Morteza Heidarpour Morteza Heidarpour

WPCampus Seeks to Raise $30K for Gutenberg Accessibility Audit

WPCampus is seeking funding to conduct an accessibility audit of WordPress’ Gutenberg editor. The non-profit organization is dedicated to helping web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. Educational institutions often have stricter legal obligations that require software to be WCAG 2.0 level AA compliant and many European institutions set the bar even higher at WCAG 2.1.

WPCampus moved to spearhead an audit after Automattic decided to forego Matt MacPherson’s proposal for Gutenberg to undergo an accessibility audit. Results of the audit will help WPCampus determine any potential legal risk for institutions upgrading to WordPress 5.0 and will also identify specific challenges that Gutenberg introduces for assistive technology users and others with accessibility needs.

“A professional accessibility audit is a large expense for a small nonprofit like WPCampus,” WPCampus director Rachel Cherry said. “Accessibility is important to all of us in the WordPress community. We’re asking for your help to fund the audit and ensure this important research is completed.”

WPCampus is still evaluating proposals from vendors and will announce its selection soon, along with an updated timeline for completing the audit. The organization has set its funding goal at $30,000, an amount that falls in the mid-range of the proposals the selection committee has received. If the campaign raises more than the amount required, WPCampus plans to designate the funds for other accessibility-related efforts, such as future audits and live captioning at conferences.

Two days after launching the campaign, WPCampus has received $3,692 (12%) towards its funding goal. The organization plans to share the results of the audit and any supporting documents on its website.

The comments published on the donations page demonstrate how strongly supporters feel about getting an audit and using that information to make Gutenberg a tool that anyone can use. The topic of accessibility is close to the heart for many donating to the campaign.

“When I was navigating stores with three small children, stores which helped me with automatic doors, wide aisles, and shopping carts for a crowd often made the decision for me as to whether I could shop at all,” WordPress developer Robin Cornett said. “As we create content and build tools for the internet, we should be doing all we can to ensure the best online experience we can for everyone.”

WordPress co-founder Mike Little also donated to the campaign, with comments on how important accessibility is to fulfilling the project’s mission.

“As the platform that democratizes publishing, we can’t allow new features in WordPress to take that away from users with accessibility needs,” Little said.

“Accessibility matters to everyone — injured, encumbered, distracted, disabled, everyone,” WordPress consultant Adrian Roselli said. Accessibility in WordPress matters to my clients because some of their people require it in order to use the tool and therefore stay gainfully employed.”

The audit proposed months ago has evolved to become a community effort funded by passionate supporters working in various capacities throughout the WordPress ecosystem. If WPCampus is successful in funding its campaign, this particular approach has the benefit of making it a more cooperative effort with more people invested in the process than if it were funded by a single company. WPCampus aims to release the audit report to the community by January 17, 2019 but the dates will depend on the arrangement with the vendor.

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