Any Interest In an Accessibility Event?

Any Interest In an Accessibility Event?

Any interest in an accessibility event - on the left is a person holding his head in confusion staring at a laptop; on the right is the text inclusion and accessibility matters;

Health and disabilities go hand in hand. And an inclusive approach helps everyone. Where can RPCV Health Crusade make a difference within the RPCV community that could ripple that forward to benefit even more people? We thought that a good place to start is by improving inclusion and accessibility (A11Y) of RPCVs’ websites and social media. Is there any interest in an Accessibility Event?

Too many websites have accessibility hurdles. If your website visitors cannot interact with your website, they leave. If the search engine cannot understand your website, you rank low or not all in search results. You could lose potential social media followers without knowing it. And some people may get so frustrated that they file accessibility complaint (or lawsuits).

We believe that if RPCVs knew more about Accessibility, we would make the effort to correct them starting with our own. Can RPCVs become the needed allies, advocates, and leaders for a more inclusive and accessible world? If RPCVs know how to apply website accessibility, can we ripple that forward to benefit everyone else?

But What Is Website Accessibility?

An accessible website means inclusion and usability so that the greatest number of people can understand and access the website. After all, isn’t that why you created that website?

A website has many pieces and parts that can impact or boost accessibility. But that means there are many opportunities to be inclusive. An accessible website has the following components:

  • clean technology infrastructure (that means code);
  • an effective design (that means layout);
  • an intuitive user experience (that means interactions and easy to use);
  • and, well-structured content (that is the text and images).

Does It Really Matter?

Inaccessible websites make it harder for everyone. It becomes harder for everyone to navigate or use your website. But it could be impossible for people with certain disabilities or using assistive technology to interact with the website. The common mistake is thinking that people with disabilities are not your target audience. But, people with disabilities are already a part of every audience and demographic. It is also the largest marginalized group in the world where anyone could become an instant member.

And, search engines have a harder time understanding inaccessible websites. If search engines cannot understand or navigate your site, they rank you much lower in search engine results. How many people actually scroll to page 10 of those search results? An accessible website improves your search engine ranking without paying Google for ad space.

Shortcuts Are Not Effective

Do not pay for an overlay service that claims to automatically fix the accessibility issues on your website. No line of code can magically make an inaccessible website suddenly accessible. In fact, many accessibility experts believe overlays actually make the website worse. And no, overlays do not protect you from accessibility lawsuits.

Some people intentionally use or program in workarounds. For example, the alt text of some social media posts indicate “No alternative text description for this image”. How does this help someone who cannot see, using assistive technology, or cannot load the images?

Did someone manually place that text or was there something automated that defaulted the text? What is the point of entering alt text that does not describe anything? If none of the images have any value, why were they included?

What is the RPCV-HC Accessibility Event?

RPCV Health Crusade wants to offer RPCVs the opportunity to come together and spend a few hours working and learning about how to improve each others’ websites and/or social media accounts. But, we want to hear from the RPCV community. Is accessibility something the RPCV community can support? Can we start the ripple of inclusion from within the RPCV community?

The bottom line is that websites and social media need to be accessible. Awareness and effort can make that happen. Build it for the sake of inclusion and human compassion. Make your website accessible to increase website traffic. Do it for legislative compliance. And if not, then at least do it to avoid a costly ADA lawsuit and bad publicity.

It is a tall ask to make any website fully accessible in a few hours. But you can take the opportunity to make some significant updates. Our goal is progress not perfection.

How can RPCVs Get a Free Website Accessibility Audit?

There are some digital tools that claim to automatically conduct a website audit. However, they only apply a small portion of expectations. And, they are sometimes wrong with what passed and what failed.

The most effective audit is a manual one. But a manual audit can be costly and take a long time. Depending on the size and complexity of your website, you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $10,000+ for a professional website accessibility audit.

If there is adequate interest in a website accessibility event, we will conduct a free audit of selected RPCVs’ websites. We need to decide which sites qualify and which pages we will audit. But whether or not your website is initially selected for the free audit, you can still come to the event and give/get help. Time permitting, we may help audit more websites during the event.

Take Our RPCV-HC Accessibility Event Survey

Fill out our A11Y event survey to gauge your interest in an accessibility event. When there is enough interest, the event becomes a reality. Anyone who shared their email address will get first notice to register for the event (and put your hat in the ring for a free audit).

Are you interested in learning more? Want to work together to improve each other’s websites? Let’s hear from you!

Fill out the RPCV Health Crusade survey to let us know of your interest in an accessibility event. Do you need help or if you can offer help?


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