Access iQ spoke with Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility (PCWA) graduate, Charlie Carter, Founder / Director at Webbism about the benefits of further education in web accessibility.
How does web accessibility come into your role at your Webbism? How does accessibility come into what Webbism does?
Web accessibility is completely central to our work process. When we consult on projects with our clients we don’t draw on web accessibility as a special consideration, rather, we focus on meeting the needs of the end user. This allows us to focus on individual diversity. We all know that there is no magic pixie dust to make websites accessible for every human variation, so we use the tools, processes and thankfully, some common-sense to identify barriers and make user experience our first responsibility.
We’ve found this approach reduces a lot of anxiety from our clients (which is always good!) and helps drive positive changes from within an organisation. In many cases, the responsibility of web accessibility goes from being a chore to a challenge. I love seeing people inspired by what good accessibility does, as it is exactly what motivated me to become an accessibility consultant in the first place.
What was your knowledge of web accessibility prior to starting the Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility course?
I was invited to take part in the first accessibility course in 2011 however, due to commitments at university at the time I had to delay until a year later. During that time I spent a great deal of time learning much of the basics of web accessibility and went into the course keen to enhance my knowledge and to gain some valuable practical experience.
What attracted you about the PCWA and led to you enrolling in the course?
As the course was completely online-based, backed by the University of South Australia (who has a very good reputation for their commitment to web accessibility) and just six weeks in length meant that I did not have to sacrifice my work, family or other study commitments to participate.
Why do you think that accessibility knowledge is an important skill set?
As a person with a cognitive disability (Dyslexia), I have an in-depth understanding of the web accessibility barriers that affect me personally. One of my pet hates is the ever persistent CAPTCHA, and the fact that my brain somehow gives up on me and goes on holidays when I am trying to solve one. Emotions range from frustration, anger, and confusion. Often I ask myself “Why does this need to be here?” and “Did the person who designed this site think about people like me?”
Good accessibility means that we can anticipate a variety of human capabilities so to provide effective solutions that benefits everyone. One of the first things you learn in web accessibility is just how diverse each of us are. One of the best ways to understand how web accessibility can affect others is to get to know more people with disabilities!
If you were to give a recommendation of the course to a future student, what would that recommendation be?
The PCWA course is an excellent opportunity for everyone willing to enhance their skills and to put accessibility first in their future careers. I recently gave a lecture to around 300 first year web students at QUT as part of their module on web accessibility. Firstly, I was impressed by the universities desire to include accessibility in their curriculum, but to introduce it to students at such an early level tells me that web accessibility is a skill that is needed and desired for a future career in web design. The best part about the PCWA course is that you can be a veteran web developer or a first year university student and come out with the same knowledge and understanding of web accessibility practices.