The TEN7 Podcast – Episode 82

 

Mike Gifford of OpenConcept Consulting: Accessibility is a Journey

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Summary

Mike Gifford’s mission is to build better and more inclusive software. He’s a Drupal 8 Core Accessibility Maintainer, founder of OpenConcept, an accessibility consulting firm, and all-around gem of the Drupal community. Mike’s been spearheading website accessibility improvements for over a decade, and we’re thrilled to have him on our podcast. You’ll learn a lot from this episode!

Guest

Mike Gifford of OpenConcept Consulting

Highlights

  • What is accessibility?
  • The four pillars of accessibility: POUR
  • Designing for 80%
  • Permanent, temporary, and situational disabilities
  • How Mike got started fixing Drupal accessibility issues
  • Drupal’s Accessibility Maintainers
  • Rachel Olivero, and the Drupal Olivero project
  • Pivoting OpenConcept Consulting from a Drupal shop to a consultancy
  • How OpenConcept eats its own dog food
  • The future of accessibility is personalization
  • The preferences framework widget
  • Establish trust by showing individual needs of website visitors are important
  • Accessibility and fonts
  • How do you help users when we can’t see their cues?
  • How accessible is Drupal Core?
  • Frontend pages AND backend pages must be made as accessible as possible
  • How are other CMSes and frameworks doing with regards to accessibility?
  • We are all affected by some sort of disability

Links

Transcript

IVAN STEGIC: Hey everyone! You’re listening to The TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I’m your host Ivan Stegic. My guest today is Mike Gifford, Founder and President of OpenConcept Consulting, Inc. in Ottawa, Canada. OpenConcept is a web development agency specializing in Drupal, much like ours, and a benefit corporation, a B corp. Mike is also Drupal’s core accessibility maintainer and has been since 2012. Hey Mike, welcome. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

MIKE GIFFORD: It’s great to be on once again. It’s been a while, but definitely enjoy having an opportunity to talk again with you about Drupal and accessibility and things involved with digital tech.

IVAN: I love it. I can’t believe it’s been almost three years ago, episode 6. We’re coming up to episode 84. Wow. It’s been a long time. I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface.

MIKE: Absolutely. It’s amazing how time passes when you’re busy serving client needs and keeping up with changes in the Drupal community.

IVAN: Busy having fun I think, is what we call it. [laughing] So, let’s talk about accessibility. People throw that word around quite a bit, don’t they? I think we believe we know what it means, and some people say, “Oh your site has to be ADA compliant.” Other people say, “Yeah, we need WCAG or WCAD compatibility.” Why don’t we start with the definition for accessibility? What do we mean in our industry when we talk about that for a website?

MIKE: So, essentially it means removing barriers to make sure the people are able to access your content, whatever disabilities they have or whatever tools and devices they’re using to go off and to access it. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative broke this down into four main pillars that they’re using for the WCAG 2.0 framework, and I think to summarize it quite nicely:

Let’s make sure that your web content is perceivable so that people can understand it and read it and absorb the information.

Let’s make sure that it’s operable so if you’ve got some sort of interface people are working with, then the people can interact with the web forms, and they can engage with it, and click on the buttons and navigate the website.

Let’s make sure that it’s understandable. This is one that particularly government websites fail on. And there’s very, very few websites that really excel at plain language and making sure that things are written so that people can absorb the information on the flow and eliminate all that technical jargon and information that gets in the way of comprehension.

Finally, let’s make sure that it’s robust. So many websites work great if you’re in a dark room with a really new monitor that’s sitting there, but if you’re on your phone and navigating on a bright day, you’re going to have a hard time going off and viewing the information, accessing the information. So, let’s think about this in the real world situations that people engage with technology on. It’s not always going to be in that ideal environment where those light-gray-on-dark-gray backgrounds work.

You really need to be able to think about the context with which people are using the technology. So that’s how I think about technology within the web accessibility framework.

IVAN: And that’s POUR right? P-O-U-R. Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.

MIKE: That’s right. And there’s a whole bunch of criteria that you can use to evaluate your website based on that. It’s an interesting framework that’s designed to be technology agnostic. It doesn’t really matter what kind of technology you’re working with, whether it’s a PDF file or whether it’s a website—those principles are things that you can use to guide your thinking around accessibility.

IVAN: So those are high-level principles. That’s how we want to design from a design-first perspective so that the context of the design itself is available and accessible from anyone using the site.

MIKE: That’s right. There’s some really interesting work being done by people looking at inclusive design, and this isn’t a new movement, but there’s some neat work that Jutta Treviranus has set up to look at designing for the fringes. So often people think about the 80/20 rule, and it’s like, Well let’s just go off and design for that 80%, and then worry about that additional 20% later. We won’t necessarily factor that into the equation. Whereas, if you look at the fringes and design for the extremes, then you can be confident that everyone’s needs are going to be met, and you can work ahead to see that you’re able to deal with it.

And also, the 80/20 rule is a great concept for many things, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Like, how many businesses would just write off 20% of the United States? Would you get rid of New York and New Jersey? Whatever you think about them, would you just eliminate selling to those as potential customers, because it’s inconvenient for some reason? Probably not. It’s a large chunk of the population to ignore. So, thinking about the fringes and accessibility early on in the design process really allows you to go off and to serve a much broader range of the population than most people are aware of.

IVAN: The 80/20 rule is by definition exclusive. You are actually saying we’re excluding one-fifth of the population because we choose to.

MIKE: Because that’s inconvenient.

IVAN: Cause it’s inconvenient.

MIKE: Yeah. There’s really neat work done by Microsoft actually with the Inclusive Design Toolkit, and what they’ve done is try to look at, not just people with permanent disabilities, but to try and extend the definition out more broadly so that you have people that have permanent disabilities. But then there’s people who have temporary disabilities, and then there’s people who have situational disabilities. So, for example, a temporary disability might be you left your glasses at home, so you’re having trouble reading stuff at the office. Or, you’re in a situation where you’re taking medication, and so your eyesight may not be as good while you’re on this particular medication. Or, maybe you’ve broken your dominant arm, so you’re trying to navigate the mouse with your left hand, and it’s just not as good as it was with your dominant hand.

There are things like that, that are temporary issues that we all undergo as part of living in a complex world. But the situational ones are things like you’re in a noisy environment and you can’t use Siri to go off and interact, because Siri can’t cancel out all the noise that is coming from the area. Or, you’re in a situation where you want to use your laptop outside on a sunny day, and you can’t because there just isn’t enough contrast in the pages to be able to read the information effectively. So, again, thinking about all of these different ways that people interact, even if they’re not defined as having their disability, but there are times and places where everyone has a disability.

IVAN: Context is important, isn’t it?

MIKE: Yeah.

IVAN: You’re so passionate about accessibility. And besides it being the right thing to do, to be inclusive, to think about others that might not have the same abilities as you do. How did that happen? How did you get to be so passionate? Where did your start in accessibility come from?

MIKE: I think a huge part of my background came from having a good friend who has cerebral palsy, who is a real champion for disability rights and who schooled me on some of the theory about how to think about disability, and to think about the abilities that I have. So that certainly is a really key element to it. I started making changes to the Drupal community, getting them involved in affecting Drupal. And it suddenly became addictive because many people who work in the accessibility field go off and address a particular issue, and they fix a particular issue for a particular website. But that’s not what I was focusing my time and energy on. I was focusing my time and energy on fixing Drupal, which is 3% of the web.

So, I was able to go off, working with a whole team of other people to transition Drupal from being a reasonably good standards-compliant CMS to being by far the best, most accessible content management system out there, because of some of the work that I was spearheading. It was interesting to go off and look at ways of supporting people, and so the first Drupal Accessibility Maintainer was Everett Zufelt, who also taught me a great deal. When he was contributing the most to the Drupal community, he was working with me as staff at OpenConcept.

So, I was able to go off and learn from him as a blind user, and to learn what his experiences were with Drupal and review my own assumptions about what was possible, and how to address that. Everett is no longer an accessibility maintainer, but in Drupal 8 there are two other accessibility maintainers, Andrew MacPherson and Rain Breaw, who are taking on a role of pushing things ahead and addressing the accessibility community within Drupal.

So, we’re going to be having regular office hours and I think, it is the last Tuesday of every month.

IVAN: I’ve just been so impressed with the amount of accessibility that Drupal has garnered in the last five years. It’s just been so nice to see the improvements that have happened. Of the maintainers, do we have any maintainers that have disabilities that have the inclusive perspective of actually using the web and being able to maintain Core from a disability perspective?

MIKE: Actually no, and that’s an area where we could actually use a lot of additional work. I don’t think that either Andrew or Rain have a disability, at least not that I’m aware of. But we haven’t had enough people in the Drupal community who have disclosed their disabilities and who have stepped up to get involved in the Drupal community. We had a few people who have done that. Everett is one. Vincenzo Rubano was another. He came to DrupalCon Portland from Italy. And as an individual, Vincenzo has contributed more to the Drupal 8 accessibility than all of the governments in the world combined, and this is what he did in the year before he started university. So, it’s quite an amazing accomplishment in many ways, and also, why is it that governments around the world are not doing more on accessibility? It’s a bit baffling.

But the last person we’ve had to sort of highlight in terms of people with disabilities who have been involved with the accessibility team, was Rachel Olivero, who unfortunately died last year. So, that was a sad thing. She was quite involved in the diversity community within Drupal and had gone to two other DrupalCons and unfortunately, she died suddenly and is no longer with us.

IVAN: I recall that. That was devastating news that we’d heard. I’d had such a wonderful dinner with her at that DrupalCon that we both attended on trivia night.

MIKE: Yes.

IVAN: I think she was part of the National Association of the Blind, if I’m not mistaken.

MIKE: That’s right. She was working with the National Federation of the Blind and transferred a few different roles, but had actually just launched their Drupal 8 website and had made a lot of advancements in that, and it was really nice to see that, and she had also made a couple contributions to the Drupal community with accessibility bugs that she had identified. There is now the Olivero project within Drupal with the new themes which is going to be coming out with Drupal 9. I’m looking forward to going off and seeing that, a theme that’s being named in her honor. So, that’s lovely.

IVAN: That’s really lovely. We will link to that from the podcast episode page. So, if you’re listening, do visit the website for more information . Now, OpenConcept is focused on accessibility as a core part of your business, isn’t it?

MIKE: Yes, it is. We’re actually in a position where we’re pivoting from being a Drupal shop where that’s primarily what we do, to actually having a role as a digital agency and doing more consultation and support work with others. Because of the work that I’ve done on accessibility, we’ve been able to take systems perspective to accessibility and sustainability and security and really look at this at a higher level and to step back and address these issues. So, we’re doing more work as a digital agency going ahead, and not just as a Drupal shop.

IVAN: Well that’s a wonderful development for you. You certainly have the wherewithal and the knowledge to be providing that kind of consulting, so I love to hear that evolution. I love the fact that your website itself, openconcept.ca, eats its own dog food, so to speak. There’s a widget drawer at the top of some sort of preferences. I haven’t seen that before. It allows anyone to be able to change, essentially, the design and the contrast and the typeface, and everything you would to make the site more accessible, I would guess. Tell me about that preferences pane.

MIKE: Our own website is one that often doesn’t get as much attention as we’d like to. So, we started a process to rebuild our website, and I’ve had to put that on hold because of some other issues. But, yeah, our website, we’ve definitely built it for accessibility, but accessibility is a journey, you need to be able to invest in that on a regular basis. So, I’d like to be doing more with our website than we are.

But specifically about the widget that we have on our website, I realize that one of the our challenges with the WCAG process is that it’s building a single website, and meeting the needs of everyone through a single website. But unfortunately, disabilities are such that that doesn’t really make any sense. There are people who have low vision, and need high contrast. There’s people who have dyslexia, they need low contrast. That’s just sort of one example. There’s people who get really frustrated when they see Comic Sans as a font. There’s other people who, the best way that they can read content is with having Comic Sans or Openyslexic or some other customized font.

So, how do you try to give people the range of exposure to go off and absorb information in a way that suits their needs? And having a single site, that is not going to be able to achieve all of those goals. So, we see that the future of accessibility is really towards providing personalization. Yes, you want to go off and meet a minimum standard requirement. You want to make sure that your default website is meeting the base level, the Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust guidelines that are being set forth in WCAG 2.1—actually, because the latest one is WCAG 2.1. So, that’s the goal that people should be aiming for. But, if you can extend it to even more people by going off and allowing individuals to have personal choices.

The IDRC, which is the Inclusive Design Research Centre in Toronto, put forward a preferences framework widget that we’ve incorporated in our website. We did this because we were working with the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, which is the equivalent of the NFB in the US, or the RNIB in the UK, and we wanted to incorporate that within their website.

So, we first tested it on our website and looked to make sure that we could work through the bugs and unknowns and uncertainties with that tool on our website, before we went off and implemented it with our clients. Again, that idea of eating your own dog food and evaluating this and building the best practice by demonstrating the best practice is something that we wanted to be able to do.

So, we implemented this widget and have contributed back to the IDRC, because the preferences framework is an open source widget that we were able to build on and incorporate into Drupal as a Drupal module. There’s now Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 implementations of the preferences framework.

IVAN: If you design a site so that it’s meeting these accessibility parameters in WCAG 2.1, then do you need the preferences framework?

MIKE: You don’t for the legislation. If your goal is to try and make sure that you’re just checking a box, and that you’re meeting the requirements and you’re not going to get sued, then no, you don’t need to worry about the widget. But if your goal is actually increasing the use and participation and usability of your site, if your goal is improving usability, then this widget is actually quite useful to go off and to give your users the ability to provide a custom interface, or custom display for the site. And there are ways that people can override the CSS pages that are custom built to their own browser, but that’s more complicated than most users would go off and know how to do, and often it is something that doesn’t work well with the website.

But, if you build in this framework then you can evaluate, Well, how does it work with the dark background? How does it work with the light background? How does it work with a yellow/black high contrast mode? And your developers and designers can evaluate some basic ideas to make sure that your SVG files show up appropriately, that you’re able to go off and provide a good experience for somebody, even if they do need to invert the color scheme. It’s useful to do that even for the number of people who are now preferring to use dark mode for their websites.

IVAN: How do you deal with marketers and brand stewards of corporations and organizations who will, I’m sure, inevitably say something like, “That preferences pane destroys our brand. It’s not consistent with what our brand guidelines say.” How do you deal with that kind of pushback?

MIKE: I think I would say that if something like this destroys your brand, then your brand is not very strong. You want to be able to go off and have some control over your presentation, your site, the default settings, but ultimately a brand is about establishing trust with the customer. And there’s no better way to establish trust with your customer than to demonstrate that their individual needs are important to you, and that you can serve their individual needs.

So, what could possibly be better than having a widget on their website that says, You can buy your Nike runners even if you're blind or if you’re dyslexic. We’re going to make it easy for you to buy our products and give you the support you need, however it is that it serves you best. And you’re not to get stuck on stupid proprietary fonts or highly custom color combinations that were approved by some highly paid branding office. Ultimately the brand has to be strong enough that the trust and that care for the user shines through, and I think that this preferences framework is a part of that.

IVAN: I’ve been tracking the variable fonts recently. I know they’ve been around for quite a while now, but they’ve only recently been getting more traction, I would guess. Do you know anything about variable fonts and how they affect or not affect accessibility? I would imagine there’d be a relationship there.

You have more control over the kerning and the size. They’re somewhat different than regular fonts that have specific sizes. A nd when you say bold for example, they go to a specific bold typeface. You can actually change the size and characteristics of these variable fonts with CSS. And I would imagine that would be highly useful from an accessibility perspective.

MIKE: Fonts are definitely an interesting area and it’s amazing to see the changes in the web that make it look more attractive, more compelling. But there isn’t a lot in WCAG to address fonts. Sometimes it just comes down to a matter of judgment. A lot of times fonts are too narrow to be easily read, and there’s no standard way to evaluate how thick or how thin a font can be without affecting the accessibility of it. And, as our monitors get more and more refined, you can create thinner and thinner fonts.

So, I think we are going to get to the point where fonts are going to be more easily evaluated, but some of it comes down to even just base readability. Like, all the debates have happened between, you know, is Helvetica better than Arial? Better than Times? There’s a lot of studies on this, but again there’s nothing in the standards that we’re looking at that say, This is the best font, or This is the way that you’re going to address fonts in meeting accessibility. Because it’s hard to pin down, hard to go off and quantify, and so much about WCAG is about making it quantifiable.

It’s not just about opinions. It’s about a quantifiable, demonstrable barrier that you’re able to address. I can see that with variable fonts, one of the neat opportunities there is to be able to say, How would you use something like the preferences framework to allow a user to go off and customize the fonts?

IVAN: Exactly.

MIKE: Let’s say you want to have a fat font for this. The font doesn’t need to be larger, it just needs to be bolder, just make everything bolder. And you could with this, very easily go off and have a setting that allows users to have that ability to build that in, and to think about ways—or just switching fonts entirely. You can either stick with just making the font that was chosen customizable, to go off to meet your specific user’s needs. Or you can go off and say, Let’s give them the option to pick from five or six other fonts that might meet their needs and allows them to more easily absorb the information. Because ultimately what we want is the ability for an author to communicate to another person.

So, how do you communicate that information so that the author or presenter is able to go off and convey as rich in information as possible for the person receiving that information to absorb. And, if you were doing it in a face-to-face conversation, we can know how to go off and slow the pace of our speech, or to speak more loudly if somebody has hearing impairments. We know how to do that because of personal cues that allow people to change their presentation for a particular individual.

But it’s harder on the web when you’ve got technology mediating that communication, and we don’t have those personal cues to guide us. So we need to actually give that opportunity for feedback to the user and encourage them to select preferences that allow them to choose something that allows them to more easily use your website.

IVAN: The standard that we’re looking at right now is WCAG 2.1, and people usually say that [level] A is the bare minimum. AAA is, Are you insane, do you have a lot of money? What is the goal of doing AAA? And AA is usually the one that organizations land on, if I’m not mistaken, to describe it loosely. Where are we at with Drupal for accessibility? For Drupal Core? And what’s next?

MIKE: So, just a bit of a correction. In the United States, the standard is still the revised Section 508 standard, which is pegged to WCAG 2.0 AA, and more or less that is the standard. Internationally, we’ve moved on from WCAG 2.0 AA, because that was the standard written in 2008.

IVAN: I didn’t realize it was that old.

MIKE: Yeah, so the original Section 508 that was in place up until January of 2017 was written in 1997, so that was how old the standard was for the Section 508. Which is still better than the—actually no, it wasn’t better than the WCAG 1.0—these are old, old standards. But WCAG 2.1 was released in 2018, so it’s a much more current guideline, and WCAG 2.2 should be released later this year. And the plan is to go off and make these releases much more regular, in order to keep up with the pace of technology. Waiting a decade or two between updates of accessibility standards truly does leave out a lot of people. So, the standards are evolving.

So, as far as where Drupal is, we’ve done a good job at Drupal Core of meeting WCAG 2.0 AA for both the frontend web pages and for the administrative pages. It’s not perfect, and there’s a lot of known issues in the accessibility queue, but we’ve addressed a lot of the base issues that people run into.

Because Drupal 8 has a lot of interactive elements, there’s content that changes on the fly with JavaScript, and we need to be able to add more instances for support for this, so that we can alert screen reader users that the screen has changed. So, ARIA live is something that was introduced in Drupal 8. There’s a Drupal JavaScript function called Drupal.announce() that allows developers to go off and to codify how screen readers are alerted to changes to dynamic content on the page. So, we need a lot more work done to implement that in Drupal 8. Drupal 8 has done a lot of work on ATAG 2.0. ATAG 2.0 is the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, and this essentially says, we’re going to look at the authoring experience, and Drupal is an authoring tool, and we’re going to say, part A of ATAG is Let’s make sure that the authors with disabilities can actually be publishers of content and not just consumers of content. Right?

 

And this something really that Everett Zufelt went off and drove home to us, is that we couldn’t just go off and rely on making the frontend pages accessible, we also needed to make the backend pages accessible, or people like Everett were not going to be able to publish content using Drupal. So, we went and, in Drupal 7, made some big advances in addressing the backend accessibility. That’s been carried over in Drupal 8, and that’s part of ATAG part A, it’s just sort of making that the authoring interface be as accessible as possible.

Part B is actually I think more interesting and more useful, particularly for institutions, and I’m sad to see that there isn’t more attention paid to Part B of ATAG, because that’s about how do we use these systems to make it easier for authors to create accessible content? And how if we don’t think about the authoring experience, like we can’t expect authors to be accessibility experts; we need to think through the tools and the technology that they use to support and guide users in doing the right thing.

We need to set good defaults for accessibility in the authoring tool, so that when the millions of users are adding new content to Drupal, the 3% of Drupal websites around the world, it’s a huge number of people that have used Drupal on a regular basis that need to be involved. And if you don’t have the system helping authors make the right decisions, then it should be no surprise that you have accessibility issues being added by authors who are not familiar with best practices.

But if you get the tools involved in setting up proper constructs, then you can limit the damage that users can do. You can guide them to make the right decisions. And there’s a lot more that can be done in that space. We’ve done more than anyone else, but we have not done enough in that space.

IVAN: I like to hear that we’ve done more than anyone else, but I’d be even happier to hear that “everyone else” is close on our heels, and equally accessible. So, before we close, I wanted to hear your assessment of other competitors, other CMSes and frameworks out there, and what their accessibility is looking like. How do they compare? Let’s talk about maybe a couple of the open source ones we all know and love, like WordPress, and maybe talk about React or Gatsby, any of the things that come to mind for you. How do they compare?

MIKE: So, I was really quite hopeful with the WordPress community up until the Gutenberg debacle that came out. When I was in Holland in the fall, I had a great meeting with one of the WordPress accessibility leads that had stepped down because of how that was handled. It was a really interesting presentation that she and I had with others in Holland around accessibility. So, I’m less optimistic about the future of WordPress accessibility than I was, because of leadership issues within the WordPress community.

But there’s lots of good people involved in creating accessible themes in WordPress and that’s great. But it does require it to be a priority for the leadership in order for it to be really ingrained in the community, and that’s one of the things that Drupal has really stood out in.

 I’m really impressed by Gatsby and with Marcy Sutton and others who have a really deep ingrained passion for accessibility that they’re building into the process. So, if you’re building a Gatsby site, or a Gatsby page, accessibility checks are now just part of the process of doing a Gatsby build. And just having that as a framework is just built into the process of how you build a good Gatsby website. That’s so wonderful. Marcy was involved in the Axcore team, which is an automated accessibility engine that the Deque folks built a while back, and it’s really been taking off. And the Microsoft community is jumping on board with that, and Microsoft has built a tool called Accessibility Insights that uses that.

There’s also the Google Lighthouse tool that uses Axcore as well. So, it’s nice to go off and see that that’s built into Gatsby, and that there’s a commitment to that from senior levels in the Gatsby community.

I hadn’t really seen a lot of other examples where content management systems are taking this seriously. I do think that Microsoft is an organization that we do really need to be aware of, both because of their interest in open source and their passion for accessibility, and that has really been a real transition in the last two or three years.  

IVAN: Yeah, who saw that coming?

MIKE: Yeah, like what the heck? So, they’re incredible leaders in the space and making a lot more money because of it, and that’s both wonderful and fascinating. I certainly did not see that coming [laughing]. I was definitely not one of the people that expected this. But it’s quite wonderful, and I think it will be neat to see what Microsoft comes up with, and I’m not sure there’s enough money in the world to go off and make SharePoint accessible [laughing].

IVAN: [laughing] Yeah, SharePoint doesn’t have a great, stellar accessibility. I mean, even for the rest of us, the user experience could be better.

MIKE: That’s right, but it is interesting that Microsoft has made a cultural shift in how they think about both open source and accessibility, and sustainability, for that matter. They’re committed to being carbon negative by 2030, so they are making some big bold leadership commitments in the tech space, and I think that they will pay off for Microsoft, and I think that is something that others will follow, but I haven’t seen a lot from most other, like React itself, I haven’t seen a lot of pickup and movement around this. I haven’t seen Angular or Core.

IVAN: What about Sitecore or any of the proprietary CMSes?

MIKE: I don’t think it’s part of the process. They’re not looking at building it accessible by default and partly that’s because clients are not demanding it. There are not enough organizations who are demanding accessibility as part of the default system. I think this is changing. The governments in Europe are starting to be aware of this and looking at Drupal and looking at that as a model, but it’s not being incorporated into the procurement process. So sales folks are not hearing this is something they’re not losing their contracts around it.

IVAN: Yeah, and you would expect there to be a more vocal demand. As you know there was this report from the World Health Organization in 2011 that said that about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. And it’s probably higher than that, that’s almost 10 years ago that that report was done. So, you would think that there was a demand, that corporations would see this, and would move in that direction, but I guess not.

MIKE: That’s only the people with permanent disabilities that they were addressing. They weren’t making it either temporary or situational. If you’re looking at temporary or situational, it’s a higher percentage.

IVAN: Right. We all experience high sunlight when we go out and use our phones, don’t we?

MIKE: That’s right. It’s a universal thing. Unless you don’t go outside [laughing].

IVAN: Right. [laughing] and the same thing with getting older, we all lose our eyesight as we’re getting older. Our vision becomes impaired and so there’s that to think about as well.

MIKE: That’s right, and you’ve got the aging baby boomer population. You think about the gray tsunami, all of those ideas require us to think differently about the web, because it’s not just the way that we see color change as we age, the way that we navigate websites changes. Disability is just part of life. We do not have the abilities we did when we were 20. This should not be a shocker to anyone right?

IVAN: I wish I had those abilities still, Mike. [laughing] It’s been so great talking to you. I feel like we didn’t even cover some of the things I wanted to get to, talking about the government and your work with the Canadian government and how you’ve been keeping track of the Accessible Canada Act. Would you come back sooner than the next three years, and we could have another recording and another episode, and we can get into those ideas as well?

MIKE: I would absolutely be keen on doing that, and then hopefully it’ll be something that’ll be done in person as well, which will be way more fun than doing it remotely.

IVAN: You know what, that would be great. Next time you’re in Minneapolis, I know you won’t be here for DrupalCon this year, but next time you are, let’s do that.

MIKE: That’d be great. And who knows, maybe I’ll find a way to get to DrupalCon. Maybe I’ll make that possible but it’s not in the cards right now, but, yeah, it’d sure be a lot of fun.

IVAN: That would be so much fun. Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you.

MIKE: No problem.

IVAN: Mike Gifford is Founder and President of OpenConcept Consulting Inc. in Ottawa, Canada. You can find them at openconcept.ca. They’re a web development agency that specialize in Drupal and are pivoting to be more of a strategic consulting firm. They’re also a B Corp. Mike is Drupal’s core accessibility maintainer, one of the few of them, and you could find him online @mgifford on Twitter. You’ve been listening to the TEN7 podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is podcast@ten7.com. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.

Ivan Stegic

CEO
 
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Ivan Stegic

Words that describe Ivan: Relentlessly optimistic. Kind. Equally concerned with client and employee happiness. Bowtie lover. Physicist. Ethical. Lighthearted and cheerful. Finds joy in the technical stuff. Inspiring. Loyal. Hires smart, curious and kind employees who want to create more good in the world. His favorite things right now: the TEN7 podcast and becoming the next Björn Borg.