May Day is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BAD) when bloggers worldwide focus in various ways on ableism, discrimination against people with disabilities and what’s being done about it.  I’d like to focus on the efforts of a medium-sized Computer Science department in a medium-sized university in the Midwestern United States, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  It’s a good example of everybody can do something to fix the problem and if we each do our little bit, the world will be better.  I’m a believer in rational optimism, can you tell?
In courses for majors and nonmajors on web design,in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, there’s information presented on accessibility issues.  As a blind, screen reader user, I guest lecture/demonstrate the state of accessibility of websites in the introductory class.  Yesterday I had the privilege of talking in the advanced website design class with the eight groups of students about the issues I’d found on their websites.  The great good news was there were few issues. Faculty had kept these issues front and center for the students and done it in such a way that the students were eager to see “does this work?” and “how can this be fixed?” There was a captcha on one site, calendar programs are not particularly screen reader friendly and a diagram needed a better description than “here is a diagram.” But the faculty member coached the students and changes will be made.  Faculty have been interested in resources like
www.fixtheweb.net and
http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/AU/
On the day before Blog Against Disablism Day I left class hopeful.  These students will go out and design websites and will consider accessibility issues.  I’ll bet they won’t always get it right, but they’ll try and be open to feedback.  I as just a plain user of a screen reader can help by demonstrating what works and what doesn’t, putting a human face on accessibility issues.  Together we can make websites  better to celebrate BAD.  What can you do?
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