Online Training: Make Apps and Sites Accessible to All

Help us create online training that is accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly.

Knowbility launched a kickstarter campaign September 26 to raise funds for its next project.

Martin holding a sketch

More About the Reasons Behind the Campaign

Most sites and apps are built by people who haven’t included disability as a design consideration – and Knowbility is out to change that with this project. We want to provide designers, developers, and managers with just-in-time resources that help them understand web accessibility. Our goal is to build the first two of eight training modules.

  • Overview of Web Accessibility
  • Accessibility Testing Strategies and Techniques

When web professionals consider accessibility as a design requirement, they become better at what they do. Almost all sites and apps are built with the best of intentions. Designers and developers balance their understanding of the needs of customers with their own business goals.

Add to that the fact that most learning management systems (LMS) that contain virtually all educational materials do not themselves meet basic accessibility standards.  As we get this project Kickstarted our long term goal is to use open source platforms and address barriers inherent in common LMS so that people with disabilities can equally participate as teachers and learners. While our first modules will be built on the most accessible standard platform we know,  we will use this momentum to improve LMS accessibility and return those improvements back to the community.

 

This is the first step and you know what they say about long journeys and first steps.

 Man using Mouth Stick to type on computer

Other Ways You Can Help

We know that you may not be able to contribute a lot financially, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help out in other important ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a small donation, leave a comment about why you think it is important. Comments  improve the visibility of the campaign on Kickstarter.
  • Embed the campaign in your sites and blogs. Short URL:  http://kck.st/1sZXViS
  • Share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so on. Shares really improve the visibility of the campaign on Kickstarter!
  • Announce  the campaign at meetups and conferences.
  • Instead of a birthday gift, ask someone to contribute to this project.

Let’s make a world of difference. Let’s open the door to make sites and apps accessible to everyone.

Rewards for the Kickstarter campaign

Pledge $1

Tweet and Email We will publicly and privately thank you.

Pledge $5 or more

HIGH FIVE All of the benefits of the $1 pledge. But since you are like 5 times more enthusiastic about our project, we will also throw in a vine video of the team members high-fiving while yelling your name. You also get all of the project backer-only updates as we roll towards launch and beyond.

Pledge $10 or more

Project Donor List HIGH FIVE plus we will list in the donor list of the AccessU 2015 booklet.

Pledge $10 or more

Button, Sticker, and HIGH FIVE: We will help you decorate your clothes, your laptop (or tablet), plus jump around and thank you on vine!

Pledge $25 or more

Limited reward (10)

Door Buster!! Button, Sticker, and HIGH FIVE: We will help you decorate your clothes, your laptop (or tablet), plus jump around and thank you on vine!

Pledge $25 or more

Poster “11×”17 stylish poster nice enough for your office or home showing the chain of accessibility.

Pledge $50 or more

Limited reward (10)

Door Buster!: T-shirt, poster, button, sticker, HIGH FIVE: Poster: “11×”17 stylish poster nice enough for your office or home showing the chain of accessibility.

Pledge $50 or more

T-shirt!! Pledge $50 and get one of the custom made for this project Tee!

Pledge $50 or more

Limited reward (10)

Door Buster!: Beta test the course: Get in on the ground floor for and help us shape and build the content. Includes one seat in our pilot tests for each of the first two modules we produce. (Available after alpha testing.)

Pledge $50 or more

“Wake Up” Mask – All of the above perks below $50 and a “Wake Up to Accessibility” sleep mask (also good for screen reader demos)

 

Pledge $100 or more

Limited reward (50)

Beta test the course with us! Get in on the ground floor for and help us shape and build the content. Includes one seat in our pilot tests for each of the first two modules we produce. (Available after alpha testing.)

Pledge $100 or more

Producer Credit All of the above perks below $100 and you receive a producer credit on the acknowledgement slide of the 2 pilot courses.

Pledge $125 or more

Limited reward (5)

Door Buster!: 3 seats to beta test the course Get in on the ground floor for and help us shape and build the content. Includes three seat in our pilot tests for each of the first two modules we produce. (Available after alpha testing.)

Pledge $125 or more

Limited reward (4)

Door Buster: $125 Accessible WordPress site: Fully supported set up of new site front end including coding of up to 10 web pages, fully styled (agreed in advance.)

Pledge $150 or more

Dinner Time All of the above below $100 and Sharron Rush or Brian Sullivan or Desiree Sturdivant will join you for dinner when they are in your town!

Pledge $250 or more

Limited reward (10)

Accessible WordPress Site: Fully supported set up of new site front end including coding of up to 10 web pages, fully styled (agreed in advance.)

Pledge $500 or more

Online Consultation: All of the above perks below $250 and you will receive online consultation by Knowbility for two hours. (Subject to scheduling.)

Pledge $500 or more

Limited reward (5)

AccessU 2015 Registration: Premiere conference on Digital Accessibility held every year in Austin, TX in May. (Does not include post conference workshop.)

 

 

Pledge $1,000 or more

Limited reward (5)

C’mon down to Austin! Most of the above perks*. Plus, One registration at the full three -day AccessU 2015 (including all-day post conference of your choice) *Does not include above two-day conference registration, consultation or WordPress site.

Pledge $2,500 or more

Limited reward (5)

Onsite Workshop: All of the above perks*. Plus: an onsite accessibility workshop. You pack the room, we’ll pack our bags. You cover travel and incidentals. We will be there for you! (Subject to scheduling.) *Limited to one conference registration.

Pledge $5,000 or more

Limited reward (3)

Advisory Council: All of the above perks below $1,000. Plus: you get a seat on our course development advisory board, which will make your mark on accessibility history. It is your time to make a difference.

Pledge $10,000 or more

Limited reward (1)

One year course access: All of the above perks, PLUS, as a founding major funder, your company will have access to the online courses during beta pilot and for one year for up to 25 people once produced.

 

Jump in! We’re recruiting dev teams, nonprofits, advisors and sponsors for OpenAIR

Contact Jessica Looney Knowbility’s Community Programs manager at (512) 305-0311 or email her jlooney@knowbility.org to register as a developer, non-profit or sponsor for OpenAIR 2014! The Accessibility Internet Rally is a international, community hackathon with a unique twist – accessibility! Open-AIR increases awareness of the tools and techniques that make the Internet accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities.
  • OpenAIR benefits nonprofits and schools in your community by providing them with free, professionally designed, accessible websites.
  • OpenAIR is designed for Web professionals, people who currently create on-line applications and who are proficient in HTML and other techniques for creating web pages.
  • Through OpenAIR, developers will learn accessible design techniques, have the chance to show off their skills, win prizes, and help local nonprofits do the work that benefits our communities.
  • Site will be judged and prizes awarded for excellence in accessible design.
Register as a developer, non-profit or sponsor and see what an impact your time, skills and sponsorship can have. OpenAIR registration page on Knowbility main site  

Summer Fun Time with Accessible Testing By Harley Fetterman

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Knowbility. I’ve learned so much about web-accessibility, from what standards developers are supposed to implement, to when and how to choose which web-browser and screen-reader is most useful in a particular situation.

At the very beginning of this internship, I learned about blogging. I’d never really thought about how there was more than just text that makes a blog happen. But I quickly learned that by using HTML code, a blog is shaped into interactive text, links, buttons, and headings. That was pretty cool.

When they put me to work testing websites, I discovered how differently websites can show up on different web-browsers, devices, and screen-readers. For example, between the iPhone and a Windows computer, screen size made a big difference. In fact, in one test, a task couldn’t be completed on the iPhone because the screen was too small. Putting a resize piece of code into the website most likely would have fixed the problem. But, it was still interesting seeing how screen size affected performance.

It was also very interesting to discover the differences in accessibility between web-browsers. Some things that weren’t accessible in one browser could be easily accessed in another. At first, I did everything on Internet Explore because that’s what I was used to. But as I started comparing browsers, I found that Firefox handled ARIA a lot better, as did Safari on the iPhone. And drop-down boxes in IE are impossible to use. But Safari and Firefox dealt with them easily. On drag-and-drops, or moving an item into a category, the iPhone’s screen could not fit all the categories on it at once, making it impossible to finish. On IE, the Drag-and-Drop worked, but once in the category, it was difficult to tell what it was in. With Firefox though, the process worked and I was able to go back and check that my answers were in the correct spot. There were several different tasks that lead me to believe that Firefox was overall more user friendly than the other two web browsers at least for these tasks.

I spent a lot of time with different screen readers, too, checking out how NVDA versus JAWS, versus VoiceOver interact with web browsers and content. One of the things I discovered is that NVDA is able to operate combo boxes with Firefox, whereas JAWS on Firefox doesn’t recognize there being anything there at all. And on IE, JAWS sees the combo boxes but can’t operate them. VoiceOver generally operates websites pretty well, except for screen sizing issues on the iPhone as I mentioned before.

At the beginning of the summer, WCAG was just another four letter acronym. Now I can say I’ve learned what it means on a broad level and I have a way to evaluate and present information in an organized fashion about web accessibility. With this newfound knowledge, I can better explain why certain web sites are accessible and why others are not. In short, hopefully this knowledge will help to make a difference at school for me and other students as well.

I would like to thank Knowbility for their generosity in selecting me for this internship. There’s a lot about accessibility I could have sought out and tried to figure out, but with Jeanine’s and Sharron’s technical knowledge, I was able to learn and work, use my new knowledge. Plus, lunchtime is always enjoyable with a wide range of conversations had between the team. Now, who knows what I can learn on my own.

What we learned through crowdfunding

Thank you!

First. I want to say “Thank you.” Heartfelt thanks to the 83 funders who stepped up to support a great notion. You believe as we do that the world sorely needs a credible and fully accessible teaching and learning platform to share knowledge and experience about digital accessibility. Our  funders are listed at the end of the post (except of course, for those who prefer to remain anonymous) and I am grateful beyond words to each and every one of you.

Thanks to Bill Corrigan, the volunteer who started the effort and did so much to foster it and to Brian Sullivan who jumped right in to endorse and help shape the campaign. Thanks to Shawn Lauriat for being our very first donor and to Jim Thatcher whose remarkable $1K donation early in the campaign was so tremendously validating .  Thanks to Mike Gifford and the Drupal community. Thanks to the tireless accessibility advocates in the UX community. Thanks to board members Hazel Sanchez and Rich Schwerdtfeger who donated and then blogged in these pages about the importance of the project.  And a super shout-out to Jeffrey Zeldman whose contribution and post about the campaign gave us a great boost in the last week.

Thanks as well to those who did not donate but who provided tremendously useful feedback about the unanswered questions that led to their own  reluctance to invest.  The rest of this post will address those questions and look at what’s next.

What you told us

Lesson 1: affirmation of the goal

I won’t dwell here on the praise and encouragement we received other than to say it was significant and gave us a sense that we are on the right track.

Lesson 2: Don’t publish an accessibility initiative on an inaccessible platform

The lack of accessibility and usability of the IndieGoGo platform was remarked upon by many. When Mike Gifford posted a supporting blog entry, the lack of accessibility was noted in the comments.  I responded to the commenter, “We know and we’re sorry” and spoke of the lack of an existing accessible crowd funding platform.  The critic was gracious but clearly weary of hearing “We know, we’re sorry.” Some, like Thatcher said “This is proof of why this resource is so badly needed.”  Others said the bad design kept them from contributing at all.

Lesson 3: It’s the detail, stupid

We heard that the message was not sufficiently clear about the goals and the process for developing the teaching and learning modules. Some objected to Rich Schwertdfeger’s supporting blog post because he mentioned specific tools by name rather than maintaining strict tool neutrality.  People wanted to know more about who would build the platform, and how would it be made available to the accessibility community to share expertise. “Is there a connection to IAAP? are certifications to be offered? what will the cost structure look like?…and more.  Some things have yet to be determined but the next phase will be more detailed.

Lesson 4: Social media alone is not enough

After the project end date inevitably rolled around, we heard from too many, like Nicholas Steenhout “Hey, I didn’t even know this was happening.” Clearly we need a better communications strategy.

Onward!

Despite questions,  criticism, weariness, and total ignorance,  I am so encouraged by the  overwhelming support we heard for the goal. Call me a foolish optimist (you won’t be the first) but when folks heard about the project and understood what we are trying do,  I heard clear affirmation of the fact that we need and must have more readily available, modularized, up-to-date accessibility training on an accessible open source platform. Training is needed for people who occupy all of the many roles that relate to the creation of digital communications. We must build resources that are focused, highly interactive, practical, relevant, current, and fully accessible. We must build an online venue that – like AccessU – provides a forum for people from different sectors, different consulting companies, and different countries to share knowledge and skills at a reasonable cost to students of all abilities.

How to do it – you tell us!

With that goal, we are regrouping.  First we will fulfill the perks that were promised to the donors and add a bonus for being such brave pioneers – Tshirts anyone?  Then we will ask you to tell us more.

I will huddle next week with my board of directors, with Phase 1 architects Bill and Brian,  and with  the advisors who have stepped up to help shape the next round. I am thrilled that Sina Bahram of Prime Access Consulting, Elle Waters of Simply Accessible, and Denis Boudreau of Deque Systems are going to help us craft a stronger message and cast a wider net as we launch Phase 2 of this campaign. Using Phase 1 funds to seed the next initiative, we will launch again very soon.

Please jump in to help us shape the next phase  – we are all brainstorming here – and be encouraged to be wildly creative in your expressions.  Is your idea of a great perk getting to attend AccessU in Austin in May?” …to have me and Jim Thatcher sing happy birthday at your kids party? …getting to preview the system before it is public?

  • What perks would encourage YOU to give?
  • What questions would you want to have answered to raise your motivation to invest?
  • How else would you be likely to participate in shaping the effort?
  • How can we spread the word beyond the accessibility community?

Bring it, folks, we are ready listen to your ideas – by comment below, by email, by tweet or by carrier pigeon.  We want this campaign to be as important to you as it is to us and has it is to these fine folks listed below.

Our founding funders

Brenda Adrian, Lucia Athens, Austin Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities,  Rogier Barendregt, Dean Birkett, Denis Boudreau, Cathy Carleton, Robbi Cooper, Bill Corrigan, KristinaCorrigan, Jayne Cravens, Melanie Davis, VirginiaDeBolt, Joshua  Denny, Anna Dresner, Pat  East, Deborah Edwards-Onoro, Samira Emelie, Angi       English, JeremyFields, Hugh Forrest, Eric Fruin, Jason Garber, Sandi Gauder, Becky Gibson, Mike Gifford, Susan Grossman, Vicki Haddix, David Hark, Paula Helene, Ron  Hicks, Christopher Kelly, Joyce Klemperer, S  Koester, Preety  Kumar, Shawn  Lauriat, Sherry   Lawry, Kim Leno, Jeanine Lineback, Candice  Moore, Sanjay Nasta, Joseph Karr O’Connor, Devon   Persing, Lewis Phillips, Melanie Pienknagura, Josh Piper, Carolyn Purcell, Brad Richardson, Adrian Roselli, Addie Rush, Sharron Rush, Hazel Sanchez, Jayne Schurick, Rich Schwertdfeger, SimplyAccessible, Kel  Smith, Claudia Snell, Simon St Laurent, Brian  Sullivan, Suzanne Taylor, Jim Thatcher, Natalie  Tucker, Mario Vasquez, Elle  Waters, Nick Weynand, WhistlingKettle Pete,  Jaap Willem, Jeffrey  Zeldman and 12 anonymous donors – thank you!

Thanks again to all who engaged – as volunteers, as spread-the-word supporters, as constructive critics, and especially as donors who committed with us to make this happen. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!