Talking Web Accessibility with George Zamfir

Last Updated on by Chris

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When we mention a topic on This Week in Blogging, we like to make sure that we're providing expert opinions to go along with it. In a recent edition featuring web accessibility news, we tapped George Zamfir on the shoulder as he has made this his primary focus!

In this brief interview, we discussed the finer notes of web accessibility with George and why you should care about it in running your blog.

Web Accessibility is Becoming Increasingly Important

In short, George is a professional web accessibility consultant, investor, and advisor. Once we understood that our focus this week was to highlight a few ways that you could make your site more accessible, we immediately looked in his direction.

For some quick context, when we're talking about web accessibility we're talking about things such as:

  • How your site performs in terms of respecting those with visual impairment.
  • If you site enables individuals who have motor skill issues or physical disabilities to access your content.
  • Your site's presentation of content for those with cognitive conditions.
  • Whether your site considers those with hearing impairment, especially for sites that might have ample video as part of their content strategy.
  • Considering if you have any flashing lights on your site that could trigger seizures.

Without further adieu, let's get to our brief yet informative interview with George Zamfir.

1. Why do you feel accessibility is important and something bloggers need to prioritize?

Very few humans have walked the Earth without a disability, the majority of us will experience disability at some point in time.

How would you feel if you break your wrist (not to mention permanent or other more severe disabilities) and can't pay your bill, use social media or read a blog simply because that product doesn't work by keyboard and you can't use a mouse?

In my opinion, at its best accessibility is evolutionary.

It allows us to overcome and ascend our current condition as we're moulding the world around us to account for our disabilities. And at its worst it makes the world a little more functional for everyone- and this is an important point.

We take it for granted, but a lot of what we take for granted today was put in place to accommodate people with disabilities. The most famous example is cutting curbs / sidewalks so folks in wheelchairs can cross the street. It turns out that's really useful for pregnant moms, people with walkers, skateboarders and so on. This is fittingly called the “Curb cut effect.”

2. What are the top things that bloggers should keep in mind in terms of site accessibility?

There are 2 parts to keep in mind: content accessibility & functional accessibility.

Content accessibility is all about how people with disabilities consume the content.

For example, blind folks who use screen readers will hear your content, the text will literally be read out loud to them. But what if we're putting up say, a promo page, where all the copy is inside an image and then all that information is not accessible?

Functional accessibility is all about how users navigate your website.

Do this simple test today, try to navigate your blog by keyboard. Does it work? Can you see where your focus is? Can you open menus? This is keyboard accessibility and it's what people who can't use a mouse need. This guide on writing for web accessibility should help everyone get started.

Furthermore, I think most creators need to have more exposure to the experience people with disabilities have consuming their content, it's called accessibility research. I've been working with a startup in this space Fable Tech Labs that does this. You can actually get your digital product researched with participants with disabilities.

George Zamfir Web Accessibility Expert
We want to thank George very much for generously giving us his time this week, and hope our fellow content creators learned from his words.

What are you doing to promote accessibility on your blog? Comment below to share!

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