Last year I worked with the e-inclusion team at the EC and we discussed potential strategies going forward. It bothered me how little progress had been made on a “Riga target” that 100% of EC public sector websites should be e-accessible (at last measure it was 5%).
However I also wondered, as a currently able bodied person, what the access issues really feel like to a user who is ill, injured or disabled. There are those days when I feel like throwing my device out of the window (the i-phone app period tracker is worth thinking about guys, if you want to know if its really the technology – but I digress!). My experience of the internet and ICT is that its clunky, buggy, annoying and needs a good fix!
However, there is a certain amount of frustration I can put up with (generally!). I doubt its ever going to be perfect.
And then I’ve encountered, this may be a little controversial, a certain sense of elite around being an “accessible” website (don’t get me wrong, its great to encourage and reward best practice). But as a disabled user is it so impressive if a site is all singing and dancing but boring as hell?
My first wonder then, is what might be “acceptably” accessible and could de.li.cious be used for tagging reasonable sites (so for example a Man City fan (now there’s an impairment!) could tag the best of the bunch in fanzine sites).
There’s a few issues in that idea, but discussing it more widely uncovered tools like Web Visum and the idea of fixing en masse came into view. I wondered if the fixing needed to be done by the user facing problems, and indeed if it always could be. I have helped get http://www.IT4communities.org.uk off the ground, which now has over 6000 (UK) volunteers, so I know there is a good techy energy out there to be tapped into. Scripting Enabled events being another example.
We just have some stuff to figure out, what’s important, what technically possible, how to best present a process on a website and how to drive traffic there. We just need to get together and figure it out.