that they pass the validator. I’m like “That does not make it accessible or valid.”

Tim: There’s context issues. If you have a picture of JFK wearing a hat and you’re writing an article on hats, you might say “Man with a hat.” But if it’s an article on John F. Kennedy, you might say “John F. Kennedy.”

Whitney: Or you might say “Man with an astonishingly purple fedora.”

Tim: Yes.

Whitney: I think understanding that this is design. This is not just technology. It’s about content and design and what we’re communicating. I actually think we should give up on Global Accessibility Day and have “Fix the damn alt text day.”

Steve: Yes.

Whitney: I say that as a joke, but what I mean is that there are all these little stupid things that aren’t embedded in our work flow. So we spend a lot of time on things that just should be no-brainers and we’re not spending time on the stuff that really makes a difference.

I had an interesting experience working with a newspaper. We were talking about alt text on images in the articles. Not the stuff in the surround or the frame.

The head of the most technical person at the table said “Here’s the deal. If we can go through our image database and you can tell me which field I can use as alt text…” should it be the caption, should it be whatever it is, “then I can do it tomorrow. If I have to go get a photo editor to write a new field, I have to change the database, I have to change the work flow. We have to think about the fact that the same image might be used in two contexts and that’s a much bigger job.”

What we said was “Let’s do both. Let’s start with getting some alt text in there. Let’s start to look at the context in which you used images within the article. Is there ever a case for having no alt text. If it’s just a thumbnail, maybe there is, right? Then, let’s also start thinking about when that’s not very helpful alt text. Because if you have a long headline and the first thing in the article is a picture and that picture has the same long headline as alt text, it’s not a great experience, but it is legal. Now, I don’t think anybody is going to sue you because you have the same headline repeated twice. But your goal is to make people want to love your newspaper and make that the place they come for news. So what can we do to make that really helpful?”

Tim: Let’s mention that for a moment. In that instance where you have a long headline and an image which seemingly has alt text, they have to be different, I assume, because it’s just annoying for a screen reader to be a super long title and then “Oh, super image of super long title.”

Sarah: Yeah. In that case, certainly, if…again, back to compliance from a compliance perspective. If the text describes the image, then it would be a pass, right? It would meet that success criteria or that standard.

But from an experience perspective, you have a redundancy issue. Where you’re getting over-informed about what’s on the screen. So a lot of times there, you just think about the oral user experience. So you say “Okay, this is the visual user experience. You see the title, you see this image, you have the teaser and then you have the ‘read more’ link. How can I build an oral experience that’s equivalent to that?”

Then knowing what that experience is like and putting the right pieces in place. In some cases, the right answer there is to put a null alt text on that particular image so it’s not announced.

But if it is adding to the informational aspect and if it’s adding to the experience, then it’s finding a way to articulate what it is bringing to that experience visually and have that same experience from an audible perspective.

Whitney: Can I push this one step further and say…let’s say it’s not a “Read more” thing, but it actually is the beginning of the article and your newspaper. Or you have real captions.

So the value of the caption in describing the image is that everyone sees it. It’s not hidden in code. So you might get “John F. Kennedy wears purple fedora.” Then the alt text might be just a photo of Kennedy in his hat and then the caption might describe when and where and why he wore this purple fedora.

Now, you’ve got a package where you know that you can minimize the description of the image because there’s so much description in the surrounding text. But you have to know how you’re using it to know how to write it.

It’s content, right? It’s content. It’s not just technology.

Steve: Just like any other piece of the article.

Whitney: Yeah.

Sarah: Right.

Steve: Interesting.

Tim: I’m so glad, Sarah, you brought up the “Read more” link. Because I feel like we had this rampant use of “Click here” links and we finally convinced everyone to not use “Click here” links. Then we had this rampant use of “Read more” links. Which are just as bad.

Whitney: Well, except that if the…in that clump, if the title…let’s just say it’s a blog post, right? There’s the title of the blog and that’s a link and then there’s a little teaser description. Then there’s a little link at the end that says “Keep going, read more.”

That “Read more” is much less awful when there’s already a link on the real title. So someone who gets to the real title can just say “Right, I want to read this article and click on.”

But if you didn’t have some sort of link at the bottom, then you have to back up to find that link. You have to back up visually and you have to back up if you’re navigating in code.

So finding a way to have something there that’s the “Keep going…” it makes a difference whether that’s the only link to get to the article or not.

Steve: It all depends on the context again.

Whitney: Yeah.

Tim: Oftentimes, I will actually repeat the title inside of the “Read more” link, but hide it from view. It’ll say “Read more about John F. Kennedy.” The reason I do that is because of the folks who navigate by links only. Pull all the links out if they see a “Read more, read more.”

Whitney: Right. But again, it’s content and you’re thinking about that and you’re probably not doing the entire title of the blog post. You’re doing some shortened version. So you’re still thinking about content and what that oral experience is.

Tim: When we think about accessibility, a lot of us, we just default to blind and deaf or visually impaired and deaf. What are some of the other disabilities that we really need to be thinking about?

Sarah: Well, I would say that we think of blind and deaf, I think you’re right in that and the vision impairments that, in some ways, are more difficult. Are low-vision or conditions where you need a high-contrast view.

So I feel like we’ve figured out a lot about how to use code and design patterns like we were just talking about to create a good audible experience of a webpage for someone who can’t see it and is using a screen reader.

But we don’t think very much at all about how to work with people who have functional vision and who are not using screen reader software for their navigation and content. So when we do usability testing and provide recommendations, for me, some things that have been really eye-opening…I’ve been watching people with low vision navigate things like phones and Web applications and sites because it is very complicated and there are great things that we could be doing.

So just as an example, we did some work for the MBTA in Boston to…well, you must know the MBTA very well.

Steve: Oh, yeah. We know the MBTA.

Sarah: A love/hate relationship, I’m sure.

Tim: They recently had a “No pants day” on the train.

Sarah: Did you guys participate?

Tim: I did not.

Steve: No.

Sarah: I’m not sure I really want to know, actually. So we did work for MBTA and we had these wonderful interviews with people with disabilities who are users of their services and we talked about their Web and apps and things like that.

Just talking about things like how to visually design those schedules so that you can track across a row, you choose your stop that you’re looking for and you track across the row to figure out what time to be out there waiting for the boss or when you’ll arrive where you need to go.

When you do that in a low-vision view where you’re zoomed in really close, you’ve lost the context of the headers. You’ve lost the column headers, you’ve lost the row headers and you’re just looking at numbers swimming in the sea of numbers.

So that, I think, is an area that we, as visual designers, people who are working in visual design could do so much to get things going from visual design patterns for people with low vision.

Whitney: I’ll throw in, we’ve been doing a lot of work recently with…especially at the Center for Civic Design, with people with low literacy, English as a second language and in our case, people who have low civic engagement.

I think we really misunderstand how well people read. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy suggests that 43% of the adults in America who can read, read at basic or below basic levels. It means simple concrete reading terms; it means not drawing a lot of inferences.

They don’t use text well to draw inferences into the real world. So when we have poorly-designed words, when we have complex concepts…we had a really funny one with voting. We were testing voter guides and there are three ways to vote. You could vote by mail, absentee voting. You could vote early by going to a vote center or you could vote on election day.

This guy said “I’m a vote by mail voter because I get this guide in the mail. That makes me vote by mail, right? If I do get an absentee ballot, I have to mail it before election day so it arrives on time so that’s early voting, right?” So these three concepts…the words are perfectly plain. There are three concepts that sound like…to anybody who’s familiar with elections, they sound very discreet.

But when you just have the words and you take them very literally, they’re actually quite confusing. There’s a whole other dimension of people with mild cognitive disabilities, reading disabilities. We know that a lot of things that make people not be able to read well are actually visual, like not being able to track across a line. We’re finally rediscovering space between the lines of text. Like every typographer knew about, but somehow it didn’t happen in applications.

Then there are all the people who don’t think of themselves as having a disability. We now routinely leave a set of reading glasses on the table in our usability lab or have them with us wherever we’re going. The number of people who reach for them and say “Word on a screen, I better have these glasses.” So these aren’t people who think I’m disabled. Because very few people think I’m disabled, actually. But they don’t identify as having a visual disability.

But in fact, they have trouble reading the screen. Just seeing it if it’s not big enough. Disability is a big spectrum…ability is a big spectrum and we need to think about everybody along those spectrums.

Steve: I think that’s a great note to close on and a very important point. It was wonderful to hear it stated that way. It’s very clear and easy to understand for people.

Tim: So before we close up, if someone is just new to accessibility, real quickly, what should they start with? What’s a good resource for them to get a hold of besides the book?

Steve: I was going to say the book.

Whitney: I was going to say “We have this great resource.” We love WebAIM. If you’re looking for some technical guidance, I think WebAIM is a really great place to start. It’s a website that’s part of a center at the University of…I forget, sorry.

But they have some really clear technical articles and good examples. It’s a little easier to navigate than the WAI site which is the home of the Web Content Accessibility guidelines. But that’s another great place. Easy Checks.

Sarah: Easy Checks.

Whitney: Easy Checks. We have a podcast on Easy Checks. It was designed for…”I’m starting this out, how do I take the first steps?”

Sarah: Absolutely.

Tim: That’s great. So if people want to buy the book,, it’s called “A Web for Everybody.” I recommend it, personally. I think it’s a great book.

If you’re just starting out or you’ve been in accessibility for a long time, definitely pick up this book.

Whitney: There’s tons of great resources online. We have the principles online with the guidelines. We’ve mapped them to WCAG and we’ve got a set of personas for people with disabilities. For people to just get started thinking about the range of experience.

Tim: If people want to contact you individually, what’s the best way to do that?

Whitney: Well, we have a Twitter feed for the book, which is @AWebForEveryone.

Sarah: Yep. I am @GradualClearing.

Whitney: I’m @WhitneyQ.

Tim: You can get us on Twitter @TheDirtShow and please send your long-winded comments to Please review us on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you’re listening to us now on, unless you’re driving. Don’t review us while you drive.

Once again, I want to thank Sarah and Whitney for taking time out of your day. This was outstanding. Thank you so much.

Steve: Thank you.

Sarah: Thanks for having us.

Tim: Thank you for listening, that’s all we have for today and we will try and do better next time.


Steve: If you had to guess out of the people whose names you know, who’s sitting in a breakfast nook right now?

Tim: Let’s see. It’s definitely someone in California. It’s not going to be somebody young. It’s going to be an early riser because it’s 7:00. But they’d probably have to get up a half hour ago to get into a breakfast nook at 7:00. Assuming they didn’t shower yet.

Let’s see…middle age. Christian Bale.

Steve: Really?

Tim: Yeah.

Steve: You think Christian Bale is in a breakfast nook right now?

Tim: Yeah.

Steve: You think Batman is in a breakfast nook?

Tim: Yeah.

Author Tim Wright

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