Whimsica11y

Welcome to Web Accessibility

Hey, so you want your homepage to be more inclusive? We'd like to help you with that :)

Web accessibility guides and advice online are heavily geared towards businesses and public services. This doesn't make the advice wrong by any means, but it can make it hard to read, and to connect with the rather different goals of a personal website.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The WCAG have covered almost everything, which is great. It also has almost everything, which is... a lot.

They're available for everyone to read. It's worth trying if you would like some dense bedtime reading! There is a lot to chew through though, so I would recommend it more as a reference. When something seems unclear in any accessibility advice you've read, go search for the issue you're concerned about and see if it clears it up for you:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2

Here we'll take it bit by bit, and try to apply its principles to our homepages.

The WCAG Principles

These P.O.U.R. principles are the roots of all the guidelines. They also make sense - what use is a website if its contents can't be perceived, the controls can't be operated, the content isn't understandable, and it keeps breaking?

WCAG and the Smol / Indie / Revival Web

There are, however, some caveats here. Personal websites are a little different to corporate, government or educational entities.

Users?

Firstly, do personal homepages have users? Do we expect people to 'use' our homepage, or visit? Read? Look at? Enjoy? Are they invited in to a little online part of our personal world? In this case, they are visitors, or even guests.

We used to even place guest books on our websites. Many of us still do! They are currently enjoying a revival :)

The term user, guest and visitor will be used interchangeably on this website.

Perceivable and Understandable

Some of these personal websites are art. Some of them, even to a 20-20 sighted, able bodied visitor, are not fully understandable, or have hidden easter eggs that may not ever be perceived. We don't want these pieces of art to go away.

If the website is to be explored, to allow for surprises, maybe even make people confused on purpose - cool. We love that stuff. Key here, is to allow exploration not only with eyes and a mouse. I'm not entirely sure what form this would take. I would love to see people jump into this space and play with it! Only by exploration and experimentation can we push the web platform forward, and open up new possibilities to everyone.

Here there is a balance between efficiency and ease of use, versus wanting a visitor to take their time. How do we manage that without being making things frustrating, or too difficult?

Personality

People have argued that accessibility guidelines rob websites of personality. This isn't true.

Personality shines through in the words used in text. A flowery, colorful image can have colorful and flowery ALT text to describe it.

As an example, an image that might be purely decorative on a corporate website (consider the ubiquitous photo of office workers laughing, looking at a laptop screen) should indeed be ignored for screen readers. In a similar position on the page, a personal website might have some art, or a fun graphic, or anything else that adds to the ✨vibes✨ of the site! These shouldn't be ignored. Add some ALT text! Go ahead and write silly, funny, or even sexy alt text, if that describes the graphic best.

Personality may also come through via audio. Some actions on your site could trigger sounds. Blog posts could be recorded in audio, maybe as a podcast. Why not?

Here's a little of what I hope to cover: