I met John when I started working for Freedom Scientific.
He had already been with the company a long time, (ever since the days when it was Henter-Joyce and when Jaws 3.0 was new).
He taught me everything I know about screen reader internals, has likely forgotten more about screen readers and assistive technology in general than I’ve ever learned, and did a ton of the scripting work that still makes Jaws for Windows work with websites.
He retired in 2017, and started working with WordPress in 2019. So he can’t be targeted with the “just afraid of change” argument.
I’ve watched him test the TwentyTwenty theme with three different browser/screen reader combos, read through every line of the CSS, and I’ll watch him read through every line of the functions file and other associated templates.
I’m not saying any of this because we’re friends or otherwise, I’m saying this because he’s earned the right to be listened to.
And yes, his post is pretty damning because this stuff should not still be happening on a project whose leardership continues to claim that WordPress is for everyone despite specifically refusing to put policies in place (accessibility) which are part and parcel of every successful accessibility effort.
Matt, I get it. Gutenberg has been a goal of yours since at least the final WordCamp San Francisco. I get that you and the rest of the Gutenberg team have worked very hard on it, and that you really are trying to move the web forward.
I also get that you’re probably tired of every accessibility advocate, in and outside this community, giving you crap about this stuff. Hearing that you’re not doing a good job, however politely, is not pleasant. It’s not even pleasant when it’s polite, especially in the Gutenberg case, because everybody’s essentially calling your baby ugly.
I can’t speak for anyone else who’s advocated for accessibility in this space, because I’m not them.
Speaking for myself though, I’d genuinely like to quit criticizing you over this, and I’m saying that as someone who has been and will continue to be one of your harshest critics for as long as it takes. No, I’m not forking WordPress and I’m not walking away.
Seriously, quit being so bullish about this. I have no idea why you are as opposed as you are to even the prospect of an enforcible, project-wide accessibility policy, and enforcing same, but setting policy goals regarding accessibility for a project this size, (or really any project), is required for any accessibility changes to be lasting and successful.
An accessibility policy is how you ensure that you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.
Technical accessibility is the beginning, not the end of accessibility efforts. And if you really want to move the web forward while safeguarding its openness and independence, please do not carry on one of the worst aspects of the free software movement, the one that leaves whether or not people with disabilities are included as part of the “everyone” you champion up to developer and designer and founder choice.
We’re still fighting discrimination in the workplace, and we’re still fighting for equal access when it comes to the technology we use to do our jobs. But the beauty of WordPress and its community is that we can create opportunities for ourselves.“People of WordPress: Amanda Rush” published at WordPress.org
In order for everyone, including people with disabilities, to be able to create opportunities for ourselves, WordPress the project has to make accessibility a priority. The way that happens is through leadership making accessibility a project-wide goal instead of just something individuals work for and fight for.
Last time this became an issue, Web Accessibility Deathmatch happened. If we’re going to keep it positive, and prevent that from happening again, then things have to change and that change has to be led from the top down, since this is a project with a benevolent dictator.
Matt, please rethink your public stance regarding a project-wide accessibility policy.
The theme was built with accessibility in mind but it is also built to the best of our ability.
Would having an accessibility lead specic for the theme have helped, yes. But without one, we built it as best we could and tested as best we could.
If there are specific things, be they critical or small please let us know ??
The point I’m trying to make with the post is that without leadership getting behind accessibility efforts, there is no way that you as a developer or designer will have the resources to do the accessible thing +
This isn’t about blaming developers or designers, since devs/designers learning accessibility from the ground up as part of their original learning is a horse that’s already out of the barn at this point. +
Without leadership getting involved, making it a priority, developers/designers won’t get the training ETC. needed to ensure that they can make decisions with accessibility baked in, thus obviating someone needing to come behind and fix, which delays projects ETC.
Let me put it this way. Absolute ideal is every designer and every developer learned HTML/CSS/WCAG ETC at the beginning of their career. For obvioius reasons, that’s not the scenario we’re dealing with. +
@whiskeydragon1 I commented on the note at your site, I do want to chat and fix these things. I am already looking into them.
So then we look at next best, which is devs and designers being able to take on that knowledge while working on a project with a really fast dev/design cycle. For obvious reasons that’s not going to happen if leadership doesn’t consider it a priority. +
Next is audit happens, issues get flagged, and devs ETC learn from audit, apply to other situations, ETC. That usually doesn’t happen either and it’s not because devs ETC are lazy. +
OK so now we’re at the last resort, which is try to get leadership to buy in so that accessibility becomes a priority and then room is made, resources provided, whatever, so devs and designers get the help they need for accessibility. Does all of that make sense?