Home of the Red Sox, the USS Constitution and the famous sitcom ‘Cheers’, Boston in Massachusetts, USA is famous for many reasons, but it wasn’t on HeX’s radar until July. That’s when our Creative Director, James, was asked to speak at Boston WordCamp.
What is WordCamp?
If you don’t know what WordCamp is, you can find out more in our other blog telling you all about it. In brief, it brings together content writers, developers, designers and everyone in-between to talk about WordPress.
James joined the event to talk about how ‘a little accessibility goes a long way’. In the talk, he spoke about how all of us, here at HeX, are working towards becoming a fully accredited digital agency, with every project we deliver being tested internally and externally for accessibility issues first.
Providing live demonstrations and real-world examples, James spoke about making websites accessible and helping people develop websites without interfering with workflow. He also touched on earlier work, produced by HeX, for universities in America that required development to a high standard of accessibility.
Accessibility in America
America already has a strong focus on accessibility, with Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act both requiring public sector and commercial businesses to be accessible to those with disabilities, this includes websites and apps. There has also been case-law to emphasise this, with a number of courts ruling in favour of the person with a disability claiming a breach of either acts.
Our commitment to accessibility
James opened with a video from BSL interpreter and consultant, Sarah Gatford, who signed a message to the audience – this was only in BSL, so many audience members were unable to understand it. James then asked for the audience to imagine themselves in a Deaf persons’ shoes, this is how they feel all the time when people attempt to communicate with them via speaking. This resonated with the audience and kicked off the presentation with a powerful message.
In past events, we have also been accompanied by Alan Sleat, a blind accessibility tester working with Shaw Trust Accessibility Services. Although Alan couldn’t make it to Boston, we ensured he was represented by using a few videos of him demonstrating how he uses a screen reader to navigate websites.
The feedback from the event was extremely positive with comments flooding in and many people taking advantage of the free website health checks that we offer from our website. Many developers and designers, even those who had little to do with accessibility, had really taken on board the comments and pledged to concentrate more on the end-user in the future.
WordCamp Boston is one of the many stops on the ‘HeX tour’ around the world in the coming year, also taking in England, Ireland, New York, Scotland, The Netherlands and Germany, as well as other locations to be announced in the future.