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Fixing the web one divide at a time

This post was written by Preston Parris and first appeared on the Epic blog on 30th August 2013.

fix the web to help accessibility Accessibility isn’t something everyone thinks about, at least outside of the testing field. Unless you or someone close to you is affected by impairment or disability it might not be something you have considered.

Accessibility issues can range from a lack of keyboard navigation, text sizes and colour combinations making something difficult to read, or missing alt text or captions causing screen readers to stumble. To help combat this Fix the Web are looking for sites that don’t play well with screen readers and other assistive software.

Fix the Web is an initiative to round up and improve sites that have a variety of accessibility issues. The organisation has over 1,000 contributors, both people with disabilities and volunteers who are working towards an open, accessible web. So far they have identified and contacted over 2,500 sites in a push to create a web everyone can enjoy equally.

“The internet has been a liberating force in the lives of many disabled people, opening up a wonderful new world of communication, ideas and networks. In theory, it should have created a level playing field.”

Citizens Online, the group who founded Fix the Web, are hoping to expand both in terms of staff and in the number of pinpointed websites. Their hope is that with enough support on hand, anyone with an issue will be able to report it and be confident that the issue will be investigated promptly.

Ideally the more sites that are covered the further word will spread, raising awareness and helping to ensure future sites are built with openness and accessibility in mind from the ground up.

Stephen Fry recently issued a statement in support of the cause:

“We all expect a few glitches when we go online, but when it comes to accessibility for disabled and older people, the problem is colossal. Fix the Web is doing something about it in a positive and practical way – I urge you to get involved and help get this problem fixed. Fix the Web gets to the very heart of the problem – it’s pure genius!”

You can help the project by becoming a reporter or a volunteer. Users of assistive software can become a reporter; as you navigate the web and come across any areas that could use a tune up you can flag this need. Others can become a volunteer helping out through contacting site owners, conveying issues from reporters and helping to iron out any creases.

If you want to get involved in Fix the Web, sign up here. Additionally, find out about our partner Epicentre’s accessibility testing service.