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Spotlight: Amy Carney
Five days a week, I create our online and print presence, so that Alaskans can discover, explore, and use our services and collections. While spending time learning the general aspects of my job (design and development), I’ve honed in on skills like graphic design, user experience, programming, and accessibility. Web accessibility, being my most recent endeavor, has been the most satisfying skill set I’ve acquired. It’s given me hope that we’re reaching out to more Alaskans, and setting an example for other Alaska state government agencies,
Learning web accessibility wasn’t easy at first because I just didn’t know where to start, what resources to consult, and who to ask about it. After two years of haphazard studying and making some a11y connections, I challenged myself to commit (another) 100 days of accessibility study, loosely based on Alexander Kallaway’s 100 Days of Code, with one roadmap in mind: IAAP’s (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) Body of Knowledge outline for their Web Accessibility Specialist certification.
Having a roadmap was more important to me than the actual certification. It gave me specific ideas to search, blog, and study. I felt confident that I’d finally stepped beyond alt text and heading hierarchies, and plunged into the world of assistive technologies and evaluation methodologies.
During my journey, I made cheat sheets, taught workshops, and chatted more with people about their disabilities. In the end, I successfully earned the WAS certification, but my greatest pride in this journey was gaining what I set out to do: learning the technicalities of web accessibility, and better understanding people with disabilities and the challenges they face when visiting websites.
If you’re interested in learning web accessibility, just do it. It’s easy. It’s hard. It’s frustrating, and yet so rewarding!
Find accessibility champions. Ask people with disabilities about the frustrations they’ve encountered on the web, and what assistive tech or strategies they use. Get familiar with WCAG 2.1. Deepen your HTML knowledge. And, most importantly, get started today. Small steps forward pave the way to a better, more accessible web.