We all have heard the term #A11Y and know we should be doing something about it, but how and why? In this talk I explain the reason why it is so vital for all working it the field of WordPress to ensure their output is accessible. But more importantly I explain how to sell this to potential clients, and why it is so vital for them to invest in #A11Y.
From the theoretical stuff, like the Social Model of Disability, through to the statistics around the financial clout of the disabled community and how often this group#s spending power is ignored, this talk will be a light-hearted yet informative journey through the whys and wherefores of #A11Y.
I will be referring to GVT and Click Away Pound Stats, as well as formal disability awareness training but applying all to the world of WordPress.
MARK WILKINSON: Welcome everybody. Just a few notices before we get started, there is a Happiness Bar down in the graduate building if you have got any WordPress questions, issues that you need help with then feel free to go and tap tab the knowledge of the experts there. That’s in the bottom floor underneath where we had lunch. If you will be tweeting about the event please use the hashtag that’s WCLDN so we can collate all those together. We have now got Mik who is going to be talking to you today about how to sell accessibility to a client which sounds a really interesting talk. Mik is a TV presenter journalist, and access expert, he also at vices major companies and Government bodies on how to ensure that disabled people are described by the — start again, by the Equality Act 2010 are fully included in society. He’s got some really interesting things to say. Let’s give a round of applause, we’ll get started. (applause).
MIK SCARLET: Hello everybody, yes I am Mik Scarlet, I am a broadcaster and journalist when I am not doing stuff in the media, I work as an access consultant. I put access expert because access consultancy tends to be round advising business on how to build accessible buildings. Environmental access. Whereas I also now work in the other area, systemic access which means advising business and HR departments on how to find disabled talent, how to keep disabled employees and how to make the workplace as accessible and inclusive as possible and also how to attract disabled custom. How to get all that money and that’s kind of what my talk is about today.
When I work with clients, I, we start off having a discussion about how we’re going to start making their business accessible, and lots of them say well, I don’t really need to do anything do I, because we have our online presence. I go, brilliant! Is it accessible? And they all look at me with the same face, of no idea what I am talking about. It’s the internet, they say, surely it’s accessible. Hah hah. And this I think is one of the problems that everyone in this industry faces that you’re dealing with people that have no idea what it is you do and how it is you do it, which means that this is your way of making your pitch for a job stand out.
If I was advising a client on designing a web presence, doing an online training course, something like that the pitches that actually say how they are going to confront access, or even that they will confront it at all, would be the ones that I would say we should take forward. That we need to meet with these people, find out more about what they are offering. That’s what I am going to talk about. But, let’s start right at the beginning shall we? What is accessibility?
Well I am now going to read off the screen. Accessibility is the process of making an object, building of service usable by people with different impairments, illnesses or other differences. It’s associated with disability, isn’t it, but it’s got a much broader reach than that. If you make something accessible for me, you also make it accessible for older people. You make it accessible for people with prams, pushchairs, luggage. That’s just physical. If you make an online presence accessible, it means that you are going to ensure that the online content is open to as many people as possible. You’re going to broaden your customer base. Let’s face it, that’s what’s it’s all about.
It’s funny how many of my clients don’t understand the basics of what accessibility is. Funnier than that, they don’t even know what disability is. Now of course, because we have an Equality Act here in this country, we have Equality Acts throughout the globe, they all need to describe what disability is. In England, we do it like this. It’s described as a mental or physical impairment that house substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal, day-to-day activities.
It’s quite board. But more importantly, it doesn’t say that describes themselves as disabled. So, we’re not talking about just the people who proudly and openly say ‘I am disabled.” We’re talking about the huge numbers of our society that go, ‘oh I am not really disabled’, ‘I can’t see very well but I am not really visually impaired.’ ‘I can’t hear very well but I am not really deaf.’ ‘I have a bit of trouble walking but I am not really like you Mik am I, you can’t walk at all’. All of these people are covered by the Equality Act. You don’t need to have a big T-shirt on saying ‘disabled and proud’ to be protected by law.
That is what those laws do. I will come on to those in a minute. So yet again you’re broadening your customer base because most clients that you work with will think disabled, they will have a mindset of what that is. But actually it’s much broader than that. Also, we think about disability in specific ways. We imagine what disability means. More most of us, we use this model. The medical model. Now the medical model obviously comes from the medical world, from doctors who most disabled people have a lot of time interfacing with. What the medical model says that disability is the thing that’s wrong with someone, the thing that makes us different. So for instance, I am disabled by the fact that my legs don’t work. I cannot walk. I have, it says that disabled people want to be cured, all my doctors try to fix me when they can’t fix me they see me as a failure, then they go oh how are we going to look after him.
Most of society sees disability as a tragedy. Isn’t it sad? It’s still prevalent today. You see stuff on television it kind of goes, oh disabled people, what a tragedy that this thing has happened to someone. It also says, that kind of we have to fit into society. So, disabled people have to fit into the what the world is now, and it sort of says that if we can’t, it’s our fault. Now I can explain this quite easily as I said at the start before some of you turned up, I used to play here when it was a venue with my band. I have played on this very stage as I said to some of you I fell off this very stage while drunk. (laughter) but when I used to get on this stage I used to have to be carried on and off the stage and carried upstairs to get here. I have been dropped quite a few times, so eventually said I don’t want to be carried anymore. Back then people would say, well, then it’s your fault you can’t get in it’s not our fault.
I was going to tell you a story about going to the toilet but I won’t because I involve peeing in a bottle and no-one wants to know about that. (laughter) it kind of says that disabled people are labelled by their impairment I’m Mik the wheelchair. The guy in the wheelchair. If anyone looks at the history of rave culture in London in the 90s there’s quite a lot of mention of the wheelchair dancer, that’s me! (laughter) I was there, big style. But, you do that a lot. I understand it not many people know disabled people, if they do you go you know Mik he’s in the wheelchair. And a lot of disabled people feel that that takes power away from us. One of the things that happen is that we don’t get to get included using this model. So, lots of times I will turn up to events lots of people talking about access, won’t themselves be disabled. You kind of go, well, have you asked us? And of course as you can tell, I tried to do that bit in as neutral a way as possible but I am afraid I might have failed because let’s face it we don’t like that. Disabled people really dislike medical model. It kind of paints us as a sad tragedy, paints us as different as weak, as spending our lives wishing we weren’t who we are. And as far back as the 70s, there was a big groundswell within our community saying this is not right, this is not how we feel about ourselves. A group of disabled academics got together, they stroked their beards, the women stroked the beard adjacent to them. And said we have got to think of a new way of thinking about disability. They came up with the social model. The social model I will tell you from the start, we like. Because what that says is yes of course, I can’t walk, that’s my impairment. I have a spinal injury. Someone who is visually impaired cannot see but that their impairment it’s not their disability. What disables them is the barriers that society throws up. Anyone that’s saw me trying to wheel up the ramp, will see that while this a nod to accessibility it’s a bit too steep as I nearly fell backwards and broke my neck which would have been bad. Good for my bank balance because I would have sued everybody. I will get Suing people in a little while. If you acknowledge it’s the barriers that block us you can remove barriers whether they are physical like a flight of steps or attitudinal, like people saying we don’t get many disabled people wanting to use our service so why should we make it accessible.
I could just turnaround and read this like this, probably easier. Yeah that’s better. It’s very socialist in its thinking, it was the 70s. Everyone is equal, everyone has the right to full participation. We should all have the right to do what everybody does. If we acknowledge that and then say we can remove the barriers, then that means we can make the world more accessible. Which creates a fairer society, and it also starts saying well hey, disabled people are not just their impairment we’re not also one big homogenous lump. This is really important, when you start thinking about it in the business sense because I hate football. But I love fashion. So, I don’t really care that there’s a big push at the moment to make football grounds accessible, but I am really interested in the fact that they are trying to make retail accessible. Many people think that disabled people are a lump, a kind of blob that’s not the case. So your customers might go, will disabled people want to buy our produced or want to use our service? Yes. Because under the social model it acknowledges that we are everyone. We’re not a lump over there, to be looked after, feel sorry for, we’re all of you. It empowers us because it’s also says, hey, ask us! If you have got a question about how to make your project accessible, find a disabled people that has that issue and ask them. Luckily of course for me it also means that I get hired to do talks like this to all of my clients before I start a relationship. It’s funny because it does seem like sucking eggs it does seem I am teaching someone obvious stuff. Yet, I do these talks all over the country to big business and they are mystified by lots of it, that disabled people really like the social model because what it says about access, about impairment and about disability. It says it acknowledges that it’s part of life. So, once you accept that, then of course it becomes a bit sensible to start making projects accessible. For everybody. Now I should point out that part of the reason why I am reading all this stuff out, is because what I am trying to do is to make this accessible without banging on about it. I am not making a feature, I have not asked anyone in the room, can anyone read my slides, can anyone see my slides I am just reading it out. This is part of what we do to make the training I do inclusive. We have also got our fantastic Palantypists down here, right now these are the best in the industry, these guys, they are just superb. I tell everyone about them everywhere I go. But these are just little nods to access that are very easy to do. So, moving swiftly on.
When I get people that say I don’t guess this is what do you mean, what do you mean the medical model, the social model, the easiest way to explain it is this. I come up to a flight of stairs, is it my fault I can’t walk up them or is it society’s fault that they built them in the first place, that they didn’t think we need a lift or a ramp next to it.
That’s a really sort of quick and easy way of making a client understand why it is that you are pushing to make your project accessible.
Now, the scary bit, [Laughs] of course, it’s all very lovely to tell people about accessibility, hugging each other and think it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it lovely. Isn’t it law now? There are laws all over the country, we have the Equality Act, the American with Disability Act is far more ferocious than ours, if a business is not accessible it can be shut down. So, if you are working with an American client and you don’t consider access, you can end up in real trouble.
They basically say you have to make steps to ensure that what you are providing is accessible to disabled people. If these steps aren’t taken, it’s really important, it’s the end-user, the service provider that is liable, it’s not you, it’s your client, if you design something that is not accessible they put it out there in the public domain and then I say I can’t use this, I sue the service provider and I will win. Now that would be good for me, I would win and they would have to make steps to correct their inaccessibility, hopefully, what they will also do is lose their brand name, wouldn’t they, they would lose credibility their reputation would be damaged. This is a tricky and worrying subject for you guys, then what happens is they then legally can kind of sue you, you didn’t provide them with the accessibility project that they thought they were getting, so how do you get around this, how do you make sure — because clients don’t ask for it they expect it. I’ll tell you how you do it it’s quite simple. What I’m doing here, I’m giving you like a talk that I give to all my clients when I start. I’ll make sure that it’s available on-line, it will be available on video, just put in your quotes, little references to access, always make sure you say, “Of course, the set will be accessible”, when you are budgeting for what you do, put extra time in to make sure you can do that, if they don’t like that, then you have to make sure that it’s them who say they don’t want to give you extra time, you have it in your proposal, so you are covered.
Okay, let’s cheer ourselves up a bit, don’t panic, it’s not all about the stick, it’s not all about that nasty legal stuff, it’s also about carrots. This is the stuff that you put in your proposal, to make your client go, “Ah, really, yippee, let’s make it addition accessible as possible”, people always say, “there aren’t that many disabled people out there!?” well there are 2m people, are blind or visually impaired in the UK alone. 10% of the population have dyslexia. So, over 6m people. So, your, your eight million people who can’t visually interface with what you are providing, whether it is because they can’t see it, they can’t read it, if you only provide a visual medium on a website, let’s face it we are used to thinking of websites as visual. We are already starting to think, one, how do we make everything be able to be read by a reading programme, how do you make sure our content is easily understandable, we have 3.3 million people who have difficulties with memory, learning and concentration. It’s great if you make everything work and interface with talk technology, if you make sure that you have it able to be read by someone with dyslexia, then what happens, you make it so overly complex that people can’t understand what you are saying, you have to make sure your English is snappy, easy to understand, catchy, it’s got to look good but it can’t look good at the cost of accessibility, because you have lost out on all of these people.
Then we get to the other bit that is always scary, 1 in 4 of the population have some form of disability, some form of impairment. 92% of those are invisible. So, when a customer says, “But there aren’t that many disabled people out there”, there are and 92% of them you don’t even know that they are, most of those will be the ones with issues interfacing with what you do. There will be people who have problems using mice, keyboards, will need to use eye-trackers, I can tell you now I don’t know anything about it, I’m just the person who tells you, you have to do it, Graham tells you how to do it.
Your client has to make sure that it is accessible, most importantly for all clients, disabled people, their friends and their family have and these are government figures, I’ve not made them up, 250 + billion pounds a year to spend and we are a really loyal market. When we discover something that is accessible we stick with it.
So, if you start providing accessible sites, your customers will guarantee our custom, because we will go back time and time and time again.
A recent report said disabled people, not friends and family, just disabled people, spent 16 plus billion pounds last year on-line, 16 thousand million on on-line. 11 plus billion of that was lost because we clicked away, we didn’t spend that money on the place that we went to, because we couldn’t spend it, this is not in the shop where I couldn’t get in, it’s on-line, it’s a potential client base that will be saying, “I thought it was accessible”, they don’t understand that you have to do specific things to make it work. So, by telling them that all this money is available, by telling them what you are going to do, you are making your, your project stand out, your proposal stand out to the client.
80% of disabled people spend on accessible websites, this is the click away pound again, it’s the actual facts and figures, I didn’t make it up, I’d like to, but I didn’t.
71%, clicked away on the first page they have got to the homepage and said I can’t navigate this and left. So, they didn’t know, the real favourite, we didn’t spend on the first site or the cheapest site, so your clients could even pass on the cost, though don’t quote me on that, it’s illegal to pass on the cost of access to the customer, but it means that you can make sure product accessible and you can make what you do for your customer accessible and it will be guaranteed that it will increase their margin. 10% of that annual spend, 10% of the annual spend with dip, it’s the national spend on-line, is spent by disabled people, that’s being lost if your website is not accessible.
So, why accessibility? Well, it’s the right thing to do. Isn’t it. We have worked that out.
It’s required under law and so when you are doing your proposals you need to say, you need to make a feature to say how great what you are going to do, yes, I’m going to make that accessible as required by law. Wilt also increase your brand — what’s it called ‘corporate responsibility’, your brand’s corporate responsibility will be up, because of course, you are providing an accessible product, most importantly all that extra income, all that lovely money. Very difficult for me, I’m a bit of a socialist, yet I readily do talks where I try and sell people on the cap list idea of why you should make things accessible. The whole of the business world at the moment, are very enthralled that idea of increasing diversity and inclusion, so if you could sell to your clients the projects that you are providing, that they will be accessible, what you are doing you are making your proposals stand out. Once you have done that, you will then start making a name for yourself. a tiny bit at the end about inclusive design, people think of access as a bolt-on. I’ll design my website and then I’ll make it accessible, not the way round to do it.
I was listening to a speech earlier about market research, this is basically a market research that you can all take home and put in your proposals about accessibility, about this market, about the huge numbers of people who have got all this lovely, 250 billion pounds to spend, 16 million pounds on-line, all market research.
Inclusive design puts accessibility right that beginning, before you actually start designing, you think how do I make it accessible, how do I make inclusive, inclusive design allows any user to interact with a space, product or building in a similar manner as possible, it creates designs that ensure shared experience for all users, it places people at the heart of the design process, so when you are designing, you say I know that there are going to be people who find using a mouse difficult, so I have to make sure that I can use the site using click through, using the keyboard, but I understand how the technology works, if not I’ll find out someone who gives me the help, then I know my site will work for all. It’s an inclusive site, it’s accessible, you’ve moved on, this is the buzzword at the moment, inclusive design, it acknowledges diversity and says everyone has got different needs so I’m going to build it into what I do, it offers choice and flexibility with more than one design solution. So, we can use a mouse, you can use click through, you can use a keyboard, you can interface with a screen, with talk technology. That’s what inclusive design is, it’s built in.
The great thing about inclusive design for all designers, all developers, anyone that builds something, is it’s in its infancy, people are just beginning to use this as a technique of thinking about how to change the world.
What it means for you is you can create or design something, use a technique in a new and innovative way that means you become the person that cracked that problem, that design, that solution. It can be a plug-in, it can be a way of doing something. It means that you get your name associated with that technique.
At the moment, there are two other thoughts going on about accessible, being done by the leading experts in the field. There are so few of us, I’m only an expert in inclusive design and talking and this kind of rubbish, I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to WordPress, you guys can change the world and make your name at the same time, make it so clients come back again and again and your name spreads so they know when they deal with you, when they hire your company or you, that you will give them a product that will prove to be inclusive and accessible.
So how do you do it well simple, like I said put a few facts and figures in your proposals that outline you will be aiming at this market but you will be trying to make your product inclusive and accessible. Go to the click away pound, download the two-page report, ad that to all your documents because it’s a great resource and it proves what you are sane about how big the market is. Quickly summarise what the standards are, and include that as an addendum to your proposal. This stuff you can have on file, every time you do a proposal, just say see addendum 1 or 2, it’s easily done, and it means one that you are making sure all your clients know that you understand and are thinking about this issue. Two, it protects you legally, because you have said you’re going to do it. So it’s great.
Now, as I said I know nothing about this, because I am a user. As we all know users are, in my household I sit there going ‘make it work and my wonderful wife ruses up and makes it work. It’s great then I watch her doing all of her coding, all pretty colours on the screen, I go how did she do it … it’s magic. Luckily there are resources to all about accessibility, obviously WordPress has its accessibility resource, we have got wonderful Graham with Coolfields Consulting, Rian of course, other shining star in the world of access. And that is the click away pound website. So please go to that to get your reports. Of course, I am available to help you if you need any help, if you need pushing in the direction to find someone to advise you, I am probably going to be able to help you do that as well. I had originally managed to make my talk 45 minutes long, then I was told I need to cut it down to half an hour, now I have done it in under 35 minutes. So that’s it. Please ask questions, I will be here to answer. Thank you very much. (applause).
MARK WILKINSON: Thank you very much Mik, we have about 10 minutes for questions, hopefully you have got lots of things you want to ask.
MIK SCARLET: Hang on a minute I know what I want to do I want to take a selfie with all you lot behind me.
MARK WILKINSON: Any questions, raise your hand we’ll get a mic to you, you can ask away. We have got one in the middle there. Any questions?
MIK SCARLET: Come on there’s got to be a question.
MARK WILKINSON: One down here and one over there a we’ll go to left first.
FROM THE FLOOR: Mik, excellent talk thank you very much. So, we as an agency we have not really thought about accessibility, what stages would you recommended we go through, what would you say is priority 1 to solve?
MIK SCARLET: Well the best way of doing it is when a customer or client first comes to you, when you are doing the original proposal, make sure you put in a segment saying accessible or inclusive design in the design brief. Say that you are referring to, there are industry standards you need to stick to, but make a feature of those so you are, it’s funny I work with lots of people I go along and I tell them what the building regulations are. These are all online, they are all easily available and yet people pay me huge sums of money to tell them what I found online the night before. So basically, what you are doing, everybody is too busy to worry about this stuff so if they say to you, if I am advising a business say on designing a new website, I would say right we must make sure it’s accessible. I am not going to be able to tell them how they do that but I will tell them that the proposals. They must pick are the ones that outline how they will do it. Then you have got to start doing the design, when you do that you have got to focus on how you make your product inclusive, for that I would advise going and watching Graham’s talk online when you get back when it goes live, because Graham is one of the leading lights of how to make sure your design works in an inclusive way. It will take a while to get used to, but once you start getting used to it, it becomes second nature. Then what happens you wonder how you ever didn’t use it. I see this time and time again, with systematic so many of my clients will be how are we going to make this accessible we go back with our architect, ripping out all the non-accessible stuff, pointing out how much they would have saved if they had done it from the start. It works for everybody. I have got friends who can’t use their hands to click a mouse but I also know people that break their hands doing sport so if you have made your site accessible so you can push a key on a keyboard and click through the means that suddenly that people are disabled for a short amount of time can use your site as well. That is the whole point of inclusive design, it means that it becomes usable for everyone. Like I said on there that by 2030, 50% of the population I forget I didn’t read that bit out, 50% of the population will be called disabled under the remit of the law. That’s a huge market if you start doing it now it will become second nature and it becomes industry standard. The one great thing about the WordPress community it already doing so much. WordPress is already accessible in its infrastructure. So, it’s just you, using it correctly and designing to use that the way it’s built correctly, means you will be able to do that. It means that clients – then what I will do is once you have built it, make sure your clients test it before it goes live. That’s sort of their responsibility but you need to work with them to make sure that they get the feedback. So, it’s always worth if they can do some kind of focus group, and like I said I can help with finding people to do that there are loads of people over the country that help doing that. There are testers as well here in WordPress that test. Good yes there are.
MARK WILKINSON: This talk was 3 accessibility talks across all tracks, so if you are looking for help how to actually implement this stuff, then I know Graham’s talk definitely will be that I am not sure the other one but certainly if you are interested watch the videos.
MIK SCARLET: You can’t escape accessibility during this hour it’s everywhere. But like I said Graham Armfield, Coolfields Consultants, is one of the leading lights on how to make things design accessible and there’s pretty much him. So basically, there’s all that market space open and that’s kind of what I think is great at the moment is there a huge gaping hole which you can all fill by learning how to do it directly and you all develop your own styles of doing, it which means the look that you develop will be yours. It means that people go I like the way that looks, the way that works, I think that works for my customers. I will use you.
MARK WILKINSON: Any other questions, put your hand up. Got one over here.
FROM THE FLOOR: Just before I get to the question you were saying there are testers out there one is called Cynthiasays, if anyone wants to write that down, Cynthiasays. It was broken on Friday but they tweeted they were going to fix it over the weekend. It’s really important. As well another thing if you are going to do any work for I public sector organisations use have to meet the accessibility guidelines, you have to so you really need to know this stuff. The question I was going to ask is do you have any examples of people who have really done it well, people who have really tackled it inclusive design on the websites and elsewhere, who who’s approach to it exemplary.
MIK SCARLET: I don’t, I have come here to tell you how to do and not to, you how do it. I am like my stepdad, do as I say not do as I do. You are right about the public sector if you work for any public sector body, when you get, when you are starting the gig say can I have a copy of your diversity impact assessment. Every public body should have done one on what they want from you, then that will give you advice on who they are targeting and how they want you to fit what you are doing to fit their diversity impact assessment. If they have not done one, ask. Because legally they should. Which means you are kind of on dodgy ground already, because they should have already done this. I have kind of aimed this more at selling stuff because public sector don’t really care about the billions of pounds we have got to spend but if you are working for the public sector in the UK, all public-sector bodies have to have a DIA or an EIA equality impact assessment or diversity impact assessment. Even though I am not allowed to advertise I am one of the UK’s leading experts on doing this, if they have not got one I am available at reasonable rates.
MARK WILKINSON: Got a question at the back?
FROM THE FLOOR: Yeah just wondering for a live site are there analytics tool that tell you how people are accessing the sites, rather than using a mouse whether they are accessing another way and if you can get hold of those data do they help to build the case to carry on extending the site?
MIK SCARLET: First part of the question, no idea. Second part of the question, yes. The more evidence you, I mean really without being funny the truth is legally everyone should be going this anyway. There are no legal reasons for not doing this. It’s not like you turn up to a kind of Elizabethan, it’s designed in the 90s it’s historic, there should be no reason, what I am saying all of this sort of stuff is away of backing up your argument to say to a client you should do it, that’s kind of it. But if you do it, you will get all this lovely money and everything is great and that’s kind of it. But you’re the, I don’t know I will find out and put it in my next talk. The more evidence you get the better. These are just the kind of basic facts, this is a kind of talk I give t everybody whether it’s an architect or a bank, or you know, Network Rail these are the people I work with I basically give this talk so sorry if it doesn’t exactly apply to everything you want to know, like I said I am a user. I am basically a shaved monkey that goes ‘make it work!’ in my house.
MARK WILKINSON: I think we’ve got time for just one more question — no, great. Thank you again, round of applause, thank you very much, thank you. [Applause]. Waive got half an hour break now before the next talk in here. Which, has escaped my memory as to what it is, bear with me for a sec, on malware, grab yourself a coffee a drink, get your T-shirts if you have not done so, it’s in the graduate building, see you in about half an hour.