Being a volunteer
Being a volunteer for Fix the Web is a valuable way to contribute your time and make a difference. It is simple, on-line, in your own time and may teach you useful things!
Understanding Web Accessibility Issues
Having expertise in web accessibility is not needed, though we hope you will begin to understand more about this vital area as you help out. It is sensible to introduce yourself to the basics of web accessibility - W3Cs Accessibility guide is good. If you want more details we strongly suggest you join the Accessify discussion forum (or look in their archives). If you do have expertise in web accessibility that is great! However, please do not use the information from Fix the Web for overtly commercial behaviour. Whilst it is fine, after some time, to mention your business to a website owner, in the first instance the contact should be as a volunteer (an FAQ discusses this in more detail).
How it Works
The majority of your work for Fix the Web takes place within the website through "my dashboard" and the process is explained in a step by step way.
You will have two main jobs to do:
- Ensure the information from the disabled person, though very brief (some of this will come through tweets!) is reproduced in a polite and comprehensible form.
- Find the web owner via their website and send the information to them through email or contact form.
The construction of the email is automated and there is an accessibility checker built in to the process to pre-qualify the report. You can do as much or as little with Fix the Web as you feel you want / have time for. When you sign up as a volunteer, you can say how often you want the site to chase you for involvement. It will remind you of the status of the jobs you have.
Some of the issues that come into the list of newly reported sites are not accessibility issues, they may be spam, porn, other kinds of problems or they could be "retweets" or marketing via twitter. If you are clear that a report is NOT an accessibility issue then please close it marked as "other". If you aren't sure, leave it for someone else to decide.
Please ensure websites reported are not discriminatory, pornographic or in any way illegal / spam.
Dialogues with the web owner and disabled reporter
Raising web accessibility issues with Web Owners, on the scale Fix the Web is aiming for, will make a difference. So just posting on an issue, on behalf of a disabled person is important. Web owners need more information and in some cases (polite) pressure to make changes. They may not respond to your message but the awareness raising you have done, will have an impact over the longer term.
In the case where the Web Owner comes back with further questions or interest in the query you can offer advice if you feel able, or sign post them to further more specialised sources of support. You are not required or expected to be able to fix their problems for them. In some cases they may need to redesign their website and we anticipate many can't do that straight away. The good thing is that they know they have a problem. In some cases it may be appropriate to go back to the disabled person and request further information, we have ensured this is easy for you.
It is also important to keep the person who reported the issue fully informed. If they are happy to be contacted, let them know that you have received their report and will be contacting the website owner on their behalf. As the dialogue with the website owner progresses, try to keep the person who reported the problem up to date on what has happened as well.
If you need more information from and about the disabled person who made the report in the first case. This is possible if they have provided additional information. In some cases they may request not to be contacted, in which case we can only use the information we have. Generally the person will be contactable and we ask that their contact information is only used for Fix the Web purposes and that they are contacted with some sensitivity about their time.
Please keep good records of dialogues with website owners and ideally, paste them into the notes section of the dashboard. Other people may eventually access this work (if you are unable to complete it or when we provide reporters with their own dashboard) so make sure your comments are polite and will make sense to others.
Occasionally it may turn out that there isn't a problem with the website, but that the disabled person is not using their assistive technology (such as a screen reader for a visually impaired person) properly. In this case there are further signposts to assist that person. We hope to minimise this by prioritising websites that have had many complaints and running automated pre checks.
In some cases the issue with a website may be straight forwards for the web owner to fix and it will be great to hear about improvements made as a result of your volunteering efforts.
If that is enough information, we hope you are now feeling inspired to be a volunteer for Fix the Web. Please sign up here. Let's make sure the web that we love is inclusive!