Accessibility WordCamp

I challenge all WordCamp US and WordCamp NYC speakers to caption their talks

Last week I put out a community challenge for WordCamp speakers to caption their talks and help make more accessible. Now I’m issuing a personal challenge to the speakers at WordCamp NYC and WordCamp US to start the ball rolling by captioning their own talks.

Why these two WordCamps in particular? Because they both had CART captioning, which means text transcripts of their talks already exist. And those captions have been made available for everyone to download!

So here’s the challenge:

If you spoke at WordCamp NYC or WordCamp US in 2015, go to the spreadsheet, click the tab for the appropriate event (WordCamp NYC text or WordCamp US text), grab the text file, sign up for an account, and caption your own talk.

Almost all the work has been done for you, so if you want to get the most out of the least amount of work, this would be a great task to start with.

You can help make WordPress learning more accessible, and it all starts with captioning your WordCamp NYC or WordCamp US talk!

Accessibility WordPress

Community Challenge: Let’s Caption All WordCamp Videos

2015 was the year the WordPress community started taking web accessibility seriously, and both in WordPress Core and in themes, plugins, WordCamp talks, even WordCamps and WordPress Meetups, accessibility is becoming a first-level citizen.

As we start writing “2016”, let’s use this momentum to make information about WordPress more accessible to all.I challenge all WordCamp speakers to caption their WordCamp videos on

The information contained in the thousands of videos on, from WordCamps, Meetups, and elsewhere, is invaluable to anyone wanting to learn about WordPress or wanting to expand their existing knowledge. Unfortunately, only a few of these videos have captioning because captioning takes time and effort.

If every community member who has had the privilege of speaking at an event and had their talk recorded and uploaded to invested the time to caption their videos, either by doing it themselves or getting (paying?) someone else to do it, we would dramatically increase the accessibility of WordPress training materials.

In the process, we would also reap other benefits:

First of all, captioning is not just for the hard of hearing: Studies show a vast majority of TV and video viewers use closed captioning for increased comprehension. If you’ve watched a lot of talks you’ll also know that the audio quality isn’t always the best, so captioning will help everyone.

Secondly, captioning your videos means others can translate them into other languages making them accessible to people who don’t speak the original language the video was recorded in.

Thirdly, I will put forward a proposal to publish the full transcripts of all videos with the videos. This will allow visitors to make their own decisions about how to consume the content, and will allow search engines and other tools to index the contents of the videos properly.

Practicing What I Preach

To make sure I’m not making an impossible request, I have already started captioning my own videos, and my goal is to have all of them captioned by the end of February (I’m realistic about my time).

The actual process of captioning a video is relatively straight forward thanks to The full process is explained in the video below (a full rundown is also provided when you click the “Subtitle this video” link on each video page):

Captioning a 10 minute video took me about 60 minutes (mostly due to getting used to the interface and my severe dyslexia) and I expect once I get used to the tool it should take me about 2 hours to caption a 45 minute talk. In the grand scheme of things this is a minute investment to ensure more people can access (and possibly translate?) my talks, and it’s one I think all speakers should commit to.

Build Better Accessibility Together

If every one of us commits to captioning our own videos, the burden of what would otherwise be an insurmountable task becomes one that is shared in a fair and achievable way. If other community members pitch in, that task becomes even simpler.

By working together, we can make WordPress accessible, and part of this job is captioning each and every video. We can do this, and we can do it well, so let’s get crackin’!


My New Year’s Wish for 2015: Make WordPress Accessible to All

You see, the web was created with a very specific purpose in mind. And that was to separate content from the presentation of that content. You have HTML and CSS. And this is all done because of Accessibility. People forget this but the web was specifically designed to make content accessible so that when someone visits a site they’ll be able to pull the content out in the way they want to. 

So, if someone visits my site, she can read it using a screen reader and get it read back to her. Or she can use a Braille display and read it with her fingertips (…) Some people might use one of those phones or tablets or laptops or PCs or TVs or movie theatre screens or whatever, but that’s just one way of accessing the content.

I spent a lot of time talking about and writing about web accessibility in 2014. The piece above was from my WordCamp San Francisco 2014 talk on the CSS Box Model. I wrote about web accessibility as a rights issue, about the accessibility-ready tag being required in WordPress themes, and about why web accessibility is the next big thing that was always there. Accessibility had a place in all the big courses I released this year, and at WordCamp San Francisco I made it my mission to put accessibility on the agenda.

To me web accessibility matters now more than ever before and it is my wish that in 2015 it will matter to you and to all of the WordPress community too.

This is for Everyone

The reason I started my CSS Box Model talk with a sidenote about accessibility as one of the core features of the web is that we, the web building community, seem to have forgotten our original mandate. In our chase for the quickest, sleekest, most well designed, interactive, and eye catching visual solutions we have all but forgotten that the entire point of the web was to make content accessible. To all. All the designing and pixel pushing and tweaking we painstakingly perfect to make our content visually appealing is just veneer, coats of paint, make-up*. And like veneer, coats of paint, and make-up, if we spend too much time applying it we end up obscuring the content underneath.

During the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web) told the crowd that “this is for everyone“. The philosophy of the WordPress project is to “democratize publishing“. At the core of both these ideals lies the simple premise that we work to include everyone, not just those who use screens to access our content.

Accessibility for Everyone

To see why web accessibility matters you probably don’t have to go further than your own friends and immediate family. Let me serve as an example:

A dear friend of mine is in the midst of a fierce battle with ALS. As the disease progresses he relies more and more on voice control software like Dragon. If I want him to read my site I need to ensure it can be navigated by voice. And if I want him to be able to keep publishing his stellar content I have to ensure the tool he uses is accessible.

One of my family members is hard of hearing, though you wouldn’t know it because of his uncanny ability to read lips – in multiple languages. To him a web video without closed captioning or at the very least a transcript is like watching a movie while listening to white noise. He can watch my videos because of the interactive transcript, but my videos would be without value to him.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting in real life a person I’ve previously only interacted with online. She is blind and gave me a whole new appreciation of what my writing sounds like to someone who can’t see the text (hint: it usually has a computerized voice and speaks at a ridiculously high pace – almost as fast as me!) To ensure she can get her screen reader to race though my articles I have to make sure they are accessible in every way.

And then there’s me. I tell people often enough but few believe me: I have dyslexia. Not the most severe kind, but a very frustrating kind. The kind that puts my reading pace at about speaking pace. The kind that makes me see made up words, jumbles the order of words in sentences, and generally makes reading a chore. Bizarrely I can write fast, but reading back what I just wrote is a laborious endeavour. To compensate I tend to read most things on my phone because it has fewer words per line and I can quickly switch it to inverted mode and get white text on a black background. And inspired by my blind friend I am now trying to learn how to use a text-to-speech browser so I can get content read back to me. To me it is more efficient than reading.

But web accessibility isn’t just for people with motor, hearing, visual, or cognitive challenges. Accessibility is for everyone. All those wearable devices the technology companies want us to buy rely on web accessibility. Same with the computerized cars that are rolling off lots as we speak. Same with our phones, our tablets, and our computers. All these technologies are being held back by lack of accessibility on the web. And that means if we invest in accessibility, all the content we publish will become more accessible to us.

2015: The Year of WordPress Accessibility

It is my wish that 2015 be the year the WordPress community embraces web accessibility as a first rate citizen. Amazing work has already been done on WordPress core by the WordPress Accessibility Team and I am part of the group that is currently working on bringing accessibility standards to the WordPress Theme Directory. The latter project has seen a surprising amount of push-back but I think this is mainly due to misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge about what accessibility is and what accessibility can do to improve WordPress and the WordPress community.

It is my belief that if we, every one of us, as a community, take the time in 2015 to learn what web accessibility is, why it matters, and how we can make it part of our process whether we are content creators, designers, developers, or just surf the web for information, we can take a leadership role in the larger web community and make web accessibility an expected rather than a sometimes added feature.

We can be the leaders and the change. We can democratize publishing by making WordPress and everything that runs on WordPress accessible.

This is my new year’s wish.


Accessibility My Opinion WordPress

The accessibility-ready Tag Should Be Required for All WordPress Themes

When was the last time you tried navigating your WordPress site using only the keyboard? Chances are you never have, and if you do you are likely to have a sub-optimal experience at best. The alarming reality is only a handful of WordPress themes (and thus WordPress-powered sites) meet basic accessibility guidelines. This is not OK. I’m issuing a challenge to the WordPress community:

Accessibility should be a requirement for all WordPress themes.