WordCamp Europe 2013: lessons learned

This weekend WordCamp Europe 2013 was held for the first time, in Leiden the Netherlands. Great expectations: the schedule of talks promised a lot. But I was there with a mission and really, WordCamp Europe was a success and so much fun.

As a WordPress theme builder I’m also interested in the way people with a disability use the internet and how they use WordPress. In discussions with other WordPress programmers I learned that most people never heard of ways to code also for disabled people but are very much interested in learning how.

So: a big chance for the people of the Make WordPress Accessible team to let programmers in Europe know there is also something like a (non-) accessible web.

Bram DuvigneauBram Duvigneau is a blind programmer who knows his way around WordPress and the Admin and knows it’s problems. Not only problems for blind people, but also for people who can’t use a mouse.

He gave a presentation on how he uses WordPress with a screen reader and the problems he encounters (for example, with the upload/select Media in Admin). He also gave a short lesson on the semantics of a WordPress front-end theme.

A real eye opener for some programmers, he got a lot of response from coders who realized that there are other ways to see a website.

During Matt Mullenweg‘s Q&A, Graham Armfield asked Matt what his opinions are about making WordPress more accessible. He stated that accessibility is important, but that it was also depending on the used assistive technology. Matt asked for a big hand for the Make WordPress Accessible team and that was a nice gesture. Now everyone at WordCamp Europe at least has heard of the team and their work.

For me, I learned the most on the contributers day. A bunch of WordPress coders in one room, contributing to a better WordPress, discussing problems and finding solutions.
What a surprise for me it was that programmers came to us and asked questions about accessibility and some joined the accessibility table.

the accessibility tablePhoto’s of the contributors day by Florian Ziegler

After an introduction on how to contribute to WordPress by Mike Schroder and Andrew Nacin we started to work on accessibility tickets on the core trac.

Trying to find a ticket that would be easy to solve I chose ticket #25459: Provide more meaningful links in Edit Post/Page.

O boy, was I wrong. No such thing as an easy solution here…

The easiest way was just to change for example “Edit” into the text “Edit revision”. But that would dramatically change the look and feel of the visual output (much longer links).

So, a second solution: provide text only visible for screen readers (hidden by CSS) with (in this case) “revision” after “Edit”. Emanuel Blagonic, who is from Croatia, explained to me that that would not proper translate into his language, the word Edit in the Croatian language would change too.

So then it got complicated, we agreed on a construction and Anton Timmermans tranfered our code into a patch on the trac. One minute later Sergey Biryukov changed the code and other people got involved in the discussion and suggested other solutions.

This is what made the contribution day fun and meaningfull:
It’s not only accessibility, it’s also different languages, page load speed, usability and maintaining the look and feel of the Admin. All of this is important.

Joost de Valk told in his talk the day before: We have to take care of ourselves and of the group. That what I love about the WordPress community and this WordCamp Europe. We actually do this, also in coding!