Looking back on 2015 and forward to 2016

Last year I changed the focus of my company. I wanted to do web accessibility related work only. The plan was to:

  • build and maintain accessible websites only
  • give accessibility training to web developers and graphic designers
  • help developers and companies fixing accessibility issues
  • give talks on WordCamps and Meetups
  • keep contributing to WordPress

So, what became of my plans?

Accessible websites only

This year I build game-accessibility.com, doofblind.nl and rebuild oogvereniging.nl. All accessible and oogvereniging.nl is officially certified WCAG 2 AA by the Dutch Accessibility Foundation.

Homepage website game accessibility

But to keep the wolf from the door, I needed more work. Therefore I’ve build several websites as accessible as possible, but had to make (sometimes huge) concessions to meet the customers wishes. No I’m not listing them here.

Web accessibility training

The developers of Yoast, Yard Internet and Geev all got a training. That was so much fun to do. It strengthens me in the opinion that developers and designers do care account accessibility, they just don’t have a clue what’s important. Letting Apple VoiceOver read their website out loud, is always a good eye opener and a way to create awareness.

Fix accessibility

CopyBlogger asked Graham Armfield and me to improve the accessibility of the Genesis Framework. We set as standard: Genesis and the Sample Theme needs to be WCAG 2 AA accessible. Graham did an audit and I made the code fixes, with the help of many other Genesis developers. In August Genesis 2.2 and a new Sample Theme were released with all the necessary  a11y changes.

Contributing to WordPress

Last year Andrea Fercia joined the accessibility team. His extensive work on WordPress core gave us a big boost. He asked for testers with different assistive technology and we assembled a team of 75 volunteers who regular test WordPress on a11y issues. For this work Andrea and I got recent rockstar credits for the 4.3 release, Andrea became a core committer, and even Matt Mullenweg knows our names apparently. The team grew and works well now.

Ryan D. Sullivan from WP Site Care was very generous and payed for Andrea’s and my trip to WordCamp US in Philadelphia, where we attended the Community Summit with the rest of the accessibility team.

summit-2015.png

We wrote the accessibility code standards for WordPress core and got the support of several core developers. This means that everything that gets into WordPress core, needs to be WCAG 2 AA accessible. A result I’m really proud of.

Furthermore, this year I gave talks at:

Lessons learned

For a new website I will only work with a project / content manager I trust and a web designer that knows accessibility or wants to be trained to be one.

Never ever let a graphic designer do wireframes or take decisions with the client without me, because this results in me struggling to code stuff I strongly disagree with.

Maintaining over 30 WordPress websites (and discussing stuff with 30 website owners) is too much noise in my head. I need to consider handing over the maintenance of some websites to other WordPress agencies.

Make more time to maintain and give support for the plugin Genesis Accessible. This takes up more time than I thought, therefore I need to include it’s support and development into my weekly routine.

Plans for next year

Focus even more what I really like to do:

  1. Train and educate WordPress developers with the WPDC
  2. Code accessible websites with a good project manager
  3. Maintain the plugin Genesis Accessible
  4. Be part of the WordPress accessibility team
  5. Give talks on WordCamps and Meetups
  6. Finish my book on accessible theme development with Genesis
  7. And study my ass of… duh…

The website oogvereniging.nl is expanding and growing. I love to work on this site, so I will keep doing this. I will look at my other websites and decide this year which ones I keep and which ones I will hand over to other agencies.

The need for accessible websites is increasing in the Netherlands, so this year I plan to do accessible sites with a project manager I know and trust.

The work on Genesis Accessible and the WordPress accessibility team will also stay an important part of my work. It costs time but it’s fun, necessary and good for my PR. Just like giving talks on WordCamps and Meetups and writing a book. Let’s see if I can find the courage of speaking at WordCamp US this year, need to think about that.

Last year has been a good year. I hope 2016 will bring me even further on the path I decided to take: let’s get WordPress accessible and make money on the way.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Author: Rian Rietveld

WordPress Engineer focussing on accessibility

4 thoughts on “Looking back on 2015 and forward to 2016”

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