Learning to build accessible websites, my journey

A heartbreaking tweet I read in June 2020 (screenshot and link in this article) was what turned my "Yeah, I should learn more about accessibility some day" into "I want and need to learn how to make website accessible NOW!"

It was the heartbreaking outcry in this tweet about inaccessible websites, that made me want to learn everything I can about making the web accessible and implement it too! The screenshot is below. Actually, it’s what changed my mind about quitting creating websites all together, in favor of some of my other professional activities. (In case you’re curious what those are, my professional services are listed on my business website.)

Screenshot of a tweet that says: Today, my dad cried over the phone, he wanted one week where he could use his computer without my help. He's blind. Each inaccessible webpage tells him, "you aren't welcome in this world." If you don't know whether your website or app is accessible: it's not. Start learning."

Until I followed an introductory webinar given by Rian Rietveld from the A11Y Collective, I never realized my knowledge about accessibility (I knew mainly stuff about color contrast and not to use very funky fonts) covered only a relatively small percentage of all there is to learn and implement. In the webinar I learned how to use the built-in screen reader on my Mac. And when I tried it on this website, shame made me want to hide under my desk.

Today is Monday, October 19, 2020 and if I know one thing for sure, it’s that at this moment in time, this website sucks in regards to accessibility. I’m going to make an effort to document my steps in making this site and my business website accessible. Simply because I can’t preach it, if I don’t practise it myself, right? I will make “before and after” screenshots, show where I edited and or added attributes, possibly even make screencasts of parts of this process (with captions, of course), where I changed text and links, and everything else I did to make this website accessible.

You can follow me on Twitter to be notified of new posts about my accessibility journey.

Why I choose to do this while using the Elementor page builder (Pro version)

The philosophy that anyone should be able to successfully create websites without coding, is one that I share with the founders of the Elementor Page Builder . First of all, it’s a magnificent tool that enables its users quickly whip up a cool looking, responsive website. Second, currently over a million of the approximately 5 million websites that have Elementor installed are powered by Elementor Pro. And those numbers are increasing, rapidly.

However, I think the definition of a successfully created website is not just about a slick looking, speedy and responsive digital presence. For me it nowadays means all that AND accessible to anyone with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, or visual disabilities.

It’s been a steep learning curve so far. Making sites accessible is something that forces you to rethink everything you think you know about design, content and coding. I feel blessed that I currently work on rebuilding a website in Germany about mobility for the handicapped, from scratch. It gives me the opportunity to implement all kinds of accessibility features from the start, instead of “only” tweaking an existing site, like my own tutorial site.

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