In the previous podcast episode, we covered the basics of website accessibility and got a foundational understanding of what accessibility is and why it’s important.

For this episode, I wanted to invite a guest to go even deeper into accessibility so website developer and accessibility enthusiast Colleen Gratzer shares advanced strategies for how to build accessible websites along with how to package up accessibility to sell it as a service.

While there is a lot of conflicting information about accessibility, the common ground seems to be in regards to the basics of building a website that is accessible to everyone as possible.

My hope is the advanced strategies discussed in this interview will hopefully help you take accessibility to the next level if/when that need arises for you and your clients.

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
03:01 – Greeting to Colleen
07:15 – Niche boosted confidence
08:57 – Offering as a service
11:04 – Document accessibility
13:29 – What are the basics
15:22 – Proper coding
18:10 – Convey semantically
19:47 – Page builders
22:55 – Thoughts on Visual effects
26:50 – Usability & accessibility
28:56 – Facts to back up the design
30:32 – Branding colors
33:19 – Legal repercussions
35:36 – DIYer issues
37:59 – Are overlay tools beneficial
40:43 – Even little changes help
46:15 – Staying top of mind
48:22 – Selling as a part of process
53:09 – Be careful how you sell it
56:44 – Audit the design early
1:00:51 – A marathon not a sprint
1:05:50 – Final thoughts

Foundations of Website Accessibility course – one of 3 accessibility courses Colleen offers

Connect with Colleen:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #214 Full Transcription

[00:00:00] Josh: Hello friends. Welcome into the podcast. This is episode 214, where we’re gonna take a deeper dive into website accessibility. Now in the previous episode, we really scratched the surface with accessibility, with Rafi, from accessiBe.

[00:00:16] Josh: And in this episode, I wanted to bring somebody on who I consider an expert in the accessibility field. This is Colleen Grazer, who is a very experienced web developer. And in this episode, it was really interesting to kind of pick her brain about. Getting into the weeds of actually building accessible websites as opposed to building a website and trying to make it accessible.

[00:00:41] Josh: So I hope that makes sense. And I think it will, once you hear from Colleen here, because as an experienced web developer and somebody who has a wealth of knowledge on accessibility, it was, it was really eye-opening to me to see what it takes to actually build a site again from the ground up or in this case, from the code up to be accessible.

[00:00:59] Josh: And to make sure you have the strongest foundation for your websites. Now, Colleen is a speaker, an educator, a podcaster. She’s also a course creator and she has some amazing resources. I’m gonna tell you right now, amazing resources, both free and premium at her that we’re gonna recommend.

[00:01:19] Josh: And this episode is loaded with links. So if you find yourself listening and being like, what was that link? I completely forget. We will have all the links mentioned. Least as many as we can keep track slash two four. So make sure you head there after this episode, if you’d like to get access to all the links that we talked about, but again, I said this on the last episode, I’ll say it here.

[00:01:42] Josh: There’s so many conflicting messages about accessibility and what makes a site truly accessible. But a lot of the foundational stuff is the same. And Colleen has a bit of a, a different viewpoint on overlays and her viewpoint. I think you’ll, you’ll gather here through this whole talk is that you wanna build your site as accessible as possible, so you don’t need to add as much to it to make it accessible.

[00:02:06] Josh: So I found it really interesting because we’ve got two guests that have slightly different views on, on some aspects of accessibility, but there’s a lot of common ground with building an accessible site. That is what Colleen’s gonna empower you to do here. So I’m excited to hear how this one helps you out here is Colleen hoping to make you more accessible.

[00:02:26] Josh: As a web designer and help your clients as well. Cuz this is a big deal and I think it’s gonna become a bigger deal over the next few years. So without further ado, here’s Colleen, let’s get ready to take a deep dive into website accessibility. Oh, and I forgot to even tell you, we also talk about how to sell it as a service.

[00:02:42] Josh: Woo. All right, let’s go,

[00:02:48] Josh: Colleen. Welcome in to the podcast. Thanks for taking some time to. Yeah,

[00:02:53] Colleen: thanks for having me on, I always love to talk about accessibility.

[00:02:56] Josh: we were just laughing like before we went live, because it’s such a polarizing and divided topic. I feel like, like the two most polarizing things in the world today, I think are politics and website accessibility.

[00:03:12] Josh: because no one can agree. Uh, especially in all seriousness, like with, with accessibility. I, I don’t know who to believe. I don’t know what to believe at this point. I have, I’ve been fortunate to be able to talk with, with some people who have delays and disabilities who have given me their take on accessibility, which has been really interesting.

[00:03:33] Josh: Um, so I’m excited to, to kind of pick your brain to see what has worked for you, what your feelings are about it. So I’m really excited to dive into, to this topic of accessibility before we do, though, would you like to let everybody know first off where you’re based out of, and I’m kind of curious Kelly, when somebody asks you what you do, what do you tell them?

[00:03:51] Colleen: Well, I do two things. So I have a, I have a consulting business where I’m doing design and accessibility, and then I also have another business. Well, Groo graphics is my one business. And then I have a second business creative boost where I actually help designers. I help them with mindset, but I also have courses that help them with accessibility and that also can, you know, give them confidence and help set them apart and to like eliminate 99% of their competition by learning that as a skill.

[00:04:17] Josh: Mm. So I’m kind of curious from a accessibility standpoint, when did, when did you start taking accessibility seriously? And when did it, I mean, you mentioned before, uh, we even got on the call today that it’s made a big impact on your business and how you run things. So when did that happen? Was there like a, was there like a big moment for you that it just clicked or did you just kind of gradually get into the world of accessibility?

[00:04:41] Colleen: It’s funny because it completely happened by accident. I didn’t know what it was. I. I mean, so it was like, it was like six years ago and be shinon, who’s local to me in Maryland. She’s been in the accessibility world for, I think, 30 years. And so she and I have been on the same email lists, local email lists in the industry for years.

[00:05:05] Colleen: And I would see her emails all the time that we’re talking about accessibility and her classes. Like she teaches document accessibility and I would just delete them. I’m like, well, it doesn’t apply to me. Right. And I would just delete them. And then one day she contacted me and she says, I know that you can code websites.

[00:05:20] Colleen: And I know you’re a great designer. So I really think that this would be a good fit for you. I think that it would be document accessibility to be great for you to get into. I’m like, I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know. You know? And she was like, well, you know, you could take my. But let’s get on a call and talk about it a bit.

[00:05:36] Colleen: And so we did, and I was like, okay, this sounds really interesting. Okay. And my business has always served a nonprofit, so I wanna, I like doing good. Right. And I like helping organizations that do good for others. So this kind of was along that same line. Right. And so I ended up taking her course. I did really well with it.

[00:05:53] Colleen: There was very little that I had to actually change with what I was already doing, like with InDesign and documents and things like that. And, um, yeah, so it’s funny because then I just, I started talking about it and then I started getting more of that work and then it just completely snowballed. And then I just started becoming known for that.

[00:06:14] Colleen: And it was funny because for years, I mean, I’ve had my business since 2003 and I was confident in my abilities to do like the design work I was doing mostly print. And I also did websites too. And I, you know, I could code, I mean, I learned code in 1995 when people were just building websites and I, I wasn’t C.

[00:06:33] Colleen: I guess I didn’t come across always as confident. Right. And so I felt like even after the coaching that I had had over the, for over the years around that timeframe, I feel like accessibility is what really like accelerated my business. It really like transformed it. And I was more confident talking about it.

[00:06:50] Colleen: I eliminated like 99% of my competition. Um, anytime anybody heard the word accessibility, they started to associate my name with it. So they would just, I mean, just come to me. Right. So I just feel like this, I was always looking for what’s really my niche. Right? Cause nonprofits, isn’t totally a niche. And I was doing all the different kinds of design work and branding and logo, design, and print and web everything, even email design, which I hated.

[00:07:15] Colleen: And so when I got into accessibility, it really gave me a lot of focus. And like I said, I just started talking about that. And it’s like, that stuff is what started coming to me. And instead of just all this work from all over the place, that was random stuff. And so it really. It just, it changed my business, but it also changed my confidence.

[00:07:35] Colleen: Um, I, it just, it just became so much easier, you know, and a lot of that was also, I was just talking about one thing and not all the things, you know, which a lot of designers do.

[00:07:46] Josh: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I talk about that often. Like if you just say everything about everything on websites, it’s gonna be white noise.

[00:07:54] Colleen: Exactly.

[00:07:54] Josh: Clients aren’t gonna get it. Yeah. It’s a great case study. You’re kind of laying the groundwork on for like, if you do something well and you enjoy it and you just go for it and then more importantly, the power of being known for it. That’s so beneficial. It’s one reason I recently actually rebranded my podcast and what I’m doing to web design business to make it so clear.

[00:08:14] Josh: This is a focus like the business side of web design. Same for you. Like you became that accessibility person. I’m, I’m kind of curious. Were you doing accessibility on like, were you offering that as a service for sites that were already there and you were just tweaking it and adding accessibility, or were you like re in order to work with you to get your accessibility services, did you do like complete rebuilds of websites or like ground, ground up websites? How did that work?

[00:08:42] Colleen: Well, first I started with just document accessibility and so I was offering that as a service. Okay. But I was still building websites at the time and I did tons of custom code. I mean, I prefer a custom code as I don’t. I mean, that’s, and that’s how I just learned too. So I prefer the custom code old school way.

[00:08:59] Josh: you know, makes sense. Starting the nineties and early thousands here.

[00:09:02] Colleen: Yeah. And I used to use dream Weaver and all that, but I just, I just always have done custom codes. So, um, I just. What was I gonna say? What was the question again?

[00:09:12] Josh: Well, I was just kind of curious, like do, oh, how I got in order to work well, that worked, and then I was kind curious, like, would you work on other sites that were already built or order to do accessibility? Did you have to build the site basically?

[00:09:23] Colleen: Yeah, so I, I started with the documents. I started getting a lot of that work, but since I was also building websites, then I was offering that as a service. So I took what I learned about document accessibility, like the principles. And then I, I learned the practices on my own, through a lot of trial and error and talking to a lot of other accessibility consultants who had been doing this for a long time.

[00:09:43] Colleen: Uh, like, like accessibility, auditors, website, accessibility, auditors. And so I ended up offering that as a service and I would offer like whole entire. I started offering entire websites, making them accessible, like from the ground up. And then later over time I started offering remediation services, which is where you make a site accessible and take an existing site, make it accessible.

[00:10:09] Colleen: And you know, it might just have some minor fixes. It might need a whole lot of fixes theme changes, things like that. And so I just kind of started expanding what I was offering there. And then I got into website audits, accessibility audits, and then I even started offering accessible branding as a service as well, because accessibility really starts with branding.

[00:10:33] Colleen: It comes, it like, goes from the top down, right. It starts with like your brand color palette. It starts with that messaging. And because if you’re, if the, if the work is not accessible, you’re alienating 20% of people right off the bat. Oh, that’s interesting. So it starts, it really trickles down from the branding.

[00:10:51] Josh: I have so many questions and what we’re gonna get into. I, what I am curious about that I don’t, I’m not familiar with document accessibility. do you mean like literally like PDFs presentations? Like what is document accessibility?

[00:11:04] Colleen: Yeah, so usually an, a document is gonna come from a source file such as in design and word PowerPoint, you know, like that. And so you, you can export that to become a PDF, and there’s a lot of work that you can do well and indig, there’s more work you can do to make a document accessible in indig than export to the PDF. There’s always still something to do later word and PowerPoint. It’s not as easy as in indig. Um, and then again, you can export to PDF.

[00:11:32] Colleen: So you have, you can have an accessible InDesign file that you get to a certain point and then you export it and you have the PDF, and then you can also have an accessible PowerPoint presentation. Right. So it could be accessible visually, like for the presentation purposes, like while somebody is speaking, but then a lot of times what clients will do is they want to distribute the slides.

[00:11:58] Colleen: So then the PDF, a PDF needs to be exported from the PowerPoint and then that needs to be finished making accessible. So yes, there’s documents of all kinds.

[00:12:09] Josh: Gotcha. And by accessibility for documents, is that like font size, colors, legibility, readability. Is that the kind of things that that would entail and accessibility?

[00:12:20] Colleen: Well, it’s got the same principles as website design in that there are going to be certain typography things that are gonna be better for accessibility and usability. Certain line spacing and the color contrast is always gonna play a factor, um, for, you know, users with low vision and color blindness as well.

[00:12:41] Colleen: And so a lot of those principles all apply across the board to anything that needs, needs to be made accessible. But, um, with documents too, I mean, documents are part of the website. So if a website has to be made accessible, if there’s documents on it, those also should be made accessible.

[00:12:57] Josh: Mm good point.

[00:13:00] Josh: So this is a perfect segue into, I want to something I wanna get your take on, which is particularly for websites, although, as we just discussed, it’s gonna translate to different mediums. What are the basics of accessibility? Because I get the que this question all the time. Mm-hmm and I I’ll be happy to share my thoughts on it, but I want to hear yours Colleen what are like in order for a website to be just, you know, level one accessible, what does that entail? Is it fonts, colors, everything we just mentioned. What, what are the basics of accessibility?

[00:13:29] Colleen: Well, it has to work for people with visual disabilities. It has to work for people with motor disabilities. It has to work for people with any kind of disability, even a cognitive disability, a learning disability, neurological disability. So we’re talking about visually, we’re talking about color contrast. Yes. Like you mentioned, but also the, yeah, it should have a website should have proper code because that’s the foundation that does most of the work right there.

[00:13:59] Colleen: If something is properly coded, it’s going to, you know, go a long way towards accessibility. Uh, the other thing is it should be keyboard accessible. You know, we’re always focused on using a mouse and. How things work with a mouse, but the keyboard isn’t even assistive technology. It’s just the keyboard.

[00:14:18] Colleen: And some people with motor disabilities might use the keyboard to get around. So they’re gonna be tabbing to hyperlinks and form fields, any interactive elements on a site, and someone might be using a screen reader to get around too. And so they’ll be using the keyboard as well. Um, there’s also other kinds of assistive D devices like there’s braille devices, there’s all kinds of other devices.

[00:14:39] Colleen: And so it needs to a, a website needs to work for all of these different users with all of these different devices. And how do

[00:14:48] Josh: you, oh, go ahead. Sorry. No, no. That’s okay. Go ahead. Well, I’m just kind curious. I never really thought about the idea of just using, using a keyboard, but mm-hmm to be honest, if you told me Josh build a website, that’s gonna be accessible, just using a keyboard.

[00:15:00] Josh: I have, I don’t know how to do that. Like, do you just build it in? Like, so you’re WordPress in, in hand coder, right? Mm-hmm so would it be like, just use your, your page builder of choice and like, do I have to do anything special to make it tab friendly cue? I don’t even honestly know how to do that or, or is like how, yeah. How do you make a website that works with just the keyboard?

[00:15:22] Colleen: Just proper code. So there’s a lot of semantic behavior with tags. So if you’re building a site that’s full of divs, right. And it doesn’t have proper link structure, it doesn’t have proper headers, footers, headings, lists, things like that. Like just think about like the semantic tags in HTML.

[00:15:45] Colleen: So, and this goes, this is not just addressing your question about keyboard accessibility, but you have to have proper link structure, which we use at H a HF tag for. Right. But when we use semantic tags, generally speaking, we’re conveying meaning to assistive technology of what? Yeah.

[00:16:04] Josh: You tell like alt tags and different things that in the code, explain what’s going on on the page. Is that right? Well,

[00:16:10] Colleen: alt text on Al text is just an attribute of the image tag mm-hmm . And so that’s going to tell users who can’t see the images or users who might have low vision. It will tell them what’s in that image because the assistive technology just cannot see images. Right. Right. Like search engines, it can’t see the image.

[00:16:30] Colleen: So we have to tell it what’s in what the content is. But when we’re using, when we’re using semantic tags, like header, footer, heading like H one H two H three P. Lists things like that. We’re conveying to assistive technology what those elements are, that it’s a header that it’s a footer. That it’s a, this is our top level heading.

[00:16:51] Colleen: Here’s a subhead here’s paragraph text here is a list. And when we use the a H F here’s a hyperlink, but what happens is that a lot of times designers, especially when they’re trying to make a site accessible, if they aren’t trained in it, a lot of times, what I see is that they will go and add extra code in which they didn’t need to add and it actually makes things less accessible or not accessible.

[00:17:19] Josh: So that’s why you said coding is so important because yes, it affects everything. And you’re, this is reaffirming what I’ve been saying for months with the accessibility discussion. And that is basic HTML structure. Mm-hmm what you just said.

[00:17:34] Josh: A header that has the header and the menu items and all that stuff. And then H one S H two S all, you know, formatted correctly, a footer, the basic elements lists numbered list. Mm-hmm, all those things that just make a basic HTML structure. That is like the foundation. That’s, that’s definitely the way I viewed it.

[00:17:52] Josh: And a couple of the people who I’ve talked to who have been on the side of being disabled or have different delays and stuff, they said the same thing that, that is like, mm-hmm, , that’s the most important thing to, to start with because that everything else kind of literally sits on top of that. So that’s great to, to reaffirm my thought of that being like the most important thing,

[00:18:10] Colleen: because if you’ve got, if you’ve got a bunch of divs on a page, right if you’re using div ID equals header instead of a header, well, that’s just, it’s not conveying it. It’s, you know, it’s not conveying something semantically. Just, you could just use the semantic tag header to do that. So it’s like kind of making more work, but if you just use the semantic tags instead of divs, it’s also letting people not, not, not just understand, like what’s on the page, what something is, but it’s also helping them understand like the hierarchy of the document.

[00:18:39] Colleen: Like we code the headings properly and you know, a lot of times we see this with clients all the times, they love to style paragraph text with heading tags, you know?

[00:18:48] Josh: Yes. So, and then you see, there’s got there’s 33 H ones on the page that your client. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a danger for sure. That is a danger for sure. Now a lot of these like WordPress page builders in general. So I use divvy. I’ve been using divvy since 2014. Is, is it fair to say that most of those out of the box are structured correctly? Or do, do you often have to like go in and change the coding of a page builder?

[00:19:15] Colleen: well, I actually don’t use page builders.

[00:19:18] Josh: okay. So you just do WordPress as the core and then custom code.

[00:19:21] Colleen: Yeah. So I use underscores a lot and I will do custom code there because I have tried to use a few accessibility ready themes. And there were things that like I wanted to fix and I would ask the developers, can you fix this? This is an accessibility issue.

[00:19:35] Colleen: And sometimes it would fix it right away and sometimes not really. And I’m like, well, I talk about accessibility all the time. I can’t have my site not be accessible. Oh, gotcha. And I can’t just make an excuse of like, well, I don’t know how to do everything in PHP, so I couldn’t figure this out, you know, so I can’t do that.

[00:19:47] Colleen: So I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna use underscores. And I custom coded both of my websites that way. And yeah. So page builders though, I don’t, I don’t use them, but there are certain things that they might code improperly, but once you understand proper code and then you check the site and see how things are output by a page builder, then you can better assess is this correct or not. And can I do anything about it? Like, can I go into the page builder and actually force this to be a different tag than how it’s coming across?

[00:20:21] Colleen: And that’s where I would think, I mean, elegant themes who created Divi I know the guys in that company and they are top notch. I mean, they are on it with best trends and best, uh, practices as far as what standard of web design. So my thinking would be the top theme, creators are going to do updates that are accessible and everything, but at the same time, they’re not gonna be able to help if somebody is, you know, putting 33 eights ones on a page.

[00:20:47] Colleen: Right.

[00:20:47] Josh: And again, there might be little things, but most of my audience, including myself, is like, I’m not gonna hand code. A a website for all of my clients. Like, I, I, you might be, I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of people who do that, but mm-hmm gosh, would the, would the rise in, in popularity of page builders? I mean, and I don’t, I could probably guess your thoughts on Squarespace clicks and some other ones, uh, judging by the laugh.

[00:21:08] Josh: probably a lot share a lot of the sentiments that I have, but, um, yeah, I guess I’m just kind of curious about that. Like how, from a accessibility standpoint, do we, as web designers and web design business owners need to be concerned about the builders that we use? I’m sure we do as far as an accessibility standpoint.

[00:21:24] Colleen: Yes. But the thing is, is that in access? Okay. So when you look in the WordPress repository and accessibility ready themes, a lot of designers are gonna assume, oh, this is perfectly coded. It’s my site’s gonna be accessible. There’s two problems with that. One is that most accessibility themes are not totally access and you’d have to like, know more about accessibility in order to kind of audit the theme and go through it and understand what could be wrong with it. Right.

[00:21:51] Colleen: There might be some barriers, accessibility barriers that might be just some things that aren’t barriers that they don’t prevent somebody from doing something, but maybe they’re not coded properly. Um, but the other thing with the theme is that that’s only handling the structure of the site. Right? Mm-hmm so, like I mentioned earlier documents when they’re on a site that needs to be accessible documents should be made accessible too. And then it’s like, what you’re saying with you can’t prevent somebody from adding like, you know, 20 H one S to a page.

[00:22:16] Colleen: So that’s the content, right? So you’ve got your structure, your theme, then you’ve got the page content, then you’ve got downloadable documents and then you’ve got the design and the color scheme. So you’ve got all these different components that you have to think.

[00:22:31] Josh: So I would view all those as like the, the foundation of accessibility, the basics, the, the structure, the code, the content, the mm-hmm any other interactive elements. I’m curious. What are your thoughts? And what’s your experience with this new wave of effects and different animations and stuff like that, or even like video backgrounds and images that change, what are, what are your thoughts on that?

[00:22:55] Colleen: I don’t have any kind of visual disability or any kind of, um, neurological disability, but when I see those, they make me sick. Like I could almost fall off the stool at my desk. Like they make me sick they literally make me sick. I mean, I just start feeling like I’m getting vertigo. Ah, and if

[00:23:15] Josh: it’s like a moving image or is it the animations that get you. Uh,

[00:23:19] Colleen: usually like the background images. I don’t like that at all. So, I mean, there are, there is an accessibility guideline that talks about animations and they have to be able to be paused and stopped. And so when I see those, I, they, I don’t like them. Where is that? They bother

[00:23:33] Josh: me. is that accessibility guideline on images and stuff? Is that available everywhere or,

[00:23:41] Colleen: um, you mean like, is it available online to find yeah, you

[00:23:44] Josh: mentioned there was a guideline on like accessibility.

[00:23:47] Colleen: Yeah. One of the w a guidelines. So WIC a is w C a G stands for web content accessibility guidelines. And I don’t remember what number it is, but there is one for motion.

[00:23:58] Josh: Mm, okay. Mm-hmm cool. Yeah. I wanna link that just cuz I’m sure there’s gonna be some good resources. I wanna make sure everyone gets to, to check up. What was it? What was it again?

[00:24:06] Colleen: W c a G w C a G. Yeah. Web content accessibility guidelines. And gotcha. The other thing too is like with sliders. A lot of clients wanna use sliders and. They have horrible they have horrendous usability according to, yeah. Some research I’ve done on them that most people don’t even click past the first one.

[00:24:28] Colleen: So the messaging is lost on all these other carousel, but there’s an accessibility issue with it in that if somebody can’t like, you know, stop it and, or advance to the next one, like a lot of times you can only do that with a mouse. Right. You can’t even do that with the keyboard. So then it’s inaccessible and they’re really hard to get right. They’re really hard to code properly.

[00:24:44] Colleen: So. I always tell designers, like that’s a great way to talk your clients out of them. I mean, because like they want them, but they’re not good for usability or accessibility.

[00:24:53] Josh: So that’s a great timely example. Yeah. I’ve, I’ve noticed the conversation about sliders over the past couple years has been to where there was this huge shift in people realizing that it did conflict with conversions. I mean, I remember when I got into web design in 2010, sliders were all the rage. It was like, oh, this is so cool. Multiple images just whizz by. This was also slightly before the age of scrolling with social media. Like I think people were a lot. That’s why so many clients in the early days would tell me I don’t wanna scroll.

[00:25:22] Josh: They were terrified of scrolling. I’m like, then I realize like, all we do is scroll it’s, that’s not an issue. So they just wanted sliders to just go sideways. But the industry has changed dramatically in regards to sliders. And it’s a good example. You said there of the accessibility issues with it being something that somebody potentially can’t turn off.

[00:25:40] Josh: Obviously sometimes if sliders aren’t coded, well, you may have four H one. In sliders. And then suddenly if you’ve got four H ones on your page, which is gonna be an issue with the page structure. So that’s a great example. Um, and as far as like, so I, I’m gonna make sure we link the accessibility, the, the, the WIC, a, uh, compliance checklist, cuz this looks really cool. I wasn’t familiar with this, but

[00:26:04] Colleen: it’ll make your eyes glaze over.

[00:26:07] Josh: so what about like, obviously there’s a lot, like if you open Disney plus now I think pretty much every show it gives you a warning that says flashing lights may affect some viewers. Oh, really? Similar the websites, right? Like, uh, most

[00:26:21] Colleen: except there’s not usually a warning yeah.

[00:26:22] Josh: So there’s no warning. Yeah. So like what about that? Is it all like, I guess the question I’m kind of curious about is as web designers, should we. A little more emphasis on just the basics and good structure and good content, good messaging, good conversion, basic accessibility without getting into all the fancy stuff that you know, maybe designers think are cool, but for most users are probably distracting over converting. Is that kinda fair to say?

[00:26:50] Colleen: Yes, absolutely. And usability and accessibility go hand in hand. So good usability practices and not doing like rogue things. Like don’t stick a menu at the bottom left people aren’t used to clicking there. Like don’t make people think all of those principles actually help with accessibility too.

[00:27:06] Josh: I love that. Um, and I know a lot of like the artsy designers are listening to this and they’re like, oh God, here we go. These, you know, these people just wanna make a basic cookie cutter website. And I understand that too, when I got started, I wanted to think outside the box. And then I realized outside the box doesn’t mean it’s good, or it’s going to actually achieve the goal of the website.

[00:27:27] Josh: So, right. I have a web design. I have a web design club. It’s a web design community. Mm-hmm . And, uh, we just, last week we were doing a, uh, a Q and a session. And one of my students said that his client is dead set on, get this. You are you, are you sitting like, are you buckled in your chair? Cuz you might fall off your chair when I tell you what this client wants. I, they want, when you go on this website to automatically go all the way to the bottom so that you have to scroll up to see each section.

[00:27:55] Colleen: And I, that just made me think of like one of those rides at a roller coaster or amusement park where like it drops you no, thanks.

[00:28:02] Josh: My student’s like I. What do I say? I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t responded yet. And I was like, oh my gosh, you’re fired. I was like, where? Yeah. Where do we even start? The first thing I said is honestly, that’s a massive accessibility issue because you, I mean, so many things are I’m. My head is racing with so many reasons this is a terrible idea.

[00:28:22] Josh: But number one to me just seems like it’s just not good usability. If you end up at the bottom of a, of a page, you’re gonna think something’s wrong, or right. I know that a client’s not gonna know what an anchor link is, but they’re gonna think that they just like zipped to the bottom of the page.

[00:28:36] Josh: They’re not gonna scroll up. It’s they’re gonna, or they’re gonna think there’s an issue with the website. So, yeah, I just like one, I guess one question I have for you is like with clients that have these terrible ideas, mm-hmm is accessibility. Now our kind of weigh in and saying like, if you do this, you’re going to break a lot of accessibility guidelines and it’s gonna be really bad for the site.

[00:28:56] Colleen: Yes. So this is, I say that I’ve said this on my podcast too. It’s like, this gives you. So if you’re a designer that does just does, so you create your designs and you present them to the client. Right. And they have feedback that you’re like, oh, darn like, I really like that design. I really don’t wanna change this or whatever this gives you that Mo right.

[00:29:16] Colleen: It gives you the Mo it gives you facts to back up those design decisions with, you know, and I really feel like accessibility makes you a better designer because, you know, what, don’t you talking about? Like the trends I keep seeing white text on yellow backgrounds. I don’t have a visual issue. I can’t even read that.

[00:29:33] Colleen: And I see it all the time. And I mean, and I’ve been guilty of it. I’ve done. I don’t know if I’ve done yellow. I know I’ve done light white on my green a lot. but it makes you a better designer. And when you’re Des, when, when your work gets better results, you’re getting, you’re getting better results for those clients. Your work is you could charge more for that work. I mean, it’s. You’re a better designer all around. You’re reaching more people.

[00:30:00] Josh: I raise my hand there with the color contrast, cuz I light green is one of my main primary branding colors. So I do I, yeah. I, I often put white text on there. I like have be really careful about like how that displays and to make sure it is accessible to me, it’s fine, but I’m kind of used to it.

[00:30:16] Josh: And I think that’s often what happens with branding. Like you said in the beginning, branding is an accessibility thing. So if people are married to this like, look they’re used to, they may see it fine, but other people may not like I I’ve had people say it’s kind of hard for me to read. I’m like, oh, I didn’t even think about that. Yeah. I need to adjust that.

[00:30:32] Colleen: Well with my gro or graphics business, the two primary brand colors that I have are like a lime green, similar to yours and then a gray, but like a medium gray. And so when I started making my site accessible years ago, I was like, this really stinks because neither one of my brand colors work against white for contrast.

[00:30:49] Colleen: And they don’t work against each other for contrast. So I had to introduce a third color. Which was the violet like a purple and, um, then I could use like the light green with the purple I could use the purple and the white. And, but the purple kind of took over. This was supposed to be like a secondary color.

[00:31:08] Colleen: This kind of took over a lot of the coloring on my site, which gives it a different feel. I really liked the softer feel, but I had to redo things. So, and a lot of times when I’m remediating documents and websites, I run into that too, because I’m, I, I don’t wanna change a color if I don’t have to, but sometimes I have to darken or lighten a color.

[00:31:28] Colleen: Sometimes I can do that without it being noticeable. But sometimes I have to tell the client, Hey, you just don’t have the colors to work with here. I’ve gotta change a design up a bit. Yeah. And then that gets into a whole nother thing and they’re like, well, now we’re revisiting the design stage.

[00:31:40] Josh: Good point, but it’s really important. Isn’t it? Like sometimes I guess I could see how accessibility would lead you to a whole rebrand potentially, or at least additional services, I guess, in some ways that could be great. Mm-hmm if accessibility is something, you know, somebody listening is really interested in mm-hmm I love the way you said that it’s like accessibility is ammunition for combating bad design client ideas, which is great.

[00:32:03] Josh: So if there’s anything that some is, is overwhelmed, as people might be thinking right now with like, oh God, what do I need to do now to make all my sites accessible? The really good news is this is like the easiest way to get your clients off of their terrible design decisions is yeah. Accessibility. And you there’s science behind it. And there’s, I mean, I don’t know what the legalities are behind accessibility at this point, but that’s coming for sure.

[00:32:24] Colleen: That’s that’s gonna be, oh, well that’s that’s been going on. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, accessibility has been in the United States. We have section 5 0 8, which is the government law, and then we have. And so section 5 0 8 is from the rehabilitation act of 1973. And then we also have the ADA, right? So we have these two laws that have been in place for decades, and people are just been getting away with not having, you know, accessibility in, in their documents, websites, things like that.

[00:32:52] Colleen: But with a website accessibility to lawsuits, like I think they started ramping up in 2017 and then I think they almost tripled between 2017 and 2018. And then that really caused a lot of people to start taking.

[00:33:06] Josh: And what’s the, what’s the layman terms of what those say, is it basically just like what we’ve covered so far needs to be taken care of? Or, or what, what are those legal documents saying? As far as how a website needs to be accessible?

[00:33:19] Colleen: Well, they don’t, so that’s part of the problem. So section 5 0 8 refers to, so section 5 0 8 is the law, right? And ADA is a law title. Title three is the one that you hear about all the time with the website, law lawsuits, ADA title three. And so they just pretty much say follow EG, two point OHA. So then we’ve got, we’ve got the laws which are separate.

[00:33:39] Colleen: Then we have them saying EG 2.0, double a. So EG has two. We have 2.0 and two, well, 2.1 is the latest as of right now. And so we’ve got three levels of conformance, AA and triple a well a is like nothing, double a is typical. What most people do. And triple a is extremely strict and hard to meet and not possible sometimes depending on the sites.

[00:34:02] Colleen: Um, and then, so you’ve got a law that tells you. What WIC ag guidelines to follow, not specific guidelines. It says here’s a set of guidelines, 2.0, double a conformance and most laws all over the world, refer to that. But you go look at wick ag and you can look at it. And like, my students always like, they make my eyes ALA.

[00:34:23] Colleen: Yeah. Right. So it’s like, that’s why I teach it in plain in English, because it’s like, what do I do with this information? Like, I read that, but what does that mean? What do I do? Gotcha. You know?

[00:34:30] Josh: Gotcha. Yeah. No, I that’s. One reason I was interested in having you on is I feel like the world needs someone like you with your brand at creative boost to like, make sense of all this information and package it up and something digestible and understandable. Cause I’m looking at it right now and I’m already checked out so, and we’ll have these link looking at w yeah. Yeah.

[00:34:48] Josh: I’m looking at it right now for, for anyone who is feeling wild and wants to go through this yourself, we’ll have all this linked, but I think it looks like the, the, the WIC, a, uh, compliance checklist that looks like it’s one of the best, like basic guides at a, you know, Kind of explains what is going on here. And that’s at learned that access essential So we’ll have that link anyway. Yeah. That’s really interesting. As far as like the legality side, that is definitely playing a part now and I think is gonna play a big part moving forward.

[00:35:18] Josh: Like quite honestly, for DIYers, I don’t know where this is gonna go, but where do you think it’s gonna go for DIYers who are just building their own website? They don’t, they don’t even know what an HTML structure, they don’t know what an H one is, let alone website accessibility. Like where do you think this is gonna go for them?

[00:35:36] Colleen: I think it’s just gonna get more attention. It’s just been building over the past five or six years. I mean, I’ve heard from several panicked web designers and developers over the years here and there they’re. Oh, my, my client, who’s a small business. They just got sued. They just got slapped with the lawsuit and they’re left writing a check and that check could be anywhere from like, and I’m not a lawyer, but what I’ve heard like a thousand to $350,000, and that’s not gonna save you from getting sued again.

[00:36:04] Colleen: Right. Cuz another plaintiff could come along and do the same thing. So like you’re usually given from my understanding, usually given a certain amount of time to remediate, to fix the site and you might have six months, you might have a year, whatever it is, but again, somebody else could come along. So what,

[00:36:21] Josh: what a selling point, what a selling point for those doing accessibility is like, if this happens, you know exactly. I imagine for you, did you ever have any of those where there was a lawsuit on the line and you had to come through. And fix everything before like a lawsuit would, you know, move forward.

[00:36:36] Colleen: No, no. So luckily I haven’t, I haven’t had any of those I, I do have a colleague that works with lawyers and she does that kind of work. And she specializes in that particular kind of situation, but gotcha. I, I haven’t, no, I haven’t dealt with any of that, but I, I, it does make it very E like if somebody comes to me wants accessibility. I don’t, there’s not much, there’s not a lot of talking that I have to do about it. Right. So it sells itself. Right. So

[00:37:01] Josh: so I have to ask you, we talked about this right before we went live and I, I wanted to stop our conversation cause I wanted to save it for, for when we were live overlays and tools with accessibility overlays. Just before this, I, I talked with, uh, somebody from accessibility and I’m kind of curious, this is where again, I just, I don’t know.

[00:37:24] Josh: What to believe on this stuff, because there’s so much conflicting information. And I get the, I get the understanding of like, if I have my site designed a certain way, but somebody with visual issues or di or disabilities, if they, if I gave them the power to like up the font size, for example, so they could see it would that, you know, would that help?

[00:37:43] Josh: So I, I don’t have, as of right now, I don’t use a tool for that. Mm-hmm however, I know a lot. I’m I have a lot of people are doing it now. So what is your take on accessibility tool overlays or anything like that that gives the user a little more power to, to adjust the accessibility settings?

[00:37:59] Colleen: Well, I can’t speak about any particular overlay specifically mm-hmm but from what I have found in general with overlays. Okay. Well, first of all, I know that people go to the sites and they see these icons and they pull up these menus and they’re like, oh, I can increase the font size. Oh, I can change the color contrast. Oh, I can do this. I can change the font or whatever. Right. If you build an accessible site, That’s already inherently built in.

[00:38:23] Colleen: Mm. Those aren’t like extras. Right? Those aren’t things you have to add on, like, on my two websites, I have a really, I have a toggle that does two things that increases the font size and it toggles the contrast that’s for people that don’t use assistive technology and don’t use it like on, like, on their operating system, cuz it’s built into your operating system.

[00:38:41] Colleen: Right. You can change that, you know? So I just put that there for convenience. And some people might not know that they can, you know, zoom the text and the browser. So that’s just a convenience thing, but the site’s already accessible. Gotcha. So when you build it that way that’s already built in, it’s just not in acute little menu.

[00:38:57] Colleen: Right. Um, now in my research of alays and again, I’m not speaking about any in particular, but I have found like looking at their own sites that they don’t resolve the accessibility issues. if you go to the site and run checkers on some of them or their client sites where they’re using these overlays, you, a lot of times you’ll find that they don’t even pass the automated checkers and automated checkers can only detect about 25%, 30% of potential accessibility issues.

[00:39:25] Colleen: Right? So that’s the evidence. If the overlay is on a site and there’s errors, what does that tell

[00:39:33] Josh: you? Gotcha. So it sounds like your point of view with the overlay kind of thing is that if a site is accessible, mm-hmm, , it shouldn’t need that. Is, is that big? Is that correct?

[00:39:45] Colleen: Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. Yes. And all the accessibility colleagues I have would agree with that statement. although ones I’ve talked to has shared that opinion. Yeah.

[00:39:55] Josh: So what, but I guess a lot of you. I guess a lot of these tools like the overlays and stuff is, is that where that kind of thing probably applies to the DIYs and the new web designers, more so than experienced folks like yourself.

[00:40:09] Josh: Like, I guess my I’m wondering, like, is it kind of a, a bandaid or a shortcut for basic accessibility for folks who don’t have the time or the interest to dive into accessibility themselves? I guess I’m just wondering if a lot of people look at these like overlay type platforms as a, as a quick fix, rather than going back to the entire website kind of thing.

[00:40:30] Colleen: Well, there are many, there are many users out there with disabilities who have said that overlays don’t help them and they’ve actually made things worse for them. Mm. So, you know, and so there’s that, um, but anything that you do to make a site more usable and accessible is going to be beneficial to all users.

[00:40:51] Colleen: So even if you just address color contrast, even if you just address. you know, like the theme that the site has, right. That this, that the site uses, like when you just take small steps, you’re like making so much of an impact. So it’s, doesn’t have to be this big overhaul and you don’t have to go run and like, learn everything about code, but you can do certain things, even just running automated checkers, like wave or site improve checkers like that. I mean, like I said, they don’t, they can’t, they can’t check for everything, but that’s a good start.

[00:41:26] Josh: Gotcha. And that seems to be more, and by the way, I’ll link wave up for everyone. Who’s uh, curious about having like a basic accessibility evaluation tool. It seems like the more, more, and more conversations I have with folks a little more in the know on accessibility, say the same thing. That’s, it’s the basics that are like the most important things to get. Basically everything we’ve talked about. Contrast font size colors, the BA you know, the basic HTML structure, the flow, a menu that is easy to get around. That’s surprisingly a basic form of website accessibility that can be, you know, be really thrown off.

[00:42:00] Colleen: Um, yeah, not menus are really tricky.

[00:42:02] Josh: right. Uh, not following terrible client ideas that, you know, go right to the bottom of a page. So you scroll up. Those are the basic things that. You need to do to like, be basically accessible from what I ever seen.

[00:42:14] Colleen: Yeah. Really going back to base basics. It’s like, you know, I feel like maybe, maybe, maybe this trend of going to page builders and getting, and getting web designers and developers away from code. I mean, sites are not only sites are actually becoming less accessible from what I saw stats wise. Um, so even though there’s more attention, I forget where I read where I saw the survey, but that sites are becoming less accessible. So I wonder though, if more web designers and developers went back to learning code, you know, how much that would affect that? I don’t know.

[00:42:47] Josh: Yeah. I, I think that’s probably fair to say. I also have seen as a web designer with a lot of different clients and now as a coach with a lot of different web designers and seeing what they’re doing and what they see and what I get a lot of questions about is I’ve seen these different design trends that come in and they’re gone in six months.

[00:43:05] Josh: For example, there was. I think it was kit cat that had a website and then made me hungry for a kit cat bar. But their website at one point was like, there was no menu. It wasn’t a typical structure. It was just a page. And when you scrolled, then it would morph into a different page. Then you could scroll right or left and it would do something else.

[00:43:24] Josh: But, and I’ve seen some other versions of that, but it, it definitely did not take over as like a standard in website design because it was, I mean, even for me, when somebody was fairly savvy, it was a little tricky for me to like, know where to go or to get back to a section. That was another thing mm-hmm , if I’m on, if I’m on section 12 and I need to give back, I didn’t even, I mean, I guess I could just go up and up and up and up and up to do it, but again, that would get back to potentially the difference between a mouse and a keyboard.

[00:43:52] Josh: So anyway, I say that to say like, I’ve seen a lot of these like really artsy, trendy, um, trends come out mm-hmm and then they. Don’t last and don’t take up probably because there’s probably like a couple, you know, trendy kids who are like, dude, this is so cool. I’m genius, but it doesn’t work well in the real world.

[00:44:08] Josh: Mm-hmm and then, you know, they go back to like creating a basic website with basic flow and a menu and a, a phone number on the top, which, uh, most designers hate. So yeah, I kind of feel like that’s kind of what I’ve seen at least with a lot of these trends. I wonder if you’ve seen something similar.

[00:44:24] Colleen: I haven’t, I don’t know if I’ve seen that, something like that in particular, but yeah, the trendy stuff. I mean, it’s like, as a designer, it’s like, oh, that’s cool. But when you’re the one on the other side of things, it’s not so cool. yeah. You know? Yeah. So I’ve been on both sides of it,

[00:44:39] Josh: but, and this kind of leads me to a question I wanted ask you about, which is. Designing with user intent, meaning when you’re building a website, thinking about the average customer that’s gonna be on there. For example, the basic, the basic lesson of accessibility that I learned was when I designed a site for a retina surgeon and their previous site had a very, very lime green with purple brand and kinda some of what we talked about, but it was more lime green than my lime green. It was like very, very, it was like borderline yellow and like white, like what we talked about.

[00:45:13] Josh: Oh wow. And it was hard to read. And when I took their website over, I was like that, that is a huge issue. I didn’t even realize it was cold website accessibility. This was back in this would’ve been 2015 when I did that site. Mm-hmm but what I learned was I asked them, like, who’s gonna be looking at their website. It’s gonna be people with often vision problems or older folks who are gonna want a higher font size. Right.

[00:45:37] Josh: I think their old website was in HTML and it was built with like a 14 point font size, which on, on websites was really small, really small. Actually it may have been small there maybe been like, it was like really small. So I was like, think about your observes website user. They, they need like an 18 point font size, potentially a more white space, something that’s a little easier to get around. Exactly. So exactly. I, I didn’t realize that at the time mm-hmm but that was my, that was my like foray into, in the website, accessibility as far as design.

[00:46:05] Josh: So do you have any tips about when designers and, and business owners are building sites for clients about how they think about the customer and how that affects the design?

[00:46:15] Colleen: Yeah. So I mean, a lot of times, like when you’re asking a client about like their target audience and you, if you bring ’em accessibility, you, you might hear, well, we don’t serve anyone with the disability and it’s like, You do, you just don’t know it. Right? Mm-hmm so potentially, like I said earlier about like 20% of people that are coming to their site could have some kind of a visual motor cognitive, neurological disability, but they’re not going to know that. Right.

[00:46:43] Colleen: They, they don’t, they can’t see who’s looking at their website. They don’t know. So a lot of times as individuals, individuals who don’t have disabilities, we may think, oh, well, we don’t think about others so much. Right. But if they, if we know somebody with a particular disability, we might be more, we might be more attention to that particular disability. It might be more top of mind. And so when we think about that target audience, it’s like, okay, well, they might serve people specifically with a certain type of disability, like what you’re talking about.

[00:47:13] Colleen: So it’s so important. I mean, I’ve done websites for organizations that serve people with certain types of disabilities and it’s like, yeah, you really need to cater to them. Because like, if you don’t, it’s not going to be a successful design. Hmm, and they’re going to complain and it’s not going to get the client good results. And then they’re not gonna hire you again. Right. Right. So you have to always be thinking about that end user and who is that and how is my design going to affect them? It’s exactly like what you just said with that surgeon’s website.

[00:47:42] Josh: Yeah. So for web designers who are interested in make, I mean, I would say based off of what we’ve just talked about here, calling everyone could do the basics of accessibility and go through some of the resources we have mm-hmm and they could offer, or they could have website accessibility in their basic web design packages.

[00:47:59] Josh: But how do you recommend it? What did you do to add it as like, kind of a feature to your services? And, and I guess this could go in a whole different direction, a bunch of different directions, but I’m just wondering, like, for folks who wanna add accessibility as a, like a level two, like a little more advanced version of accessibility, mm-hmm how can a lot of representatives go about that? Even, even they’re getting started with it.

[00:48:22] Colleen: Well, first off. So you used the word feature and I’m glad you brought this up because I actually wanted to talk about this. So a lot of web designers and developers think of accessibility as a feature. And a lot of times I will get websites or documents and designers have already completed them and it’s like here, make it accessible. I have to do so much more work at that stage to undo stuff they’ve already done.

[00:48:44] Colleen: Maybe the design has to change colors, have to ch like the whole process gets messed up. Right. And like clients are revisiting the design process all over again. That’s more time that’s more money when you actually just integrate it through the web design process. It’s simpler. It’s it doesn’t cost that much more. I mean, yes. There’s going to be things like, you know, alt text that’s going, that can take a lot more time because we designers don’t always have the. Knowledge to write on a certain subject matter.

[00:49:14] Colleen: Right? So there might be things that are way above our heads or scientific things or medical things where we’re like, well, we can’t really write all text for this. We’re not qualified to write the Tex for this. So we have to just guide clients with that kind of stuff. But that can be a lot of back and forth that can add a lot of time.

[00:49:26] Colleen: And if we have to, you know, if we have to well designing stuff, if you’re designing stuff, I mean, if you’re thinking about color contrast, it’s gonna take a little bit of extra time. It doesn’t have to take that much extra time. So it’s not like you’re having to add on a whole bunch of other stuff. I mean, I do a lot of backend customization too.

[00:49:46] Colleen: Like, I’ll go put like notes in the backend for the client and, and tell them like how to do something excessively. So it doesn’t get mucked up. I also limit what I let them touch, so it doesn’t get mucked up. Um, so. There’s that work too. That’s a lot of extra work to do. Gotcha. And I, I give them like a guide, a manual and everything too.

[00:50:05] Colleen: Um, but when it’s just part of the process and you’re just doing the basics, like color contrast, and you’re not trying to over code, you’re not adding a bunch of aria. I see that a lot, like adding an aria thinking it’s going to make something accessible. A lot of times it makes things less accessible unless you

[00:50:21] Josh: know what, I’m not familiar. What’s the aria.

[00:50:23] Colleen: Okay. So aria is an acronym, a R I a and. Stands for accessible rich internet access, accessible rich internet applications. And it can, okay. It can like, you can use it with HTML tags to make something more accessible, like for instance. Oh, okay. You could say, if you have, let’s say you have a navigation, your main navigation.

[00:50:41] Colleen: Well, you could use aria to say, this is the main navigation on the site. It’s different from this navigation over here, which also uses a nav tag. And so this one’s called, you know, something else navigation, right? So like maybe blog, post navigation, like if you’re using a, the same tag, right? Let’s say you’re using the same tag, the nav tag, they’re both semantic and telling somebody, this is a navigation, but the AA label can distinguish those two from each other.

[00:51:08] Colleen: Gotcha. So you could use it like there’s a lot of ways you can use it. Um, there’s so many ways you can use it. So. But I, what I see a lot is that a lot of web developers that get into accessibility think they need to add all this aria code and actually undo a whole bunch of stuff. Makes things worse. I see.

[00:51:24] Colleen: It’s like they spend all this time, like adding all this code. It’s like, if you just use the right tag to begin with, you wouldn’t need to have done any of that. And I can’t even imagine how long that just took. Right. So, gotcha. It can actually, if you just build it into your process, it’s also like when I do document design and layout, I do a ton of publications and I just build accessibility into the process.

[00:51:41] Colleen: I just, I, if the client isn’t looking for it to be accessible, okay. Then I don’t worry about like alt text. Right. And I don’t worry about maybe certain things, but I still use the same process because it’s more efficient to just keep doing the process the same way. And cuz the setup is a lot like setup for documents and websites is a large part of it.

[00:51:59] Colleen: So I’m not gonna change the setup because oh this is not gonna be accessible. I’m not gonna, you know, if you’re used to, when, especially with web design, you’re used to like working with a certain theme. If you’re always changing up themes. It’s a lot of it’s a lot. Right. True. Because you have to get familiar with that new theme and yeah. So, yeah.

[00:52:18] Josh: Good point. It’s why I always recommend you stick with one theme. If you find it, stick with it or, you know, limit your tool, your toolbox, otherwise yeah. Can get really, really tricky. It’s an interesting point though, with like offering accessibility, I guess that’s kind kinda where I’m at with this is like how to offer it as a service.

[00:52:35] Josh: I mean, I, I think we’ve, we’ve both come to conclusion and we both agree that it should be a part of your basic website builds mm-hmm and you could even say it could be a line item, like, and it could be a sales point that our websites are built with basic accessibility in mind, and we’re gonna do all that we can and need to do to make sure you are as fully accessible as possible, which is really important these days.

[00:52:55] Josh: Cuz I mean most, most business owners, they don’t even barely know anything about websites, let alone accessibility. It’s probably, you know, if it’s new, if it’s fairly new for a lot of people on web design, it’s brand new for, for business owners. So it’s kind of our job. Oh, go ahead.

[00:53:09] Colleen: I would just be very careful about what you promise, because if you don’t know how to, if you don’t know how to make, so there’s no such thing as a 100% accessible site to begin with. So I be very, I’m not a lawyer again, but like, I would be very careful about what you’re promising, like just saying, look, I don’t know everything about accessibility right now, but I’m gonna do what I do know. I’m gonna take steps to make your site more accessible than it might otherwise be.

[00:53:33] Colleen: I would, I would be very careful about what I promise and how I word that from a legal standpoint, because you don’t want the client to get the idea that, oh, my site’s gonna be wick a two point OHA compliant. I’m complying with the section 5 0 8 law or the ADA law now. And then you say, oh, well, I’m making your site fully accessible and you didn’t do everyth. And then they get slapped with a lawsuit. So good pull idea. Audits are very important.

[00:53:57] Josh: that’s kind of my thought of avoiding. It is like, you know, basic accessibility covered and then we’ll do, you know, we’ll work to make it as accessible as possible kind of thing. I like that idea for sure. And it’s good to hear you say honestly, that there’s not a site that is 100% accessible. It, it likens a lot. I feel like to security, like there’s, there’s quite honestly no way our website can be 100% secure it’s it can be 99 for sure. But it’s, there’s always, always a chance.

[00:54:27] Josh: So I it’s, it reminds me a lot of that with like, if, if mm-hmm anyone is listening to this and they have, your website is a hundred percent secure. Technically that’s a really similar liability for you because it’s not true. Uh, and all security experts will tell you that too. Um, right.

[00:54:42] Colleen: I mean, you’ve got that’s. Sorry. So you’ve got themes that are being updated all the time, too. Right? Some, you could have a theme update that changes the accessibility of the site right there. And you’ve got clients going in. If they don’t, if they’re not trained in how to edit the content accessibly, then that’s gonna change the accessibility on the site. Ah, yeah. Good point. They might add a plug in. You might add a plug in that changes some accessibility on the site too. So there’s things like that.

[00:55:09] Colleen: I mean, I just, I learned a little while ago about, uh, compression plugin that actually can strip accessible PDFs of all of their tags. Well, tags are like your HTML code on website, so you could make it accessible PDF, give it to your client. And then that image compression or, or whatever compression plugin it is, the caching plugin can, they can strip out the tags and now that document’s not accessible to the people downloading it. So, you know, there’s, you can’t control every single factor, like 24 7. So it just, it just won’t happen.

[00:55:42] Josh: yeah, that honestly, I hope that makes everyone feel better. Cause that makes me feel better. quite, quite frankly like the bay, as long as the basics are covered, you do everything you can. And like I said, it might depend on the, the industry, like for the retina surgeon I worked with, that was something where accessibility took, you know, a very, really important priority from the very beginning mm-hmm

[00:56:01] Josh: Whereas yes, to your point, we should be designing all sites for accessibility, but if it is an industry where, you know, maybe it is like the less than 20% type of people who might be disabled, it might just be a little bit different with how you approach accessibility. That’s. Basically the, the point I’m trying to articulate is there may be certain projects and certain industries that require a little more of a deep dive in accessibility.

[00:56:24] Josh: How would you go about that with offering that? Would you just offer like a different tier of like an add-on of accessibility? If, you know, like if I get a client who is working with disabled people, like, okay. Accessibility is like priority number one mm-hmm . Is that just something where I would just bill and charge for like a service that’s a little more in depth. Is that kind of how you’ve seen that?

[00:56:44] Colleen: Well, I always tell if I, well, I not only like build the sites too, but like I will consult with other web designers and developers about their work. So it’s like, if they’re like, okay, it’s my client. And I wanna outsource the accessibility part to you. Like they can have me give them guidance and tell them what to do, or they can have me like, do an audit.

[00:57:03] Colleen: And I say, whatever you’re gonna do bring me in, in the beginning of the process. Right? Bring me in when you’re designing for the website, don’t show, don’t go send the client, the designs and come to me later and say, here it’s done because it might have to change. And you don’t want to have sold this client on the design.

[00:57:19] Colleen: And now they’re upset because now it ha you know, now it’s gotta change. So yeah, I would say, bring, bring me in early on in the process, I’ll work with you and advise you to to get this site to be accessible. So you could still do that work, but you’re getting some guidance from somebody who can offer that.

[00:57:39] Colleen: But also the other thing is you can, the other option would be to have an audit done and it’s like, well, don’t wait until the site is getting ready to launch. And then be like here, audit the site because there might be a lot of stuff that has to be changed. I mean, you never know. So. Gotcha. I always suggest like maybe an interim audit while the site’s in development or something I do is kind of like when I’m Des reviewing the designs and I be like, okay, when you go to code this, use these tags for these items.

[00:58:01] Colleen: Right. Mm-hmm . And so by the time they have they’re coding out the site, a lot of that stuff’s already been taken care of. So it’s like a light audit, like later on in the process to just.

[00:58:13] Josh: Check things I see. And the cool thing about this too, is I feel like, yes, I could see it being beneficial for every project, but at the same time, if you did this a few times, you’d probably get used to like, you’d probably get used to knowing how to make something accessible, where tags go and all that kind of stuff that way, you know, like if somebody hires you for an audit a couple times, they’re like, okay, now I know in the next build to do it this way and do it this way.

[00:58:37] Josh: So I would imagine every site you build, as you get more familiar with accessibility, you’ll just kind of naturally know it’s like design. You just know how design better. Typically the more experienced you get and you see what works mm-hmm and you see, you get familiar with color management and fonts and typography.

[00:58:52] Josh: It’s like, it just gets easier cuz you do it more. So that’s something that is, is pretty exciting too. I feel like getting an in depth knowledge of accessibility and knowing the most important things, getting an audit, done, looking reevaluating where you’re at, that’s gonna help every project moving forward. It’s not like you’re just gonna help on one project and then. Good luck on the next ones. It’s like that all kinda lays the foundation for better design and better websites moving forward.

[00:59:16] Colleen: Yeah, I’ve had, I’ve had several web developers that I’ve worked with, who I’ve done audits for, for their client sites. And they’ve told me how much they’ve learned just from looking at those audits. Cuz I get, I do an audit and then I will create a report. I’m like, here’s the priority of how to fix thing of what to fix things in. Right. But if your client can’t afford to fix all these things at once, then you can just go by priority and fix them in stages.

[00:59:36] Colleen: Right. So you can do it over time. And so. But I also will put like the WIC a violation in there, or if it’s a usability thing that I, it’s not a, a technical accessibility guideline violation, then I will put in like a usability thing in there. That’s a problem. And I will put screenshots in there and then I will put instructions for the developer.

[00:59:55] Colleen: And if they work in WordPress, I’m putting in WordPress specific information and I’m saying, here’s how you go fix that. So they have that information that they can go. And fix the site with that report that I provide. So they will learn. Yeah. You can learn a ton from getting an audit on a site.

[01:00:10] Josh: It’s another good point too you mentioned there with like doing it in phases. Mm-hmm if you get a laundry list and a to do list of things, it’s like, okay. Yeah. Maybe this is a lot of work front. Let’s do a retainer for a year. Like every month we’ll do part of it. This is phase one. This is phase two. Mm-hmm . It’s a great way to add to folks hosting and maintenance plan two, if you want to have accessibility.

[01:00:28] Josh: Oh yes. Be an optimization type of thing on there and just include an audit with it. I love that idea. That’s that’s really exciting because you could continue. I mean, honestly, accessibility, as long as a site is alive and getting added to, and being reworked and improved on it’s going to need constant, probably checking and audits on the accessibility standpoint. So it’s ongoing. Is that fair to say accessibility is not a one and done thing.

[01:00:51] Colleen: It is a journey and it is ongoing. Yes. So there’s always gonna be something more to learn. So it’s a journey, but yes, it’s ongoing. And so you could actually, like, you’re talking about with the maintenance plan. Yeah. I mean, I, I don’t offer maintenance plans anymore cause I’m focusing on too many other things but when I did offer them, I would go in and I would check every month on their content, what they had updated on the site to make sure their, and I would go in and just fix it and I would make sure it was accessible.

[01:01:19] Colleen: So there’s a lot of opportunities for recurring revenue and even just charging more upfront for the higher value too. Um, As well, and also the legal aspect too. Of course.

[01:01:31] Josh: Yeah. Well, and you said in the beginning talking about like standing out from your competition and oh yeah. And, uh, if you, if anyone listening to this is offering accessibility with everything we’ve talked about, that is going to separate you from 99% of web designers, because most people aren’t really even touching accessibility yet, or they’re at least not offering it in a way that’s presented like, Hey, we are accessibility minded, web design, right.

[01:01:56] Josh: That is, that’s a, that’s a great way to separate yourself from the pack. And like I said, there’s all kinds of ways you could increase the value of your website packages one time with like the build in the audit initially. Exactly. But then also recurring, especially like you mentioned, mm-hmm I love the idea of just let’s break this out into phases instead of dropping three grand on accessibility upgrades, let’s do whatever a year mm-hmm clients are gonna be much more apt to that. And then it it’s ongoing. Yeah, lots of, yeah. If

[01:02:22] Colleen: you’re gonna start with that, then I suggest like, you know, run wave or one of those automated checkers and then say to your client, Hey, here’s, here’s what I found in this report. Let’s fix these things, get those fixed later, have a professional go and audit the site and then you get to do that work there too. So

[01:02:39] Josh: yeah, no that’s genius. I, uh, I have to admit, this is like one of the things I probably least enjoy. The industry of web design, uh, this entire conversation, but it’s extremely important. It’s extremely important. So yeah, this has been awesome. Colleen, we’ve really, we’ve covered a lot. We’ve covered, uh, a lot of in-depth stuff and a lot of the basics of accessibility, a lot of your experience and, and, and what you’ve seen and how the industry has changed.

[01:03:06] Josh: I think we’ve really laid out a good path for what folks could do now to offer it as a part of their builds and potentially ongoing. So this has been really cool. You talked about some of the ways you help, where would you like people to go to connect with you? And is there a particular resource you would like folks to check out after this who might be interested in, uh, connecting with you and learn more?

[01:03:24] Colleen: Sure. So my Graz are graphics website where I do the consulting work is grots or And so I that’s where I do like the audits and I do website builds and document, uh, accessible documents and remediation. And then. My creative boost site is creative dash boost, creative hyphen And I have accessibility courses for designers like accessible branding, an accessible branding course.

[01:03:48] Colleen: That’s non-technical for any designers that don’t wanna get into any web design or just design and nothing, nothing technical, no code. Um, if they’re designing logos, they can learn how to build an accessible color palette and all the things that go into that. And then I have a course foundations of website accessibility, where I give my plain English process for making sure that you’re building an accessible site. And then I also I’m, I I’m just about to finish launching an accessible PDFs from InDesign course, which is all about PDF sermon design.

[01:04:19] Josh: Gotcha. Gotcha. I’m looking at your I’m looking at your website accessibility course. Yeah, this looks awesome. This looks. Oh, thanks. We’ll we’ll link that for sure. especially this audience. I think that’s gonna be like, oh my gosh, what a great resource.

[01:04:32] Colleen: And yes, I’ve gotten great feedback on it. So I’m, I’m, I’m very happy about it.

[01:04:35] Josh: I see it. Yeah. Well, and even looks cool. Even the way the modules are, are broken down. Everything. It looks very accessible to me. Uh, so I feel like, I feel like you could do this yourself and read through all the, all the documentation, which maybe one out of a thousand people listening is interested in doing pretty much the 99% majority. I, I, I would recommend definitely your course and having some help with, with getting that assistance because yeah, I mean, like I said, personally, I can probably speak for a lot of my students.

[01:05:03] Josh: This is the stuff that’s probably really draining for them, but it’s so important. It’s, it’s so important, especially in age where I, the last thing I wanna say, and I like to get your thoughts on this is kind of a final thought, but, um, Uh, I had somebody who on from necessity, who said, regardless of what you think about accessibility, it is a good thing.

[01:05:20] Josh: Mm-hmm, like the, the fact that we wanna make the internet more accessible to everybody. And particularly with disabilities, that’s really, really cool. I have a daughter who has developmental, uh, delays. So mm-hmm, , this is something that I’m realizing is much more close to home with my family as well. So it’s made me have a heart for, for this and not be just like, oh, dang it.

[01:05:40] Josh: As a designer, what do I have to do now? It’s like there, there’s, there’s a lot more important meaning behind this. I, I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts on that as like a closing thought from your end? Like the importance of accessibility?

[01:05:50] Colleen: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s doing a good thing. It’s also helping your clients, you know, reduce their potential legal risk. Right. And you’re helping your, your work’s gonna get better results cuz you’re reaching more people as well. Um, something else I was gonna say, and I can’t remember, um, Hopefully you’ll cut that part out.

[01:06:10] Josh: Oh no, we can keep it going. What’s gonna happen though. Was 10 minutes.

[01:06:12] Colleen: I know what then I’m thinking. Cause I had something to say and I forgot. Uh,

[01:06:15] Josh: what’s gonna happen is right when we hang up, you’re gonna email me and be like, I just remembered it. So, uh, but I was just, yeah, I was just kinda curious like that the heart of all this, like is, is there, you know? Yeah, I was kind of, I was kind of curious, actually. I meant to ask this in the beginning, but is accessibility for you in the beginning? Was there a mission behind it and a reason why, like, you know, we look past all the, the client stuff and the coding stuff and like what this is really doing, like accessibility at the core is really helping people over the world get online and thrive online. It seems like. Yeah. I mean, I, I like the, I like helping other people.

[01:06:52] Colleen: I like helping clients, but I also like helping the end users and I don’t think it’s right that people with a disability. Certain disabilities could go to a website and they can’t do what they need to do. They can’t order a pizza or they can’t, you know, read the text on the site or they can’t get around the site. And as designers, even if you, even, if that’s not your concern, how would you actually feel if you told your clients, well, I’m gonna build you a site, but it’s only gonna reach 80% of your users. How do you feel about that?

[01:07:23] Josh: Mm that’s a good point.

[01:07:25] Colleen: But the other thing is, you know, you’d brought up security earlier. It’s like a lot of web designers and developers talk about SSL and they talk about privacy policies and they don’t bring up accessibility and you know, so that’s, that’s a problem.

[01:07:38] Josh: Yeah. That’s a great point. Well, it’s also a great note to kind of put a cap on this with just what’s behind accessibility and how there is again, it’s, it’s, it’s frustrating in a lot of ways, cuz it’s just so much more to add on to what people are already doing with websites, but at the core, what you just said, it’s, it’s reaching the rest of the 20% of people, perhaps who may not feel like they could.

[01:08:00] Josh: Thrive online or look at the website and understand it and be able to use it. So mm-hmm yeah, I think it’s a really good way to end this off as far as like a positive thought with what’s all what’s behind this. Cuz if somebody’s reading guidelines, you’re gonna wanna check out. But if you realize this is because we’re reading this so that we can help everyone get the most out of this website and this mission that’s, that’s really cool. Inspires some folks

[01:08:22] Colleen: you could read the guidelines and still not have accessible site. So

[01:08:26] Josh: well true. True. I just meant like to help you, you know, like learn accessibility and get through this. I, I always need a mission if I’m doing something I don’t enjoy doing, I need a mission. I need like the result to get me through that. Otherwise I’m out, I’m checked out. Mm-hmm so, uh, that’s the way it helps me personally. Mm-hmm so, yeah, hopefully that resonates with some folks, but

[01:08:43] Josh: Colleen, thanks so much for your time for your expertise in this. I love what you’re up to. It’s really, really cool. I can tell, I can tell you’re super, you know, super into this and I’m sure we could go, you know, 10 layers deeper. From the technical aspect, but we’ll, you know, I, I think that’s probably a good snapshot of what folks can do right now. So yeah, this has been awesome. Thanks for your time.

[01:09:02] Colleen: Yeah. Thanks for having me on. It’s been great.

[01:09:04] Josh: All right. Talk soon.

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