At Cascade we believe the web is better for everyone when it's built to be accessible by everyone. While this is a shared value at Cascade, it wasn’t always a priority. As I have shared in a previous blog post, I am on a personal and professional journey to better understand the movement around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Like many, my unconscious biases contribute to a problem in our society. So I began digging, learning and changing. My work with the Street Trust, Intertwine Alliance and other organizations in our DEI cohort are being challenged to view the world and our organizations through a more considerate lens.
We’ve seen this move toward a more inclusive perspective, considerate of underserved and/or disabled users, play out on the internet as well. This movement has been building awareness for several years now. During the last couple years, we’ve been on a journey of our own at Cascade to identify what we were doing to support users that lack some of the senses many of us take for granted; namely the blind, deaf, and those who must navigate by voice, screen readers or other assistive technologies. We’ve approached this with curiosity and humility.
The team has been working to understand what these users need to enjoy meaningful experiences online. We’ve referred to the American Disabilities Act, and standards like World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. We’ve used tools to scan and evaluate our site and those of our clients’. We’ve had conversations with disabled site users. We’ve learned a lot. It became obvious we have a lot of room for growth in this realm and began working to address these weaknesses.
A big step on this journey was updating our website to be more accessible. Details on steps we took are outlined on our new Accessibility page. Heck, we didn’t even have such a page, previously. We’ve also worked with several clients to help them move toward a more accessible website. Most importantly, we’re talking about it; internally and with our partners and clients.
Accessibility is a complex topic depending on who you serve and how you present your organization online. For some, it's nice to have. For others, it's absolutely critical to their survival. Further, the work is never done. Standards evolve as quickly as web technology itself. Societal expectations are mounting, as well. If you’d like to learn more about accessibility and how your site stacks up, or if you have knowledge and experience to share, we’d be happy to discuss the topic more. There are myriad resources available online, as well. You can also expect to hear more from the Cascade team on this topic on an ongoing basis.
Ben McKinley is founder and CEO of Cascade Web Development. Founded in 2001, Cascade focuses on complex web strategy, design and development of solutions that allow our clients to effectively tell their stories and crush their organizational goals.