Thursday, 18 December 2014

Six Things You Can Learn From Our Growing Business

Growing a business isn't easy. And it doesn't happen overnight. CEO Dominique Antarakis (@dantarakis) and COO Maureen Shelley (@MaureenShelley) share the six things they've learned from growing their small business, The Copy Collective. From the people, the clients and the inspiring work - they're privileged to do what they do... and they want to thank YOU for making 2014 a great one.

Number 6. It takes about two years to become an overnight success.
That may sound like a funny thing to say but success in business (which I’m equating to profitability, year-on-year growth, solid reputation and repeat business) takes time. You can be a very smart single operator – like my business partner Dominique was before I bought into The Copy Collective – but that in itself doesn’t make a successful business. There is a different skill set you need to develop and we’ve both been working hard to improve our existing skills and gain more in order to keep growing our business.
Business is hard. It takes commitment, communication, cooperation and compromise. If you are in business, expect that laying the foundations for all of those “C” words will take some time to pay off. In my experience, it’s about two years.
Number 5. Pay yourself – something
In 2012, when I joined The Copy Collective full time, we decided right away that we would pay ourselves wages. We weren’t going to take drawings, we weren’t going to see what was left at the end of each month and take that – we set a wage and we paid it. Now, we could probably both earn more if we went and worked for someone else but we’re growing a business and there is tremendous satisfaction in that. We can now see – after a lot of hard slog – that next year that we will be able to pay ourselves more and maybe even have a tax problem.
I contrast this to other business owners I know who take drawings, not wages, who don’t have a regular amount that they can rely on (even a small regular amount) each week or fortnight. I see them getting resentful about all the effort they put into their business. I see them making silly decisions and taking too much money out because they “deserve” it. I’m so grateful to our business mentor Jon Isaacs who has provided steady counsel along the way. Paying ourselves was one thing he advised.
Number 4. Keep your accounts up to date
I had a long chat with a client this year who was about $7000 behind in payments to us, which was unusual for them. The client acknowledged the debt, said that there wasn’t an issue with paying it but they just hadn’t had time to “do the books”. “The books” were an Excel spreadsheet and it took about three days of this client’s time to “do the books” each month. Business had been good and they hadn’t had time to sit down with Excel and pay suppliers like us. I advised them to use Xero, a subscription accounting system developed by some very smart Kiwis.
We used to have an accountant-run system, which was great until we wanted to know how we were doing. We had to ask for monthly reports to be run, to get P&Ls, for our BAS (and if you don’t know what these acronyms are – you need to know, so go find out) and pretty much anything else. This system didn’t cover payroll, didn’t include super and cost about $400 a month. Xero costs us $60 a month and we can run any report we want, any time we want and we have absolute transparency about our cash flow, profitability and who we owe money to and how much.
Number 3. Automate, automate
We used to have someone chase our debtors and it took about two to three hours (at least) a week for them to chase up late payers. We subscribed to Debtor Daddy for $15 a month and that person now has a lot more time to focus on other things as the software automatically sends reminders to clients as their bills become overdue. We also connected Debtor Daddy to Xero and Xero to Salesforce (our CRM) and this year we’ve installed Breadwinner to bring all that financial data into Salesforce. We can now see who our biggest clients are, who our most profitable clients are, which clients take up most of our time, and which clients take up most time and return the least profit. Automation is transforming our business and enabling us to serve our best clients better with the same number of staff, and to look after our less-profitable clients too.
Number 2. Keep learning
We’ve all attended extensive training and development conferences, workshops, seminars, webinars and even signed up for email courses this year. We’ve found new ways of doing old things and found some new things to do along the way. By constantly learning, we’re improving our skills all the time and are better able to focus on our customers.
Number 1. Cut yourself some slack
I was so heartened to hear Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian say at the Start-Up Conference, earlier in the year, that some days he broke every rule in the business play book and nothing went right. He said that he would say the wrong thing in meetings, do the wrong things in the office, not pay attention when he should and pay attention to things that weren’t his concern. He said he would go home thinking “what an idiot”. Then he’d go back to work the next day and somehow, things would be better and the business survived. It was great to hear Mike say that because some days I just can’t seem to get anything right. Those days are hard but it’s good to know that even very successful entrepreneurs like Mike Cannon-Brookes have those days – and he’s got a $1 billion business.
One more thing – enjoy your successes. We’ve enjoyed some great success during the past 12 months thanks to our amazing team – our staff and our talented writers – and thanks to our exceptional clients. We’re privileged to work with some of the greatest organisations in the country – people who are literally working to save the planet, and make it a better place for us all.
Dominique and I would like to thank everyone at The Copy Collective for a mighty year. We look forward to seeing you and hearing from you next year. May the joy and peace of the season be with you, your family and friends.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Up Close and Personal

In the final blog of the Accessibility Is Everywhere series, The Copy Collective contributor Monica Seeber gets up close and personal. She uncovers the reality of living with a disability and the part we can all play in improving accessibility for everyone.

When I left high school, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Music program, specialising in percussion. During high school, my most supportive teacher had been my percussion tutor, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and corrupt teenagers by teaching them how to hit things…

But when it came time for my mid-year performance exam, I had no feeling in my left arm from the elbow down, and no strength in my hand to grip. Needless to say, I failed the exam.

I visited an occupational therapist who suggested I had the early stages of carpal tunnel in my left wrist and that it was unlikely to improve without significant rest. I was unable to play music for a month.

At the end of that year, I made the difficult decision to transfer from the music degree to a Bachelor of Arts. I was forced to re-evaluate my future and choose a new vocation.

That was a long time ago, but I still experience pain, numbness and weakness in my arm. Sometimes all it takes is a poor night’s sleep, and I have to rest my whole arm.

It wasn’t until I was writing this blog that it even occurred to me that I was living with a disability.

Living with a disability 

The World Health Organisation uses “disability” to broadly cover:
  • impairments - problems in body function or structure
  • activity limitations - difficulties in executing activities
  • participation restrictions - problems an individual may experience in involvement in life situations.

The Australian Human Rights Commission uses an even broader understanding of disability that includes temporary disabilities such as a broken arm or episodic depression.

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to use “disability” in its truest sense: the negation, lack of, or deprivation of (an) ability.

I have a close family member who is blind. They have a guide dog and use various assistive technologies throughout their day. When I was 15, I stayed with them in Sydney, and we planned an outing to the CBD to “visit the sights”.

Throughout the day, whenever we spoke to people (to ask for directions, or purchase a ticket) they largely ignored my guide, and directed their comments to me instead. This person is highly intelligent and very accomplished, yet they were treated as a bit dim – even non-existent – simply because they needed assistance navigating the visual world.

For two years, I worked for a charity that supports people with autism and their families. Most of the programs were for children on the Autism spectrum and focussed on teaching social skills, emotional regulation, and sensory integration.

It is not widely known that the vast majority of autistic people have a sensory processing disorder.

Imagine trying to tune an analogue radio when there is a lot of static. Or talking on a mobile phone when you pass through a tunnel. Or going to the cinema where the image is so bright it hurts your eyes.

Now imagine all that sensory interference is part of your experience of the world every day.

The static on the radio? That’s your brain struggling to filter external information. Loss of signal on the phone? That’s your aural processing struggling with the environment. Going to the cinema and the picture is too bright? That’s you visual processing system struggling to adjust to changing light conditions.

These are all examples of an individual’s sensory processing working “abnormally”. It’s not a physical disorder like vision or hearing impairment, rather a neurological condition “that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses” (

Images of resources used with children who have a sensory processing disorder, including fidget toys, weighted clothing, and a wiggle cushion.
Sensory kits (top left) are often used with children who require extra sensory imput to remain calm and focused. They can be complimented with weighted clothing (bottom left) and/or wiggle cushions (right).

I’ve spent a lot of time with children who have a sensory processing disorder. Children who can’t focus in the classroom because the noise from other children (even in other rooms) overwhelms their processing and they can’t hear the teacher. Children who run away from class to a dark corner somewhere – not because they are naughty, but because they are so visually exhausted they were about to cry. Children who run laps around supermarket aisles because they are physically unable to remain still: their proprioceptive feedback (the sensation of moving muscles and joints) is so dulled they live in a perpetual state of numbness except for when they’re running around.

The constant battle

A close friend of mine has executive functioning deficiency. We use our executive functioning processes all day, every day. Making plans, keeping track of time, multitasking, and following (and joining in) group discussions are all examples of executive functioning. Those who have a deficiency in this area may seem disruptive, “scatterbrained”, or “stupid” to those who don’t know any better.

If you’ve ever had a late night followed by a grueling day at work or school, and felt so worn out that you can’t remember your own name – that’s your executive functioning not functioning. Except while you can recover with a good night’s sleep, those with an executive functioning deficiency experience that all day, every day. 

Image of a printed list that breaks down a task at a print shop into 14 smaller steps.
Example of a schedule for those with
executive functioning difficulties.
My friend was often chastised at school for not following instructions. It wasn’t because they were disobedient, rather the teacher gave multiple instructions, and they couldn’t remember all of the individual steps. What they needed was shorter instructions with fewer steps – preferably written down so they could refer to the list to make sure they’d completed everything. 

Experiences like these are like sleeping on a lumpy bed. It can wear you down slowly, a little each day, because you have to work harder at the little things that everybody else seems to do with no effort at all.

And all of them are easily avoided with small changes to how we conduct ourselves personally and how we work with others in a school or office environment.

All too easy to discriminate

These experiences are part of what is called “ableism”. Like sexism, ableism makes gross generalisations about people: it is the assumption that every person has the same set of abilities and the same level of competency. The result is discrimination and prejudice against those with disabilities and those who may have a deficiency that is not classed as a disability (for example, when a person is literate in their first language, but largely illiterate in English or another second language).

Ableism can manifest in myriad ways, from the obvious (lack of wheelchair access to public buildings) to the hidden (important government information not presented in Plain English). Ableism can also be overtly harmful (the forced sterilisation of disabled women) or benign (the promotion of a disabled person’s success as “inspiration porn”). 

Stella Young presenting "I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much" at TEDxSydney
Ableism is one of those things that once you start noticing it in action, you never stop seeing it. With so many close friends and family who live with a disability it is something that I witness on a daily basis.

I see the anger and the frustration as they struggle with basic, daily tasks that fully-abled people do without thinking. Something as simple as making coffee was dangerous and time-consuming for my blind family member until the release of the Nespresso.

I see the shame and humiliation my friend feels when they ask for help walking down stairs because they have a limp and can easily lose their balance if there is no railing.

I see the confusion and helplessness when children (and adults) with executive functioning deficiency struggle to keep track of the day’s schedule and fall behind.

I’ve also felt my own grief when I had to choose a different vocation because my disability prevented me from pursuing a career in music. I was lucky that I had so many other options available to me – not everybody has that luxury.

You might be asking, “What does this have to do with web accessibility?”

And the answer? Everything.

Making the web accessible for everyone

I want people with a vision impairment to be able to ‘read’ an e-document as quickly and easily as I do.

I want people with executive functioning deficiency to be able to find information easily online because it is presented in a clear and logical manner.

I want people with a sensory processing disorder to be able to open a web page and not be overwhelmed by scrolling banners and auto-play videos.

I want those with mobility problems – like tremors or arthritis – to be able to navigate the web easily and with as little pain and frustration as possible.

I want those with English language difficulties (because it’s their second language, they have dyslexia, or are functionally illiterate) to not only find information that they can read or listen to, but to also understand it.

How can I not want those things? How can you not want those things? And how do we achieve it?

Luckily for you, we’ve already done the hard work of figuring out which guidelines are relevant to copywriters and those who write for the web.

We’ve put together a couple of videos — so we can talk you though them when you’re ready:
eAccessibility webinar Part1
eAccessibility webinar Part2

You can even download the Powerpoint presentation from the videos:


About The Copy Collective

The Copy Collective is a cloud-based, teleworking business with 80 freelancers, of diverse backgrounds, working in seven countries. The company's five employees are located in Sydney and Perth.


For more details contact Maureen Shelley 0412 741186 or

For interviews contact Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 or

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ten Simple Steps to become a successful published author

You've finally written your masterpiece. You've done it. You're an author... But how will people read it? Well, Red Raven Books can help. Maureen Shelley shares the final post in her Blog series “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author.”

Here's the final steps of what you need to do:

1. Call The Copy Collective and a Red Raven Books' editor will be assigned to collaborate on your manuscript.
Select how much you want to spend, what you want us to do and what you are prepared to do for yourself. You can stage your process so it suits you and you can pay over a period of time as each service is completed.
This is a fee-for-publishing service. You retain final control. You keep all the proceeds of your sales.
2. Select your package - you can choose some or all. Packages start at $870 through to a full print production with assistance at every step:
  •   Editing.
  •   Proof reading.
  •   Book cover design and selection.
  •   Print-ready manuscript (editing and/or proofing & typesetting) + ISBN + barcode.
  •   Digital-ready manuscript (for Amazon (Kindle) & iTunes (iBooks) & Google Play.
  •   Book app - Android and iOS.
  •   Print management - typesetting, printer liaison (Australia), proofs & delivery.
  •   Registration and lodgement to comply with the Copyright Act (1968).
  •   Marketing plan - social and traditional media, registration with book distributors.
3. Work with your editor during a 4 to 6 week period to complete your draft manuscript.
4. Get the technical bits right: typesetting and design, including digital file preparation.
5. ‘Print’ execution: send to printers or submit to publishing platforms.
6. See your book in print, in the App Store or on Google Play. 
7. Manage your launch/celebratory event, first conference presentation or elaunch - including media coaching, photography and support.
8. Digital media campaign - microsite development, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, TweetReach, CRM registration and HootSuite scheduling, plus eDM, GoodReads and genre sites registration and reviews.
9. Traditional media campaign: media releases, registration on news sites for Google News indexing, book tours.
10. Start working on your next manuscript.

Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy

If you go to the Australian government’s website for the National Transition Strategy you will be greeted with pages of boring government-speak about:

“improved web services”
“the provision of information and services online”
“an important milestone for government”
and “whole-of-government”.

It’s very nice of the government to provide all this information but it is a lot to wade through. Luckily for you, I’ve already done it and tackled the seaweed. And, I've found the pretty shells that you’re really interested in.

Here we continue the three-part series on e-accessibility and how you can make your content user-friendly for all abilities, by Perth-based contributor Monica (@thebigmeeow).

So let's begin. Here’s what you need to know:

The final goal

All government information that is online will be accessible. How accessible will it be? It will be AA level of WCAG2.0 (for more information about WCAG2.0 check out my earlier post).

The levels of WCAG2.0 are like health insurance. A level is your basic cover: dental, optical, and a shared room in hospital. AAA is the 'top-of-the-wazza' chiropractic, homeopathy, no-gap physiotherapy, hip replacements AND maternity, and a private room with your own butler in hospital.

The AA level is the middle ground. You get a good selection extras (though not the hip replacements or maternity care) and if you pay a slightly larger excess you can have a private room in hospital – sans the butler.

So the final goal for the National Transition Strategy is that most people, with most disabilities, can access government information and services online.

Image of a flow chart for the National Transition Strategy. A full text description is available at under the heading "Work Plan"
WCAG 2.0 National Transition Strategy (image format). Source:

Government agencies and departments are expected to consider universal design and web accessibility when commissioning future websites, web applications, and other online content

At a minimum

On every government website, some information is more important than others. This information must be compliant with AA level even if the rest of the site isn’t. This includes:
  • contact details;

  • information about the organisation or department, including its role and any relevant legislation;
  • the organisation or department’s functions, structure, key personnel and services;

  • current information about citizens’ responsibilities, obligations, rights and entitlements (benefits, etc.) in relation to government assistance;

  • current public notices, warnings and advice.

If you want to know about the specifics of how to make this information compliant, then I suggest you watch our web accessibility training videos:

If you’re a third party delivering government information and/or services then your online content needs to be compliant too.

The 2012 review

In 2012 the Department of Finance reviewed the progress of the National Transition Strategy. While there had been improvement in the accessibility of some online content, the general conclusion was that most departments will not achieve AA level compliance by the end of 2014.
2012 review statistics shown as images. For full text go to
Depressing statistics with a positive spin. Source:

Given the slow progress of agencies and departments adopting the new standards, the report listed eight priorities for departments to achieve before the end of 2014; even if they can’t achieve full compliance. These are:
    1. Complete any remaining audits of the number of websites and web applications, including those provided by a third party.
    2. Complete conformance assessment of all websites and web applications currently unassessed.
    3. Assign a WCAG 2.0 upgrade priority to all websites and web applications , with priority on the minimum online content requirements.
    4. Deploy accessibility conformance testing tools and, where required, external testing services to compliment agency capability.
    5. Review accessibility action plans addressing upgrade priorities, alternate access methods, maintenance and monitoring practices.
    6. Update agency web policies to provide for WCAG 2.0 conformance for all websites and web applications.
    7. Release progressive accessibility enhancements to their web environments as they are developed.
    8. Maintain a program of education and training for agency staff on accessible authoring practice.

      Some handy tools

      Feeling a little despaired? Want to throw the whole project out the window? Well, we’ve all been there. I suggest you get yourself a nice glass of wine or cup of coffee or pot of tea or pitcher of milk or whatever you drink when relaxing, and browse the useful information and tools I’ve found while poking around the WWW.


      WCAG2.0 information and resource page for Pennsylvania State University. Includes a breakdown of the guidelines, common tools, testing, and troubleshooting.

      ADOD Project

      The Accessible Digital Office Document Project, developed by The Ontario College of Art and Design University jointly with the Government of Ontario and UNESCO. Includes comprehensive instructions for creating accessible digital documents using any software including Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Open Office, Adobe and more.

      Chrome Shades

      A screen reader emulator for Chrome.


      A screen reader emulator for Firefox.

      Access iQ

      A social enterprise started by Media Access Australia. Includes training, resources, news and events.

      Stamford Interactive

      Variation on marketing consultants. Includes some handy WCAG2.0 resources.

      Vision Australia

      Not-for-profit organisation working for and with people with vision impairments. Includes training, resources, tools, and an excellent blog.

      Web Accessibility Checker

      An online tool that reviews your existing website and provides a basic web accessibility report.

      Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List

      Accessibility service provider operated by Utah State University. Includes articles, resources, newsletter, a blog, and for Utah residents – training and consulting services.

      Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List

      A list of evaluation tools for online programs and content. Hosted by W3C.

      Join me for my next Blog - Part 3 of Accessibility is Everywhere where we get up close and personal.

      About The Copy Collective

      The Copy Collective is a cloud-based, teleworking business with 80 freelancers, of diverse backgrounds, working in seven countries. The company's five employees are located in Sydney and Perth.


      For more details contact Maureen Shelley 0412 741186 or

      For interviews contact Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 or

      Friday, 31 October 2014

      Tiny business helps Federal Government comply with its own policy

      Federal Government departments are required to make their websites comply with standards that make them accessible to people with disabilities. Here we introduce our new e-Accessibility training videos Part 1 and Part 2... and it's on us.

      "At The Copy Collective, we've noticed that many government websites don't comply, as yet, with the guidelines in regards to copy," CEO Dominique Antarakis said. 

      "We thought we'd help out by making free training available to everyone, so that the government didn't have any excuses not to comply with its own policy. We also think that accessible websites are great for all businesses, not just government."

      The Copy Collective is a 5-person business based in Sydney. As part of the company's Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan, they wanted a practical way to show that small changes could help everyone. The team thought they would start by helping the Federal Government comply with its own Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy.

      Today, The Copy Collective announced the release of two training videos designed to assist copywriters and government departments to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Federal government agencies are encouraged to meet the guidelines for their website content by December 2014.

      "We're not doing this because we want jobs rewriting Federal Government websites; although that would be nice," Ms Antarakis said. "We're doing it because we want to show that simple changes to copy can make a big difference to access."

      "The training we offer is in-depth and detailed. The presenter, Monica Seeber, is one of our freelancers from Perth. She is our resident accessibility expert. Having experience with disability in her own family, Monica is very committed to access and so are we. 

      "We've provided 2-hours of training, free of charge. We'd like the Government to make the videos compulsory viewing for all their comms and web teams.

      "Making website copy accessible for all just makes good business sense," Ms Antarakis said.
      In two hours, the online e-accessibility training takes users through the principles of WCAG 2.0, how these principles will affect websites, and how to create content that meets WCAG 2.0 standards. The YouTube videos are fully captioned and there are downloadable PowerPoint and Text versions of the presentation slides available on Scribd.
      Comply by December 2014
      The Copy Collective supports governments, NFPs and businesses to comply with the WCAG 2.0. While the compliance imperative is important and it is great to ensure content is available and accessible for all, the steps to make sites accessible have the side benefit of also helping organisations with their search engine optimisation (SEO).
      Providing this complimentary training is part of The Copy Collective's commitment to an inclusive society under its Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan.
      The Copy Collective encourages people to set aside the time to watch the training videos and understand how the WCAG 2.0 applies to organisations. Trainees will also get the resources and tools they need to make changes to their web copy .
      The Copy Collective can be contacted for further support to make website copy accessible. Please note: you don't need to book any work with The Copy Collective to enjoy the complimentary training!
      About the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
      The WCAG 2.0 guidelines were released in 2008 to implement user-friendly web content for people of all abilities.
      The guidelines cover the full range of Web content that a user is likely to access — from images and graphs, to videos and podcasts, to the structure and design of each page. Each guideline has three levels of accessibility: A, AA and AAA. Level AAA is the highest level of accessibility.
      Compliance with WCAG 2.0 is part of the digital inclusion framework referenced in the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy.
      About The Copy Collective
      The Copy Collective is a cloud-based, teleworking business with 80 freelancers, of diverse backgrounds, working in seven countries. The company's five employees are located in Sydney and Perth. 

      For more details contact Maureen Shelley 0412 741 186 or
      For interviews contact Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 or

      Thursday, 30 October 2014

      Accessibility Is Everywhere

      Here at The Copy Collective, we’re big fans of accessibility – in the ‘real’ world and the virtual. In this three-part series, Perth-based contributor Monica (@thebigmeeow) will introduce you to the basics of e-accessibility and how you can make your content user-friendly for all abilities. Here we introduce our new e-Accessibility training videos Part 1 and Part 2... and it's on us.

      First there was the word.

      Then there was the Internet.

      And when the word and the Internet got together, they made the World Wide Web.

      The Internet is the physical network made up of computers and routers and phone lines and server farms and deep-sea cables. The World Wide Web is all the information that we access using the Internet. And the “word”? Well, that’s “01110111 01101111 01110010 01100100”.

      Logo for the W3C 20th Anniversary Symposium
      W3C celebrates 20 years. Source:
      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is responsible for developing Web standards. Their mission “is to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web” (W3C Mission).

      If the Web is an “information super-highway” then W3C is like the Department for Infrastructure: they write the guidelines and technical specifications for designing and building new roads and regional developments.

      The Web standards cover all aspects of the Web:

      1. Web design and applications
      2. Web architecture
      3. Semantic Web
      4. XML technology
      5. Web of services
      6. Web of devices
      7. Browsers and authoring tools.
      For most of us, we don’t know what any of that means – and we don’t really need to (if you would like to know more, the W3C Standards page covers each topic in greater detail). Web developers and graphic designers mediate most of our interaction with the Web; and all we have to worry about is the speed of our Internet connection. 

      "The power of the Web is in its universality.
      Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect".
      Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
      Unfortunately, not all Web content is created equal – and not all content is available to everybody. For some people (especially people with a disability) they’re not just worrying about the speed of their Internet connection, they’re also thinking:

      “Will this webpage trigger a seizure?”
      “Can my screen-reader make sense of the text?”
      “Does this video have captions or a transcript?”
      "Is this information written in a language I can read?" 
      Within the Standards for Web design and applications, the W3C created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

      The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG10) were released in 1999, and were then revised and succeeded by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) in 2008.

      There’s a lot of information in those guidelines. If you print them out, there’s about 34 pages of information. You can access the full WCAG 2.0 for free on the W3C webpage.

      WCAG 2.0 covers the full range of Web content that a user is likely to access on Web pages, from images and graphs, to videos and podcasts, to the structure and design of the pages themselves. 

      WCAG 2.0 structure

      Flow chart. First level says "4 principles" then an arrow points to the second level, which say "12 guidelines". A second arrow points from the second to the third level, which says "61 success criteria".

      WCAG 2.0 is structured around four broad principles (also known as pillars):

      1. Perceivable: Web pages and content must be presented to users in ways they can perceive.
      2. Operable: Web pages and navigation must be operable.
      3. Understandable: Web content and the operation of Web pages much be understandable.
      4. Robust: Web content and pages much be interpreted reliably by a range of users, hardware, and software – including assistive technologies.
      These four principles are then broken down into 12 guidelines: 

      1. Perceivable
        1. Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
        2. Provide alternatives for time-based media.
        3. Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
        4. Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
      2. Operable
        1. Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
        2. Provide users enough time to read and use content.
        3. Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
        4. Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
      3. Understandable
        1. Make text content readable and understandable.
        2. Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
        3. Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
      4. Robust
        1. Maximise compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

      Those 12 guidelines are broken down further into 61 “success criteria”. That’s a lot of criteria!

      Now before you all panic…

      Image with a Doctor Who TARDIS top, centre and with the text below: "Keep calm and call the Doctor"

      Luckily for you, we’ve already done the hard work of figuring out which guidelines are relevant to copywriters. We’ve even put together a couple of videos — so we can talk you though them when you’re ready:
      eAccessibility webinar Part1
      eAccessibility webinar Part2

      You can even download the Powerpoint presentation from the videos.

      Photo of a male lion resting on a raised platform, with the text: "L'OREAL because you're worth it".
      You can use my videos and powerpoint for free – because you’re worth it.
      Join me for my next Blog - Part 2 of Accessibility is Everywhere - where I introduce the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy and share useful things for making your web content accessible.

      About The Copy Collective

      The Copy Collective is a cloud-based, teleworking business with 80 freelancers, of diverse backgrounds, working in seven countries. The company's five employees are located in Sydney and Perth.

      For more details contact Maureen Shelley 0412 741186 or

      For interviews contact Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 or