Lessons for Tomorrow Podcast: The Rise of Digital Accessibility

A lot of organizations get fooled into thinking that they are providing the right accessible experience. Our host, Tim Ahlenius, is joined by two experts in the digital accessibility field — Keith Bundy, who has worked for over 35 years in a variety of professional positions and is currently a digital accessibility consultant and trainer with Siteimprove, Inc., and Nick Goodrum, the Accessibility Practice Team Lead and Director of Front-End Development at Americaneagle.com.

The three set out to answer questions including, how do we engage in truly delivering accessibility? Why is there a gap between the technology and guidelines? And what is the future of technology and accessibility? Listen today as our experts dive into accessibility best practices.

Start listening on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

This podcast is brought to you by Americaneagle.com Studios.

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For more information on accessibility, check out these resources provided by Americaneagle.com and Siteimprove.

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Transcript

Tim Ahlenius 

Welcome back to another episode of lessons for tomorrow a conversation between industry experts providing insights from the past to apply in the present to achieve success in the future. I'm your host, Tim Ahlenius, VP strategic initiatives at Americaneagle.com and I am joined today by two experts in the field and looking forward to really talking about digital accessibility. Our first expert is from Americaneagle.com as well Nick Goodrum. He's our accessibility practice team lead and director of front end development, Nick's played a key role in the adoption and advocacy of accessibility, ensuring that Americaneagle.com clients have an inclusive website for all. Since starting with Americaneagle.com back in 2009. Same year I started Nick has been involved in a large number of projects, including the American Dental Association, the Chicago Auto Show, rustoleum, and the American Red Cross, and many more. He enjoys educating on best practices and modern techniques around accessibility, page loading and user experience. And let me tell you those conversations on user experience. He and I have had many debate and at the end, he's always the winner. Nick has been a champion for pushing accessibility forward by encouraging clients to be proactive and up to date on the latest requirements and best practices. Welcome, Nick.

Nick Goodrum 

Morning, actually, it's pretty nice actually, my first time in the studios.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, we're really breaking in the studio lately with this, the show and just getting people in and it's great to see the use of the space and also joined by Keith Bundy from Siteimprove Keith was born totally blind. And he has really just done incredible things throughout his life. He received primarily a mainstream education, and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religion, and a master's degree in college student personnel work. Wow, that is a lot of education there, Keith, you've been in the profession for over 35 years in different positions. And you are currently a digital accessibility consultant, and trainer with Siteimprove. You are a Certified Professional accessibility core competencies. And you also hold certifications and accessibility information and technology, jaws j a w s for Windows and NVDA. And you have over 20 years of experience specifically in accessibility. And that's just an incredible just benefit for our conversation today. And I'm so looking forward to talking more about that. You enjoy public speaking and you did a bunch of things I want you to kind of tell us about it with some announcing for sports and events in your community, as well as spending time with your wife, Peggy and your four grown sons and three grandchildren. So welcome to lessons for tomorrow, Keith.

Keith Bundy 

Well, good morning. It's a privilege to be on the show today. And I really look forward to what we're going to be talking about.

Tim Ahlenius 

Wonderful, wonderful. So let's start with something new Apple just held their WWDC event a week ago today. And they had a lot of amazing announcements as usual, with iOS and iPad, OS, TV, and all their different operating systems that they provide. And last year, they really talked a lot about accessibility, what they were adding into the platform. There's other updates that Apple has been continuing to release just surrounding accessibility, just where's the space headed? I know, Apple's not the only one doing it, but just kind of picking on them for now, they seem to really be charging forward with more there and just interested in both your thoughts on where that's going?

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I mean, from the digital space, I would say that it has opened up a lot of opportunities for compared to the physical space, right? Because you can start incorporating a lot more technology, you know, again, technology continues to improve, improve, and improve. So there's a lot more that's getting thrown in for these different tech companies. And it's really, really interesting to see, you know, you know, for a long time, you really only had like braille displays or things like that, to be able to get information. And then as more and more you get, you know, I think that's why iOS was always kind of the most popular for mobile devices, because it was one of the first ones to come out with actual voiceover. So you have a screen reader built into the device and actually can get information and it through a kind of different approach than the typical kind of computer approach. But there's always more and more that's getting built in and we can talk more about it. But I'm curious to see what Keith has to say.

Keith Bundy 

Well, Apple has been a leader in the area of accessibility. Since the mid well, probably about 2007. They started working on this I think it was 2008 when they included a screen reader with their Mac computer. So any Mac that you buy since then has a built in screen reader and as Nick said, called Voiceover on it. They also started with the iPhone. The first two iterations of the iPhone did not have a screen reader. But starting with the iPhone three, they have included a screen reader with every iPhone, and they've done a tremendous job staying on top of that, so that people who are blind and visually impaired can do basically anything that you can do on an iPhone as a sighted person. They continue to advance in accessibility and I think one of the things that Apple does that makes them a real leader in the field is that they tried to implement accessibility for each new feature that they develop. So each iteration of iOS has a new accessibility feature, or I guess I shouldn't say it that way, having a new accessibility feature. But each iteration of iOS has accessibility features that make things possible that otherwise would not be possible for users with visual impairments, hearing impairments, keyboard only users, that type of thing. So Apple is doing its best to stay on top of things. And I think they're doing a very good job. At this point, no program or no, company is perfect. It seems like every time an iOS device is updated, to say iOS, this will be 15 coming out, there are some accessibility bugs. But Apple is quick to work on those and resolve those until I think they are definitely a leader in the space.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I feel like they've been again, you have more length in the industry than I have. But I've always kind of saw them as kind of the intro people to this because they were starting to think about accessibility when I feel like back in the day, you know, most of the software that Microsoft was creating, there wasn't as much of an interest. It wasn't that they didn't do anything, but it wasn't as much. But I'd say they've changed in the past few years. And they've become really, really vocal about it. And so they have been pushing the industry a lot more. But I felt like at least Apple was promoting it more trying to make it more like a normal thing. Why does it have to be something that's kind of hidden away? There's actually been times where I've actually used voiceover to actually access parts of like bank sites that aren't really set up, right, because there's like some button off screen, and actually can go and actually login on my phone, because I actually have voiceover installed, or well, it's installed already, but I'm actually using it.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah. And it's interesting to see just the continued growth as Keith, you mentioned, for Apple, one of the new announcements last week was about this conversation boost feature for the air pods and how using the headphones with the beamforming microphones. Now in such a tiny device. It's amazing just where technology advances have taken us but to help people with mild hearing challenges, just engage in conversation. And there's been times where I've been across the room from my Apple device. And I've actually turned on and use some of the screen grid and used it so that I could quickly make a change as I was holding my infant son, and I didn't have to get up or go to the device or put them down, I was able to just use that technology. Not that I needed it in my daily life. But it was an advantage for me to have available for what I can really bring to the interaction with a device. And I'm just curious as to where other areas of either, you know, the hearing side or vision impaired really come in and benefit in that experience. Nick, you mentioned banking sites, I think it's one of the ones that probably a lot of banks have been going through digital transformation, trying to improve those back end systems and make them accessible for everyone on any device, especially with last year when people just weren't going out. How do you engage and use different digital experiences through the different ways that you might need to engage with them? Yeah,

Nick Goodrum 

I mean, also, if you think I mean, for a while there was always restaurants, right? They all brought in tablets, right? That is nice that we have all these screens and everything, and it makes it easier for interaction, but the screens don't have anything on them, right? I mean, it's not really it's really catered to a certain audience. And that's why you saw a large amount of people pushing back and kind of going like, well, you're making this like, the only way I mean, there's some restaurants that that's the only way to interact, you know, it's is you don't actually have a human involved. So you actually have to use the screens in order to, you know, purchase something. And if they don't have any options for you know, all different kinds of impairments, then how is someone actually going to be able to order something. And so a lot of places, the technology increases, and so you go, Okay, I want to use the newest tech, but you always have to make sure you think about all the different user types, when you implement those new features, the difference between banks, and then of course, restaurants as restaurants are trying to innovate and push forward. But it's you've got to keep it in the back of your head. So it kind of shows which restaurants have accessibility in their head and in their planning the whole entire way. And I'd say a lot of banks is just because they stick to kind of older technology, and they're less likely to innovate and come up with new items, that they end up getting stuck in these kind of old systems that aren't really as accessible.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, no, definitely. Yeah, he what were some of your thoughts around just the different systems or areas where you see accessibility still needing to have a drive behind being implemented?

Keith Bundy 

Well, my summary thought is we're making progress, but we're still not there. Nick was just pointing out a lot of the restaurants that you go into and the tablets don't have accessibility features. And so you have to ask for assistance. And that's something where again, some restaurants think about accessibility and therefore they have to tablets that people with visual disabilities, can you others don't even think about it. You know, accessibility is one of those things people, things aren't inaccessible because people don't care things are in accessible because people don't know, very few people actually know someone who's blind or visually impaired or someone who is deaf or hearing impaired, or who uses a keyboard only to access the computer, very few people know people with disabilities. And so part of what we need to do is get that message out there that says there are people out there who don't operate the systems like you do. And they still need the ability to function in that particular space. And so I think we're making a lot of progress. I know our banking system that I use, has just gone through a change and unfortunately, they're less accessible now than they were before the gorge underscores what Nick said about, you know, using the older systems and getting caught up in that space where accessibility is not there. And they said they've adapted an accessibility widget. But I don't think those widgets work in most cases, they're things that we do not encourage. And again, their side is less accessible than it used to be. I think, you know, Apple has been a leader, as Nick was pointing out, Microsoft is definitely improving, and they can now be considered a leader in accessibility as well. But Apple started the whole show by including Voiceover on the Mac and Voiceover on the iOS devices. And so you know, a lot of apples still leading the way a lot of people are asking me if I've ever thought about going to an Android phone. So I Android phones do have a screen reader. They do have screen reader called talkback, but they're still behind where Apple is they haven't caught up yet. And I'm saying you know, as long as they haven't caught up, I can't make the switch. I'm not willing to sacrifice accessibility, just so I can use a different device.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, and I want to jump back to something you mentioned, Keith, and really pickier and next brains about this, but I haven't seen a lot more websites that have that little accessibility icon that they've kind of just overlaid. And being the industry, I know, it's a third party plugin that just kind of, I'm checking the box, I've got accessibility there. But the reality is, is that those tools don't just work, you can't just turn it on. And it's effective immediately with all the ways that accessibility has happened. And I feel that a lot of organizations get to use the word fooled into thinking that that is providing the right experience what some of your thoughts about the there's multiple tools out there that you can just kind of Overlay and just pop in and a lot of startups that have said all we give you accessibility any website, it does, kind of is the way I would phrase it, but let me know your thoughts.

Keith Bundy 

Again, they advertise as a magic bullet, that they're going to solve all of your accessibility problems at one time. And they really don't. Sometimes they create more accessibility issues for screen reader users. And there was one person that I'm aware of who ended up not being able to pay his rent, because his side adapted one of these overlays, and it messed up the functioning of his screen reader, and he couldn't pay his rent without assistance. So you know, those things happen. It goes back to the old saying, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And that's the way with these overlays, they make some differences that people can see, you know, they may help in terms of color contrast, on some issues, they may create some helpful things. But the bottom line is they don't work, they don't come close to discovering all of the accessibility errors on a website or fixing them. So automated checker, by itself can fix all accessibility errors, or find all accessible errors, all accessibility errors. In fact, the best automated checkers only pick up between 30 and 40% of accessibility problems on a site. So you really need to get in there and manually dig in and make the fixes yourself in order to make your site completely accessible.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I mean, I would say that there's two parts, right AI is getting really popular, at least the term AI, right, and it’s still in a very machine learning aspect where it's not human enough, right. And until AI becomes more human than humans, we still need the human element in order to review sites and take a look through because it's not going to know better, or it's not going to really know, I remember when Facebook had a CDN outage and for again, they're at least trying to put something in, but all the images, you can actually see the alt text that was actually being generated because people don't really have easy access to be able to like put in any explanation for those images. And so it'd be like dog to people. That's like that's not that's not really explaining something you're getting there. You're getting an essence but it's not really human right? It's not really the way it goes. So a lot of these tools are now throwing in that kind of marketing message of like, oh well AI is going to solve everything. It's like it's again, it's not that smart yet but the other aspect is that I would say the reason why most places are purchasing these are Why is fooled maybe but I'd say it's really fear, right? It's because of a lot of the litigation is going around and they don't know what to do. Right. Again, it goes back to the very core aspect. Not knowing right? How do I how do I end to this, how do I mitigate this? What do I do? And so they sometimes see Oh, well, I could pay some small flat fee for forever, and it will solve everything. Yeah, cause it told me so. But they don't really know any better that there's multiple, multiple instances of where it's like, it's actually makes it worse. And there's also another aspect where I think a lot of people go like, Oh, look at all those cool features, okay, I can mark my font, I can, I can change font colors, I can do all of those things. Great. I can have it read to me all of those things. But if you think about it from the disabilities, or impairments, or anything like that, if they need this, for every single website, they would already have something so they could access every single website, they're not going to wait going, like I hope, hope some random website will just take care of it for me. Now they're going to have extensions, tools, software, that's going to account for those things. So the use case for it is actually really, really small, maybe some temporary disabilities, maybe someone to it, you know, it happens as well. Or just, again, someone slight improvement, right? For some particular user. So it's not that there's zero use case, but the use cases are actually quite small. So no matter how much the marketing goes, we also have to kind of take a step back and think about the end users.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think one thing here and just to both what you mentioned, Nick, and Keith, you said before, as well, but the sheer number of people who really need to have something provided to ensure that the experience works for them the right way, there's over 61 million Americans, just Americans living with disabilities or impairments. And that's roughly one out of every five people. And all of them are needing to interact in some way, shape, or form, with the internet, with your company with your digital experience. And if you don't provide that, you lose opportunity to reach that audience. And it's such a large audience, just I mean, that's just America, 61 million people, how many of those people fall into your business audience, and their spending amounts is incredible. Over a worldwide, that's about 8 trillion in annual disposable income for just people with disabilities or impairments. That's an amazing number of just you might lose out on business, if you don't provide the right experience. And to your point neck, it's great. I found something I put it on, there's litigation that's happening. So it's become much more of a conversational piece. But to truly educate yourself and your organization about what the tools are extension delivers. And that your experience with the audience is interacting with it. That's critical. You can't just put it on and say, hey, it says it checks all the boxes, and you believe it, and it's done. Actually, you need to do more work with that. So how do we work in the right way? How do we ensure that it's not just an automated checklist, Keith, to your point, but how do we engage in truly delivering accessibility, right? And it can't be perfect, because technology is constantly changing. But how do we get as close as we can?

Keith Bundy 

Well, I think that's where we involve and you know, we do the automated checks, because they can test every page on your site and discover some major accessibility concerns, or some major potential concerns. But I think it's where we want to get involved having people with real disabilities go out there and test some of these websites and test various user journeys on the site. I mean, for example, in the blindness community, 70% of people who are blind are unemployed, why don't we reach out and hire some of those people to go out and check web pages for us hire someone who uses a keyboard only to navigate to go out and check a page, hire people who are hearing impaired to check the captions and transcripts that you're dealing with on a regular basis with videos, go out and get those people involved higher than look for volunteers, even that will help you to test your web pages. I know before I took my job at Site improve. As an accessibility consultant, I was always willing to help people test their sites, I worked at a university for 16 years. And there were oftentimes people who asked me to check their particular class syllabus or their particular website for their class. And I was always more than willing to do that, because you've got to have that human element involved to determine what's truly accessible and what isn't. And I think as we evolved that human element, we're going to get better, we're going to continue to get better. I mean, we're making progress. Now, if you look where accessibility is now, compared to where it was 2025 years ago, you just you know, your mind is boggled. There's been so much improvement. But yet, there's another study done by web eight that says that 98% of the top home pages in America still have accessibility errors. So I think we want to do this right, and involve people who have disabilities to help us find those errors and make fixes to those particular problems. The

Nick Goodrum 

thing that would change it and we're starting to see changes as well is again, it's so much what motivates right what motivates companies and fear is probably like one of the weakest motivators it'll be I'll do just enough flair to look like I'm doing something that doesn't really motivate the main thing is you would want to actually like you said, right if you hear the numbers what ecommerce website was They owe an extra one in five people would actually be able to go to my site, and there's so many out there that aren't accessible. So if I stand out first, and actually is one of the first ones that are one of the early adopters, I'll actually get people and loyalty that would actually continue to come to this site rather than any others. The impact alone is great. But I think part of it is because it's still newer people don't see enough of those like all success stories because of focusing on that. And as we see more and more of those, and more and more leaders like apple and whatnot, actually promoting this, we'll continue to see improvements. So I think right now it's in the past 1015 years, maybe even longer years, it's been a bit more on the fear side, and not as much on, here's all the benefits, here's all the gains, because I think when you do that, then companies are going to go Oh, okay, yeah, that makes sense.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah. And talking about the benefits and the gains just a little bit to pick up on that. It's not just for the accessibility benefits and gain. That is your first and foremost mission is to deliver an accessible experience. But the benefits you get by doing that actually benefit your organization and your digital experiences in a multitude of ways. I look at just the impact on organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization. And Keith, you mentioned the captions and having people test those. While if you correctly caption. And you can't trust AI to fully caption as Nick mentioned earlier, but when you have your captions correctly written, it benefits your ability to index higher in Google. And it is then also handling the accessibility need for those who are visually impaired. And using that voiceover technology or screen reader or whatever it may be that it is describing it for them. But it's also giving you an SEO opportunity. And there's other factors, too, when you are focused on your content, and the structure of your content and the keyboard use. And Nick, this is one you introduced me two years ago, when we would have our fun debates on menu, the top level navigation menus, and the click versus the, you know, touched open the menu and hover and all that fun stuff. And I was a firm believer in the user experience for me as a user where hey, you know what the hover works on desktop and yes, on mobile, there's different things. But for those who need to interact with it differently, I had my eyes open to because I didn't think about that experience need and that customer journey where they can't just go into hover works for them. And that that was a big debate you and I would have often and it really wasn't adopted quickly. But we started to do that we started to deliver on accessibility more so for our clients, and I see the additional benefits, that just the way that their entire experience the holistic approach benefits when you include accessibility from day one.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I mean, the hover based approach, it always amuses me, and we look at every software that you use, right, anything in the past 20 some plus years. I mean, you can go back to punch cards, I guess. Keyboards has always been around that mouse was more in a recent time. And really only the web decided that hover was cool. And so therefore everything should function around hover, when the rest of the space still, it's not a form of commitment, right? Hover is not really intent. It's just my mouse just happens to be there. And it's not until you actually want to press something and interact with something should something actually happen. And so it mobile, I feel really helped get people to start thinking again, going, oh, there are other user types in this. But in my head, I was like, it's been one all along. It's been actually multiple all along that we people are forgetting about, you know, because again, keyboards been around for so long. But people got interested in the mouse, you know, it's been around long enough that people it became the desktop, right? They experienced, but I think these newer technologies, if anything, hope people realize, oh, there are many different kinds of input devices. And so it makes, at least sometimes if you have to have an argument in your, your own company, right of like, okay, what's best? And it's like, well, hey, look, there's another technology and another technology that can't use this because of the hover based approach. So it is always an interesting aspect.

Tim Ahlenius 

So as we look at overall, what we've talked about, definitely accessibility. And Keith, as you mentioned, it has come a long way from where it was, you know, 20, even 10 years ago, where are we going with it? What's some of the future that you see, I mean, there's new with CAG WCAG guidelines, maybe kind of one of you describe those a little bit, and just were kind of that future's going where there's different levels of accessibility ranking or level that you meet. Explain that a little bit more for our listeners.

Nick Goodrum 

So to me, it's we have to recognize that we're CAG is made by people, right? And so it's never perfect, just like technology, just like everything is never perfect. So the new additions like 2.2 that's coming out this year is because the prior versions didn't really account for things. So even 2.0 which is really used a lot in in some of these kind of cases and aspects like that government aspects for like section 508 and some international aspects of Well, it came out around the same time the first smartphones came out. And so of course, all that writing all that human, you know, explanation for it did not account for that type of user. Because it came out pretty much around the same time, oh, there's a new technology. And then it took a while for 2.1 to come out. But when it finally did come out, it was now saying, Okay, let's now account for these newer technologies. So it'll always be a little bit behind. And I think that's why they've shifted to become a bit more aggressive because it took 10 years, I think, for a year. Yeah, yeah, between 2.0 and 2.1. And now it's, it's only a few years apart for then 2.2. And then they're even working on workout three or silver, two, then really changed the system as a whole. So they're trying to patch and improve things. So even the new items that are coming in is not really because there is something brand new, so much is best advice and something that's been secretly or not secretly, but kind of hidden away and some guidance, but not in the normative language. And so it's kind of always been around, but they didn't make it. You know, impactful enough. They didn't really make it specific enough. So they have to add in more verbiage to kind of fill those gaps

Tim Ahlenius 

In with WIC Ag right. So WIC Ag actually goes back to depending on when you define the internet truly been born, but May of 99 was when the first 1.0 was established. That's me, I'm like, wow, 99 really, its accessibility guidelines have been around since then. I was an HTML and web development back in 99. And I never heard of WIC Ag until about Oh, nine when I was really coming here. And even then it was not a hugely focused area of discussion and development. You, you built websites, you built websites, and it was what it was you used HTML or dot net, or Java or PHP, whatever it may be. And so to see that gap, right, and 99 to 2.0 was 2008. Yep. And then you had another 10 years to 2018 for 2.1, just a partial version 10 years. And now we're talking about this next one coming out in this year. I mean, 2021. Why do you think there's such a gap? And the, you know, technology moves at a very fast pace. And understandably, guidelines don't always move at the same pace as technology. But with the focus of some of these larger companies and what they're adding, why did what in your guys’ minds what what's the reason for why some of these guidelines take places they seem to be at these longer turnarounds, or at least initially, they seem to be quicker now,

Keith Bundy 

I think part of it is there are several factors that go into developing these guidelines. And they're trying to find consensus of what is necessary, and of how these guidelines should be stated. And I think that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort on people's parts to come up with that consensus. And I think that's why they maybe take a little longer to develop, as Nick was saying, they're starting to work on 3.0 an hour or CAG, silver. And, again, I've looked at some of the minutes from the meetings relating to silver, and then it's just a painstakingly slow process to develop standards and guidelines. My thought is, why can't we move a little faster. But, you know, there's so many different disability types that you have to make sure that you're considering and so many possibilities of what is accessible, and what's inaccessible. And it really becomes quite a complicated process can take more time than we would prefer to implement.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I mean, if you think about it this way, if most sites are really thinking, you know, they do user stories and user journeys, and you know, okay, well, you're probably only accounting for what, five, six different types of users or something like that. Now imagine all of the variations and nuances of every single different kind of disability or potential, you know, impact for users using digital technology. And then on top of that, think about how they have to phrase it. So it doesn't just apply to the web, or just a web pages it they tried to phrase it. So it's like it's along the lines of, okay, technology. Right. So there's many different kinds of technologies, different kinds of inputs, different kinds of devices, how do we phrase things, so that it can apply to all of these situations, not somehow, detrimentally affect another user type. And make sure everyone agrees to that. And so that's, that's the hard part. And so that's why they even do these kind of working drafts where they like, send feedback, tell us, you know, put in your two cents. And a lot of people do reach out and they kind of, you know, help figure that out. But that's why they need so much time to kind of go let's take all this feedback in and let's plan this out. Because it's human nature, right? As you said, you know, it's hard getting out of, you know, you were thinking in your user Titan, it is human nature that is really difficult for us to step out of our own shoes, right to step out of our experiences and understand someone else's. So even the people who are writing may not be able to think about all the different kinds of user types and all of us right myself. Sure, given it all. All of us are still always trying to learn better understand other user types, they need feedback they need, they need assistance. And so I think now that more and more people are involved in accessibility, that's why they may also be able to come up with ideas faster, because they get the input a little bit faster.

Tim Ahlenius 

And I like Keith, your point earlier, too, there are a lot of people with different impairments, disabilities who are available for work, who could come in and be that actual user to explain to you, here's how I experience it. And user testing. And the experience we have with just clients who are building out new digital experiences has been that accessibility is starting to get a better budget. And that's usually centered around user testing. But you have to make sure that you include those audiences in that user testing just as much as normal users who don't have any screen readers or voice technology or different interactions with both the devices and the content. I think the content and some of the wicked guidelines that really opened my eyes to some of the different ways that content types can be experienced with just be what happened with video. And YouTube being the second most search website of the internet is a great example of this where YouTube a very to, you know, the majority of people say, hey, it is a visual communication platform. However, so many people access it, that are not able to see the videos, they are getting the closed captions read to them, they're getting transcripts read to them. And it's been more of a focus I've found on sites, we're also just people are watching things when they don't want the audio on. And so those benefit them as well. So again, we're finding another common theme here where when you build accessible experiences, you benefit more than just that single audience, you benefit multiple audiences. And it's a matter of understanding how and when you need to build them in order to deliver in those ways. And again, that transcript as we talked about SEO with the captions earlier, that transcript is now indexed by Google, you can be found in Google search results. Because of those keywords. From a video from a podcast, Apple has even added in their podcast app, the ability when you search, it's actually searching the transcripts of the podcast episodes, which is just incredible the amount of power behind all of this, that I can go and search for certain keywords in episodes in the audio aspect of it. For someone who maybe as has hearing impairment, that is to me just the way that you can use one type of content to impact multiple audiences, whether they can experience that content in the original format that you created in

Keith Bundy 

JAMA, it's a lot like field curb cut. You know, curb cuts were originally designed for people with physical disabilities who use wheelchairs or walkers or support canes, those types of things to make getting down into the street and out of the street needs your process. But now look at that. People who are riding bicycles who use the curb cuts, people who push strollers are using the curb cuts, people who shop for groceries, and maybe you're bringing home a cart, we use the curb cuts and the devices and services that have been designed for people with disabilities are truly benefiting everybody. And that's what we're seeing in the digital realm as well. How many times have you been at a conference or at a meeting and there's been a lot of people around making a lot of noise, you want to watch the video, you can't hear it, you look at the caption or the transcript or the caption. It's very, very pervasive. How things that help people with disabilities can help others I know Nick talked earlier about using bank over voice. Let's restate that. Nick talked earlier about using voiceover to access the button on his bank account. I have a friend who was in training for becoming a physician's assistant. And she used to use voiceover to read her notes while she was driving so she could look at the road and be listening to her notes in the background. And then all of these things have a variety of use cases and we need to remember that that accessibility actually benefits everybody

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah, I was actually even thinking were content authors. If you want to proofread, actually don't read have it read to you because the human brain of when you're reading words, it's been shown in studies where even if it's misspelled you'll still read it correctly. So you might actually miss words, but it will definitely mispronounced that word. Yeah, if it's coming through the screen. So if anything, that tool actually makes you a much better proof reader in a

Tim Ahlenius 

So WIC eggs got silver coming. What are some just future thoughts that either of you have about where accessibility is going outside of guidelines just, you know, obviously continued technology growth, what Apple is continuing to add, but just Where's an area in the future Either you hope to see accessibility accomplish something or where you see the need for accessibility to really penetrate a specific market to be more impactful.

Keith Bundy 

Well, let me tell you what I think, I hope and think is going to happen in the near future. You know, I was on committees back in the late 70s and early 80s, when physical accessibility became a major issue. And there was a lot of panic, how are we going to make these older buildings accessible? How are we going to how are we going to put a ramp so that people can get into this building? How are we going to install an elevator, those kinds of things. But that has improved over time. And now you don't see new buildings created that are inaccessible. Accessibility is a major part of every building project. Now, it's just an automatic thing. And my goal is that someday, web accessibility will just be an automatic thing. You don't even you don't even think about it. It's just part of the initial planning, all the way through the design and implementation of the project, that accessibility is just a normal given part of the process. That's what I'm envisioning.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah. I mean, if you look at what GDPR did, for example, where it started saying, Okay, well, you need a designated person to be able to keep track of data. And I feel that the goal would be well, you should just really have dedicated team or dedicated for any, any site, right? Because I think part of it is, you know, you can think about Okay, well, websites back in 99, what did they look like? How did they interact? What were they doing? Kind of basic right. And things are definitely matured. And so really, if you if you think about building practices, back in the day building, you know, a house in the early 1900s, versus building a house in modern areas today, there's been a lot of improvements, a lot of best practices that are put into place so that, you know, people don't end up getting horribly injured. And also can be much more usable. So when you're, you're going with these new, like WIC Ag and all these things, when you're actually creating these guidelines and helping putting it together. Now people know how to build houses in a sense, how do I build a website? And so if you have that part of the process, you have people that know how to do it, it will just be part of the process. I think most of the time clients and people we've interacted with, or companies are like, how much does it cost? Right? That's what it comes down to? How much does it cost us? Like?

Keith Bundy 

What?

Nick Goodrum 

Do you want to build a house? Yeah, there's probably people that are like, pay me $50, I'll build you a house. They may fall over on your neighbors. But mine did it, then you're welcome. Versus Yeah, that you pay, you know, is it's the price you pay to build a decent website is the price you pay to build a decent house. It's just part of the process. I think more and more, and that's what you're seeing with, you know, apple, and Microsoft and all these companies, but also, you know, smaller companies that are starting to realize this is just part of the process.

Tim Ahlenius 

And with regards to the process, what are some of the ways that how are we using siteimprove? Neck and key to definitely jump in as a consultant for siteimprove? But how do companies engage in the right way? For accessibility? I don't want someone to build my house for $50. And I don't want it to fall down. But overall, what are the steps to start approaching accessibility? If someone hasn't? How do I get started? What do I need to educate myself on to your point earlier, the education is where people need to start. And then from there, they need to plan and take the actionable steps to making accessibility a reality for their digital experiences.

Nick Goodrum 

The reason why I felt siteimprove and ourselves align so well is because it wasn't just let's go throw something after the fact. And, you know, one and done it. And here's a fancy tool, and we'll fix everything for you. It was very much Yes, automated, it's not realistic to have someone manually test 4000 pages, I guess, if you want to you can. But it's not that realistic, right? And so you have to find that mixture, right? So they you know, you have a mixture of some of your own testing some of your own processes, you're running through this, but you also have some automated tools. So it's not saying audit automation is all wrong, right? Automation tools actually can help you fill in those gaps and help have a complete package. So really, companies like siteimprove are really nice, because they help guide you through that process as well. Where it's kind of saying, hey, you probably do need some manual review as well. You need some processes on your plate. So let's create some roadmaps. And then also, hey, we're helping build tools to make it a little bit easier for you doesn't solve everything, but it definitely will make it easier for you. And I would say they're one of the earlier ones that I noticed when they actually explaining in their error messages, right. You know, in their tools. They're saying here's what's wrong and kind of explaining how do you fix it? How is it right? What are the guidelines that are tied to it? So tying that information together, when at the time, it was just kind of most of the tools just kind of said, wrong? Okay, okay, great. That doesn't help developers. It doesn't help content authors.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, giving context around it. Keith, what are some of your thoughts as a consultant for accessibility for siteimprove? Where do people get started? How do they, you know, start that education process? And how do they find the right steps to, you know, tackle it one piece of the digital experience at the time,

Keith Bundy 

I think, a couple of factors. Number one, you know, it is helpful to sign up with a company like siteimprove, so that you can have your audit done, as Nick said, there's a lot of value in automated testing. And, you know, they can give you indications and for manual testing as needed, you can combine automated testing and manual testing and come up with a pretty thorough picture of your accessibility situation. And then I know siteimprove has some great training opportunities in the site improve Academy where customers can take courses ranging from the fundamentals of web accessibility, all the way to some very granular stuff relating to accessibility. And so again, taking those courses can educate you as to how you going to progress in this area of where you need to start what the first steps need to be. And then moving forward along those lines. We have services you can purchase where a consultant like myself will work with you on specific questions that you have specific scenarios that you're running into, to help you become more accessible. And so those are some of the ways that you can get started using a company like site improve, and of course, that we would hope you would use site improve. But that's some of the ways that you can get started using site improve, to help with that accessibility journey.

Nick Goodrum 

And I would say, you know, again, in that future is you should have someone on your side, right in your company, that should be part of the process, you know, start thinking about, well, if we don't know anything about it, and we don't have the time to look into it. And, of course, definitely use services like siteimprove. And if anything, there's good relationships, when you have someone that's really knowledgeable on your side, and then working with site improved, right. So that it's not that you have to have 40 people on your team, because you can you can offload a lot of that in that conversation structure with companies like site improve. So I would say, you know, in the in, in the future, it should be I would say, most likely in an accessibility role of some sort of at most companies is going to become much more prominent.

Keith Bundy 

I think you're right, Nick, and I think that is very helpful to have that accessibility champion, that person who is the go to who takes that on is their responsibility to be the go to for accessibility, because accessibility is not a project, it's a process. And it's going to continue to be a process during the lifecycle of your website. And so it's very important to have someone on your team who is responsible for knowing what needs to be done in terms of accessibility.

Tim Ahlenius 

Yeah, and I love the way that you just raised like, it's a process, not a project, it is an ongoing effort. And I think this is the biggest educational moment that most of the clients that I've been involved with, when accessibility comes up really need to understand is and really look at the longevity is an audit starts you off on where to start fixing. And you can fix all that. But guess what the content and your digital experience on your website, your mobile app, whatever it may be, is constantly changing. And if you don't have an accessibility process in place, every new single piece of content is now potentially one of those errors, or at least more defined in sight and proof than other tools, but where you are constantly having to go back and address it. So if you put a process in place for accessibility review, and you have someone who can be hired in as that accessibility specialist, they can now catch that prior to anything going out. And again, as we discussed earlier, not only are you serving the need of that audience for the accessible information that you're providing, and the experience, but you benefit from having that accessible information be used by Google when they index your site by being used by just other users who may be wanting to interact in a different way. And when you put that process in place at the beginning, you get out of this constant project mode, and you can create content and you can curate it and you can deliver it more seamlessly than what you have experienced in the past. I've worked with numerous clients who they go through, they do the audit, and they clean things up. They don't put a process in place. A year comes by they look to do a redesign and we do an audit of the site again, they like well why do we have all these errors for accessibility, we dealt with accessibility I go well, you dealt with it on a project you didn't put a process in place. And that is where so many organizations need to understand that. Just like you have an editorial process for content to be created on a regular basis. You don't have the ability to just do Accessibility once and

Nick Goodrum 

You’re done everything about like this, how often are you changing your building? Right? You know, maybe every five years or maybe a small addition or something like that, but major, major overhaul? It's not that not that often. And but how often are you changing your website, right, you probably change, you know, some sites are changing hourly, daily, and so that if you don't have processes in place, it's easy to just keep getting more and more and more. And so doing it after the fact or just always thinking about once in a while. You missed the point, it's, and I would treat it more like road maintenance, right? It's people drive on and every single day, it's being updated, in a sense constantly. And so yep, there's wear and tear, there's things, cracks that start to form and you need to fill those in and resolve those items.

Tim Ahlenius 

Otherwise, you get potholes, like we have in Chicago.

Nick Goodrum 

Yeah. So

Tim Ahlenius 

And then it has temporarily patch it, yeah, it doesn't really benefit you long term

Nick Goodrum 

To just throw a little little bit of gravel, just kind of go like it's fixed, right? You know, it doesn't really fix it, you actually have to do it properly, and the cloud comes and just rips it right out, and dumps more salt in.

Keith Bundy 

That's a really good example, road maintenance, I'd never thought of that. I'm going to steal that Nick and use that in my presentation. It's exactly what it is it is it's maintaining the road, making sure that it continues to function properly. That's a great example.

Tim Ahlenius 

I'm really intrigued. And I mentioned at the beginning, but I want to know a little bit more about your story. And just, I'm especially intrigued about your radio announcement days for baseball, I believe it was just give us a little background. I

Keith Bundy 

Actually it's a public address announcer for baseball, football, and basketball. I am a public address announcer for an amateur baseball team here in South Dakota and where I live, at least I was prior to COVID-19. But that kind of limited it a little bit but and then I'm also the public address announcer for football and basketball for Dakota State University prior to COVID. And hopefully I'll be resuming that this fall. Interestingly enough, I've always had an interest in sports. I grew up listening to people like Harry Carey and jack buck and Pink Floyd doing baseball games. And I always was fascinated with that. I was always fascinated with the guy in the background to hear announcing the players as they came up to bat and what have you. And as I went to high school football games growing up, I there would be the PA announcer always describing where the ball was and who carried it and who made the tackles and that type of thing. And so, in my back of my mind, it was something I was always interested in doing. But I never did figure out quite how it could be done. Well, one night one of my son's was umpiring an American Legion game. And I went to the game to watch him work. And the head umpire said to me, you know, our public address announcer didn't help show up tonight. Would you be willing to go announce the game? So I thought, well, why not? I did some quick thinking. And I have my wife with me. And so I had her to read me the players’ names. And I began to announce baseball at that point leading off from Madison, number 5/3 baseman Joe Gundy, and that kind of thing. And so I started thinking, you know, I could do this with technology. And I had a Braille note taker at the time, and I would take that with me, and I would copy the lineups before the game, so that I could see who was betting next and who was in what position. And I always have a spotter, who would tell me what was going on. And I worked myself into announcing amateur baseball starting in about 2007. So today, I'll do the same thing, I'll take my Braille note taker, I can also have the lineups on my phone and interface with that with my Braille display. If I want to do it that way, I have a choice of how I'm going to announce. And the spider tells me what goes on and I'll say what happens and then introduce the next matter. Football is the same situation in basketball, I take, I put the rosters on my Braille note taker or on the computer, and I will take those devices with me and have the rosters with me. And so they'll tell me like number nine carried the ball for four yards and I'll say a ball carried by number nine, john smith for a gain of four second and six for the Trojans, and basketballs the same way. They'll tell me that number 15 made the basket and so I'll say basket made by number 15, Tom Davis, whatever the name is. And so I really enjoyed that and it goes back to something I've always had a dream of doing that and it was really interesting how it started and I thoroughly enjoy using my technology to do that job.

Tim Ahlenius 

That's incredible. And thank you for sharing and just telling us about just how something that I never would have thought about for a type of announcing that can be done through the use of have multiple different technologies with your Braille note taker with your phone, and just the ability that that brought or, you know, the desire that you had to be involved in that and that you were able to just deliver on that, and continue to grow that experience overall, it's just so incredible.

Keith Bundy 

One of the things you want to develop as a person who is blind is the idea that nothing except for driving legally and safely, nothing is impossible. So you don't look at something and say, this can't be done. You look at it, and you say, how can this be done? And usually, you can come up with a pretty good solution to get it accomplished.

Tim Ahlenius 

That's a great closing statement. And with that, I would just say, how can you get accessibility done on your site today, and that would be through utilizing site improve as a tool to help guide you, Americaneagle.com can help with the implementation and delivery of that. But first and foremost, as Keith mentioned earlier in the show, find someone who is willing to come in, and we've seen it on other projects, where there's volunteers that will come in and help go through your site, we've seen it as an opportunity to partner with some of the institute's for those who are impaired and have disabilities. And we've done that on several large projects where we work with them to ensure that a site is accessible for their needs. And there's multiple different needs. There's not just one or two, there's multiple, and work with the right audience and the right people, hire them in if you can, and let them truly tell you what the experience is like because when you hear what the experience is like for them, and when you can correct it, you'll find as we've discussed, there are so many more additional benefits not just for that audience, but for multiple audiences as a result of delivering on that accessibility. Gentlemen, thank you very much very enlightening conversation, educational conversation. I hope all of our listeners are educated in some way, shape or form. We'll make sure in show notes to put some links to additional information from both siteimprove and Americaneagle.com but overall, Nick Keith, appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for being on lessons for tomorrow.

Nick Goodrum 

Thank you.

Keith Bundy 

Thank you for having me on the call. I appreciate the opportunity.

 

About: The Lessons for Tomorrow podcast is centered around conversations between industry experts sharing insights from the past, to apply in the present, to achieve success in the future. This podcast is the "motivational poster" in your ear; each episode is centered around conversations which motivate you to tackle new initiatives at your organization. We will be talking with some of the best and brightest minds in technology and marketing and will hear from the experts themselves about their latest experiences, their most recent challenges and the road ahead. Every episode has a different story, a different answer, a different approach.

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