WordPress’ accessibility team is evaluating the possibility of organizing a virtual Global Accessibility Day, similar to the Polyglots’ Global Translation Day. This marathon-style contributor event has proven to be valuable for the Polyglots in terms of recruiting, onboarding, and fueling progress on translation projects.
Accessibility contributors proposed the idea at a meeting two weeks ago after discussing the team’s desire to have more representation at WordCamp contributor days. WordCamp Europe 2019 had a strong contingency of accessibility contributors, but being present on the ground in Berlin was not an option for the vast majority of the team.
“I heard different people saying that this Contributor Day was extremely useful, because they had the opportunity to talk in person and exchange ideas with a lot of other people,” Stefano Minoia said. “This is really good: if we want to push forward a project like WordPress, it’s extremely important to have the opportunity of working together at least once a year in person.”
Due to the relatively small size of the team and the expense associated with traveling to larger WordCamps, accessibility contributors do not often have the opportunity for in-person collaboration. A remote contributor day focused on accessibility was proposed as an alternative.
“We’re a small group with very little sponsorship,” Joe Dolson said during the initial discussion. “I don’t go to most WordCamps anymore, because the time and expense is just too great for me. I’ll probably go to my local WordCamp only, this year, if I have the time.”
Due to the nature of the work, Dolson anticipates the team may face some challenges in working around some of the constraints of collaborating through a virtual event.
“There are some tasks that work really well as remote contributor days; others are harder,” he said. “I’ve personally found it difficult to do accessibility contributor sharing remotely.”
A virtual contributor day could be helpful for some basic things like teaching new contributors how to use Trac, updating the handbook and documentation, and organizing sprints for jumpstarting larger tasks. There is no shortage of accessibility projects to work on, with the new block directory in the admin slated for this year, some major changes needed to improve navigation to Gutenberg’s advanced settings block sidebar, and more general Gutenberg issues.
One development that is working in the team’s favor is that Slack has improved the screen reader experience in the most recent update. Using threads was previously discouraged during accessibility team discussions due to their lack of navigability. Keyboard accessibility for getting around Slack should now be more streamlined than previous versions. This should help to improve remote collaboration for the accessibility team. Users can press CMD + ? to launch the list of available keyboard shortcuts in Slack.
All you need to get around Slack now is:
• F6 to cycle through the UI
• TAB to navigate through focusable elements
• UP/DOWN to navigate through lists
— George Zamfir (@georgezamfir) July 25, 2019
As a first step towards organizing a 24-hour virtual event, WordPress’ accessibility team is working to put together a team of 10 or more people to lead the effort. Organizers will then determine the scope of the project, define the goals of the event, set a timeline, and begin the call for speakers and local meetups.
“The scope of the day can change based on the team,” Dolson said. “If we can’t do 24 hours, that’s fine, but the team has to come first.”
Anyone interested to help organize the event can sign up on the project’s public spreadsheet.