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Featured resource: Testing Accessibility

Can you describe what the workshop is about?

Testing Accessibility is a comprehensive, self-guided online curriculum that goes from fundamental accessibility concepts all the way through technical accessibility topics in front-end web development. Learners can select from multiple tiers based on your interest or desired expertise, depending on how technical you want to get.

There is a focus throughout the program on testing iteratively and asking questions to ensure we're creating a good user experience with the projects we work on. There are sections on front-end coding techniques as well as manual and automated testing, both with vanilla HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and more JavaScript-heavy application development with React and associated tooling. The program also covers design thinking and people skills to prepare learners for the aspects of accessibility that can't be fixed with code.

What were your goals in making the workshop?

My biggest goals with this project were to create more accessibility champions and collectively prevent barriers to access by instilling confidence and curiosity in more people in the tech industry.

I wanted to bottle up the things I've taught in my live workshops in a self-paced format, so that people could learn from me on their own time. Since there are so many inaccessible web applications in the world, I also included some JavaScript-heavy coding sections with React to encourage better engineering practices.

What is one important thing someone taking your workshop will learn?

While we can do a lot with code to make things more accessible, we need to go beyond development and have important discussions about design and user experience. Some things simply can't be fixed with code alone.

There is also the issue of bias and a lack of inclusion at tech companies, where it's necessary to hire inclusively and seek feedback from people with disabilities affected by decisions. I try to remind learners about those necessities every chance I get throughout the workshop modules.

Is there any other info you'd like to share about it, or your experience doing accessibility work?

You don't have to be a React developer to gain knowledge from this course. The manual testing module uses vanilla web platform code with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and includes optional front-end remediation exercises. I also tried to bring learners along through the heavier React engineering topics by explaining terminology and techniques without assuming prior knowledge. The accessibility engineering concepts throughout will also apply no matter the library or implementation (focus management, advanced scripting for screen readers, etc.).

It was a lot of fun getting to geek out on the technical accessibility topics I enjoy the most in my own work, and I look forward to sharing them with the community.