One day I came across this video about Muharrem, a deaf man, and how his whole neighborhood conspired against him for a surprise.
Here I am, crying at my desk, moved to tears by an advertisement for a Samsung product in Turkey. You watch as Muharrem’s expression moves from confused, to disbelief, to overwhelm. Muharrem tears up, I tear up. Imagine what it must feel like to leave your house and the mismatch you feel every day got erased; the world works for you in a way that it didn’t before.
What if we could do this with the Web. What if… one day everything got better?
The WebAIM Million Project scans the top 1,000,000 homepages and runs automated accessibility tests on them. In the report WebAIM identifies six (6) categories of issues that account for 96.5% of the over 50 million detectable errors.
- Low contrast text
- Missing alt text
- Empty links
- Missing form input labels
- Empty buttons
- Missing document language
The most shocking revelation is: All these issues are easy-to-detect and easy-to-fix! I believe if we’re all laser focused on these six issues we can make a dent in the WebAIM Million and maybe the universe.
I’m confident it’ll make a difference. Holly Tuke documented some of her experiences in a post called “5 most annoying website features I face as a blind person every single day” — her list of issues is nearly the same the WebAIM Million’s list of issues! It’s one data point, but there’s millions out there like Holly who would benefit from even the most basic fixes to your website.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) this year is on May 19, 2022. I can’t think of a better day. That gives you or your company about 6+ weeks to land some minor fixes on your homepages.
If you visit this in the future, GAAD is every third Thursday of May. Roadmap accordingly.
The easiest way to find and detect these issues are to use one of the following:
- Google Lighthouse (built-in Chrome Web Inspector)
- Microsoft Accessibility Insights (browser extension)
They’re both based on Deque’s axe Accessibility Testing Tool which you can also use. WebAIM’s WAVE evaluation tool is also great. If you haven’t done this before, there will be lots of errors, but stay focused on the six issues above.
We’re not going to fix the entire web, we’re trying to make a dent. There’s a lot to fix, but I’m a firm believer we need to start somewhere and these six types of issues are –in the nuanced world of accessibility– the easiest to fix. A roadmap of fifty million issues begins with a single step.
What do I get out of it?
Yikes. Well… You can write a company blog post saying you took part in GAAD. That goes over well. You get some organic traffic. More users can use your website, they’ll buy your goods. Your site won’t be fully WCAG2 compliant, but at least you checked off some of the lowest hanging (robo-lawyer) fruit.
What if I finished?
Awesome work! Next, identify other core templates of your site and repeat. Think about the whole experience. One thing I heard this weekend was how it’s more frustrating to get to the end of a gigantic flow and an accessibilty error (like unlabelled buttons) prevents you from succeeding.
Like I said above, your site won’t be fully accessible after this, but I applaud you and your team because you’ve taken a major step on your accessibility journey. You can try your hand at guided manual tests. Run user tests. Or hire a professional to give you a full audit.
Share, translate, commit!
Let me know if you’re in. I think we can do it. Six issues in six weeks. Knock them out.
If anyone wants to make a website about this where people can sign, sponsor, or put logos on it, let me know.
Feel free to translate this post to your native language, all I ask is you provide a link back to the original here in case information changes.