Not sure how to make your site, or your clients’ sites, more accessible? As SEOs, we’re in a great place to be part of the conversation and loop in the very people we are trying to support. My hope is to one day put together a larger resource with filtering options to find the exact people you want to hire based on their experience, tool sets and location. For now, here is something to help get you started.
Here are a number of resources that I’m signed up to that may help you as you learn more about accessibility for SEO. If there are others that you believe would be helpful, please send me an email so it can be considered.
- The A11Y Project Newsletter
This website provides a wealth of knowledge, including blog posts, online tools, checklists, and more. Check out their WCAG Compliance Checklist, which can be an excellent starting point for SEOs. There’s overlap in what they’re recommending for accessibility and what we as SEOs provide recommendations on. Often times what works for accessibility works for SEO; that’s not always the case when reversed. Also sign up for The A11Y Project Newsletter and receive new content in your inbox every week.
- Focus State Newsletter
This one was created by the amazing Equalize Digital team. It’s a newsletter that shares relevant articles, recaps of their most recent Meetup presentations, a feed of upcoming a11y events throughout the community, and general updates on their Accessibility Checker plugin in regards to development progress/priorities.
- Digital A11Y Newsletter
This blog was started by Raghavendra Satish Peri, who is simply one of the nicest people. The website provides a wealth of knowledge, such as understanding WCAG and ARIA. Raghava also provides SEO and digital marketing consulting and can provide comprehensive recommendations on how to make your sites more accessible for bots and people.
- Axe-con Digital Accessibility Conference
This conference is put on by Deque and brings together developers, designers, business users, and accessibility professionals to discuss accessible digital experiences. They graciously offer this conference for free. Sign up for their newsletter for news and updates to their events.
- Sight Tech Global
This conference is free and completely virtual. They bring together expert speakers to discuss how the latest technology advances will alter the landscape of assistive technology and accessibility. You can also sign up for their newsletter to be notified of upcoming information.
- WordPress Accessibility Meetup
This Meetup group provides conference-level presentations every time – all for free. You can also join their WordPress Accessibility Facebook Group between presentations. They also provide ASL interpretation and live captions. Please consider sponsoring one of their meetups to cover the costs for transcription, live captions, and ASL interpreters.
- A11Y New York Meetup
Join this group to learn more about accessibility and inclusive design. You can also view some of their previous presentations at their A11Y NYC Youtube Channel. They also provide conference-level presentations – be sure to subscribe to be notified when new videos come out.
- A11Y Bay Area Meetup
This group is run by Jennison Asuncion from LinkedIn. They bring together developers, designers, accessibility, usability and high-tech professionals who have an interest in digital (web, mobile, etc.) accessibility. It’s a space to share and learn how to create experiences that are inclusive for users with different disabilities.
- Be My Eyes Podcast
This is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Will Butler from Be My Eyes. The quality of the podcast is top notch and incredibly informative. It’s a great podcast for anyone that’s sighted, blind or low-vision. They discuss accessibility topics from the people who know most about it.
- 13 Letters Podcast
This podcast is also provided by Be My Eyes. I learned that it’s named “13 Letters” because there are 13 letters in the word “accessibility.” You may see the abbreviation A11Y and that’s because there are 11 letters between “A” and “Y”. In this podcast, they feature accessibility experts to discuss more on the work they do and how it affects the people they help.
- Say My Meme Podcast
This is another podcast that features Will Butler at Be My Eyes. His co-host is the brilliant Caroline Desrosiers with Scribely, an accessibility solutions company. This one is a funny one. They take popular memes and they literally describe them for a blind audience, which can be quite humorous.
- The Heumann Perspective Podcast
This is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by the brilliant Judy Heumann, a leader in the disability rights movement. On her podcast, she has conversations with disabled change makers and their allies to discuss disability culture, art, entertainment, policy and advocacy, and much more.
- A11y Rules Podcast
This podcast features Deaf and Disabled people talking about the barriers they encounter on the web. The episodes are short too, ranging anywhere between five and 10 minutes. Consider becoming a patron by making a donation.
- CPACC Certification
The Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) is the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) foundational certificate. It helps to say that you have knowledge in disabilities, accessibility and universal design, and accessibility standards and laws. They provide a ton of information on how to prepare. The training course I recommend for this is Deque University’s courses and training.
- WAS Certification
The Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) Certification is ideal for people who design, develop, implement, evaluate, or manage accessible web-based content, projects, and services. This can include web developers, designers and other professionals with knowledge of web accessibility standards and guidelines. This is another good one for SEOs to consider getting. Deque also has training materials for this certification.
- CPWA Certification
The Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA) title is earned by individuals that complete the two certifications mentioned above. They are 1) CPACC Certification and 2) WAS Certification. It is an achievement to have completed both of these.
- ADS Certification
The Accessible Document Specialist (ADS) credential is intended accessibility professionals who have the ability to create accessible electronic documents. It is ideal for people who author, remediate, evaluate, or manage accessible document projects, and services.
- CPABE Certification
The Certified Professional in Accessible Built Environments (CPABE) credential offers three different certification levels that identifies successful applicants as associate, advanced, or expert level accessibility professionals.
Below are incredible resources of businesses you should consider partnering up with since they work closely with Deaf and Disabled people. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of them, while others have come highly recommended. Again, if there is a business I should add, please send me an email so it can be considered.
Led by Caroline Desrosiers, the team of writers at Scribely craft premium alt text descriptions and audio for accessibility. If you need an example of their work, you can check out my blog post on Creating a Simple & Stylish Report Using Google Data Studio. For many SEOs, we have (yes, I’m including myself in this) have incorrectly filled the alt text field for SEO purposes; however, the alt text field is for accessibility, not SEO. The Scribely team is affordable, plus you’ll be making your media more accessible.
- Equalize Digital
The team at Equalize Digital do a lot. They are accessibility experts that create and develop accessible websites and applications. Not only that, they host the WordPress Accessibility Meetup AND they created a couple accessibility-related plugins for WordPress. As part of their work, they loop in the very people we are all trying to support for user testing.
Similarly, the team at Siteimprove practice what they preach. They loop in the very people we are all trying to support. One of my long-time clients in the higher education space uses them to help make their website more accessible. What I also like about them is that members of their team are on IAAP CPACC Certificants List.
The Knowbility team does a lot. In addition to accessibility auditing, testing, training, and consulting, they also have community programs, they host events, and share accessibility news. They are a nonprofit so please consider making a donation.
- C Talent
C Talent is an award-winning, disabled-led talent management and consultancy company that represents high-profile Deaf and Disabled talent. I was able to work with them on gathering quotes for an article, as well as making sure I was using inclusive language.
This is broader than just user testing. The Inclusively team is dedicated to driving employment among the disability community. They connect job seekers with disabilities, mental health conditions, and chronic illnesses, to inclusive employers.
- Meryl Evans
Meryl is an accessibility digital marketer. She is also a professional speaker and trainer. I’ve heard of Meryl many times during my accessibility learning journey. One of the more recent presentations I’ve seen from her was on How to Create Accessible Captioned Videos for WordPress Sites & Beyond. It was because of this presentation that I went back into my own videos to update the transcription. She shares so many actionable and important tips.
- Alex Herold of Patti + Ricky
Patti + Ricky is an adaptive fashion marketplace for adults and kids with disabilities, chronic conditions, patients, seniors, and caregivers. They make shopping more inclusive for everyone. Check out their online store to view clothing, accessories, jewelry, gadgets and more. Reach out to Alex for functional fashion consulting. She has worked with big brand retailers to start selling adaptive fashion.
- Natalie Trevonne of Fashionably Tardy
Natalie is a retail accessibility consultant and co-host of the Fashionably Tardy podcast. She works mostly with fashion and beauty brands that are looking to make their website’s more accessible for people of all abilities. She also does DEI consulting for the entertainment industry and companies looking to make their hiring processes more accessible.
- Svetlana Kouznetsova (Sveta)
Svetlana is an independent B2B accessibility consultant and trailblazer with over 20+ years of professional training and experience in design, technology, and accessibility. She can help your business improve accessibility strategies of your mainstream digital products, services, and events, and ensure quality captions, transcripts and other types of communication. Sveta is the author of Sound is Not Enough and an international speaker. She presented a TEDx talk on the benefits of high quality captioning.
Besides working with the accessibility experts mentioned earlier, here are other ways you can help to make a difference and become an A11Y. If there is something missing from the list, please send me an email so it can be considered.
- Be My Eyes
I’ve already mentioned Be My Eyes several times earlier. They are a free mobile app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call. The way it works is you’ll get a call through the mobile app from someone that needs assistance. Once you pick up, you’ll be able to help answer their questions.
- IPTC Photo Metadata
The International Press Telecommunications Counsel is an international association that writes the standards for embedded photo metadata. This is a powerful tool for SEOs supporting content providers because you can embed info that travels wherever an image file goes on the web. Read more about this with a collab Twitter thread on what the IPTC is and what this means for SEOs. With this thread, use it to conduct outreach to your favorite photo providers so they can start implementing this.
- WordPress Accessibility Checker Plugin
Created by Equalize Digital, almost acts like an audit and provides easy to understand accessibility errors you can fix. It provides descriptions for why the error is important to fix in order to follow up-to-date WCAG guidance. Use this plugin to correct basic errors. From there, work with one of the consultants mentioned above to audit and conduct user testing.
- Accessibility New Window Warnings Plugin
This is another one created by Equalize Digital. Like I said earlier, they do a lot! This plugin is cool as it provides an easy way to include an icon next to the links that open to an external resource. I’m even using it on my site.
- Media Library Assistant Plugin
I talked about the IPTC under the “outreach” section. Be sure to check that out if you’re unfamiliar with the IPTC since this plugin picks up IPTC embedded alt text and extended descriptions. It may come in handy for folks exploring embedded image descriptions for their workflows.
- WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
This is a nifty Chrome or Firefox extension that provides a list of accessibility errors. If you’re unsure of what to do next, reach out to one of the consultants mentioned above. As a reminder, once you resolved these errors, connect with a company that can conduct user testing with actual users that we are trying to support.
- Stark Accessibility Extension
Stark is an accessibility tool that integrates to the tools you already use. Their Chrome extension provides quick ways to view the page contrast, focus order, landmarks, and vision simulator. They also have the Stark Slack group that brings together designers, developers and product folks.
- Siteimprove Accessibility Checker
This is similar to WAVE in my opinion. There’s overlap in what they share, but presented slightly differently. I like how they explain why the error is important to fix and how to fix it. Once these errors are resolved, don’t forget to conduct actual user testing to confirm.
- Web Developer
This Chrome extension is one way you can manage image accessibility on a website. Some of the information it can quickly provide include displaying alt text attributes, outlining images without alt text, broken images, and much more.
- Pericles: Text to Speech Screen Reader
It’s a free Chrome extension that reads the text on a page. Besides the obvious, this has been helpful for me to discover which parts of a page cannot be read due to technical site errors. I also enjoy using this when reading long-form content.
- Image Alt Text Viewer
This is one of my most used Chrome extensions. It provides a super quick way to view the alt text for images. I like to use this on websites, Google Images, and social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram.
Hopefully these resources will be helpful for you as you learn, hire and help the disability community. Be sure to come back since this resource will be updated frequently as new names will be added. If you have a suggestion on who to add, please send me an email so it can be considered. The only businesses that will be considered are those that loop in the very people we are trying to support.
While I’ve learned a lot about being an A11Y during my accessibility learning journey, I am by no means an expert. I know enough to know that we need to do better, including myself. Start today! Learn with me. It’s like the saying goes “If we are not being intentionally inclusive, we are being unintentionally exclusive.”