It is still possible to join the Steering group for Fix the Web and please do continue to feed in ideas for developing and improving the project. The draft Terms of Reference are below
Terms of Reference – Steering Group for Fix the Web
Fix the Web is a grass roots “crowd sourcing” approach to web accessibility. Disabled people can quickly report issues they have with websites or software and those issues are taken forwards with website owners through a bank of volunteers.
The project is led by Citizens Online, with part time resources (Gail Bradbrook as project lead, Ben and Joe Jarlett on coding and Nicky Ferry (Pumpkin Communications) on PR. Partners are those who have given significant time and pro bono help to the project so far and include: AbilityNet, Bloor, Hanona, Nomensa and Southampton.
Nominet Trust have funded the project to date and Citizens Online have spent additional resources too, from a (hard earned and small!) surplus. We have funding till the end of March and are hopeful of attracting a further two years. This is unlikely, though, to ever be a heavily resourced project, but we believe we can achieve a lot through a small central team and the support of the wider community.
The system to underpin the project is a Drupal based website : www.fixtheweb.net which was launched in November 2010. Progress can be seen on the site through the home page statistics.
The development of the project to date has involved a very loosely formed steering group; though this has mostly been a collection of people willing to let the team at Citizens Online “pick their brains” and support the development of the project.
We are pleased with progress since the launch, but dream of high volume (250,000 sites reported) quality use of the site, which really enables culture change on this issue. We are happy that the processes set up to date “work”, but understand there are many ways the user experience could be improved.
Finally, although we have had the input of many good brains onto this project, we would like to significantly increase the sense of community ownership of the project, so that a collective feel empowered to work together to get the most from this innovation – this is your Fix the Web project.
2. Purpose of the Steering group
To support and guide the development of the Fix the Web project so that it becomes a globally significant force for creating an inclusive internet.
The steering group will specifically consider issues of usability, user experience, PR and design.
3. Suggested process
Please feedback on the T.O.R. in general
A number of things to consider / items of feedback are logged below, we need to consider if this “developments to take forwards” list in complete and correctly structured.
We ask individuals to align with one or more area of interest from the developments list, so that small “task and finish” groups can take them forwards; we won’t attempt to discuss too many things as a big group! Groups work best with one person taking a lead (to get the best out of the whole group) so a named lead for each will help.
Task and finish groups are asked to discuss issues / possible solutions and come back with recommendations. We are currently using Drupal 6 and recommendations will need assessing for technical feasibility (though I guess most things are possible!). The details of all discussions are not needed so long as consensus is reached. Task and Finish groups can bring in additional people to support their discussions if the group agrees.
The steering group will meet approximately every 6 weeks, largely through a conference call. Task and finish groups can meet as frequently as needed and how ever the group prefers.
Citizens Online folks may contact individuals in the meantime for brain picking and specific items of help, please let us know if you are too busy!
Shall we set up a mailing list for the steering group?
Our preference is to keep focussed on the unique aspects of Fix the Web and on the achievable changes we can make in the short and medium term. We can park our bigger dreams for the long term to discuss later (one step at a time!).
4. Requirements of those that get involved with the Steering Group
We ask that you are involved with the Fix the Web project as a reporter, volunteer or both, so that you can “feel” the project from the inside.
Discussion and debates should be undertaken respectfully. Consensus should be sought where possible and where not the main viewpoints represented with reasoning.
Please try to honour actions you take ownership of!
Let’s try to stay “on topic”.
You have no legal or commercial responsibility to this project, responsibility ultimately lies with Citizens Online.
5. Undertaking by Citizens Online
We want the group to be open to anyone who feels they can contribute: please let us know how we can support your involvement; in particular we do not want conference calling to exclude people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We appreciate time put in is voluntary and the ability to be involved may change.
We will go with consensus viewpoints and take responsibility for any decisions.
For those putting in significant amounts of effort we are open to requests for partnership status.
We will implement what we can with the resources available.
6. People who have expressed interest in the Steering Group
David Sloan – Dundee University
Adrian Higginbotham – Becta
Graham Armfield- Coolfields Consulting
Grant Broome- Hanona
Cristina Wood – Asymptotic Design
Peter Abrahams – Bloor
James Coltham – Pretty Simple
Jonathan Stephenson – Priority3
Steve Lee- Full Measure
Leonie Watson – Nomensa
Robin Christopherson – AbilityNet
Sandi Wassmer – Copious
Robin Spinks – RNIB
Stuart Auton – BCS
Eve Morris – Live Journal
Lucy Dodd – Inclusive Experience
Anne Stafford – IT4C
E.A. Draffan – Southampton University
Gail Bradbrook, Nicky Ferry, Ben Jarlett – Fix the Web (Citizens Online)
7. Developments to take forwards
(Create subgroups for each, but don’t feel a subgroup has to deal with every item- pick a manageable thing to work through?)
Anything tagged M/LT means medium / longer term and isn’t for immediate consideration unless someone argues the case for it being so and has energy to help move it forwards!
i. Is there anything we can improve on the site?
ii. Hanona have accredited us AA rating, what can we reasonably take forwards that is AAA?
Dependencies: Accessibility to consider usability and inclusivity, i.e. inclusive design
Many on accessibility to start with though mostly resolved with a liquid layout. Gail has one left as a FTW volunteer to do with (When I insert the cursor inside the Email text box, I can't see the cursor flicker as it is too close to the side in IE 8).
i. Can we improve the design and branding on the site?
Dependencies: keeping the messaging simple, usability and accessibility
From Gail: we have had pro bono work on the site (so please don’t be rude about it!) and I am personally happy with the layout / feeling of simplicity. I would be reluctant to do something drastic without a compelling case. I do wonder if the colours scheme can be improved and how the logo / colours can work better. Basically I would personally like to improve what we have.
Other comments: A comprehensive case has been made for not having the heart logo but something like a spanner. Others: some of these may no longer be as forceful because we did change some design in terms of font size and colour consistency. We can never overcome personal taste either! Being a web developer myself, looking at your website which looks dreadful isn't going to convince me to all-out cater for disabilities, when it potentially ends up with a reduced impression on regular users.
Extremely ugly colour palette and a bad layout. Accessible doesn't have to mean ugly or off-putting. I do appreciate what you're doing though :)
Your website is not nice, please get a web design company to sort it out, especially considering what you are trying to promote. Remember the web is a visual medium, being accessible is fine, but looking good is also important. Thanks.
Few more from twitter too- saying we make it seem that to be accessible you have to be ugly
Your graphics could be automatic screenshots/favicons of the reported websites and user avatars. Users want to know about your credibility. So they want to see what you have done/are doing, not what you hope to do
Add graphics / links that site owners can add to their site.
7.3 User experience
People are generally wanting more communication and “sight” of what is happening. Very open to this but please consider issues of privacy, opportunities for misuse of data and increase in conflict between users. Whatever changes are suggested, please mitigate for the down side with clear messaging (and where it should go) FAQs etc. Also my preference is always to not “re-invent wheels” and take energy away from other accessibility projects where possible.
i. Considering the role of forums and best way to include (eg link to accessify (or webaim) or keep on site)
ii. Developing a tier of more “expert and specialist” volunteers to support others- build in mentoring opportunities - ensuring quality
iii. Opening the channels of communications between those involved and the access to information on the site.
iv. Reporters dashboard area- they could see what volunteers are doing- progress etc. two way communication (need to make sure people assume anything typed in dashboard is public- data protection anyway, but they may not have so far).
v. Volunteer profiles - biographies
vi. Letting reporters see what is published by reporters
vii. Top ten volunteers (a guy wanted this!)
viii. Volunteer rewards eg badge web fixer, fixed the web (- different colours for numbers achieved)
ix. Specialising- eg one person wanted people to know he was particularly focussed on PDF
x. Should same url go to reporter who already handled? How easy / feasible?
xi. Any general usability issues? (also use beta test mode)
xii. Allowing attachments to reports
xiii. How useful are the links- how to quickly get to lists of up-to-date detailed links?
Dependencies: technology, resourcing
More detailed comments:
had a volunteer suggesting that he'd love to add a biography to his profile for users to see... an interesting suggestion I thought... a volunteers index with profiles (optional of course) with thumbnails and brief biogs? good incentive for techies to sign up... not necessarily to process reports though.
, and I'm dying to know which of the websites I've reported have taken action (or refused to!). However, if you don't want to get into Name and Shame territory, I think there could be problems with revealing that on a forum, unless you personally approved membership for that section of the forum, which I suppose is an option. Incidentally, I'd particularly like to know whether you get anywhere with a particular website, a disability website where the owner has repeatedly refused to change the absolutely unreadable format, claiming (incorrectly) that his special format is better for people with a specific impairment.
At the moment, I can see only new reports, after a report is closed, or assigned to another volunteer, I cannot find any information about it, it is as if it never was.
I would like to see a list of all the reports, is it possible?
Would you consider storing details of the issues a reporter has logged, together with date submitted and current status, in their account?
Displaying reporters name (on reporters agreement) so volunteers don't need to call them things like "someone892011" or "Jer123"
- remove need for reporters to have email address exposed (quite tricky, is it important to our reporters?)
- combat Multiple sites in single report problem... how to avoid, or cope with... comes from users not quite understanding report process I guess... only happened a couple of times that I know of.. but maybe more..
i. Tagging reports
ii. Dating reports
iii. Status updates on reports
Show in site a Scroll information on sites that have been fixed? Case studies
Dependencies: retro engineering data we have already?
"was wondering about some categorization of websites with problems, for example ecommerce, services, information, news, fora, blogs,games,ebooks. etc.
to help find patterns of problems, and from there best practices for accessibility."
thought maybe we could add more words to the tag this report box?
If you look at my reports you will see (on most of them) that I put a date on the status, I also move the old status and date into the notes.
It would be really useful if this happened automatically.
My suggestion is that you have a field with the current status (which cannot be modified) and an extra input field 'New Status'. When information is put into new status the system should move the old status into a history section and put a time and date stamp on the new status.
7.5 Companies space and reaching out to corporate sector
i. A web owners area- where people can give statements / updates if they want publicly (eg amazon email address- amazon asked for this) – could link to it if reports come in for same url
ii. Encouraging URLs that come up frequently to have an accessibility statement
iii. PR / CSR angle- see below- working through BTAT (EFD) employee volunteering etc.
iv. Think about idea about web developers having a way of registering their sites so that they would get automatically notified if any of their sites get reported....
a. could this system be abused by people registering sites they don't own... or is that just paraniod? if we think that there's a privacy issue then we'd need to validate (using the method that google Webmaster tools would work - uploading a html file with code that identifies webmaster-user)
7.6 Other tech stuff (erm better title!?)
i. Toolbar- keyboard shortcut? (M/LT)
ii. FTW and mobile, apps etc
iii. Any other widgets, flash etc to consider? (M/LT)
iv. Add code from blog to our site (allowing us to benefit from some of the improvements found in D7 but not all)
v. Upgrade to Drupal 7... (firmly on the wish list - but from reading mikes enthusiasm something I would recommend) and in doing so look into using AdaptiveTheme as an alternative to Zen that we are using already.. the upgrade process involves
a. backing up everything and doing the upgrade on a test site first
b. finding new versions all the modules we are currently using that have been upgraded to D7 (if they all have - lots have but not all... and some will be still in dev, so might well be more buggy)
c. finding out how the module that we have written to do all the bespoke stuff still works in D7, and if not alter or rewrite it to make it work
d. moving all current users and content over (will have to shut down site while we're doing this to avoid changes in the mean time/new reports being lost)
The toolbar is fairly nice, although I found that the colour scheme options did dire things to your website (the only one I tested). I use the Firefox add-on No Squint for that side of things myself, and by the way that is not only very useful for changing colours and sizes, but if you're still tweaking how your website looks then I'd urge you to try it out in No Squint to check that it doesn't do anything odd if you increase sizes or change the colour scheme.
Iuse the Firefox add-on No Squint for that side of things myself, and by the way that is not only very useful for changing colours and sizes, but if you're still tweaking how your website looks then I'd urge you to try it out in No Squint to check that it doesn't do anything odd if you increase sizes or change the colour scheme.
i. PR – generic and specific coverage
• Seeking online, newsletter, traditional media and social media coverage of the project
• Using key stories such as case studies, milestone user numbers, etc
• Developing the use of Facebook for the project
• You tube presence
• Working with Devolved Nations and cities / regions with a key focus on this area / Digital inclusion (including via EverybodyOnline) (Welsh site?)
ii. PR – partnerships with communities of disabled people
• Developing simple training materials to encourage people to report issues
• Training the trainer approaches for specific organisations and communities of disabled people particularly affected by web accessibility- training materials
• Linking into employed disabled people via EFD / BTAT
iii. PR – reaching out into technically minded communities
• Linking to employee volunteering via corporates
• Increase partnership with WCIT, BCS, ITCH
• Reach into communities of techies organised around specific projects, programming languages and software, etc
• Linking into students via Schools of science, ICT and technology in Universities, a presence in courses (Dundee to trial)
iv. PR – reaching out via volunteering channels
• Working closely with IT4C on increasing volunteers
• Developing other online volunteering channels, e.g. vinspired, Do-IT, help from home, etc
7.8 Dreaming of future possibilities (M/LT)
Fix the technology- EC agenda around ATM’s etc- pervasive technology that isn’t inclusively designed.
Nominet trial of messaging- spreading this if goes OK
Pushing FTW global in partnership
Long term home of FTW if it grows into a beautiful adult!
Supporting case law