Fix the Web March 2011

Hello Web Fixers!

I hope things are going well, but do let me know if otherwise..

I notice the reports are currently empty (thank you volunteers!). Reporters please feel free to keep them coming in.

Many of you may be new, the tweet from Stephen Fry was very effective, so welcome to this project.

There are many things we would like to develop and have formed a steering group to discuss this (updated details are pasted below). Please keep feeding in if there are things you would like to see. Sorry things take time to implement.

I've been thinking about the project and often describe it as a two step process once the report is in with a volunteer. First step, which requires no web accessibility skills, is opening the door to a dialogue. The second step, if people want to talk, could require more knowledge (for now we suggest signposting, but we are discussing creating a more expert layer of volunteers). Is that how you see it?

Also if web owners say they will fix a problem with another release, say in 5 months time, do you keep it in your dashboard to check (so you can finally log a "fix") or do you close it as "owner acknowledged"?

We are breaking new ground here so we just need to keep learning and thinking!

Best wishes to you all, everything you do makes a difference,

Terms of Reference – Steering Group for Fix the Web

1. Background
Fix the Web is a grass roots “crowd sourcing” approach to web accessibility. Disabled people can quickly report issues they have with websites or software and those issues are taken forwards with website owners through a bank of volunteers.
The project is led by Citizens Online, with part time resources (Gail Bradbrook as project lead, Ben and Joe Jarlett on coding and Nicky Ferry (Pumpkin Communications) on PR. Partners are those who have given significant time and pro bono help to the project so far and include: AbilityNet, Bloor, Hanona, Nomensa and Southampton.
Nominet Trust have funded the project to date and Citizens Online have spent additional resources too, from a (hard earned and small!) surplus. We have funding till the end of March and are hopeful of attracting a further two years. This is unlikely, though, to ever be a heavily resourced project, but we believe we can achieve a lot through a small central team and the support of the wider community.
The system to underpin the project is a Drupal based website : which was launched in November 2010. Progress can be seen on the site through the home page statistics.
The development of the project to date has involved a very loosely formed steering group; though this has mostly been a collection of people willing to let the team at Citizens Online “pick their brains” and support the development of the project.
We are pleased with progress since the launch, but dream of high volume (250,000 sites reported) quality use of the site, which really enables culture change on this issue. We are happy that the processes set up to date “work”, but understand there are many ways the user experience could be improved.
Finally, although we have had the input of many good brains onto this project, we would like to significantly increase the sense of community ownership of the project, so that a collective feel empowered to work together to get the most from this innovation – this is your Fix the Web project.

2. Purpose of the Steering group
To support and guide the development of the Fix the Web project so that it becomes a globally significant force for creating an inclusive internet.
The steering group will specifically consider issues of usability, user experience, PR and design.

3. Suggested process
Please feedback on the T.O.R. in general
A number of things to consider / items of feedback are logged below, we need to consider if this “developments to take forwards” list in complete and correctly structured.
We ask individuals to align with one or more area of interest from the developments list, so that small “task and finish” groups can take them forwards; we won’t attempt to discuss too many things as a big group! Groups work best with one person taking a lead (to get the best out of the whole group) so a named lead for each will help.
Task and finish groups are asked to discuss issues / possible solutions and come back with recommendations. We are currently using Drupal 6 and recommendations will need assessing for technical feasibility (though I guess most things are possible!). The details of all discussions are not needed so long as consensus is reached. Task and Finish groups can bring in additional people to support their discussions if the group agrees.
The steering group will meet approximately every 6 weeks, largely through a conference call. Task and finish groups can meet as frequently as needed and how ever the group prefers.
Citizens Online folks may contact individuals in the meantime for brain picking and specific items of help, please let us know if you are too busy!
Shall we set up a mailing list for the steering group?
Our preference is to keep focussed on the unique aspects of Fix the Web and on the achievable changes we can make in the short and medium term. We can park our bigger dreams for the long term to discuss later (one step at a time!).

4. Requirements of those that get involved with the Steering Group
We ask that you are involved with the Fix the Web project as a reporter, volunteer or both, so that you can “feel” the project from the inside.
Discussion and debates should be undertaken respectfully. Consensus should be sought where possible and where not the main viewpoints represented with reasoning.
Please try to honour actions you take ownership of!
Let’s try to stay “on topic”.
You have no legal or commercial responsibility to this project, responsibility ultimately lies with Citizens Online.

5. Undertaking by Citizens Online
We want the group to be open to anyone who feels they can contribute: please let us know how we can support your involvement; in particular we do not want conference calling to exclude people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We appreciate time put in is voluntary and the ability to be involved may change.
We will go with consensus viewpoints and take responsibility for any decisions.
For those putting in significant amounts of effort we are open to requests for partnership status.
We will implement what we can with the resources available.

6. People who have expressed interest in the Steering Group

Please note the organisations listed are not necessarily being represented by the people mentioned, this just gives a picture of who is involved.
David Sloan – Dundee University
Adrian Higginbotham – Becta
Graham Armfield- Coolfields Consulting
Grant Broome- Hanona
Cristina Wood – Asymptotic Design
Peter Abrahams – Bloor
James Coltham – Pretty Simple
Jonathan Stephenson – Priority3
Steve Lee- Full Measure
Leonie Watson – Nomensa
Robin Christopherson – AbilityNet
Sally Cain – RNIB
Stuart Auton – Crystal Web Design
Eve Morris – Live Journal
Lucy Dodd – Inclusive Experience
Chris Antony - Trainer
Anne Stafford – IT4C
E.A. Draffan – Southampton University
David Ball –
Geoff Adam-Spinks – BBC / own company soon!
Sal Cooke / Alistair McNaught – techdis
Keith Grinstead – Charity UK
Kevin White – Bunnyfoot
Ian Pouncey – BBC
James Buller – Big Lottery Fund
Gail Bradbrook, Nicky Ferry, Ben Jarlett – Fix the Web (Citizens Online)
Additional Support / involvement
David Cushman, Trustee of Citizens Online is MD of 9010 and supports the social media angle of FTW.
Sandi Wassmer, MD of digital agency, Copious, has shown her support for Fix the Web by offering to undertake an operational review of Fix the Web's current processes, procedures and technologies, in light of its proposed growth plans. As part of the review, she will consult with colleagues in the Accessibility community, as appropriate, and prepare a report with recommendations for improvements to be considered by Fix the Web's Steering Group.
Discussions have begun with an European Union grouping e-Access plus (thanks Steve Lee) and with a European Commission colleague (Katarzyna Baluka) who has responsibilities in this area.

7. Developments to take forwards
(Create subgroups for each, but don’t feel a subgroup has to deal with every item- pick a manageable thing to work through?)
Anything tagged M/LT means medium / longer term and isn’t for immediate consideration unless someone argues the case for it being so and has energy to help move it forwards!
An overseeing group will help to think about bringing different streams together- eg Stuarts comments:
I think its a great idea to break the work into a number of streams. Obviously, there will be overlaps and we will want to ensure that the teams liaise effectively and do not expend time and effort on conflicting proposals (I'm thinking about how the Design, Accessibility, User Experience and Data work streams will all have input into how the FtW website looks and behaves). I see that you have recorded dependencies for each area which should help to counter this. I often find that a mind map can help here to identify the connections (I use an open source project called Xmind which is available for Windows and Linux). Do you have such a document? This would certainly help to work out a time line (some things need to be done before others, etc).

7.1 Accessibility
i. Is there anything we can improve on the site?
ii. Hanona have accredited us AA rating, what can we reasonably take forwards that is AAA?
Dependencies: Accessibility to consider usability and inclusivity, i.e. inclusive design
Comments received:
Many on accessibility to start with though mostly resolved with a liquid layout. Gail has one left as a FTW volunteer to do with (When I insert the cursor inside the Email text box, I can't see the cursor flicker as it is too close to the side in IE 8).

7.2 Design
i. Can we improve the design and branding on the site?
Dependencies: keeping the messaging simple, usability and accessibility
From Gail: we have had pro bono work on the site (so please don’t be rude about it!) and I am personally happy with the layout / feeling of simplicity. I would be reluctant to do something drastic without a compelling case. I do wonder if the colours scheme can be improved and how the logo / colours can work better. Basically I would personally like to improve what we have.
Other comments: A comprehensive case has been made for not having the heart logo but something like a spanner. Others: some of these may no longer be as forceful because we did change some design in terms of font size and colour consistency. We can never overcome personal taste either! Being a web developer myself, looking at your website which looks dreadful isn't going to convince me to all-out cater for disabilities, when it potentially ends up with a reduced impression on regular users.
Extremely ugly colour palette and a bad layout. Accessible doesn't have to mean ugly or off-putting. I do appreciate what you're doing though :)
Your website is not nice, please get a web design company to sort it out, especially considering what you are trying to promote. Remember the web is a visual medium, being accessible is fine, but looking good is also important. Thanks.
Few more from twitter too- saying we make it seem that to be accessible you have to be ugly
Your graphics could be automatic screenshots/favicons of the reported websites and user avatars. Users want to know about your credibility. So they want to see what you have done/are doing, not what you hope to do
Add graphics / links that site owners can add to their site.
A designer has offered to help – he sent a tweet out saying he didn’t like the design that many retweeted.

7.3 User experience
People are generally wanting more communication and “sight” of what is happening. Very open to this but please consider issues of privacy, opportunities for misuse of data and increase in conflict between users. Whatever changes are suggested, please mitigate for the down side with clear messaging (and where it should go) FAQs etc. Also my preference is always to not “re-invent wheels” and take energy away from other accessibility projects where possible.
i. Considering the role of forums and best way to include (eg link to accessify (or webaim) or keep on site)
ii. Developing a tier of more “expert and specialist” volunteers to support others- build in mentoring opportunities - ensuring quality
iii. Opening the channels of communications between those involved and the access to information on the site.
iv. Reporters dashboard area- they could see what volunteers are doing- progress etc. two way communication (need to make sure people assume anything typed in dashboard is public- data protection anyway, but they may not have so far).
v. Volunteer profiles - biographies
vi. Letting reporters see what is published by reporters
vii. Top ten volunteers (a guy wanted this!)
viii. Volunteer rewards eg badge web fixer, fixed the web (- different colours for numbers achieved)
ix. Specialising- eg one person wanted people to know he was particularly focussed on PDF
x. Should same url go to reporter who already handled? How easy / feasible?
xi. Any general usability issues? (also use beta test mode)
xii. Allowing attachments to reports
xiii. How useful are the links- how to quickly get to lists of up-to-date detailed links?
Dependencies: technology, resourcing
More detailed comments:
had a volunteer suggesting that he'd love to add a biography to his profile for users to see... an interesting suggestion I thought... a volunteers index with profiles (optional of course) with thumbnails and brief biogs? good incentive for techies to sign up... not necessarily to process reports though.
, and I'm dying to know which of the websites I've reported have taken action (or refused to!). However, if you don't want to get into Name and Shame territory, I think there could be problems with revealing that on a forum, unless you personally approved membership for that section of the forum, which I suppose is an option. Incidentally, I'd particularly like to know whether you get anywhere with a particular website, a disability website where the owner has repeatedly refused to change the absolutely unreadable format, claiming (incorrectly) that his special format is better for people with a specific impairment.
At the moment, I can see only new reports, after a report is closed, or assigned to another volunteer, I cannot find any information about it, it is as if it never was.
I would like to see a list of all the reports, is it possible?

Would you consider storing details of the issues a reporter has logged, together with date submitted and current status, in their account?

Displaying reporters name (on reporters agreement) so volunteers don't need to call them things like "someone892011" or "Jer123"
- remove need for reporters to have email address exposed (quite tricky, is it important to our reporters?)
- combat Multiple sites in single report problem... how to avoid, or cope with... comes from users not quite understanding report process I guess... only happened a couple of times that I know of.. but maybe more..
-I remain very positive about the project, and have responded to occasional negative criticism on the BCAB email list, for example, while continuing to submit new reports myself. But speaking as a reporter, it's frustrating to see issues closed with none being fixed, as it leads to a feeling of futility. It's my personal opinion that this will have a highly adverse effect on reporters in the medium to long term. There's no shame in admitting that only a small proportion of total issues raised have been fixed, as this is ultimately the responsibility of the Site owners.

I would like to be able to edit the subject line of the email sent from the dashboard to a reporter,
and to get a copy of the email sent.

7.4 Data
i. Tagging reports
ii. Dating reports
iii. Status updates on reports
Show in site a Scroll information on sites that have been fixed? Case studies
Dependencies: retro engineering data we have already?
Detailed comments:
"was wondering about some categorization of websites with problems, for example ecommerce, services, information, news, fora, blogs,games,ebooks. etc.
to help find patterns of problems, and from there best practices for accessibility."
thought maybe we could add more words to the tag this report box?
If you look at my reports you will see (on most of them) that I put a date on the status, I also move the old status and date into the notes.
It would be really useful if this happened automatically.
My suggestion is that you have a field with the current status (which cannot be modified) and an extra input field 'New Status'. When information is put into new status the system should move the old status into a history section and put a time and date stamp on the new status.

I'm sure you've already considered it, but collecting and analysing user reports to your site on inaccessible sites would provide an invaluable resource for people who want to ensure their sites are accessible - you can comply with the letter of WCAG2.0 but still produce sites that aren't very usable unless you understand the problems are people face who have visual or motor impairment. Having a "Top 20 Problems"-type list which presented the most common usability / accessibility issues reported (anonymous, of course), would be most excellent.

7.5 Companies space and reaching out to corporate sector
i. A web owners area- where people can give statements / updates if they want publicly (eg amazon email address- amazon asked for this) – could link to it if reports come in for same url
ii. Encouraging URLs that come up frequently to have an accessibility statement
iii. PR / CSR angle- see below- working through BTAT (EFD) employee volunteering etc.
iv. Think about idea about web developers having a way of registering their sites so that they would get automatically notified if any of their sites get reported....
a. could this system be abused by people registering sites they don't own... or is that just paraniod? if we think that there's a privacy issue then we'd need to validate (using the method that google Webmaster tools would work - uploading a html file with code that identifies webmaster-user)
b. think about how technically to enable blocking progression of reports for a company that had asked us to stop (still gather data)

7.6 Other tech stuff (erm better title!?)
i. Toolbar- keyboard shortcut? (M/LT)
ii. FTW and mobile, apps etc
iii. Any other widgets, flash etc to consider? (M/LT)
iv. Add code from blog to our site (allowing us to benefit from some of the improvements found in D7 but not all)
v. Upgrade to Drupal 7... (firmly on the wish list - but from reading mikes enthusiasm something I would recommend) and in doing so look into using AdaptiveTheme as an alternative to Zen that we are using already.. the upgrade process involves
a. backing up everything and doing the upgrade on a test site first
b. finding new versions all the modules we are currently using that have been upgraded to D7 (if they all have - lots have but not all... and some will be still in dev, so might well be more buggy)
c. finding out how the module that we have written to do all the bespoke stuff still works in D7, and if not alter or rewrite it to make it work
d. moving all current users and content over (will have to shut down site while we're doing this to avoid changes in the mean time/new reports being lost)

The toolbar is fairly nice, although I found that the colour scheme options did dire things to your website (the only one I tested). I use the Firefox add-on No Squint for that side of things myself, and by the way that is not only very useful for changing colours and sizes, but if you're still tweaking how your website looks then I'd urge you to try it out in No Squint to check that it doesn't do anything odd if you increase sizes or change the colour scheme.
Iuse the Firefox add-on No Squint for that side of things myself, and by the way that is not only very useful for changing colours and sizes, but if you're still tweaking how your website looks then I'd urge you to try it out in No Squint to check that it doesn't do anything odd if you increase sizes or change the colour scheme.

7.7 PR
i. PR – generic and specific coverage
• Seeking online, newsletter, traditional media and social media coverage of the project
• Using key stories such as case studies, milestone user numbers, etc
• Developing the use of Facebook for the project
• You tube presence
• Working with Devolved Nations and cities / regions with a key focus on this area / Digital inclusion (including via EverybodyOnline) (Welsh site?)
ii. PR – partnerships with communities of disabled people
• Developing simple training materials to encourage people to report issues
• Training the trainer approaches for specific organisations and communities of disabled people particularly affected by web accessibility- training materials
• Linking into employed disabled people via EFD / BTAT
iii. PR – reaching out into technically minded communities
• Linking to employee volunteering via corporates
• Increase partnership with WCIT, BCS, ITCH
• Reach into communities of techies organised around specific projects, programming languages and software, etc
• Linking into students via Schools of science, ICT and technology in Universities, a presence in courses (Dundee to trial)
iv. PR – reaching out via volunteering channels
• Working closely with IT4C on increasing volunteers
• Developing other online volunteering channels, e.g. vinspired, Do-IT, help from home, etc

We are proposing to map the technology sector and ask people to write blogs on their experiences of FTW. Also see if a group of us can leave messages around the various tech communities.
These badges may help:

Also these reward badges for getting sites fixed (bit of fun really) for one, 10 and 50+ sites:

Our messaging / figures doesn’t really cover this at the moment:
Did I mention my concern with just about every website on the planet? There is NO area on any commercial (perhaps on the odd charity, but I can’t recall them!) website where once you’ve generated an account either for access or to order products, that you can say as a permanent point ‘I’m in a wheelchair, allow a couple of minutes for me to get to the door’ or in my case ‘I’m deaf, my phone number is left as otherwise I couldn’t have completed the registration process. Do NOT phone me as I can’t use the phone’.
and also wider PR in deaf community for reporting video content that isn’t captioned?

7.8 Dreaming of future possibilities (M/LT)
Fix the technology- EC agenda around ATM’s etc- pervasive technology that isn’t inclusively designed.
Nominet trial of messaging- spreading this if goes OK
Pushing FTW global in partnership
Long term home of FTW if it grows into a beautiful adult!
Supporting case law
Does the toolbar detect the website you are on, check if has reported issues and if alert the user?

Would cut down on duplications and be more helpful to the user if they understood there was an outstanding issue before navigating a website.

8. Areas people have expressed interest in
We need to break into these task and finish groups- you can be in more than one. I would like a “leader” for each area- someone who is “well organised” and will keep things moving. That person doesn’t have to do all the work (delegate!) and doesn’t have to Chair their meetings (I suggest you pick the most ruthless chair you have in your group!).

0 Overseeing group
Gail Bradbrook – leading group
Stuart Auton
1 Accessibility

2 Design

3 User experience
Ben Jarlett – Leading group
James Buller

4 Data

5 Companies space and reaching out to corporate sector

6 Other tech stuff (erm better title!?)

7 PR
Nicky Ferry – leading group

8 Dreaming of future possibilities (M/LT)