BATS – the misstory

What does BATS stand for?

Blind Accessibility Tester Society.


Blind Accessibility Testers Society is a very accurate description of our community. A bat also happens to be a creature that is not cursed with a pair of eyes, helplessly and needlessly chaining it to the visual world. A bat does not need sight at all to be fully functional in life. Isn’t that exactly what we want to be? Technology can help us get there, but only if it is accessible to us.

Who are the bats?

We are a community of blind accessibility professionals who want to enhance our skills and work together to ensure that the tools we need to move accessibility forward are accessible to us.
A blind person is the stereotypical beneficiary of accessibility, yet we face challenges when we want to do our part in making the web accessible. Some of the challenges are expected, we can’t see, so when information is presented by visual means only, we can’t make that information accessible without a pair of eyes to tell us what it is. Another and more frustrating challenge we face is the inaccessibility of the tools of our trade, from testing to development, to virtual meetings, calendars, and VPN solutions, we face challenges using all these tools with screen readers.
We have all come up with our own tips, tricks, and workarounds that help us be effective accessibility professionals, and BATS is where we exchange and document this information.
We also plan to use BATS to rate the tools of our trade based on how accessible they are and, if necessary, join together to file bugs, raise complaints, throw eggs and do whatever else needs to be done to ensure the tools we need are accessible to us.

The Bat Colony resource, as we like to call our website, will include materials such as

  • advice on configuring and using screen readers for effective accessibility testing.
  • Reviews and screen reader based instructions for accessibility testing and web development tools.
  • Tips and tricks on how to blindly use teleconferencing tools, code editors, online collaboration tools and other software applications we encounter in our daily lives as I.T. professionals.

How do I join the BATS?

We have a discussion forum where we can have open discussions and brainstorming sessions. You don’t have to have experience to join, but we do ask that you contribute , from writing, to reviewing, to spreading the word. Our society will only be as good as the skills, backgrounds and ideas of our members.

Important, BATS is a community for blind accessibility professionals by blind accessibility professionals. It is intended to be informal, fun and a place where we can kick our feet up, let our guard down and openly talk about the challenges of our profession.
This is not a formal certification or professional society. We do not want to take ourselves too seriously and get mired in political correctness and professional etiquette. Of course we expect all our members to respect each other, but most of all, we want y’all to have fun and learn something.

Author: Birkir Gunnarsson

Approaching 40 (at the time of this writing), blind since age 5. Born and bread in Iceland. Grew up in Iceland, came to the U.S. to attend Yale University. Spent 7 years in the Banking sector as a developer, where I grew out more than growing up. Started working in assistive technology and accessibility in 2009. I have dabbled in all things accessibility, from creating braille standards, to conducting website, PDF and mobile application assessments, delivering user and developer training, and campaigning for Icelandic and European accessibility policies and regulations. Started a full-time position with Deque Systems in 2013 where I have worked on all things accessibility with some of Deque's clients, many of them Fortune 500 companies. A member of W3C ARIA/ARIA Authoring Practices working groups since 2014. I am married, have 3 kids, love listening to good music and making questionable music in my spare time (which barely exists). See my extended BATS bio for a lot more information.

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