WebAIM Web Accessibility Training Q&A with Mark Pope

Summary: Mark Pope was recently hired and on his first day we sent him to the WebAIM training here in Logan, Utah. We asked him a few questions about his experience at the training and recorded his answers.

What Were Your Expectations Going into the WebAIM Training?

I actually didn’t know what to expect. Learning about Web Accessibility is something that is new to me. I was just excited to go learn from some of the leading experts on the topic. It seemed like a good way for me to quickly accelerate my understanding of Web Accessibility, something that is critical for me to understand in my new position.

What Is the Most Interesting Thing You Learned at the Training?

I think the most impactful thing for me was a photograph that they showed an image of a building with a “failed wheelchair ramp.” (Just google it, there are many examples of this failure.) In the example shown in the training, a long ramp was built from the ground level up to the first landing of a two-level concrete staircase. The ramp went to the landing between the two flights of stairs, but there was nothing going from that landing in the middle to the top of the stairs where the main door of the building was located.  Epic Failure!

We all had a good laugh, but that image has really stuck with me. It drove home one of the overall arching messages of WebAIM’s training, “Accessibility Over Compliance.” Whoever designed and built that build knew that they had to comply with the requirement to put in a wheelchair ramp, but they really didn’t process what they were doing or why. There are a lot of parallels between that image and a lot of stuff you find out there on the web.

Thinking About the Training, What Will You Most Likely Be Applying to Your Current Position?

As I will be heavily involved in Marketing and Sales, I think humility is what I hope to be able to internalize from the training. I realized Web Accessibility is more than just remediating all the errors and looking at the alerts. It begins with a core value of just trying to be a good human and trying to understand how other people experience the world we individually and collectively create. I think that simple orientation will help me as I work with potential clients and others who are looking for ways to evaluate their websites

What in Accessibility do You Want to Learn More About?

Right now, I am mostly interested in digging deeper into notes I took from WebAIM’s training, and the presentation slides they shared with all of us after the training. There is a lot of gold there that I haven’t had time to fully process yet. I am also excited to start networking with other people who are advocates for accessibility and learning from them. I definitely want to dig a little deeper into ways people design websites to be more responsive and accessible to screen readers and keyboard navigation. That just seems interesting to me.

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