Mel P.

I began working in web design & development in 1996 and was fortunate enough to fall in with a group of web standardistas who encouraged me to a) hand code and b) read as much W3CW3C The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. material as possible. Shortly afterwards, I stumbled upon a document describing the issues faced by visually-impaired web surfers – which seemed to me to be simply illogical — and by 2000, I was actively involved in highlighting web accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( issues.

In 2001, I became involved in a pan-disability project in Leicester, UK as the Senior Design and Accessibility Consultant. The project went on to become an award-winning disability information portal and support service.

I was an administrator within the Guild of Accessible Web Designers and an Approved Technical Assessor within the Shaw Trust’s pan-disability Web Accreditation Team. I’ve helped to run (and currently own) and I was a member of the British Standards’ Review Panel for PAS 78: “Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites” (now BSI 8878).

I’ve developed accessible web tools and applications via my own company, Black Widow — including at one point, a complete CMS – but over the years, as WordPress has developed, I’ve moved to using it as my platform of choice. I’ve been actively using and wrangling WordPress since 2003 and only recently decided to archive my longest running blog — Spider Trax — when the effort of trying to maintain 4 blogs (plus numerous other personal sites) became too much! These days, I’m usually found on — releasing themes & plugins or supporting them — or on the WordPress support forums (username: esmi).

Biggest accessibility bugbear? The fact that many of those, who are aware of web accessibility, don’t look beyond visually-impaired users and can inadvertently create as many barriers as they remove.