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PST13
Ballroom AB and foyer, Wisconsin Center

Hacking Lemons Into Accessible Lemonade, Squeezed By Your Current Editing Environment

Presented by Kaitlyn Goodall and Brett Davis

With only a small team comprised of a mix of developers and non development focused support staff, it’s possible to use a combination of what you already have and some creativity around what you don’t have to create down to earth, integrated solutions sitting on top of your current platforms, usable by people who are not experts, in order to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

We knew it would be coming at some time, we were as prepared for it as our current level of resources would allow us to be, but when our OCR letter finally arrived, we still faced a seemingly insurmountable task:

As a University with a highly distributed web content editing environment, where prior to 6 years ago there wasn’t even a central CMS, how do you remediate over 150,000 accessibility errors? When you have over 500,000 pieces of web content to sift through? And over 1600 web content editors, whose job titles generally range from Administrative Assistant to Professor Emeritus and for whom web content editing generally falls merely under “other duties as assigned”, who are still editing and making new content? Possibly with new errors?

How do you tackle that with a central Web and Digital Communications team of 6, who are already running with full schedules?

We will walk you through our process of consideration that arrived at the seemingly brazen conclusion that we should custom design and develop a software tool, and how in doing so we turned some of the highest pain points of our situation into some of our greatest advantages.

This is a tale of how we looked at the people involved in each aspect of this overall situation, considered how each group could best be involved in ways they best contribute and are already focused rather than try to mold or train them into something else, and then considered how we could build tools that, from a psychological/UX perspective, would work for them in manageable ways that could share the overall load of necessary work without being overwhelming for those tasked with it, and which would provide a truly consistent path forward to easily help keep ongoing content work accessible too.

About

Kaitlyn Goodall

Senior Software Engineer (full stack/UX)

Brett Davis

Director, Web & Digital Communications

Brett Davis believes in the power of higher education, and especially likes it when he can support this lofty mission by writing weird code that talks to other code and then does things that are of use. Judging by the age of the legacy web applications he is bound to support, Brett's code will likely be around for a long time. Also true: Brett's enthusiasm is tempered by knowledge that code always betrays us in the end.