Posted by Liv Dirks, WeCo Test Team Management Assistant, September 28, 2013
WeCo Certified Test Consultants (CTCs) are individuals hired and trained by WeCo to test websites for accessibility. WeCo CTCs live with their disability every day, which makes them experts on what it takes to access the web. The day to day struggles CTCs face when encountering even the most basic websites gives them knowledge that cannot be taught, it must be experienced. This has made our CTCs indispensable for making the Internet a more accessible place.
Bill is one of WeCo’s Senior Certified Test Consultants. As an emerging testing expert on the WeCo Certified Test Consultant Team, Bill has chosen to take on more responsibility and he has stepped into a leadership role. Bill is an expert when it comes to the frustrations encountered when surfing the web with a fine motor disability. WeCo has given Bill the opportunity to turn these frustrations into a deep knowledge base. As a Senior CTC and a person living with a disability he acts as a guide, pointing out the roadblocks in his way to accessing the Internet. Bill has become a force for change in the world of web accessibility.
We asked Bill how the Internet’s inaccessibility has impacted his life and he had this to say, “My main problem would be websites that would time out on me because I’m a slow typer. When you’re filling in your job application or doing a test online, they often time out. So I was having issues that way. Usually I would give it two tries. And if I couldn’t do it the second time, I would usually ask my girlfriend or another friend to help me complete the task. I usually get frustrated and aggravated. Because of my age, I don’t feel like I should need to have somebody else help me. And the website developer – all they had to do was make a simple change in their site where I could turn the timing off. I get fired up and enraged to think people of all ages might be timed out, not just someone that has a disability. I know new computer users that are perfectly able-bodied that get timed out too, and their frustration is almost worse than mine.”
Bill’s experiences are what make him an expert in the field of website accessibility. But he is not alone. There are many others like him, feeling left out from the world because they cannot fill out a job application or make purchases online.
Bill continues, “Still today, job and most financial sites have a timer built into them. Nothing frustrates me more than using bill pay and all I have left to do is hit “submit” and the page informs me my session has just run out. Same goes for the job application process on any viable employment site.”
He goes on to say that people living with physical disabilities are not the only people who are susceptible to these frustrations. New computer users are also targeted because they cannot type fast enough; captcha’s are inaccessible to those with screen readers or those with major vision loss. Even too much on the webpage makes it impossible for someone with a cognitive disability to find what they are looking for or an individual with hearing loss not knowing what a video is about because it is not closed captioned.
Website accessibility is becoming increasingly important as our world moves more and more online. As information becomes more accessible to people everywhere, it is also becoming more inaccessible to a very large group of people. In America alone, there are 54 million people with a disability. Just because information is online does not mean everyone has access to it. Through WeCo’s human-based website accessibility testing, Bill is able to help make the Internet a more accessible place for everyone.