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


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