46:4 Don’t fear accessibility
How to provide a more accessible website.
In this series, Lee looks at a range of WordPress tools that can add value to both the development process and client interactions. For each episode, Lee will define a problem, discuss his agency’s solution, and share a use case.
This is a re-record due to discovering the third-party tool that we believed was providing people with a better browsing experience, was potentially hindering their access and not helping at all.
Lee Matthew Jackson
How do we ensure our site is accessible to everyone? With so much to consider, what if we miss something?
An online service called the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool will evaluate each page you feed it and provide you with all the information you need to resolve any compliance issues.
- Any website ever. Everyone should be able to access a website’s content.
- WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool – click here
WordPress Tools to try Before You Die. Oh, sorry about that. Time for the next tool!
Welcome to another episode of WordPress Tools to Try Before You Die. My name is Mr. Lee Matthew Jackson and I will be your ghostly host. As we look at a problem, we discover the solution that we would put in place As an agency. We share some use cases and we give you the opportunity to get involved right at the very end. So be sure to stay tuned to find out how.
Today’s problem is accessibility. How can we make our websites and our client websites accessible to everybody? If you think about it, there seems to be so much to consider. It seems to be something that only an expert would know how to do. However, I would like to encourage you in this episode to not fear accessibility. Now, full disclosure, this is a rerecord and I am guilty, my very self, of fearing accessibility.
Over many years, I have used a tool which we will share shortly to analyse the websites I build and ensure that they are accessible. And yet I’ve doubted my own ability. I’ve doubted the tools that I’ve used, I’ve worried, and I’ve let things like marketing from other third party services sway me into thinking that what I’m doing isn’t right and that I need to use some form of clever tech. I’ve therefore used third parties on our websites, thinking that I was offering the best possible solution to people who are visiting our site, giving them all the tools they could possibly need to access the information. And yet, I’ve discovered over time that these tools actually may be causing more harm than good. I’ve read articles, thank you very much to those who’ve sent them in, where these third party tools actually hinder people from being able to read information, submit forms, listen to content, and so much more.
So we’re going to go back to basics and I’m going to be explaining our solution to this problem, which is Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. There you go. That rolls off the tongue, but just call it Wave. We’re going to call it Wave for the rest of this episode. Now, this is a phenomenal tool which allows you to put in the specific page of your website that you want to test, and it’s going to give you a full report back of absolutely everything that needs to be done to make your webpage as accessible as possible. So for example, I’m feeding one of the pages of Trailblazer FM through it, and I can see that there are eight errors. There are some contrast errors, there are some alerts for my attention. I’ve also got a few green checks, which I’m very happy about. There is some analysis on the structural element, and there are also highlights for all of the Aria roles.
If I also look at the page, I can see everything highlighted for me throughout the page, so I know where the problems lie. Now, I’m aware that this may seem overwhelming that you’d have to feed every single page through this to ensure you are meeting requirements. However, if you are building a WordPress website and you are using the templating structure, post types, custom fields, et cetera, then you are more than likely going to be using pretty much the same code per post type, so per archive page, per single page, and so on. So what we do is we feed those specific pages through. Now again, full disclosure, we recognise that there were quite a lot of problems with Trailblazer FM and we did think that adding that extra layer on top was going to give people what they needed. However, in light of what I shared earlier, it’s clear to me that we do have a little bit of work to do.
We should not fear accessibility internally. We should not fear that marketing speak that tells you if you don’t use their tool that you are potentially going to be sued, et cetera. We should not fear the extra bit of time it’s going to take for us to get our website, Trailblazer FM, as clean and as clear as possible. As we look through, we can see there are a few errors, but none of them are too huge for us to fix, and we are committed over the next few months to getting all of those resolved. We essentially want to chip away at all of those, so that we can have a website that is as accessible as possible, whilst allowing anybody who is using their own third party tools to be able to get through the content. We don’t want to put any barriers in the middle of that.
So if you did download our previous episode, well discard all of that, because I totally got hoodwinked. I’m totally wrong. I listened to the marketing. I felt the fear that presumably that marketing wanted me to feel. I doubted my ability and our team’s ability to keep up with everything that we should possibly keep up with accessibility, and I forgot our core. The fact is that you can use a tool such as Wave to highlight the errors that you need to fix, and it’s not going to take hours. It’s not going to take millions of pounds to get it right. Just chip away at it one step at a time and get your site right. So this is me preaching to myself. Use case is any website in the world, not just WordPress, needs to go through this process, because everybody has a right to be able to access the information that you have.
So folks, I want to hear from you. Have you like me doubted your ability to provide accessible webpages and perhaps even used some of these third party tools? I would love to know what your experiences have been and what your feedback has been. I’d also like you to hold me accountable to ensuring that we as a company update Trailblazer FM to make it as accessible as possible using the Wave Service. So hit me up in the comments if you’re listening to this in a few months time and you see problems, because I want to get those fixed, if we’ve not done what was said we’re going to do.
Folks, did you know you can also have this conversation with me live in person, because on the 10th of November and on the 11th, we have an in-person event here in the UK. We’ll be in Kettering on the 10th and in Irthlingborough on the 11th. Day one is a fully fledged conference with wonderful speakers. Day two is a mastermind where we will, with a combined brain power of the room, help you establish what your next small achievable actions will be, to grow your agency the way that you want to. So you can find out more about that over on agencytransformation.live. Check out the show notes on how to get involved in this conversation and if we don’t see you in the comments, let’s see you in the next episode.