Bet Hannon, CEO of AccessiCart, talks with Cory Miller about her journey in starting an agency focused on accessibility and e-commerce in the WordPress space. She highlights the importance of accessibility, not only as a legal requirement but also as a means to enhance the user experience for all visitors. Bet emphasizes the need for WordPress professionals to continually educate themselves about accessibility and user experience best practices, collaborate with communities, and consider the diverse needs of users with disabilities. By prioritizing accessibility and optimizing user experiences, we can create inclusive websites that benefit all users.
Estimated Reading Time: 27 minutes
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- Bet Hannon (CEO of AccessiCart)
- Cory Miller (CEO, Post Status)
- Olivia Bisset (Intern, Post Status)
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Cory Miller (00:01:33) – Hey everybody, this is post status draft, and this is another interview in our series on agency owners at post status. And I’ve got a long time friend here Bet Hannon. And I’m gonna let her share a little bit more about what you, uh, do in our world called WordPress bet. But I’m excited about this interview because bet’s very active in the WordPress community overall, very passionate about this key subject called accessibility and runs a great agency. So bet. Would you share a little bit about who you are, what your, what your agency does today?
Bet Hannon (00:02:06) – Yep. So our agency is Accessi Cart, and we’re focused around accessibility, as you mentioned, and in particular, um, trying to do a little nicheing toward, um, e-commerce. Uh, e e-commerce, uh, sites tend to be the most, um, frequently sued around a d a in the United States, and then there are increasing regulations in other places in the world too. So we’re, um, we’re trying to do that. It’s, uh, focus on more high interaction sites, so not necessarily just e-commerce, but membership or, uh, so, you know, um, l m s sites, those kinds of things. Anything that has a checkout form. So that’s what we work on.
Cory Miller (00:02:45) – Absolutely. Key one is, um, as we talked here before on the podcast, one is like accessibility is doing the right thing, um, by all people. Uh, but also I think there’s a, we don’t need anything past that, but if we did, we’d say there’s a huge part of the population that can’t access websites like a lot of us. And being able to do those things on your website, potentially, if you just need a business reason for a second, it’s like, that’s a whole big crowd there.
Bet Hannon (00:03:14) – 25%, 2020 to 25% of all adults around the world need some accommodation. So that includes everybody. I mean, when you, when, when I think when people think about that, they’re surprised by that number because they don’t think it, they think it’s, uh, this very tiny little percentage, right? So, um, but it includes, uh, people who are, uh, blind or have vision impairments, people who have mobility impairments, and not just that they’re paralyzed, but that maybe they have a palsy and they can’t quite hit your tiny buttons, um, to things like people who are colorblind, people who have reading disabilities. So when you start e even we work on some things around, um, um, being sure you’re, um, around anxiety and depression as a kind of a fact, a user, uh, scenario. Because if you’re sign up or checkout processes super long and complicated, people just give up, right?
Bet Hannon (00:04:09) – So when you start optimizing and making things accessible, you can increase your audience by, you know, potentially 25%, which is huge. I mean, most, it’s, it’s probably the biggest, um, optimization rate that you can get. Uh, you know, conversion rate optimizations and those kinds of things are aiming at, you know, 2% would be awesome, right? Mm-hmm. , you could, that you could really blow it up by 25% would be amazing, right? And people sometimes say, well, people, people who are blind don’t come to my site. And I was like, you know, , you would be surprised, right?
Cory Miller (00:04:45) – They might be trying but not going because that’s not ready for ’em. Exactly.
Bet Hannon (00:04:49) – And why wouldn’t you want that competitive advantage? Right? Exactly. If your side is accessible and your competitors isn’t, then you get those people, right? So
Cory Miller (00:04:58) – By doing the right thing, you also get that. Yeah, exactly. You have to say, we’re doing the right thing. Um, and I don’t know, a business leader or owner, if you said you can increase your market share, there’s 25% sitting out there, wouldn’t get, wouldn’t drool wouldn’t go, whoa, tell me more. And it’s sitting right here in plain sight,
Bet Hannon (00:05:14) – 485 billion in, uh, in million in, um, I’m sorry, 485 million in, uh, disposable income. Mm-hmm. Right? That you’re just leaving on the table, right? Yeah. So, I mean, it’s, that sounds kind of, uh, you know, like you, they’re, they’re out there to be sort of, uh, to, but, you know, when you serve, uh, this is the great part about what we get to do as an agency, right? We get to help make online shopping l m s membership sites better for people with disabilities, but then we also get to make that, you know, he help business owners, uh, reach out to those communities more effectively. And, and, um, yeah, yeah, it’s a win-win all around. That’s, I love what we do.
Cory Miller (00:05:57) – And I think just like any other community with particular passions and needs, it’s gonna talk about that too. So if you’re, it’s a way to really stand out and get great raving fans doing the right thing.
Bet Hannon (00:06:09) – Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Cory Miller (00:06:11) – Okay. So thank you for that. Uh, and let me digress a little bit into accessibility and thinking of it as conversion rate too. And market size is very compelling. I mean, one right thing second that, but tell me, tell me about your team now. Um, what else about you that’s your focus and what you all do, uh, in WordPress, but
Bet Hannon (00:06:29) – Yeah, so we’re intentionally fairly small. Um, we have, um, three of us full-time, a couple part-time, and then, you know, contractors around the edges for specializations as needed, um, or pulling folks in when we need some extra help. Um, so, um, I really like having us not be super hu I mean, lots of peace that you get to choose as the agency owner, right? You know, uh, you know, there are people that just really wanna grow and scale it and have it be 30 or 40 or 80 people or more, but that’s not me. Uh, I prefer to work in a smaller group. And so that’s what we’re doing. That’s a piece of why we ended up, um, kind of nicheing around accessibility and e-commerce or, or sites, is that in terms of accessibility work, um, you know, a lot of the contracts, uh, over the last 10 years have gone to, um, higher education or government. And those two folks really want bigger, bigger agencies with a deeper bench to do the fulfillment pieces. And so we don’t get to be a player for those kind of audiences. Um, and at the same time, you know, we can make a, we can have an outsized impact in terms of folks in their e-commerce work. So,
Cory Miller (00:07:42) – Absolutely. So what type of clients does that typically shake out to? Um, what, who do you all work best with?
Bet Hannon (00:07:50) – Yeah. Um, so we’re, uh, well it’s, uh, it’s, it’s kind of interesting cuz you know, I thought when we went back a bit, when we said, okay, we’re gonna focus on accessibility, that that was gonna be the, the niche. And then, you know, the further you get, the more you realize, oh, okay, accessibility and e-commerce. And then it’s like, oh, okay. And now you gotta think more, even more. You can kind of keep refining that a little bit. Um, I would say, um, we still do, um, development and re you know, testing and, and stuff for stuff that’s not e-commerce, but folks that need to have accessibility. So we’ve done, um, you know, we’re finishing up projects now for sites that are, um, you know, large nonprofits that are wanting, needing, wanting, needing to be accessible. Um, we’re starting a thing, uh, marketing site for a bank, right?
Bet Hannon (00:08:43) – So they have to be accessible. Um, so, so we’re still doing some of that. Um, I, I would say the, the places where we’re, we’re, we kind of do a couple different things. And so at different levels, right? So if it’s a s a relatively smaller e-commerce site in terms of not, well if it’s, if it’s too small, they can’t really afford to probably make this work. But, but if they’re not, if they don’t have their own in-house development team, for example, they’re in WooCommerce, but they’re comfortable having us go in and do some of those, um, remediations for them working with them, there’s a level of that work that we do. And then at, at, uh, larger sites or larger merchants that where they are, um, they might be in WooCommerce, but they might also be in Shopify or Magenta, um, the testing that we can do, the auditing and uh, testing for them is on the front end of the site.
Bet Hannon (00:09:39) – So we don’t have to be experts in Shopify to be able to say to them, you have a problem here. This needs to get fixed. Right? And so we’re doing that level of consulting back and forth, and I’ve tried, and I, I, I think maybe we’re just a little early on it, um, in terms of trying to find, um, working with other agencies to have them just contract us with us for, you know, a bucket of hours where we’re gonna just, they’ll just line up some testing pieces for us. I think it’s more effective when we can work around a particular site and then produce documentation for them, for them to do the fulfillment. So we, um, we, in some of the work that we’ve done, we’re averaging like three to five hours of billable label for that agency when they have us do an hour of testing.
Bet Hannon (00:10:34) – So as we’re putting that all together and doing the documentation and handing that off to them to get the approval from the client to do the remediation, you know, that, that, uh, we can have a win-win. Uh, as a, as a part of that, we just haven’t gotten very much track. And that sounds really good. And agency owners are, are interested, but we just haven’t gotten much traction yet. And I think it’s because the client, you know, the, the site owners just haven’t quite gotten to the point where they’re feeling the urgency about accessibility. And that may come, there’s some big changes in the EU coming up in another year or two year and a half or so. And, um, so we’ll see if that moves us.
Cory Miller (00:11:15) – Yeah. Whether, um, you want it or not, it’s coming. And, um, you know, so the need is gonna be pressed. Those that aren’t up to speed as they should be, are gonna be forced to be up to speed very quickly.
Bet Hannon (00:11:29) – Yeah. You, you’re going to pay for accessibility one way or another, you know, and the que and the question is, uh, you, you know, e either you get suit or fined or you take it, you know, you, you invest in making accessible mm-hmm. . And the question is, do you wanna do it on your own terms at your own speed or do you wanna be kind of compelled to do it by some external authority? So
Cory Miller (00:11:52) – Well said, . Well, okay. Thank you for all that. So that’s where you are today. Um, I’m really curious to know how you got here, you know, how did you get started with one, you know, web, web development, um, WordPress, how your agency grew to where it is today? So can you walk me back there on the journey that you’ve taken? Yeah. Cuz
Bet Hannon (00:12:14) – You’re a part of that journey. Um, so I had, my first career was in nonprofit management and um, I was doing near the end of that more and more technical things. So we were doing drag and drop websites, we were doing email newsletters, we were doing, um, social media wasn’t there yet, but we were doing that. So in 2008 at the very beginning of the financial crisis, then my organization terminated my position, just kind of downsized my position. And I kind of stumbled into freelancing a little bit. I had no idea that people would pay you to do, you know, uh, email newsletters and websites and stuff. It just had never occurred to me. I don’t know why, but it just never had. Um, and I stumbled into doing that and I was, um, I told a friend of mine who’s an iOS app developer, uh, what I was doing, and he said, oh, you should be doing those work, those sites in WordPress.
Bet Hannon (00:13:12) – And I said, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And um, so we went, uh, he lived in the Bay Area, I lived in Fresno and we went home and the next week we got this like, you know, before you could do Zoom set, we both got on the phone and then we both logged into the backend of his WordPress website. And he walked me through what it was like, and it was sort of like my mind was blown. I was like, oh my gosh, this would be amazing. And so I started building sites for people. Uh, and then as we needed to do more customization, I started doing, um, initially for a few sites, I used, uh, a theme generator called Artist Steer. Maybe people remember that I do, to get, to get the customizations, you had to start learning a little bit of css.
Bet Hannon (00:13:53) – So I was there, but pretty quickly I found iThemes Builder and um, we went there and the support team at Ithe was awesome in terms of not just telling you how to fix. When I, when you had a question about how to customize something, they would not just tell you how to do it, but they would point you through it, walk you through it in such a way that I was learning. I was like, oh, CS, I see that CSS too. I see what that’s doing. And, and I started learning more and more and more, um, C s s and H T M L and P H P and uh, and then I, them started offering the, the courses, the classes and, uh, Benjamin Bradley and Nathan Ingram and some of those other folks were doing courses, not just on the technical pieces, but on some of the business stuff as well.
Bet Hannon (00:14:41) – And, um, along that way I had picked up, uh, part-time folks to kind of start helping out with things. And, um, we grew, um, yeah, just kind of grew quite a bit cuz we were offering, you know, one of the things I’d learned in those workshops was, you know, figuring out the mailbox money. I think that was, that was, that was Benjamin the mailbox. Yeah, yeah, the Benjamin and, uh, the mailbox money and figuring out offering managed hosting. And uh, you know, at one time we had grown, we probably were offering managed hosting to about 175 cl um, sites. Um, initially, uh, did that in multi-site cuz that was the only way to manage the, all the updates. And then of course we figured out how to do that and how to spin them all apart with, uh, with backup buddy eventually. And, uh, you know, it was, uh, I had fun learning all of that stuff.
Bet Hannon (00:15:30) – And, uh, and then, uh, we had a client in, uh, that came to us in about 2016 who is, uh, and they’re still a client today. They’re a large agricultural water district in California. So they don’t give water to consumers. They’re delivering to farmers and they’re a part of the, they’re a kind of a special district or a part of the state of California system. So they became aware in 2016 that they had to become accessible. So we, um, we said, well, let’s, let’s call, let, let’s refer you to somebody. And they said, well, that’s all fine, but we want you all to be the people that are gonna help us manage this day to day. Which was a huge investment in our team. And we got involved, we got, you know, we had heard a little bit about accessibility, I guess at Word camps and, but not much.
Bet Hannon (00:16:18) – And when we dived in and caught a vision of what, how, how, how broad accessibility is, it’s not just about making something work for people who are blind, but this whole much broader kind of, um, in being inclusive and the difference that it can make for people in terms of being able to access things and, uh, and almost all of us on the team have somebody in our lives that it would, would benefit from making a website accessible. And it, it was just really this sort of aha moment for us. And we, we kind of began to do more and more and more with, with accessibility. Um, I, I think, uh, we’ve been spinning down and, and as we did, you know, that all of that managed hosting that we were offering at a very low rate, you know, those folks, um, yeah, we just couldn’t keep doing that business wise.
Bet Hannon (00:17:17) – And so, so some of my evolution has really been kind of figuring out, oh, that’s, I’m really not making money , you know, I’m not really, uh, making a living for all of us doing that. And so we began to, I think, uh, three years ago, strategically churn some of those folks in terms of raising our pricing, um, up, um, quite a bit. And, uh, and then began to, especially as our experience level, just sort of went through the roof in terms of what we can do, what we can can offer, um, charge charging more for the work that we do. And, um, feeling like we’re, um, you know, we’re still in process. Cuz once you kind of get 170, you know, we’re down to under a hun around a hundred now I think. But, you know, um, even then, I, I don’t think all those people will stick with us in the long run, but we have served them well I think.
Bet Hannon (00:18:11) – And so, uh, and we’re sending them, you know, handing them off in ways that are, I think gonna be helpful for them too. It’s just not a good fit anymore. But, um, yeah, we’ve been, um, and then I would say we started to do more and more with accessibility and then over the last, um, it was about a year ago we realized, hey, you know, the opportunity we’re, we’re missing those government and higher ed opportunities cuz we’re not big enough and we need to find a way to communicate. Um, we had been using, um, my name in the agency and I began over time, began to realize that was problematic cuz it really didn’t convey what our focus was and it didn’t help people. Um, it helped people think that we were small, they thought I was freelancing mm-hmm. . And so kind of a, a confluence of those factors led us to rebrand as Accessi Cartt about a year ago. Um, and it took, you know, doing re it takes a while to do all of that, right? It took, it was not until summer last year that we really kind of got all that together. And, uh, and we’ve had a great response to that. And that’s been, yeah, been awesome. So
Cory Miller (00:19:21) – I always enjoy these stories because it’s very serendipitous. You use the word stumble and I go same, same stumbling. I really did stumble and walk back into WordPress. Um, and thank you for sharing the connection too. I knew you had been an ithe customer, but I didn’t know at at what depth. And so I appreciate that and that’s exciting. It’s fulfilling to know that we had a, we had a help in what you’re doing. Um, but like how Okay, you know, downsizing from the nonprofit spurred the start of you this great agency that you now run and then a client approaching you about the need for accessibility. And it’s funny because what I know of you today is a huge champion for accessibility, particularly in WordPress Yeah. For all the things you do. And I don’t even know all the things you do, but I I know you are a continued to keep the conversation around accessibility within the WordPress community, and it’s so beneficial to have passionate people, but to see where the start and now you live and breathe it, uh, is really exciting. Yeah.
Bet Hannon (00:20:25) – And I’m not even the most technical person about accessibility on our team. Right? I, I’m, I’m, I I I, I, I know conceptually how important it is. I’m super passionate about it, but, but those like nitty gritty technical details of implementing this thing or that thing, um, are, are really not my wheelhouse. That, which is why we have great people on our team for that sort of stuff, right? Yeah. Um, I can be the, um, more of the, in, in terms of the agency, more of the, the advocate, the out front, the per the cheerleader, the, uh, the lead swinging along, but . But every once in a while I’ll be somewhere someone will ask this highly technical question and I’m like, uh, yeah, you I gotta call in. That’s why you
Cory Miller (00:21:06) – Have a great team. That’s
Bet Hannon (00:21:07) – Exactly right. That’s exactly right. And I don’t feel bad about that. It’s, uh, and, and I’m super upfront about that because I think, um, that’s, that’s probably true no matter what your specialization is, right? Mm-hmm. at a certain level. I mean, you have enough commitment and you understand, uh, and you understand what that commitment entails so that you’re, you don’t, but you don’t have to be in the deep down trenches of it so much that you, um, you know what I mean? It’s kind of like, um, in fact, the more you spend there, the less you’re spending time on the business. And so we actually continue to have that piece where I wear so many hats where I’m still, there’s still some technical things that only I do, only I’m the one that deals with all the D Ns stuff, right? So that’s like, so we’re still, because we’re still small, we all wear those hats, but figuring out how we can, um, continue to manage that, you know, the growth and those, those projects and pieces mm-hmm. where, um, we still have time for me to work on the business and not just in the business. Right.
Cory Miller (00:22:18) – Exactly. And I think this is such a technical subject too that is always evolving, always to be remiss. And I love the authenticity and openness of, like, I don’t, that’s why I have these specialists that know these things, because that’s one thing I have learned about accessibility is there is so much nuance to it that it is constantly evolving. Like even knowing that there’s an EU thing coming out in the next year and a half, I mean, there’s so much new nuance to this, and that’s why having great agency partners like Access card is key because you’re managing those details. Your team is keeping up with those things. And I, and I love that. Yeah. I was talking to one of our fellow agency owners that, you know, and the, the, the evolving significance of the website in any organization has really evolved from back in the days we’re talking about. It was kind of an afterthought, you know? And now it’s like, especially through pandemic, have seen the value of the website, and then you go, there’s a, there’s nuances here that you need to pay attention to, like accessibility. So. Yep.
Bet Hannon (00:23:24) – Absolutely. And even then, you know, the more we’ve gotten involved in doing stuff around e-commerce, there are, you know, I, I think you’re right. I think, you know, like when we were first starting out, it was really sort of an afterthought digital brochure Yep. For the most part. Yep. Yep. And then folks grasped, uh, and we did a ton of coaching with folks about how to use the blog functionality for all your dated content so that you’re simple. Like you’re simplifying some of that management of piece. People did get a bigger idea during the pandemic, but you know, when you start diving into e-commerce, I if, if an e e-commerce or even an l m s site or a big membership site, if they’re, if they’re really paying attention and really working on these things, they’re starting to deal with levels of detail around conversion rate optimizations, and how do you place things on the page to, uh, you know, help help, um, you know, convince the reluctant customer to try your product, right?
Bet Hannon (00:24:24) – Or, uh, uh, try a trial membership or whatever those kind of pieces are. But that level, uh, getting down into that level of beginning to think about, it’s not just throwing stuff up on the page and trusting that people will read this wall of content or what, you know, you have to be thoughtful about how you’re putting things all together. And I think people are coming partway. I think accessibility will be an increasing part of that for folks, is really figuring out. They, and, and I find as I talk to agency owners and other folks in the WordPress space, the agency folks know it’s there. They, they, uh, I think in some cases they think their folks have a handle on it, when maybe they have a kind of a, you know, a, a, a very, um, base level understanding. And that’s okay. But, um, just understand.
Bet Hannon (00:25:19) – And a lot of folks I think are just scared mm-hmm. , and they don’t feel like there’s, um, they, they’re, they may not, fearful is the right word, but they’re reluctant to get involved with accessibility until they start hearing from clients that the clients want it. Mm-hmm. , they don’t feel like, because they feel like it might be just the latest new thing. I get that. Right. And so how do they begin to, you know, is it, is it gonna be really worthwhile to invest some time and energy and people in, um, and I, I’d say I think this is a little different than some of the other fads that may have come across. And so,
Cory Miller (00:25:57) – Well, I wanna switch gears for a moment. Um, we’ve talked about accessibility, but the work you do with e-commerce and l m s, meaning courses mm-hmm. , the ability to create courses. And curious what you’re seeing in those two, those the broader e-commerce space. Um, we’ve talked about the, you know, we, we had the digital brochure days, now it’s realizing, oh, I can grow my business online and through WordPress, particularly as the best tool that I know of for sure to do all that. But I’m curious what you’re seeing, like, it seems like there’s signals of, like, when you get into L m s, this is a specialized part of the e-commerce broad brand. Um, what are you seeing in, in those, the bigger e-commerce and then the l m s space in regards to clients and how they think and are using websites and e-commerce and l m s to power and grow their organizations?
Bet Hannon (00:26:51) – Um, well, I think, um, you know, there’s, there certainly are folks that are doing that. And I think there are folks that a, at least have an inkling that there is more, that they could always be kind of tweaking a little bit more. And one of the, uh, advantages that people are discovering is that there are communities out there of folks where they can connect and learn from one another. So, um, you know, you can get involved in, um, you know, e e-commerce communities, uh, that are maybe some of them even platform agnostic that can begin to talk about, well, what are some of the third party integrations that you might wanna look at? What are the, what are some of the strategies for having your own site and site content, but also doing Amazon or also doing Walmart or other, some of these other platform pieces, right?
Bet Hannon (00:27:41) – So, and what are, what are the strategies for pulling those all together? Um, so just kind of finding ways to, uh, you know, and WordPress has always been really great about that sense of community and, and helping one another. And that’s what post status really is in a way, right? As kind of a, a community of folks where we can kind of bounce ideas off one another, can learn from one another, um, um, get those ideas going. And so I, I think I see, I do see that happening and I see that happening around accessibility. Some as well as just more generally about how do we begin to, um, how do we begin to keep, keep raising the bar a little bit, right? You know, as you start your site and you, you, you get it going and, and there’s a kind of, there you gotta pay attention to all those really super base level kinds of things.
Bet Hannon (00:28:30) – And then when you get, uh, I think a lot, a lot of times people starting out think, oh, I’ll, I’ll have it made when I get, you know mm-hmm. , these, this little list of things done. And then, you know, you realize, oh, no, there’s some more things I need to do, or now I need to tackle this next thing. And that it’s always gonna be that way. It’s kind of like, it’s always gonna be a little bit more that you need to do in terms of optimizing it. And I think business owners are starting to realize that even just about their non eCommerce sites, that, that ideally there’s, there’s, you can’t make it the focus of everything, right. But that it’s not something, it’s not, uh, you know, we still work with clients once in a while. Like, I just need a website. And then it’s just like, when it’s done, it’s done, and it’s gonna sit over there for another five years and then I’ll come back to it. And that’s just not the way websites work, um, anymore. For sure. So,
Cory Miller (00:29:21) – Yeah. Well, if you’re only thinking about that, you’re thinking very small and leaving a lot of opportunity on the table, right? Where you nowadays, if you have a business or organization like a nonprofit, you got to, it’s, it’s par for the course. But I love that you have background and still work with nonprofits too. Mm-hmm. , I mean, that’s a different type of e-commerce, right?
Bet Hannon (00:29:43) – Oh my gosh, yes. And, um, we just finished and launched a couple weeks ago, uh, a site for, uh, the, uh, and, and when they first came to us, I mean, this is part as an agency under two, it’s was, uh, uh, one thing that I had learned along the way was like, sometimes you get approached and the, you know, based on the name or the, what the organization does, you think, oh, that’s a small budget group, , they’re, they’re looking for a $500 website, right? Um, so when we were first approached by the, uh, can I, can I say clients? Yeah,
Cory Miller (00:30:15) – Absolutely. You
Bet Hannon (00:30:16) – Can. When I was first approached by the transgender law sender, I thought, oh yeah, that’s, that’s gonna be fairly small. Oh no, they have a $5 million a year budget. I don’t know, there’s some funding piece. And they are very sophisticated in all this fundraising that they do, and they’re using all these different like, enterprise level fundraising tools. And what they, they approached us was about, because they have a significant outreach to people with disabilities, and they had become aware that their own website was not accessible. And so they, uh, pursued actually a pretty, uh, one, one of the larger projects that we’ve done in terms of, it was, uh, a 13 year old WordPress website and had had dozens and dozens of content creators over the years. And so part of what we did was clean a lot of that up, but do lots of accessibility improvements and things like, you know, we discovered hundreds of PDFs that were not accessible.
Bet Hannon (00:31:12) – And so we came in, you have to take the content out of the pdf, put it on the page, and then say, well, you can download this here, but here’s the accessible content that’s on the page surface. Mm-hmm. . And we did, you know, we had multiple, multiple people working on all of that for a long time. But Yeah. And, and made it, uh, you know, I think they were a little afraid, you know, there’s this stereotype that if it’s accessible, it’s ugly. And, uh, you know, we went to , uh, you should look at it cuz we, uh, we created a really stunning, I think our fo not me, uh, not, they don’t let me near the design tools, but the, the design people created just this amazing site that is, you know, that with a vastly improved accessibility. No site is a hundred percent accessible, but, you know, the improvements here were quite significant. And, and it was nice to work with clients that their, their motivation was not avoiding getting sued. Their motivation was, we have people in our organization who can’t access this stuff. So, uh, it was great. It was great to work with them.
Cory Miller (00:32:22) – So let me sidebar a second. You said no side is a hundred percent accessible. Great. Tell me more.
Bet Hannon (00:32:29) – So I think that is also a misconception a lot of times that if we just go to the, you know, the website content accessibility guidelines, if we just make everything according to the guidelines, then we’re kind of bulletproof and there’s no such thing, right? Because a lot, first of all, a lot of accessibility is contextual. So it depends on what you’re trying to do with a particular image, with a particular layout, um, what the flow of the content is. A lot of that contextual stuff is important. Um, so it’s not like, it’s not like accessibility stuff is hard and fast rules, right? And so, um, it’s, it’s more an art than a science in some, in some ways, right? Hmm. Um, so that’s one and two accessibility, um, strategies are changing a lot. And you really, I think it’s more effective to think about accessibility as a form of user experience optimization.
Bet Hannon (00:33:24) – Mm-hmm. . So you’re not, you’re, you’re really just broadening the user personas and thinking about user experience mm-hmm. . And so it doesn’t make any sense to say your site is a hundred percent on user experience, something, you know, it, that, that doesn’t make any sense at all. But you can certainly, I mean, certainly there’s a lot of low hanging fruit that you’re gonna do, just like for user experience, right? And in terms of making, improving that. And so rather than talk about, you know, sort of being accessible, you wanna say working on accessibility or improving accessibility, right? And, and, um, it’s kind of like SEO in that way, right, too, right? Yep. You know, it’s, there’s a lot of basic best practices that everybody should do. There are some things definitely you can do that are shooting yourself in the foot with SEO or, or accessibility. But, you know, once you deal with those base level pieces, then it’s really about continuing to think about that experience to listen to your users when they give you feedback about something that isn’t accessible.
Cory Miller (00:34:28) – Oh, that’s good. Absolutely. From the user experience, if you think about that, that you reset us there, or me, I go absolutely. It’s another avatar to persona to be thinking about as you want people to come to your site and float through and take an action. Yeah. But
Bet Hannon (00:34:43) – It’s not one, one avatar though. But it’s
Cory Miller (00:34:45) – Exactly many, many
Bet Hannon (00:34:47) – Avatars, right? So the colorblind person, the person mm-hmm. own vision, the person who’s completely blind, the person who has no, uh, can’t use a mouse, right? So you get all of these various avatars and there are, I would say, you know, there, there’s certainly a person who’s deaf, right? So you get, you get some avatars that are there that you begin to work with, and then, you know, it, it’s just sort of human nature. We say, oh, we’ve completely forgot about the person with reading disabilities, right? So now we gotta come back and, uh, begin to think about, uh, did we, did we take that into account? So
Cory Miller (00:35:22) – Here’s a quick sidebar cuz you mentioned death. And I go, I, in the initial list I was waiting for you to say, um, hearing impaired or, or deaf. And I go, I, I, six years ago got hearing aids and um, it’s amazing they’re Bluetooth enabled, but it’s, yep. This is maybe a nuance off the, off the trail of a second, but they’re Bluetooth to my phone. Yep. And so I’ll be looking at the web, and all of a sudden, I can always tell when a site has something, um, like there’s no audio video on the page necessarily, but my Bluetooth kicks in for my hearing aids. And I go, now this is the skeptical, you know, hat and me going, wh why are they accessing my microphone in some way? It’s really interesting, but I pay attention to the fact that now I need these, I rely on them every day, you know? Absolutely. And so how important that is to, to me, and I can just see those that I do have hearing without hearing aids, however significantly enhance with hearing aids, like I can actually, I don’t know, function. Um Yep. It, it brings that more empathetic to me to know, oh, can I, could you even imagine someone with ocular, for instance, implants and like that the, the need for ex accessibility just kind of even becomes more aware to me. Yep,
Bet Hannon (00:36:42) – Yep. And you know, the, the, the number of people that bring disabilities with them as their, their users increases with age. Right? We all right? Yep. Uh, things, things like hearing like you and, you know, I got hearing aids within the last year too, and so, uh, congrats. But also thank you. Um, also things like color perception changes as you age, right? Mm-hmm. , so, so some of those as the lens of your eye yellows, right? So, uh, there’s kind of a, a biological piece, right? But, but it’s also, you know, any of us, any of us are just one illness or accident away from a disability, right? And so, um, there’s, there’s that piece of, you know, making it, uh, thinking about including accessibility that kind of sensitizes you to that. But when you think about you’re improving, you’re improving the user experience of people with disabilities, when you do that, you actually improve the user experience for everybody. And so I usually say it’s kind of like those curb cuts in the sidewalk, right? They’re made for wheelchairs, but like, when I’m dragging my luggage, I’m really grateful for those, right? So, yep. Uh, it’s, all of those kinds of improvements will help the user experience across the board for everyone. Mm-hmm. .
Cory Miller (00:38:00) – Yeah. You watch
Bet Hannon (00:38:01) – Stuff with captions on
Cory Miller (00:38:02) – All the time. I have for probably 10 years.
Bet Hannon (00:38:06) – I started doing it, yeah. About 10 years ago when we were watching British crime shows and I couldn’t understand people’s accents sometimes. And we watch it with all the time with stuff now. And, um, they say that, um, uh, on social media, people who are watching videos with the sound off of those people, 80% of them have no hearing impairment.
Cory Miller (00:38:33) – I, so, well, I obviously needed hearing aids, but I did it because I read much faster than I can follow. Absolutely. This, in fact, zoom has the feature with ca closed captioning. Sometimes if it’s a heavier accent, I’ll do it there too, but I’m like, I find myself going, I’m not watching, I’m reading , you know, so often that that’s how I get the story. But yeah. And I don’t like to have my volume on social media, so I’m really glad that accessibility is a thing, um, because I’m like, I don’t wanna listen to it. I wanna read it, you know? Yep, yep. Um, I actually get offput sometimes when everything is video. Cause I go, even though I’m doing video now, it’s because I wanna read read the Captains. So,
Bet Hannon (00:39:15) – Yeah. But you know, there’s, um, if you put the, like if people are doing a piece like this and then you can get it, there are services to get it automatically converted to a transcript mm-hmm. , but when you provide the transcript in addition to the closed captions, right? If you provide the transcript, then I can remember, oh, Corey and I talked about this one thing, and I’m gonna go back to that. Now I can search through the transcript Yeah. And find it and not have to listen to the whole thing. People do that a lot. People tell us all the time that they do that. So
Cory Miller (00:39:43) – I do, I’m glad YouTube now has that part of it, um, because I wanna get the content, but I wanna scan down and read. And sometimes I’ll play it and just watch the transcript scroll, you know, so, and then we do transcripts, everything we do here, um, yeah,
Bet Hannon (00:39:57) – Yeah,
Cory Miller (00:39:58) – Probably one for my own, like, I, I like to do that, but also to make him available in different formats, so yeah. Awesome. Well bet. Thank you for this. Um, what, uh, I’m curious, what exciting things do you have going now? What are you doing that you’re excited about? Um, next steps, anything you’re focusing on that you wanna share with our audience?
Bet Hannon (00:40:20) – Yeah, I’m, I’ve, I’ve been trying to, to, you know, part of, part of uh, part of running an agency is being a bit of an entrepreneur, right? And you’re always tr uh, at least for me, I’m always trying things and pu focusing on things or just, you know, trying experiments. Sometimes they’re just thought experiments and sometimes, you know, you’re actually kind of build ’em out a little bit and see if they stick. It’s kinda like, you know, throw throwing the proverbial pasta against the wall to see if it sticks. So I’ve been playing with, um, would having productized services be an interesting thing for accessibility and remediation? So I’ve cut it out there. I’m kind of trying to, you know, talking with people who do these things or, and they look at what we’ve got up there and oh, it’s a little confusing. How do you pick a package? Oh, okay. Yeah. So figuring out some of those, so that’s what I’m playing with right now is kind of like, um, does that really make sense? It makes more sense for a site owner. Um, maybe not it for an agency, but um, although they could contract it out I suppose. But yeah, just trying to sort through that and play a little bit more with some productized services around accessibility and remediation, auditing and remediation stuff.
Cory Miller (00:41:35) – Yeah. That’s awesome. Well bet. Tell us where we can find more about yourself and your agency.
Bet Hannon (00:41:42) – Yeah, so our website is accessi cart.com and uh, you can contact me there. I’m still on Twitter some, although it just feels a more and more like a ghost town there. Um, and we’re on LinkedIn, of course, uh, excessive cart and then also Bet Hannon. So love to, and I’m in the slack for post status, so that’s a great place to reach me.
Cory Miller (00:42:04) – Fantastic bet, Hannon, thanks so much for sharing your journey and what your agency is doing in our world, particularly with the e-commerce and accessibility. Keep doing what you’re doing. But thank you for being on today for post status draft.
Bet Hannon (00:42:18) – Thank you, Ebra fun. Great time.
This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.
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