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WebAIM Web Accessibility Training Q&A with James Pope

Summary: James Pope, one of the Partners at Pope Tech, attended WebAIM’s Accessibility Training. 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?

Prior to WebAIM training and working on our scanning platform, the only experience I had with web accessibility was due to lawsuits. It was limited to only automated single page scanning tools like WAVE and working with developers to get the errors down. I was expecting to go past the compliance part of accessibility. I wanted to really know why errors were errors and what their impact really was.

What Is the most interesting thing you learned at the training?

So many things. I am by no means a developer, but I have made some web pages and a few apps over the years. I would use random headings to make the font bigger and not correctly set the language on web pages… because I didn’t know better.

Watching a vision impaired user try to browse the internet with a screen reader was very eye-opening. I immediately wanted to go back and fix errors I have made in the past.

Thinking about the training, what will you most likely be applying to your current position?

It helps me understand why we do accessibility. That there is this technology that should be leveling the playing field, in some aspects, for those with disabilities. Unfortunately, because of a lack of knowledge, many things are actually worse.

I now take time to use NVDA with my laptop (usually with the screen shut) to help me understand how usable or unusable the internet is without sight. This lets me go beyond the items that an automated scanner can pick up and past the alerts that need to be checked and hear why it matters.

What in accessibility do you want to learn more about?

There are many use cases more complex than “alt text” and “redundant links” that many accessibility experts don’t agree on. I want to learn more about them to have an opinion that is my own. Until then, when I don’t know what to do, I strive to create an equivalent experience… or I just ask Jared at WebAIM.