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Accessible Web Podcast Launch

19 May 2021

Peter Jewett 0:01
All right. Well welcome everybody esteemed guests and viewers and listeners. I’m Peter Jewett and this is my co host George Heake. Welcome to Accessible web podcast, where we’re figuring things out today so please, please bear with us, if, if, you know we have any technical errors or potentially if there’s a, you know, anything you want to see definitely let us know you can you can shoot us an email. You can hit me up at Peter Jewett je w e TT at accessible web com or short email addresses the same format,

there you go.

Yeah, let us know if you are having any trouble, watching this and you want to see more accessibility features. We’re doing our best to make this. Let’s call it the most accessible podcast slash live stream on planet Earth, so we want to hear from people that you know if there are additional things we can come up with, to be more accessible.

George Heake 1:09
We like raising the bar high.

Peter Jewett 1:11
Yeah, yeah, why not, why not. Um, so,

I’m Peter I’m the founder of Accessible Web sales guy, CEO So, day today I’m kind of the tip of the spear, doing the networking, reaching out to new people handling incoming leads and converting leads into hopefully customers longtime thrilled customers were really growing pretty rapidly this year so we just closed a round of seed funding, a couple of months back and we’ve grown our team from about, I think six people at the beginning of the year two. We’re now about 16 people, and we’re hoping to be up to about 25 people, by the end of the year so I’ll talk a little bit at the end about what roles we’re hiring for. But essentially, where we’re in the accessibility space were really a mission-driven company and what we’re trying to do is make a more accessible web so we are anti overlay. So if you’re looking for a cheap $79 solution. I won’t I won’t name our competitors that we’re against won’t give them the free airtime on the best accessibility podcast in the world but um yeah we really want to find like-minded clients

that want to do this right, obviously there’s legal and compliance reasons that maybe driving law their decision making but we’re really positioned to help you make your website or web application accessible in the correct manner so that you know you’re not just checking that box but it’s that you’re really creating barrier free and pleasant amazing experiences for for customers that might have disabilities but really if you’re, if you’re doing web accessibility right you’re, you’re making great experiences better experiences for everyone. So yeah, if you’re, if you’re looking to explore web accessibility and you have a website or web app, get in touch. And, you know, we’d love to talk to you, George. What’s your deal, why dont you give your intro.

George Heake 3:18
Hi everybody. We’re very excited about this happening. We’ve been talking about for a while so we decided to jump in the pond, feet first. We, this came about a discussion we had with subject matter, Dan Goldstein and afterwards it was such a great discussion. We said, you know, this would be a good format for a podcast about what we do, and not just about what we do, but what’s happening in the community. I think it fits perfectly with Global Disability accessibility awareness day that a lot of people don’t know what resources they have to reach accessibility, whether it’s electronic information technology the web or physical ADA space. So we purposely wanted to keep this in conversational format. So when we move ahead we’ll have, we have some great guests lined up in addition, we hope to have some developers, designers, UX designers, having discussions as well. The bring to the forefront of what what are the current issues. I’m currently the Director of Accessibility and outreach. And when I accepted the position from Peter and Pete, I really felt strongly about having outreach part of my responsibility. And, and that would be another word for awareness of what’s going on, because I think that accessible web is we go beyond to just compliance, it’s, it doesn’t, it’s not really rocket science of, you know, going down and checklists and insane if your website is compliant to whatever standard you’re shooting for. In the US, UK, or Canada, but to do it well, It’s just not compliance but it’s the user experience. And that’s why we’ve put effort in hiring UX testers that are going to raise the bar and beat examplar of how you do it, and based on feedback from UX users testers, people from the community, we’re just gonna make it that much better. That’s what we hope to do from the podcast, like Peter said, we’re trying to push the envelope on Oh eventually about making this as accessible as possible. But that we need to hear from people that are on the podcast or listen to it, even if you listen to it, not live later after it’s recorded, please get in touch with us if there was something didn’t work on a certain browser, shoot us an email, we’re just gonna, this is gonna be a living ongoing experience, and the more we hear from the community, community, the bigger will be. And that more value it will have on the community. So we, I think it’s gonna be a really fun experience and that’s what we’re going to try to keep the atmosphere, going so we appreciate your patience and. And well by the way a shout out to an incredibly talented producer, Abby Scott is behind the scenes, behind the curtain making everything work so we have a great team behind making this happen. We’d love to hear from you.

Peter Jewett 7:02
Yeah, so, I’m an accessible web I founded it in 2016 So, we have an agency here in Burlington, Vermont called bytes CO, like a computer bite. So we’ve been building websites since about 2010 So So bites builds websites does digital marketing hosting and support and kind of the origin story of our businesses need a good origin story right so the origin story of accessible web is it bytes we built this amazing website for a high end lighting manufacturer here and it was, it was bigger, better than anything we’d ever built. A real showpiece for our bytes portfolio and, you know something. I just like grinded with two other developers for for three months and got out the door super quick and so we had to launch before Christmas, before the the big holiday rush, so when we launched his website and I went home for Thanksgiving, and showed it to my mother in law and that and she has some degenerative vision issues and, you know, kind of showing it to her and she couldn’t really like zoom up to tax she couldn’t. It was apparent she couldn’t see the screen, she was just kind of pretending to use it. So, you know, I kind of asked her what’s going on you know can you not see this and, and yes, she just said yeah it doesn’t, it doesn’t zoom up correctly, Um, you know the color contrast isn’t right. And so, you know kinda felt bad when, you know, she assured me it was okay right but, um, you know, very polite about it but went back to the office that next Monday and started digging around into, you know how to make websites for low vision users like what what do I have to do to make that work. And I just stumbled upon web accessibility and it was a little bit embarrassing because I’ve been building websites since I was 15 years old, you know, I went to college for it. I’d run a couple businesses I’ve been running an agency at that point for seven years and I’d literally never heard of it, like it was something that had never crossed my mind and so had a bit of a moment that was like oh man. No, this is, it’s, it’s embarrassing when you think you’re a subject matter expert and there’s this whole area that you’ve never, never even heard seen thought considered. So, discovered Web accessibility and then around the same time, a lot of these lawsuits started happening. Several months later and so from a business standpoint, from an entrepreneur standpoint, it just kind of clicked and I, you know, I was like man I can’t be the only web developer out there that is really good at what they’re doing, or designer or you know someone just generally working in the web space, can’t be the only one out there like in this industry. That’s not aware of this or doesn’t know how to do it and so from there we kind of spun up a couple of people at the bytes co team to start figuring out web accessibility, like what is, what do we have to figure out, discovered the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG. WCAG, and that’s a set of standards that you can build a website that meets WCAG, it should work for most people with with disabilities. So, this four principles of website needs to be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust WCAG has three levels, single A’s the lowest level. The adds more tests and success criteria for double A, that’s kind of the mid tier and double A is typically what you need to be hitting to to meet compliance with different accessibility laws. Mostly, I mean, mostly around the world like most of them are pointing to WCAG 2.0 Double A at this point, and then triple A is a really high bar so we haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with a client that wants to build a true fully accessible. I’d call it a real showpiece of accessibility. Triple A website but, you know, hopefully, hopefully that’s in the cards and we can find someone that wants to work with us on something like that in 2021. So, yeah, we basically spin up accessible web bought a, bought a domain name spun up a website and spent a couple years. Just kind of pretending I had a web accessibility company, um, you know, just learning and became pretty apparent that I have a lot to learn, right and

had a lot of listening to do so. All of a sudden, you know, big companies were calling accessible web emailing I’d hop on and pretend you know fluff my father’s up and pretend to have a real big company that could serve as a Dell computer or, you know, American Airlines and. And from there, got to do a lot of free market research and, and we really, you know, kind of put together the the accessible web business plan based on those conversations so a web. As it stands now, we really got it kind of rolling in 2019 2020 last year, had a few setbacks, I can imagine most people did with the pandemic and, you know, just trying to be a little bit more conservative than we would have otherwise been. But 2021 were rough and ripping and, you know, we’ve really, as we’ve looked at this space. There’s, there’s a lot of people coming into it because there’s money to be made, and you know every website by legal precedent. You know the way the ADA has been interpreted by the courts every website should really be made to be WCAG double a conforming around you at less risk of a lawsuit. So, you know there’s there’s a lot of work to be done grading the web. And then, you know what we want to do is help people really do it right we don’t want anything veneer of accessibility. But we want to create experiences where where websites are really truly accessible and barrier free experiences in those early days of accessible web. One of the most embarrassing things was, we, we worked with a client and we thought we had made a website accessible and got on a phone call and they were like, well, the screen readers breaking before it even hits the navigation screen reader, we’re using capacitor navigation Did you test with a screen reader and, you know, our answer was no, we haven’t we haven’t thought of that we hadn’t really done it and so, immediately we kind of adjusted and, you know, set some new processes in place and reached out to members of the community with disabilities that that used assistive technology to start putting together a team of people to do testing. So, so everything we do, I mean there’s a, there’s a saying in the community, nothing for us without us. People that live with disabilities, they don’t really want people telling them what they need, you know they want to be driving the conversation they want to be kind of part of the conversation part of the work to be making things accessible and to be, you know, whether it’s laws, whether it’s technology, whether it’s just, you know, building buildings or whatever it might be. Whenever accessibility is involved, it’s, it’s really, you know, it wasn’t immediately apparent, but it’s, it’s very clear to us it’s kind of baked into what we’re up to that, we need to be involving people with disabilities in what we’re doing. And, you know, they’re the ones that should really be driving the conversation, they’re the ones that should be telling us what they need, instead of the other way around. And then, you know, the other piece too is, I’ll stop my stop my rant here but the other piece is really that we, we recognize and part of why George and I do come, we kind of decided to do this podcast is, we recognize your relative newcomers to this web accessibility space. You know we can’t profess to be the experts that know everything, there’s, there’s been people in this space for, for decades, probably as long as there’s been the web, there’s been people trying to make the web accessible. So one of the big things we’re trying to do with this podcast is kind of take a position of reverence maybe, of being the new guys on the block and you know George has done a great job putting together a list of guests that we’re going to have over the next few months. And what we really want to do is kind of have conversations about how did, how did we get here, you know, how did web accessibility evolve what what it used to be like. And, and kind of maybe listen more than we’re talking, so that we can kind of get the full scope and you know as we learn that that conversation. George was referring to with Dan Goldstein, He was a attorney for the National Federation of the Blind and it was a really eye opening conversation we had with how we got to this point with ADA lawsuits being what they are, and you know just by having that conversation we learned a lot so George and I kind of sat back after that convo with our internal team and we were like, man, we should, we should have more of these conversations with other people in the space and, and, you know, let them kind of as we learn why not let our community you know our accessible web community here learn as well because this is just such invaluable knowledge that they’re sharing into kind of the why and the how. That it’s it’s definitely worth sharing with, with all of you out there and, in, in the world that are interested in this,

George Heake 16:23
and to follow up with what Peter just said, it’s, we really, we really want to become a trusted source, because I’ve done many years of community Strategic Outreach, with various disability groups and you have to be a trusted source I had a senior told me one time, I was doing some outreach in Philadelphia. And she told me, said look if it’s not on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. You can tell me anything. I’m not going to trust you, or from the Fire Company, etc. So, we really the start of this hopefully we’ll create a community that people are comfortable about conveying what has had been their challenges, because over the last year or two, there’s been a big push for inclusivity. And I actually, I, I honestly saw a t shirt, last night. That said, if you embrace inclusivity and ignore disability. You’re doing it wrong. So, and I think most people don’t realize that it’s not just the person that might have a disability or a functional need of accessing information. It usually affects their caretaker their family members. So if you have a group of 10 people with disabilities in a community, we’re only talking possibly Around 30 people, so it’s, and I’m a firm believer, we’re all one big community. Yeah, I don’t want to get too sappy that we’re all one big family. We know that’s not really. It’s not what’s happening now, but we’ve we firmly believe that we need to have the conversation. If we don’t have the conversation. No one’s going to learn how to make these are guidelines, as Pete said hopefully they’ll eventually become part of ADA become law and have a little bit more impact but until then, we need to, how do we make the guidelines, better, how do we make the practice better, and how do we make this happen. Because Awareness Day One. Another comment, a competitor of ours did a giant survey. And I think 91% 98% of homepages had at least one WCAG failure. 98.1%. So you can see, sometimes you feel like you’re fighting the windmill, but the other time. No to hear that. Where WCAG might become part of the ADA, to me, is exciting. And I think we hopefully will reach the point that people are doing it for, because it’s the right thing to do. But in the business sector, it really comes down to black and black and white or, dollars and cents, and the, The, the market share of the disability population is very strong. They have extreme, extreme power purchasing power and they should be, not only because of that, but they need access to information. And if you think about it, most of landmark cases for the various laws that are in effect now, our individual consumers, go to the Department of Justice, because they couldn’t access the public transit schedule in Atlanta, for example, or couldn’t access their schedule at colleges so in higher ed. With the accessibility of the E pub standard which we’re, we’re working on as well. It’s just, it needs to involve everybody except the outside the technical community so more people need to be aware of it. And hopefully we can spread the word of what accessibility is a story that Peter has heard a couple times. I was at the Institute on Disabilities working back at Temple University.

And I got to see a presentation of Judith Dixon from the library Congress, she ran the accessible information, coordinated accessible information at the Library of Congress, you can imagine what kind of job that was, but it was the first time I ever saw anybody use a screen reader with an Air Bud and underneath her palm. She had a refreshable braille reader. That was probably the size of a double thickness checkbook underneath her hand, she was reading braille at the same time. And to this day is the fastest I’ve ever seen anybody navigate the Internet. I’m like, and when you talk to someone that doesn’t know anything about accessibility, they don’t realize how many people with disabilities can use a computer productively either for managing their daily life, going to school, or employment. And that’s what we are trying to find solutions for, and that’s what we need to hear about.

Peter Jewett 22:09
Yeah I mean it’s 15 to 20% of the people in the world have some sort of disability and, you know, I guess it’s a, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about a person that’s blind that you might see on the street you know walking with a, with a cane. I mean disabilities is a huge spectrum it goes from, you know, eyeglasses, you know, low vision people is technically a disability and so I think it’s, it’s getting people out of that mindset that this is, this is for that group of people, you know like that disabilities aren’t always visible they’re not always obvious. The huge one out of five people have a disability in some shape or form and it’s also, you know, thinking about all of us that don’t have one is just temporarily abled is maybe a more healthy way to look at it you know before anyone lives long enough, most certainly, your vision is going to start to fade. You know if you’re going to start to lose your hearing, you could have an accident and anytime where you lose, you know, motor control or an illness that, that strikes, so this isn’t about just thinking about those people, it’s kind of thinking about thinking about your future self thinking about your parents your elders. Thinking about your neighbors, the people in your circle. And then, you know, just, I think for me like one of the crazy things is just the web we’ve made such big progress in the physical world on accessibility. And you know there’s there’s ramps in front of buildings, there’s parking spots there’s curb cuts, and it’s crazy that we haven’t made that same level of progress on the web, because if you think about somebody that that does have, you know, a disability that makes it hard to get around maybe they’re blind or maybe they’re in a wheelchair and, you know, think about what shopping is like for them you they have to get a ride from somebody they’re dependent on maybe getting a ride to a store to buy a pair of sneakers, they’ve got a, you know, find the pair of sneakers try them on and, you know, then get themselves back home, as opposed to just logging on to a computer at home and being able to visit the shoe store find the pair of sneakers and get them shipped to their door so it’s just crazy that with, with, you know the web, the web for me is always represented this world of like infinite possibilities. We’re not restrained by anything really. And to think that the web is behind the physical world where there are actual like physical limitations in the world, there’s, there’s limits to what we can do just because of physics and gravity and materials and construction and space. So, it’s just wild that, you know, the web, the web isn’t ahead of the physical world, so I guess maybe we can we can get to that place whether the web is the shining beacon, and the physical world is kind of lagging behind.

George Heake 24:57
And I think what pushed the web. If you look at how we view material. No, you have the internet, you have cable TV, regular television that’s all becoming one giant firehose of information. And what I think has driven companies to move so fast and web is that drive for profit, and people, various groups of people have been left behind, whether you’re talking about natural food or fresh fruit deserts in low income areas or no that’s because the profit now with social responsibility. The tides are starting to turn and there’s pressure from community for companies and governments and everything to do the right thing for the community, but they need to hear from the community and that’s what we really have to do I think we have a good start, accessible web. Now the thing to be aware of. I mentioned Temple University. I worked at the Institute, which was the University Center of Excellence for developmental disabilities. The only reason I’m mentioning that is that every state in American territory has as you said in it. In Vermont, it’s a university it’s located at University of Vermont, they’re usually at universities. And there’s also state assistive technology. Organizations that are responsible for providing services to that state, as, as well as the use it. So there’s already networks to help you answer any questions whether what kind of sets of technology, assistive technology is available for my family member. They’re having degenerative eye problems and they want to get prepared for know their job or whatever before this condition worsens. So there, There’s been for years he’s networks in place all over the country, and a lot of people don’t aren’t even aware of them. So, and that’s what we hope to do as part of the outreach piece. In addition, for people reaching compliance with what we do and using our tools, but we also educate the public and private corporate sectors on where the resources are, because you can’t do this alone. But right now, if I take my glasses off, I can’t see. And if you’ve ever been to a paint store if you’re trying to read ingredients on the back of a paint can I was in Lowe’s, one time, and someone was trying to read it and I took out my phone, my iPhone, and we took a picture and zoomed it, and they said, Oh man, what a great idea, but that’s, you know that’s practical and in various Mac or Windows or Android or whatever, they’re starting to kind of agree with a little bit, Apple’s really doing a lot of accessibility stuff ahead of windows but they’re both trying to get on the same playing field, offering functionality that will work in everyday life. So I think we have a pretty good grasp on what’s coming down the road

Peter Jewett 28:48
So Abby’s just notified me. We’ll take a little break here to give away some accessible web swag where we’re given a t shirt away today to a LinkedIn follower and a Facebook follower so the LinkedIn follower is Rebecca Hearn. So Rebecca if you’re watching, drop us a chat drop us a comment. If you’re not very well probably art, but we will we’ll reach out and get in touch and send you a couple of different t shirt options so we can send you a t shirt. If anyone out there wants to follow us on LinkedIn. Just look us up accessible web, and we’re trying to hit 500 followers on LinkedIn and we can start do a live streaming this on a live stream on LinkedIn as well. So, look us up on LinkedIn accessible web and next time we do a podcast, maybe you can be the lucky winner of a accessible web t shirt. Maybe we’ll have some hats and sweatshirts and stuff like that as well. Um, so George shift gears a little bit like, let’s talk about, um, what are we doing here to, to make this podcast accessible, we’ve been been kind of trying to figure this out for a few weeks so you want to want to give us a snapshot into some of the tools and how we’re approaching this.

George Heake 30:13
Yeah. One tool that we’re using in addition to captioning on the various platforms is a voice to text recording application called otter, AI, we’re recording with that so we’ll have a transcript available after this. For people that would need it or might be easier to access it with a screen reader. We’re also using captioning for Google meat, and I believe, Facebook as well. So we’re seeing, we’re hopefully testing to see which levels of caption is is accurate and hopefully it is if not we’ll tweak it as we move forward.

Peter Jewett 31:07
Yeah, I mean for anyone out there WCAG double A standards this is something we run into a lot. If you’re going to embed a video on your website, you need to have a transcription below it. So, in addition to closed captioning, that’s kind of going along with the video. If someone needs a little bit more time to read it’s best practice to put a transcript below. And, and, you know, like all things accessibility. By having a transcript below your video, it also is great for SEO because Google is going to be able to capture that content and hopefully help rank you so you know the transcripts are a great SEO tool and it gives someone an alternative way to access the content if they, you know can’t hear what we’re saying, or if they just want to follow along at their own pace or even do a CTRL F and kind of, you know find certain subject matter, in, in our presentation in our podcast. We’re trying to might, might do a find a sign language interpreter do some ASL as part of this, so that’s something we’ve been thinking about. Another best practice is doing audio descriptions of a video. So that’s, I guess maybe we should have started this by describing ourselves George, I’m Peter Jewett, George and I are both wearing gray hats and blue shirts and have very handsome facial hair, mustache, I made and a great

George Heake 32:40

looking gray beard myself.

Peter Jewett 32:44
Yeah, we’re broadcasting from our attics, I think we’re both maybe starting to look a little least I am sorry I look a little sweaty here is the hot day in Vermont, first 90 degree day so

George Heake 32:57
yeah it’s getting warm here.

Peter Jewett 33:00
So yeah, we’re, uh, let us know if you have any suggestions on on what we should be adding for, for different tools but we’re, you know, we’re really trying to make something that’s accessible for everyone and we’re going to, after we get off this and we’re posting this on Facebook Live, we’re going to post it on LinkedIn, live as soon as we get up to that audience level, and then following this we’re going to put these videos. For the purpose of posterity on our blog. So we’ll embed it right onto our website. Probably hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, I don’t think we’re clear yet maybe both. And then hopefully people can, you know, watch them, watch them as they see fit on their own time. So

George Heake 33:44
along with that everything we’re that we’re doing, or a goal of making accessibility is what we’re making the effort. And in the spirit of a wall. We’re making that attempt. So whatever you’re thinking, whether it’s your family or if you’re responsible for a website, I don’t know what to do, it’s overwhelming I’m just gonna throw my hands up, or you’re running around your office with your hair on fire, like, oh my god we got this letter, we have to do something. You have to make the attempt you have to do something, and that’s what we specialize. So, whether it’s baby steps at the beginning, just by offering a transcript of video. Or suppose an accessible PDF is a little bit of a learning curve. Well if you have a text version of that document, just put it on your site, that’s the least getting towards accessibility that’s, that’s in the spirit of law that’s in, and people that need these accommodations are very sensitive to that. So, looking at it more from a universal design that everybody can benefit from might be the right way to go,

Peter Jewett 35:04
we, I mean it’s part of the sales process and kind of like signing up clients, we deal with a lot of attorneys because this is oftentimes something that’s coming through the compliance of the legal department or part of settling at any lawsuit or Department of Education Civil Rights Office letter. So, you know, everyone. It’s like a lot of things right people are focused on being perfect and they they shy away from advertising anything about accessibility until they know they’re 100% Perfect and they’re, you know, everything’s gonna be okay. They don’t want to talk about it until then, and, you know, I guess we can certainly hear we want to help women get as good as possible but it’s important to look at accessibility as an ongoing journey, you know like this isn’t something where you’re going to just be able to flip a switch or really hire any company out there and be perfect tomorrow. The, the best thing you can do is to, to just start right like that saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is today. Right, so just start making improvements for accessibility and and listen to your customers and you know when they, when they ask for something, You know, some sort of accommodation or if they make a suggestion to, to make it a little better, that’s that’s how you kind of win at accessibility it’s about chipping away and and making meaningful improvements over time, there’s never going to be a snapshot at a spot in time where you’re perfect. It’s, you can always get better. So, browsers change assistive technologies change the web is always changing. So, the big thing is like just making a commitment to, to getting into improving and, you know, that’s that’s kind of the way we looked at it with a podcast we kind of found ourselves maybe like agonizing and hand wringing a little bit like, Oh God, we got to really get on here and you know what if, what if someone, you know, can’t, can’t keep up with the captioning, how are we going to do that and so we’re really trying to put together the best effort we can, and, and we want to hear from you if there’s, if there’s any suggestions, Let us know and you know we’re committed to making a right and trying to get this out to, to everybody regardless, you know, whether you might have a disability or, you know, whatever technology you might be using. Let me ah, amazing George, we managed to filling up this time pretty easily.

George Heake 37:36
Between the two of us. Yeah, yeah, we have any questions. Ah,

Peter Jewett 37:41
I say, check, check my producer chat, Um, I haven’t seen anything. No, um, comment moderation. Well maybe I should have set the comment moderation, on Facebook, but I don’t see any questions. Yeah. I’ll do the do the Facebook giveaway. Abby sent that over to me so from our Facebook page followers, we’ve got Micah Hagen, hey Mike. Hey, yeah, I don’t like he’s a fellow Vermonter so Micah you. You want a t-shirt if you’re watching, or sweatshirt or something so we’ll shoot you a message or, or get in touch with us if you happen to be tuned in right now, but a graduations mica this is this a big time for anyone out there if you want to be entered to win some accessible web swag on our next podcast. Then, follow us on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win. Um, so yeah, George, let’s talk about GAAD global accessibility awareness day. That’s today. That’s, you know, we decided to launch the podcast finally pull the trigger and get this thing live as part of our, our celebration. I guess I’ll say it’s been, you know, we’ve been kind of like I said earlier, we’ve been in this space since like 2016 ish so this is about five years in, and it’s really cool this year to see so many email newsletters coming around and so many posts on social media from companies that really seek to get it companies that are putting in the effort at this point, you know, in 2016 This, this wasn’t a thing and you know I can’t tell you I won’t I won’t name the Chatbot company, but we when we first put up the first iteration of our website. We tried every chatbot on the market, I swear. And there we only found one of them that was pretty expensive. That was actually accessible that someone with a screen reader or keyboard navigation, you know someone who might be using assistive technology could actually chat on this embedded chat on our website so I was pumped and see that the chat company that we had been using and I hounded them I was like, Look, we can help you make the success and we’ll do it for free if you just do some Co-Op marketing. But, you know, please make your chatbot accessible and today I got a newsletter from them saying hey, but in the last year we’ve done a variety of different upgrades and, you know, we’re now compatible with screen readers, we’re now hitting contrast ratios. So, it’s a, there’s been today has been several emails that it’s kind of it’s awesome because it’s. If you’re a business or an organization and you’re trying to create a website, a web presence that is accessible. Obviously, it’s gonna rely on third-party tools like a bank needs an online banking system, or a restaurant needs online ordering right so usually in the modern web you’re cobbling together a few different pieces to fulfill different parts of whatever functionality you need, and, and a few years ago it was so hard you couldn’t, you couldn’t really find accessible tools we had the hardest time getting tools together that could make an accessible website that had all the features of our, you know, normal non-US website that we’d had previously at Bytes Co. And so, so anyway, it’s really, it’s really awesome to see everybody kind of announcing promoting feeling good about these upgrades that they’ve made. Because, because I guess this is kind of how we form a software perspective, this is how we make the web better together is, you know, if you’re the bank and you go and make your website accessible, let your online banking system know hey we’re WCAG conforming, we have this accessibility statement on our website and it clearly says that we’ve done our part, but the only part of our website that’s not accessible is our online banking system because we’re waiting on them, or a restaurant that makes their website accessible and they say hey, we’re not.

You know where our websites accessible but we know that our reservation system or online ordering system needs some work. And, you know, we’ve also been seeing it from the other side where you know before you buy instead of just calling them out after the fact, shop around and before you buy. Ask your vendors you know like, ask the chat bot, ask the Ask the online store, you know, really thoughtfully tried to procure tools online that are accessible and asked to see their VPAT that’s that accessibility report or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, so as to see a third party vendors VPAT before you agree to work with them. We’ve been seeing a ton of deals this year that are coming to us because JP Morgan right JP Morgan’s a behemoth, and JP Morgan is apparently like just pounding on accessibility there, they’re requiring for everything and so we’re seeing all these third parties coming to us because they want to sell to JPMorgan, and they know that JP Morgan, JP Morgan’s just saying, we’re not going to work with you we’re not even going to consider you for this RFP is a response. Unless you have your system be accessible. And so, kind of together if we all put the pressure on each other. And, you know, if we hold each other accountable, that’s that’s kind of how it all. How it all gets upgraded and we can make the web better together so. So anyway, global accessibility awareness day today has been really cool because I guess every year it gets even better because there’s more people jumping on board there’s more people realizing this is something they, they need to be thinking about a requirement that needs to be filled and it’s it’s not just lip service. It’s not just oh yeah I think we’re, you know, we’re in the spirit of accessibility anymore. People are actually figuring out how to do this correctly.

George Heake 43:49
I think another thing too is, we’re talking about, too, what things are wrong and this and that. Also when you find something that it’s really not just accessible, really easy to use or things are visible, like for example with Peters’s mother-in-law, you know if he found something. Maybe you were showing a relative or helping to make travel reservations or whatever, and the site was really easy to, you know, send, send a comment, or leave a comment. Hey, before, and that just makes it better that helps the stakeholders, holding the key to all the budgets and everything else, okay we’re hearing from customers is important, and also on the flip side, if you see something wrong, you know, say it and say, constructive way. I have a really big interest in physical space, and universal design and my wife, God bless her can tell if I’m, if I’m in a restaurant and I go to the restroom, I come back, and she can tell by my expression. I said, No, I have a problem, or I’m really excited about how accessible the restroom is. And if I do it at the beginning of our restaurant visit, she goes, Can you wait to talk to the manager until after we order. Now whether it’s fiscal space or anything. Try to be vocal, if it’s not part of your character talking face to face, leave a comment, follow up with an email, and it just helps to make the world a better place.

Peter Jewett 45:34
Yeah, I mean a lot of, for better or worse, a lot of the accessibility work that’s being done right now is really around compliance and it’s it’s it’s around legal threats and, you know, we’re not talking to Dan Goldstein we’ll kind of talk about the origin of that right and and kind of the whole legal landscape surrounding accessibility and ADA section 508 Section 504 As in Canada. So there’s all sorts of laws and a lot of people are doing this really, you know, but grudgingly right they don’t a lot of business owners, they don’t like spending money just because they’re getting sued and having an update, you know, we’ve always taken the perspective and accessible web like we want to be a funded company you know fear, uncertainty and doubt like we don’t want to be lawsuit lawsuit lawsuit don’t get sued don’t get sued, because you know, the carrots better than the stick right like, you know, we want to we want to focus on the positive side of it and, you know, really like one of the coolest moments of spin accessible web was seeing our testers when we first started, like I said earlier when we weren’t doing us thing and we weren’t actually making sure that the screen reader could use the site, we started doing UX testing with some, with some screen reader users and one of the coolest things was seeing them. Use a site and really like the emotion on their face like the excitement about being able to use a website having a barrier free experience. And, and that’s notable is you know people using assistive technologies are used to a world where they have to do work around where they have to figure out you know maybe I can use their browser or maybe if I try to access the checkout this way and you know I can, I can do some workarounds or I can figure out how to make this work. But when something just works when it’s when it’s a pleasant awesome experience for him. I mean it’s notable it’s you know it’s it’s not just that it’s very free but it’s that it’s it’s easy and you know you and I, people that maybe don’t have a disability aren’t using assistive tech, we think website services like maybe there’s a broken image, but we can we, a lot of the website errors were used to aren’t aren’t game enders right like we can still make the order we can still submit the lead we can still make the reservation or, you know, see the, See the video but with people with disabilities. A lot of times it’s it’s a game changer and ends their experience and if we can just all work together and make them have that great experience on a website it’s, it’s something that they’re going to note, they’re gonna tell their friends about it they’re going to tell their family members about and you know there is a there is a real monetary benefit for you to be that business that is doing it for the right reasons and it’s doing it well and. And the other thing too is like we’ve, we hear over and over again from developers that need to, they’re having trouble selling it up the chain to their to their managers to their owners, that this is important, they know it’s important but how do they how do they get the approval for that extra 10% of budget to really make a well polished accessible tool and you know to George to your point, it’s like, that’s where making making positive comments go so far to just say hey we appreciate everything you’ve done, I, I love the fact that you’re, you’ve never used a chat widget that I can use my screen reader, by the way I had this minor problem with this, you might want to think about fixing it. Let me know if you know if you want any feedback and or let me know if you want me to recheck it afterwards so, so kind of giving that positive feedback goes, goes a long way and that’s just immensely more powerful than, then the lawsuits and the, the doom and gloom and trying to kind of force people to make their websites accessible,

George Heake 49:26
and an access to accurate and useful information is a powerful tool to enable people with has the potential of increasing someone’s quality of life. Whether, no matter what that is making. How many, how many telehealth appointments have we been through it since COVID How many people don’t have access to that. So it benefits everybody and I think we’re really excited about.

Peter Jewett 50:01
We’re coming up on, so I guess I’ll close with a, with a sales pitch, I mean is a marketing tool after all for accessible web so you know if you have a website or web app and you want to kind of have a conversation with us about how to make it accessible how to start. Start on the journey towards WCAG conformance and improving, get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you and like I said earlier to work we’re growing our team pretty significantly this year, and always looking for like minded people in this space, you know this isn’t just a, just this isn’t just a dev company where we’re writing code and you know building websites or web apps, we’re really mission driven so, so if you like what you hear if you want to be part of this and you’ve got skills and design UX testing, what else we’re hiring a marketing coordinator right now we’re looking for a couple, a couple devs that are fluent in, you know react and that can, you know, have, even if you don’t have a perfect understanding of web accessibility and this is something that’s interesting to you in touch. So we’re hiring a bunch, around a bunch of different careers and, you know, hoping that the next big business in the accessibility space so you can get in on the ground level. So, so yeah, check us out except We’re pretty active on Facebook, pretty active on LinkedIn and get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and I guess, stay tuned, we’ll, we’ll be doing these. Hopefully hoping to get into like a weekly rhythm on these podcasts, so stay tuned and we’ll talk to you soon. We need some sort of outro, outro George, maybe, maybe,

George Heake 51:45
a shout out to Abby, our producer and our brothers and sisters back at accessible web we couldn’t be doing this without them. And we look forward to working with you and talking with you

Peter Jewett 51:58
later all thanks for jumping in. RIGHT.

Accessible Web is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), Thursday May 20th, by launching our new podcast at 4 pm EST. Over the course of our podcast, we will be inviting special guests ranging from activists to lawyers in the accessibility space to speak on the podcast.  We’ll also be featuring members of our team and members of the community that live with disabilities.

Our first podcast will feature George Heake, Accessible Web’s Director of Accessibility and Outreach, and Peter Jewett, CEO & Founder of Accessible Web. Streaming live on Facebook, George and Peter will be discussing current accessibility trends within Accessible Web and the importance of GAAD. We will also be accepting questions from viewers. To kick off our podcast we will be giving away free Accessible Web t-shirts to ten new followers on LinkedIn. 

Can’t make the live recording? Check back on this page for the recording to catch up on what you missed. Captions and a transcript will be available. If you have a request for another accessible format please contact Abby Scott, our podcast’s producer, at [email protected].