I started out in web accessibility with a lot of software development experience, but if my knowledge of web development and web accessibility was a number, it could be counted on the fingers on a one-handed drunken carpenter.
I learnt a lot by reading random resources and relying on the awesomeness that is the people of the WebAIM mailing list.I soon realized that my interest in accessibility lay primarily in coding and remediation.
I had to understand how that information is handled by browsers and how the browsers communicate that information on to screen readers and other assistive technologies. I realized I was definitely stuck in a world of metaphorical spaghetti, with a lot of tomato sauce.
I.e. complicated and messy.
I also discovered that some of the leading minds of web accessibility are fellow blindies.
All of them use their own techniques, tools and strategies to get their job done and advance the mission of accessibility and digital equality.
These people were all too happy to share their tips and tricks through emails and conversations.
I learned enough to get a full-time job in accessibility and started developing tips and tricks of my own.
I also realized at that point that some tools of the trade were not fully accessible to a blind accessibility tester, and that in order to be an effective accessibility tester in a corporate world, I had to be able to operate other software applications, primarily for virtual meetings, and for code collaboration and sharing.
I kept thinking to myself: “Boy, wouldn’t it be awesome if all of us blind accessibility testers could get together and share our tips, tricks and workaround with temperamental or inaccessible tools”? I am sure I only know a small portion of the techniques that can be used to do accessibility testing and remediation.
I envisioned a community, based around an online resource where we could start doing just that.
But unfortunately(for our mission), there is a lot of work to be done, and so little time for getting together and sharing information.
For the longest time the idea threatened to remain just that, an idea.
But then, on a rainy morning at Access U 2015, I happened to have breakfast with mistress Lucy Greco
The food was good, the company was better, and during that breakfast we discovered we had the same ideas.
We decided to take our ideas on a trip starting with a CSUN 2016 presentation proposal.
I got busy and almost wavered, but Lucy, along with another seasoned blind accessibility
professional, Jennifer Sutton, kept the train rolling, and eventually our CSUN talk proposal was accepted.
And thus, ladies and gentlemen, project BATS was born.
The CSUN talk went well, and generated a lot of interest.
We have set up a Google group , we are working hard on creating cutting edge content for our website, and the BATS community is growing.
Lucy’s part of the story
I have been testing THE ACCESSIBILITY OF TECHNOLOGY for as long as i have used a computer. While i test web sites i have often felt that i needed more tools in my tool belt to help me find out the reason for the problems i uncovered. There was never any time to find and learn how to use these tools. the people i have been working with are excellent at creating web sites but none of them are screen reader users and were never able to help me find ways to use their tools with a screen reader.
Its funny how often good ideas happen over meals in this world. While sitting in my backyard at a barbecue Jennifer Sutton, Erin Lauridsen and myself were speaking about how we needed to find a way to share our knowledge with one another. From that conversation we applied for a grant to try and fund the project. Unfortunately the grant application was rejected but that did not stop us. This is when the rainy day breakfast with berker happened. And i then knew it was inevitable that we needed to do something about this even if we did not get the funds. Jennifer wrote up some wonderful documents full of ideas and brainstorming on ware the group could go, and what types of articles we needed. Berker and i were going to CSUN and submitted our talk and the rest, as they say, is history.
So many people at CSUN told us this needs to happen and we need this group. So when i came home the first thing i did was registur the Bats.fyi domain and creat a mailing list to continue the conversation.
We have had a few people question our choice of name. But we decided to keep it as many of the members really find BATS to be a name they can stand behind, and no one that is working on the effort has said they want to change it. As long as the people in the group like the name it will stay. But even if you dislike our name everyone is welcome to subscribe to our mailing list and follow our web site for the wealth of knowledge that this group has already shown us they have, and are willing to share.