Ep 11: How to make websites accessible by Americans with disability – Interview with Lea Scudamore

Ep 11: How to make websites accessible by Americans with disability – Interview with Lea Scudamore

About this episode

In this episode, Katherine and Jim celebrate the victories of Lea Scudamore, SEO at Aimclear, a leading digital marketing agency and 17 times winner of the US Search Awards

She has this really powerful story to share about why she is so passionate about online accessibility, and why she firmly believes SEOs are the most well-positioned to lead the charge.

She wants to make sure that websites are accessible to the 20% (one in five) of Americans with a disability. You should listen to this episode if you want to learn more about how you can add accessibility to your SEO service offering where you can find resources to fix those issues, and most importantly, how to convince your clients to take action.

SEOs have …to make accessibility the very foundation, from the way they name their images to how they build the structure of the website.

Lea Scudamore

In the interview, Lea reveals the powerful story behind her passion in digital accessibility and how she began her career in the industry. Lea also walks us through how to ramp yourself up in making a website accessible and selling through accessibility to your clients or internal stakeholders, and the risk to your organization if you ignore accessibility.

About Lea Scudamore

Lea Scudamore is the SEO Lead at Aimclear®, a leading digital marketing firm and 17-time U.S. Search Award Winner with a strong focus on B2C and B2B search, social-psychographic display targeting, organic social media, customer acquisition, and classic creative principles. 

Lea specializes in SEO, UX, digital accessibility, and organic content tactics. Forming comprehensive plans for accounts, technical website optimization, reporting, and troubleshooting are among her key responsibilities in addition to leading the charge in web accessibility, WCAG and ADA website compliance for Aimclear’s clients. 

With almost two decades of expertise in SEO, website design, and content production, both as a hands-on contributor and as a manager, Lea leads Aimclear’s clientele, which has included Dell Enterprise Software/Quest Software, Airbnb, Walk-In Lab, Seagull Outfitters, and more.

Lea is also deeply committed to the Duluth community, where she is an active and resourceful member of the Duluth Figure Skating Club and the Northland Figure Skating Competition.

Key Takeaways

  • How to make websites accessible to people with disabilities?
  • How to add accessibility to your SEO service offerings?
  • How to test your site for accessibility?
  • How to convince and push your clients to take action?
  • How to encourage your clients to write about various topics?
  • Where to find templates to help make your site more accessible?
  • Where to find a beginner’s guide to accessibility?

Connect with Lea Scudamore

Find out what Aimclear is all about.

Follow Lea on Twitter

Connect with Lea on LinkedIn

Linked Resources

Follow Kim Krause Berg, Purple Tuesday, Women in Tech SEO

Thank you for listening! 

If you’d like to know more about change-makers in digital marketing, celebrate their wins, and discover how they built a breaking ground career, subscribe, share and comment on the Digital Marketing Victories Podcast. 

Episode Transcript

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:00:00] Thanks for joining us, Lea, would you be willing to introduce yourself to our listeners?

Lea Scudamore: [00:00:04] Yeah. I’m Lea Scudamore and I am the SEO and accessibility specialist here at Aimclear. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:00:09] Awesome. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you got involved in digital marketing and SEO and how you ended up at Aimclear?

Lea Scudamore: [00:00:17] Oh, I I fell in love with the web really early on and I was actually just selling internet. And then I went and worked for a company that built websites and we built websites for very big brands that have dealerships all over the country and actually around the world and I always watched Aimclear and what the team was doing.

And we kind of played this game with the people at the company I worked with, like Marty says, or Mary says, or Mandy says, or right. Whoever was here and what, whoever was writing, what when it came to the algorithms and things like that and I got to the point where I was, I’d kind of gone up the ladder as far as I was going to go and I wasn’t being heard.

And I predicted that there was going to be a big change that we were going to have a big traffic drop on the servers and then it happened. And then all of a sudden they started to listen. But at that point I’d already checked out and applied to Aimclear and got really excited to get hired because they were kind of like the Mick Jagger’s of of, you know, paid media and Facebook ads.

And I really wanted to learn that side. So I came to Aimclear with the intent of learning the ad side and becoming more in it up to my elbows and then got called back to my love of SEO and they needed some SEO stuff done and then it just kind of took off. 

Jim Keeney: [00:01:26] And lately though you’ve been kind of focused on accessibility, right?

Can you tell me how you got started there? 

Lea Scudamore: [00:01:34] Yeah, accessibility, as an SEO, you kind of know you have to do it. Or that you know, you have to do the alt text, you have to do the metatitles, you have to do descriptions, all that sort of thing, but you really don’t understand what that means until you have somebody that you love that

doesn’t have access to what you have access to, so I fell for accessibility because my girlfriend, Allie was diagnosed with ALS and it was a very aggressive form. So they gave her about six months to live and she called us over to hang out at our friend Don’s house since Don and Lisa and Allie, and I all got together and I was super pumped.

I thought margaritas were on the way. Cause that was our typical Saturday would be margarita and hanging out. And it ended up being her, telling us about her diagnosis and she needed us to do three things for her. The first one was to move her mom with dementia to a care facility because she could no longer take care of her mom, sell her house and like clean it out and get rid of all the things.

And then the third ask was for us to help finding a living facility for her, cause they had given her about six months to live. 

Jim Keeney: [00:02:35] Wow.

Lea Scudamore: [00:02:37] And so it was like, went from, like, I thought it was gonna be really fun to being really scary, really fast. And we in the process of trying to clean her house out and donate things and paint things that needed painting and clean out the garage and all these things she stopped responding and it was super frustrating because you’re trying to coordinate 50 people to come over on a Saturday and clean the yard and prep it for sale.

And she wouldn’t respond and it was because she wasn’t able to physically use Facebook or Twitter or the things that we had messaged with her all the time. And it was because her devices were mounted at a horizontal. 

Jim Keeney: [00:03:16] Yeah,

Lea Scudamore: [00:03:16] horizontally everything’s vertical. 

Jim Keeney: [00:03:18] Yeah.

Lea Scudamore: [00:03:19] And nothing rotates. So it literally took her from being super connected to everybody, to not being able to communicate with anybody.

And it went super fast. It was really fast. And so that kind of changed my whole perspective because I was like, wait, we have accessibility. This is something that should just be done. It’s the law. It’s been the law for 20 years. Why isn’t this working? And. You know, they’re specialist systems now that you have to buy, when you should have, you should be fine with your phone, you should be absolutely fine using your phone. It has everything for everybody. The whole world is in the Palm of your hand unless you have a disability. And so I got really frustrated and angry, not only because I was scared of losing a friend, but also because this shouldn’t be happening. So I started digging into what accessibility actually means and what it is.

And I brought the things that I was learning to my SEO. So now when I think about accessibility, I don’t actually think about SEO or accessibility. I think about SEO and that is have to be accessible. They have to they have to make accessibility the very foundation from where they start from the way that they name their images to how they build the structure of the website.

Yeah, it’s been, I feel like, I feel like I’m crusading around talking about it, but it’s, you won’t know you need accessibility until you actually need it, or your mom or your dad or your sister or somebody you love does. 

Jim Keeney: [00:04:42] Well, and we always say, get close to your customers, but it’s really a superficial catchphrase.

This is what we’re talking about right, underneath it is live in their shoes, understand the way they work and accessibility is a hundred percent about that. You really have to view the world, you know, the way they view it. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:05:04] And do you have any sense here in the U.S. About how many people we’re talking about that have a disability?

Lea Scudamore: [00:05:10] I do. It’s one in five. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:05:12] Wow. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:05:13] One in five have a disability and the thing is people think disability and they think wheelchair, right? The thing is that there are more invisible disabilities and there are visible disabilities. And so you really have to be careful because it affects everyone, flashing videos, things that move, you know, like that are hard to catch with the mouse, things that are too close together. All of that stuff is part of accessibility. 

Jim Keeney: [00:05:39] Yeah. It ranges all the way from a little bit of a tremor to colorblindness. You know, our design side, you know, color contrast is something that every designer gets wrong, it seems. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:05:54] They do, but good ones don’t, 

Jim Keeney: [00:05:56] exactly. Exactly. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:05:59] Don’t forget transcription. My sister-in-law is deaf, so, you know, there’s that community too. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:06:04] Yeah. Yeah. There’s literally, we could spend an entire hour talking about all of the different things and the hardest part about accessibility is if you plan for one. And you’re like, I nailed it. You’ve missed everything else.

So you’re kind of in this, like, just like SEO. I mean this is why it’s meant for SEO is because we already live in this ambiguous world. Right. So we already live in the gray zone between black and white. That’s really accessibility has, as I’ve been learning about it, that’s where the intersection of SEO is like it’s through the ambiguity that you have to kind of get through the muck and make sure that all these different pieces are done.

Jim Keeney: [00:06:39] Yeah, well, yeah. And that, I think that in addition to. You know, handling that question accessibility impacts the usability of your website to the positive. So, you know, they think of it as a burden, but actually, you know, if you’re really focused on the usability of your website, a lot of the accessibility issues get resolved at the same time.

Lea Scudamore: [00:07:03] Yeah. One of the things that I keep coming back to as you look at page experience, right? Google everybody’s, building their website page experience in mobile friendly and the core web vitals. And if you look, if you actually look at them through the lens of accessibility, you actually see that those items are accessibility.

They might call them something else. They might say this buttons too close together, you might be getting console messages saying, Hey, You know, these elements are too close together. You might be getting what’s the other one that everybody gets that they’re like all panicked about. Just left my brain, but like we’re getting console messages from Google.

Yeah. PHP. Thank you. Yeah. So we’re getting those things that all of that is related to accessibility because accessibility bridges the gaps between a whole bunch of things from like the economic divide to the physical disabilities that  some people have, so it’s just, there’s a lot. It does a lot of things, but it’s all good.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:07:58] So, you know, since you’re an SEO and you’re deep in this as what would be your message to other SEOs that want to pick it up? Where do you even get started? 

Lea Scudamore: [00:08:07] Okay. So the easiest place to get started is through the W3C’s websites. So W3C dot org they have forward slash w AI for web accessibility initiative everything’s laid out in chapters there.

So you can literally go right down the list and learn about how to make a PDF accessible and how to make video accessible and how to make content that isn’t online accessible, because accessibility applies to your internal systems as much as it applies to your  external content, right? 

Jim Keeney: [00:08:37] I like that word.

Lea Scudamore: [00:08:43] Well, there’s like those things, right? Like  there’s so much of it from that works for the inside versus the outside of your organizations. You really need to make sure that you’re taking those things into account from like making sure images are explained if they’re relevant. Right. We don’t need to know that this one image that’s uploaded to the site is the left leg of this person that’s walking by.

Jim Keeney: [00:09:02] Right.

Lea Scudamore: [00:09:02] Right. Especially if things are ripped apart. But we do need to know that somewhere on the page there’s somebody walking a dog if it applies to walking dogs. 

Jim Keeney: [00:09:10] Right. And that’s a great example because when you actually are challenged with that for the first time, and you start looking at your page and go, well, what is that?

You know, you have these little icons all over the place. You’re like, what does that icon actually do? It does absolutely nothing. It’s just there for, you know, to decorate the page. Well then why do I have to describe it? Hey, why do you even have to have it on the page? And, you know, it’s pages that are designed for conversion.

When you look at them for the first time you go, wow, that’s just ugly. But then you realize, no, it’s just a hundred percent functional. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:09:43] Right? 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:09:44] You just said something that like set off a light bulb. So you were talking about the fact that internal pages are part of the accessibility as well and I remember Google clarification about the page experience update coming through and saying that no index pages were going to be part of the calculation. And as an SEO my first response was I told you not index that darn thing. Why is it part of it? I was so mad. I was like, I told you to not look at it. But that’s why, yeah, that’s what, I don’t know. I just never put two and two together until right now. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:10:17] And that’s the biggest thing that if you’re an SEO and you start digging into accessibility, it’s going to be far less of a shock to you. Cause you’re just like, damn it, now I gotta take my vitamins.

I have to do the meta titles I have to do, because you’ll actually understand how it affects the rest of the world, right? So that part of it is a little bit of like, coming home of the things that you put on the side, or it’s also, that is the perfect way to start building a case study to get your clients to get on board because lawsuits are out there and they’re coming fast and furious.

I think 2018 to 19, they doubled, they slowed down a little bit cause court wasn’t in session over 2020 because of the pandemic. But I doubt that’s going to slow down considering there’s a large amount of money sitting out there cause you can’t actually fight it because the laws in the U.S., they’re using the W3C content as the guidelines to determine whether or not your site is accessible.

So. Like everybody knows about dominoes, right? Everybody knows that dominoes tried to go to the Supreme court and they were just like, sorry, we were out to lunch.

 They’re like, we’re not at the pub. So that’s like, that’s what everybody’s, that’s what you’re actually dealing with is you’re making sure that one you’re doing it because you’re a good brand and you have social responsibility to do it, but then two, you don’t get sued. Yeah. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:11:37] Well, and you don’t miss one in five Americans. There’s that too.

Lea Scudamore: [00:11:41] Right? That’s a huge, think about revenue, right? There’s so many okay. Out of the websites in the U.S. And say like U.S. And UK, right. 70% of websites are not accessible. Globally it’s 90% of websites.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:11:55] Oh my God. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:11:56] Right. Right. And so let’s just like, think about the UK for a second, just because.

It’s always top of mind for me right now, because of you know, Brighton was just a few weeks ago, 279 billion pounds of spending power in the pockets of people that are disabled in the UK. That’s an astronomical amount of money. Yeah. And a lot of brands want to sit there and say, oh, but, they’re not our clients.

They’re not our customers. They are your customers. They are buying things for their children. They are buying things for their siblings. They are buying things for themselves, but you know, it’s like they eat, they breathe, and they shop and they have a wallet, but that, those should be the things that qualify somebody as a customer to make you work on your website, to make sure that everybody has equal opportunity to shop your site or to visit your websites brands your website, and get to know your brand.

Jim Keeney: [00:12:51] And it’s pent up demand. So first in leaders are going to establish the kind of bond with their customers that they’re desperate for. So, so they’re all out in that marketplace, you know, trying to find the greatest influencer to get them the 0.01% increase in their market share in brand recognition.

When in actuality, here’s this huge chunk of people that have pent up demand that are not being addressed that are not being reflected and

Lea Scudamore: [00:13:19] And they have friends!

Jim Keeney: [00:13:21] exactly. Exactly. They have friends and they have people like you who have helped them, you know, sell their house and, you know, and yeah it’s not an opportunity as much as a necessity.

Lea Scudamore: [00:13:34] It is a necessity and it’s not going to slow down. Google is going to continue to update and if you look at the updates through the Google’s been making with core web vitals page experience mobile friendly because mobile-friendly, and this essence is really just making the thing fast. Right? Right. It doesn’t really matter that it’s on the website around desktop are you know, cell phone or on desktop.

It means fast and fast works for countries that are developing too, right? Yeah, right, because they need fast, lightweight, nimble little websites that are going to do what they need to do so that they don’t bounce the same thing. So if you look at everything that SEO has been talking about and banging pots and pans over forever, these elements that we’re going through and talking to our clients about they all line up to be accessibility.

And it’s with it not going to slow down. Google has been working with the W3C for years. Right. We know this, they’ve talked about it. Both brands have. It’s going to keep growing. And so you can either pay for your website right now and fix it for core web vitals as it is now, and fix it for page experience as it is now or where you can go the full shoot match and do it right away and be ready when the next steps come.

Cause retrofitting accessibility does not work. There is not a plugin out there that will make you accessible. There are plugins that make things easier from a from a color’s perspective, as far as like making things You know, making your . Thank you. Thank you. I lost the word, but you know, so you’ve got black background versus white background, bigger font there’s, things like that make things easier for people that have sites.

But that is not going to address all the other options that are or things that we need you out there. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:15:13] So how do you no, I’m just, I’m curious. How do you. Build, it’s not so much build the case because say you’ve got a client that’s a little laggard about planning for the future. From an SEO perspective.

I think of some of my federal agencies I used to work with where, you know, it kinda, you kind of wait until it’s like a big algorithm hit before maybe you get moving. So if you’re an SEO on board, how do you estimate the lift? To kind of let them know that they need to get started early because it’s going to take forever.

Cause I have a feeling this is going to take forever. It just feels, I don’t know. I’ve been in SEO for like 17 years. So it feels like a lot of work on top of it. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:15:53] Well, it is a lot of work and SEO is a lot of work. The best thing about it is that you can measure it through the same channels that we’ve been measuring with for SEO, right.

Analytics, search console, your SEO tools you’ll see lift in traffic from an organic perspective and the hard part is the ROI, right? They want to see dollars because you’re not necessarily going to be able to tie every single dollar that happened because of accessibility. So that part of it is really that’s.

That is the hardest part. But if you are seeing an increase in, you’ve been doing all the right things, and you see lift in revenue and it’s, and the only thing that you can take out is that you know, we started making sure everything, every image has tags and the tags are relevant if they need it otherwise they’re nulled out right.

And we’re using the keyword that goes with this it page that makes this page, this relevant to it. So you’ll see that sort of thing. John Mueller just did a big video in one of their lightning talks about images and the use of images. If you’re an SEO, you have to watch this video because if you look at that and then you think about accessibility, it’s literally telling you how it’s going.

Like what’s next, because we know that. Google is moving towards a more image focused search results. We see when we do a search for like, I saw it when I did a search for shopping in London, the very first result above the pack, Matt pack, where you’d normally think you’re going to see, like what’s nearest me.

The very first result was the meta title, a bunch of images that apply to the search results, showing different shots and then the meta description. So those things are, that’s where you’re going to see. Where you should be able to measure lift is if you’re making updates to your titles and your descriptions and making sure that they speak to the user and that they’re not sitting empty or duplicating the same one through the entire site.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:17:45] But even before that, how do you tell them where they’re at? Like, how do you grade the site? Are you recommending that SEOs add all the accessibility into their audit? Like, like I go to the feds and I say you’re only 50% there or. Even though they’re supposed to be 5 0 8 compliant, 

Lea Scudamore: [00:17:59] So there’s multiple extensions, right?

There’s multiple extensions, but the first thing you can do with the client, we’re going to do like, so let’s talk about testing, right? That’s what we actually want to talk about. How do you test your site? The very first thing you can do is go to your website and use your tab button to try to use your site to try to make a purchase, try to fill out a form, try to go through to different pieces of your site.

Get to the gallery, go through the images. Those sort of things. like that’s first, if you can tab through your site, use your arrows through your site. You’re doing great. In some respects. So, you know, that’s one, there are so many sites out there that you go to try to tab through, to complete functions that like it’s an e-commerce site, but due to pop-ups, you can’t get to the final step to check out.

Right. So see if you can using just your keyboard, put your mouse away, try to do it right. Try to do the things you want people to do on your site. Like the top three things you should know within those. The other thing you can do is there’s multiple Extensions for Chrome and Firefox and et cetera, that I use one called web developer horrible name because it doesn’t distinguish it from all the other web developer ones, but it’s just a little gray cog and you can go and shut off all the CSS.

Shut off all the images, shut it all off and see how it lines up. Is everything in the right order or is navigation in the right order? Some people add a page to the site, but they don’t actually take time to update the navigation. And then it ends up at the bottom of the homepage. Right. Even though it’s like number six or seven visually on the navigation.

Yeah. So the person looking for it or tabbing through trying to get to, it has to go through the entire page before they find that link to be able to get to it. So doing that, removing all the CSS and taking a look at the site and making sure things are in the right order. That’s very helpful too, because that will be the read order use things like Vox listen to your site.

There’s nothing more painful than listening to your own site when you’re trying to navigate through, if you feel like there’s cheese graters in your ear, you got to work on your site, right? Like those are some of the other things. There’s really great tools like wave, which is done by the W3C that you can pull up a page or pull up one of your page templates.

So if you have a blog or if you have a product page or the homepage, or contact us, pull it up, hit the wave extension button, and it will show you contrast errors, where you’re missing headlines. I did this to Coca-Cola’s website and they don’t have an H one on their homepage. Right. And they didn’t have alt texts or anything on their logo.

Right. So like these are basic things that they should do. And it’s just a quick oversight, but somebody just grabbed the file that didn’t have the meta description or the sorry, the alt text. Like those are some things I looked at. One of, if you want to look at a site that’s really working hard, a brand that’s really working hard.

Unilever is working very hard accessibility. They are a great example. If you want to look at some stuff. The W3C also has different pieces of aria that you can use to help make your site more accessible and work that into your site with the different templates that they have put together for you.

There’s literally, there’s so many resources and I have a list on the Aimclear website. I did a guide to accessibility, like beginner’s guide to accessibility. I’ll take you through the basics. It’ll give you links to different tools and different Chrome extensions that I’ve used to try to help brands understand where they’re at.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:21:13] Do you end up now, I’m just kind of wondering one of the, something similar in the SEO space, which I’ve seen is when you’re trying to do something simple, like get everybody to use UTM  tacking correctly. Right. And it goes across the entire organization 

Lea Scudamore: [00:21:28] and never goes wrong. Right? Exactly.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:21:30] You see it go wrong all the time. And I was very impressed. I was working on something for CMS and there was a GA I wish I could remember which firm it was, but it was a GA certified firm. And they had created a guide that everyone, you know, which literally laid out every type of marketing thing. When it’s billboard use billboard, lowercase, when it’s email, or hits, et cetera and shipped it around clearly the entire organization.

I’m just wondering if you do something similar to when you’re actually trying to get the organization to implement it, stick with it. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:22:02] Yeah, I’m really fortunate that the CEO is a hundred percent on board. As Marty, the founder and then our CTO, Joel Warner, I’m super spoiled.

Cause I have these really great forward-thinkers with that I work with. And we, when we, when I first brought this to them, I was like, there’s, this is something I’m interested in. This is what I want to learn next. Like I understand SEO. I’ve been doing it for 18 years. I really want. To figure out this part of it.

They were like, yeah, go do and train us. So as I’ve been going through and getting certifications or doing different learning different things or watching conferences or attending conferences I’ve spent a lot of time coming back and teaching as much as I can. To the team. So we did Fridays right after lunch.

We did a half hour, every Friday where we just took a section of the W3C website and went through the accessibility guide or the WCAG, right. Web content accessibility guide, the that we went through that and we started with chapter one and we went right on through, we went through as much stuff.

And then when we were going through that and taking that half hour, we had, you know, the CTO, the designers, the developers Me the SEO. And there were a couple other people that we pulled in because we wanted to make sure that they were on board too and we would have this meeting every week, we’d screen share and show everybody what we were doing.

Talk it out. And then every single week we had really great discussions because somebody would have an aha about something they were working on and they would talk about what they’re struggling with. And then one of the developers would know how to fix it. And we had these other things that also ended up being problem solvers.

So it was basically just a standup, right? Standup meeting, where we just talked about this one piece of the thingof the WCAG for the week and watch videos that we could find, or watched videos that the W3C posted, that it shows you how people are using assistive technologies to access different parts of the site.

And that made things more clear to the team. So at that point, everybody kind of started merchant to the same beat and that made it a lot easier. So, but it was time. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:24:00] So that’s for your agency though. What do you recommend for your clients?

it might be too early, cause I know you kind of, this is somewhat of a new thing, but I’m just kind of thinking, like you hand over the recommendations, you try to get them to implement them, but then somebody builds a new page over here or an entire sub domain. 

Jim Keeney: [00:24:19] I’m sorry, I can’t let that go. This is not new.

I was fighting this battle in 2000. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:24:23] Okay. Yeah,

no. So with clients. It’s the clients. What we’ve been doing is clients get SEO, accessibility. It’s not one or the other it’s together. And that it’s accessibility is also being handled with depth. So it’s a two it’s coming from both sides and we’re working together on each site as they go. If I see things like gray font, I swear, gray font on a white background, gray font on a black background, the contrast is rarely, and Jim.

You can, you know, this it’s rarely meets the criteria needed for people to actually be able to see it. So we, I bring that up. Yellow font on a white background is not going to make it right. I don’t care if it’s your branded colors, you still need to be accessible. So, Black fonts preferred. It’s like a 20 to one.

Jim Keeney: [00:25:15] So it’s not because I’m technical it’s because I’m 59, 

Lea Scudamore: [00:25:19] Glasses. It’s fine. It’s fine. Great. It’s not only glasses. 

Jim Keeney: [00:25:24] It’s now lighting. It’s glasses. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:25:26] It’s lighting. It’s glare on screens. Everybody’s mobile, everybody, gray font on a white background nobody can see it in sunshine. Everybody does that.

You’ve you guys have both done it. I know you’ve both done that hunched over, make yourself a shadow thing that you can see your screen. We shouldn’t have to do that. People should be building websites that you can see, regardless if it’s sunny or if it’s dark. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:25:46] So I’m still stuck on the lift here. Sorry. I get a little obsessed about this because yeah. Because you know, I’m real big on trying to raise issues that people should be focused on. We’re getting them to find the budget and like commit. And I know there’s lawsuits, but like still like getting them to actually get going, I think is a big deal.

And then I also work on these sites that have got, I mean, mind you they’re academic journals, some of them, but they. Just millions of pages. Many of which have images, many of which don’t have alt text. So, you get someone to commit, say like I do an audit of a fed site. They’re not 5 0 8 compliant, shocker.

They’ve got like a section that’s not up to date or whatever. Yeah. How do you scale it? Like how do you tell them to get? 

Cause, you know, I can’t tell the three government employees that are like super max to the nines, you know? And then I run a solo consultancy. So how do you actually get going on fixing it?

Oh, and then the other question is, I know you’ve got guidance online. I again I have my sister-in-law and her fiance in my head. That’s not deaf guidance necessarily. And you’re talking about, I do a lot of YouTube work. Right. So what is the extra stuff you might need to figure out and do you need to actually talk to, perhaps somebody who’s disabled to get you over that finish line?

Lea Scudamore: [00:27:07] That would be ideal. And that is probably the hardest part right now. There are vendors out there where you can have your site tested by people with various types of disabilities and you can get basically an audit back. I have, I don’t have a favorite right now. And I don’t have a go-to where I’m like, this is it.

This is the magic bullet and having websites that have thousands of pages and have a very small crew behind it, running the business. Like it is not easy. It is not going to be an overnight thing. It is going to be a thing where you either start today and you move forward. Right? You can start everybody’s has websites that have pages that aren’t being used.

So audit the site, start by cleaning house, right? So that you get down to what you actually need. The next step that I would do is when you do that audit and you have a list, you just got to start doing every day. There’s been sites where every day, I just make sure when I first get to work and I’m still waking up and I’m drinking my coffee, I go through and I add 50 alt texts right away in the morning.

Right. When my head is clear. And I’ve got that before I get into meetings and phone calls and stuff like that. Because once you get on with clients, it’s not going to happen. It is not easy. There isn’t a magic bullet. That’s going to make everything happen, but it just is something that we need to do start doing moving forward.

And you can write an accessibility statement that says, Hey, we failed here. Right? We know we’re failing. We’re doing what we can to rectify it. It’s going to take us a long time, but if you need something, here’s an email, a real e-mail. Right, that somebody can click and they can instantly send you a message saying, this is what I’m struggling with.

This is how your site’s not working for me and have that conversation and get them what they need. You have to have an accessibility statement on your site and before you even start working on your site, that should be the first thing you do. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:28:50] And you mentioned real email, you mean like, 

Lea Scudamore: [00:28:53] yeah, no Legalese. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:28:55] Literally the emails in the code kind of thing. Like not a form, not any of that. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:29:00] Nope, literally an email that will open up their email so that they can email you directly. And it goes to a person like a real person. So I think ours either goes to, I have to check really quick, but either goes to, no, I know the email that goes to actually forwards to SEO and it comes right to me so that if somebody has a problem, I know where to go start looking to fix something.

You, and you just write it out. Blog or Aimclear’s website has the accessibility statement on the footer in the site map. I think it’s up in the header. We pretty much put it everywhere where people might be looking for help information so that they can easily get to it and contact us if they need to.

And it’s written in plain fourth grade language, right? Like nothing really crazy or technical or anything like that. We started going backwards on our images a year, a month at a time. So, yeah. And we’ve been just keep going a month at a time until you get it done. So from an image perspective, meta description, meta title headlines, making sure you have H1s on every page and that they’re accurate. Not using H1s like nine times on the page because you like how big and pretty the font is 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:30:00] never see that. I never see that. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:30:04] Literally my eye will start to twitch when I see a page with like a whole, if you go to. Go.com ABC, right? ABC go. Because everything’s just pulling from the pages where they’ve published to the homepage as like the most recent news.

It is nothing but H ones, nothing but H ones. And then gray font on a white background.

Jim Keeney: [00:30:23] Of course. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:30:24] I just ran it through the wave Chrome extension. And I was just like, oh, I just had to close it. There was just like, couldn’t even like, I couldn’t even put words to it, but I used it as an example, like, don’t do this right, because it’s just horrible.

I really wish I had a thing like hire us and we can fix it. It will be easy in 30 days or less,

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:30:51] not 30 days or less. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:30:53] It’s never going to be good. 

Jim Keeney: [00:30:54] It’s very much like all of SEO though. It’s a function of prioritization, what you have to do is first ask the question, what you’re trying to convey and who you’re trying to convey it with and how best to connect with them and then drive it backwards from there.

And you know, it is the same struggle that you face every time you’re trying to. Every time you’re trying to decide about keywords and content and what you published next and who you target it to towards and everything. You just have to add this too. And that’s why it’s very much a cultural change, right?

You sensitize, you know, you reach out, you sensitize them to the issue. But then, you know, and this is something that Katherine you’re very much focused on it’s then you’ve got to actually hand hold them through the process of taking that awareness to actual functional expertise and the ability to execute.

Otherwise. What happens is you just, they face it and they don’t, you know, you shut them off. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:31:52] Yeah, 

Lea Scudamore: [00:31:52] exactly. They freeze

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:31:54] this is why I  was wondering about the focus groups because you’re lobbying over in theory, you know, a whole set of recommendations prioritized of course, but still it’s like a spreadsheet of stuff, just like we do it with everything.

And I just kind of wonder if the, the human part might I mean, it depends on who you talk to, I suppose, but you know, if you’re talking to the CEO bottom line revenue probably helps, but for the other folks that are executing, I just wonder if actually getting their customers struggling with it would help or, you know, I spent a decade in nonprofits, so probably not, I tend to be a little bit more soft-hearted 

Lea Scudamore: [00:32:32] well, and the thing is that.

We’re already in this phase right now, all SEOs and developers are in a phase right now. Right. Because Google has stopped talking to SEO’s and started talking to developers, right? Yeah. We’re all in this, we’re all in this together and SEOs are already comfortable in this space. SEOs are the only ones that truly know the intent.

Now, if you’re a developer, please don’t get mad at me because yes, there are unicorns out there, there are unicorn developers that really understand the customer journey. Really understand the different types of customers where they’re at in that journey. There are those developers out there, but SEOs actually are the ones that are tasked with finding that, finding intent and intent needs to be behind all of these things that we’re doing.

Right. When you’re talking to your clients, if your client can’t understand that we need to be nurturing to all people, they need a change of heart and you can try to get to them with saying one in five people can’t use your website. You can do that. Is that a little bit of a slippery slope? Yup. If you fixed your website, are you going to get an instant increase of 20%?

No. Will you have a heart that grew like the Grinch’s? Probably because you’re doing the right thing. There comes a point where you have to do the right thing otherwise you do have the risk of a lawsuit, right? You have the responsibility as a brand, as an SEO, as a developer to make sure that your information is accessible to everybody. It’s the law. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:34:09] Do you build out personas that are specific for disabled. I just wonder, cause I’ve never seen one now that I think about it, all the personas are very happy able bodied people for every company I’ve ever worked for. No 

Lea Scudamore: [00:34:23] you hadn’t. No, I don’t have it broke out like that. I take them at the customer journey and make sure that this journey is going to work for as many people as I can get.

Gotcha. Right. So this is from the journey perspective because honestly, I want to treat, I want to make sure that everything we have is available to everybody, to the best of my abilities, and we’re going to fail because this is new in a lot of ways. Is the information, the requirements new?

No, it’s over 20 years old. It’s part of the law in the UK, right? This is a global thing. In many instances, but it’s not, you’re never going to one and done it. It’s just like SEO in that way. And you just have to keep plugging away. It’s because who wants to sit there and go have their mom or their friends say, you know, I love your guys’ stuff and I really wanted to buy it.

But ever since my. I can’t. Yeah. Right. Fill in whatever it is. Right. I can’t use your website anymore. You don’t want to get that. I don’t want to get that. I don’t want to get a letter saying, here you go. You know what I mean? Cause there’s no, there’s just settling out of court. There’s no fighting it. 

Jim Keeney: [00:35:29] And again, you know, I said this has been on the table since well before 2000.

Lea Scudamore: [00:35:35] Yeah. Like 90, 90, 96, 7. Yeah, it was 96 7, but they started talking about it in the nineties and in early nineties, right. They started saying, we’re going to be doing these things like in 1990 or maybe it was 89. So this isn’t new. And the problem is that nobody’s taking it seriously. And the question keeps coming up, like, how do you convince your clients?

Everybody’s worried about the bottom line. Everybody’s worried about making the money, right. And growth. If you make the conscious decision as an SEO to not look into this and to learn about this and to put it into your tool belt, if you are a developer and you make the conscious decision, you are making the conscious decision to not make your stuff available to 10 to 15% of the global population in an age, where we’re all responsible to get traffic to the site.

Why would you do that? Right. Why would you automatically go they’re not my customer and chop off 10 to 15% of the global population or 20% or 22%. In the 20% in the U.S. And 22% in the UK, why would you do that? Well, that comes back to it. And like, how do you get your client to do it? I haven’t had a client come back to me when I said, here are the things we need to start doing.

Here’s why here’s how many people, here’s what the, their spending power is. I haven’t had a client come back and say, Nope, we’re not going to work on accessibility. Right. Right. 

Jim Keeney: [00:36:59] Well, and what I keep coming back to is there is a natural flow for how you manage your website. Yeah. It’s just adding some details to that flow and following through.

Again, you know, I keep coming back to, you know, there, there are two tags on every image. One of them says, this is what the image is. And the other one says, this is what the image means. You’ll have to fill them both out and you have to use radically different language for each of them. And that, you know, It is a thought process.

Once you get into that thought process, you’re like, oh, I’ve got to do both labels. And this one is going to say, it’s the left leg of a running man. And the other, one’s going to say, you know, be inspired by 

Lea Scudamore: [00:37:48] how do they line up when they go through right. And it takes, it’s not. And like we keep saying, it’s not easy because it’s not, but it is necessary.

And it is, you know, it needs to be necessary. You had brought up, Jim, you brought up forms. One of the things that everybody loves, those neat clean forms, where what you need to put in the cell is in the cell. But once you click in the cell, it disappears. Yeah. And I don’t know how many times I have deleted this, what I had typed out or tried to copy and paste it so I could delete it to look in to make sure that the format was right.

Yeah. Right. That you gotta that sort of thing can’t do that. You can’t have things disappear on people forms can’t be time to time out really fast and other exceptions of course, because of like, HIPAA and things like that, where some forms and like banking, they need to be on a timer, but people, if you’re, but people need to be able to pause or stop the timer.

If they need more time to fill stuff out, it comes back to those invisible disabilities. Right? Not everybody can. Cognitively get through a form as fast as the next person. So you need to give them the opportunity to make those changes too. So if you’re going to have a form and in the form fields, it’s going to say the requirements.

As soon as that cursor clicks into that field, those things need to pop up above the box. So it’s still visible at the end 

Jim Keeney: [00:38:58] which is the default for material design. So Google is not only helping us in terms of SEO, but there are designers that have led the way in terms of, you know, and I have this design systems are moving in the right direction finally.

And and the conjunction of design systems with web components gives you the ability to stop making it up on your own and just grab the, you know, grab a component that is already pre you know, pre-built to do those functions. You know, but then that gets us back to your other point, which is if you take off JavaScript, if you take off CSS, if you take off all these other things, do you still have a plain vanilla form that can actually be filled out?

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:39:44] So taking off JavaScript, like what do you do with clients where they’ve decided they want to launch a PWA or something pure JavaScript based or all that kind of flashy stuff. Some folks like to build sites with. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:39:58] I haven’t run into that one yet. I know it’s coming and I know we’ll put together a plan with the developers at that point.

But right now we don’t have anybody. That’s like hell bent on keeping things when we know that they’re not working, they’re looking for, what’s going to work and move forward from there. And that’s, what’s that. Kind of where our mindset has been. But I know that’s coming. I just haven’t laid out an entire plan for it.

I’ve also been getting a lot of questions like how do you make a PDF accessible? Because making a PDF accessible is. Is the world league version of how like it is not easy. It’s very hard. It’s hard, but there, isn’t a really awesome guide that I’ve found out there and I’ve come to the point where I think I’m going to have to write my own guide of how to make a PDF accessible simply. And like from the beginning because, it can be messed up based on what you loaded to the file first. Right? I mean, and then you’re like, you’re hopping all over when you’re tabbing through from page 30 to page two painful. Yeah. You lead the TOC table of contents. Oh, 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:40:59] so, so how do you test that? Like, say you’ve got a client. You’re wondering if their PDFs are awful. 

Lea Scudamore: [00:41:04] You can load it into Adobe and they have an accessibility test that will start you out really quick. So you just click the accessibility thing and have it run a scan and it will tell you some of the basics you need to get going. And yep.

There’s green checks and red Xs. 

Jim Keeney: [00:41:18] Yeah. My, my answer to the PDF question has always been why isn’t it a web page?

Lea Scudamore: [00:41:29] Yes, because like PDF and we want to it. Okay. Okay. 

Jim Keeney: [00:41:35] Why are you putting 80 page documents on the web? Nobody reads them. Nobody reads. I know 

Lea Scudamore: [00:41:44] the Reddit version. Just, 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:41:46] I always get clients that are surprised too, that they can’t measure their organic traffic to the PDF. There you go.

Lea Scudamore: [00:41:55] Yeah, it is really, it’s yeah, but and I’m still learning all the time. I think I’ll probably be learning just like with SEO will be, I’ll be an expert. When I go to bed, I’ll be a student in the morning. Cause everything is new. It’s, you know, Yes, Google changes all the time, but the true north is the intent of the client or the customer, right.

Intent of the customer, intent of the user, like that’s your true north. If you can, you know, adapt that to accessibility is making sure that, you know, the true north is we’re trying our best to make it accessible for everybody. Are you going to fail? Heck yeah, is that part of living? Yup. You just got to keep rolling and growing.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:42:31] You’re such an SEO

SEO. You’re like you mess up. Sometimes we’re always learning and always changes too. 

It’s okay. We roll with it

Lea Scudamore: [00:42:44] number one job of any sales person is education, right? Anyone, any sales person and as SEOs, we’re no different. Number one job is education. True north of the user intent and making sure that the content is, you know. The big aha at the beginning and not drawing it out like we used to do back in the newspaper and article days we got to make them really fast and easy to chew through.

So it’s the same thing. 

Jim Keeney: [00:43:09] Which also answers one of your questions about JavaScript, which is the people who are at the kind of the front of the field are actually going back a step in technology and what we’re doing is using JavaScript to generate static pages and then pushing those through our you know, content CDNs through our content delivery networks, because that answers the other question, which is page speed.

So the plainer that page is the easier, faster it loads doesn’t matter what the device is, et cetera, et cetera. So, yeah, so that’s kind of the other the more advanced tools out there in terms of content management and building your website and everything are now generating static pages and then delivering the static pages.

So, PWA, I have no answer to

It’s a really cool technology though. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:43:59] You were talking about showing a website and I distinctly remember this is years ago mind you, but Nike had a flash website and it used to be my example all the time. I’d be like, look at this blank screen. Wonderful blank screen. 

Jim Keeney: [00:44:13] How many digital agencies had a website that was essentially a movie that just slowly transitioned over and over again and looked really cool, but was totally unusable?

Lea Scudamore: [00:44:27] Yeah, I know. We’ve all grown there. We’ve all grown flash. We’ll outgrow not being accessible. We’ll get there and we just all need to start thinking about it. And that’s the number one goal is to just get SEOs thinking about it and make, and hopefully inspire them to take ownership of it. Right, because we need that intent.

We need to make sure that the right intent there and that there’s an image selected and on the page for a reason, you know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. So I want that’s my biggest goal is I feel like if I keep talking about it, Then maybe your best friend, won’t go through what my, one of my best friends went through, you know, your mom won’t go through it.

My mom, you know, what somebody else’s mom is going through being totally disconnected from, and also kind of the call-out Facebook and Twitter and the social channels that aren’t making it easy. Right. And it’s hard to tell is it the phone platform. Is it the platform or the phone or is it actually the social network, but there’s.

If you do go into your favorite SEO tool and do a keyword research for like Facebook and then filter out all the keywords that have, or include horizontal. Right. There are 145,000 people every month globally looking for help to use their Facebook on horizontal screen. That shouldn’t be a keyword. Those shouldn’t be keywords.

Yeah. It’s not as big for Snapchat. It’s not as big for Twitter, but by not making these things rotate, like I said, it could be the phones. It could be that the app, but by doing that, they’re losing customers. They’re losing people that could be very active and having a social life online. Like all of us have like clung to over the last year, you know, they’re losing in that spot.

Those are people that aren’t seeing ads. Those are people that aren’t shopping online. Those are people that aren’t. And you don’t want to be that you don’t want to your brand doesn’t want to be that acts that way. 

Jim Keeney: [00:46:35] When we’re disconnecting a large segment of society from, you know, things that we have come to make part of our central living expense.

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:46:45] And even more tragic because during the pandemic, all of us have been much more hooked on online, shopping, connecting with our friends online. I mean, 

Lea Scudamore: [00:46:55] Yup, video, Zoom, right. I mean, everybody’s been on those zoom marathons. You go right from work zoom into the social hour zoom’s

camera starts to glow red.

It hasn’t been pretty, but we’ve gotten through it, but yeah, they just, I really accessibility is empowering to everybody when they can get to it. Right. Accessibility makes everything online, empowering for everyone. And that’s the goal. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:47:27] You know, this has been amazing. I’m so glad you came on to talk to our listeners about assessability.

I, you know, met you on the tech SEO women’s group. And I was like, oh, she is hot. She is

Lea Scudamore: [00:47:48] I just, it was so disheartening and it was so much sadness, you know, and. Yeah. She deserved better. My friend deserved better. Your friends that need accessibility, they deserve better. And so SEOs, we’re loud. We make noise. We do these things and we have the podium to make noise and make this a thing on this from social to.

Websites on the web, right? Like we’ve been doing it for years. It’s not outside our norm. I keep pointing it back, but it’s already what we’re doing. We just need to make sure we’re doing it for everybody. Not the other four out of five, but five out of five. 

Jim Keeney: [00:48:27] Yeah. If you can make somebody do micro data, you can make somebody do alt texts, right.

Lea Scudamore: [00:48:33] Yes. And there’s so many good people out there that are like really great at it. You know what I mean? And so there’s resources. I’ll put up a page of like all the people to follow about the different things, because there’s like, I know a woman that is outstanding at alt text for accessibility.

And I can, I’ll go right down the list and say, here’s who I would talk to if I was stuck and then you can follow their stuff and see how they do things and you’ll learn from them and it’ll make it easier. And then you don’t have to teach your clients. Excellent. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:49:00] That’s perfect. Cause I was going to ask you what resources you are willing to share with our listeners.

So everyone will have to go to the episode page. We’re going to have links there.

Lea Scudamore: [00:49:08] I’ll give you a list of who I follow and what they do. And so you guys will have it because I’m not shy. I I want to tell everybody everything. I’ll tell you who and where. 

Katherine Watier Ong: [00:49:20] So how can people follow you and learn more about you?

Lea Scudamore: [00:49:22] Twitter and LinkedIn. If you hit me on Facebook, you’re going to get a lot of kid pictures that are from her mom and my . So in the sills and the bills. So, that, that’s where we, that’s where I ended up. But LinkedIn, I’m always sharing my stuff. Twitter I’m on quite often. If you want to message me, follow me, I’ll follow you back.

We can DM. It’s fine. If I don’t know the resource or if I don’t know what myself I know who does or where to find the resource to get you the right information Get you hooked up with our dev team, if you’re concerned from the dev perspective, because they are fantastic and they’re wonderful doing audits and they don’t just say, here’s the issues they actually say, this is what needs, this is what we’re going to do.

So it’s not they’re great team. 

Jim Keeney: [00:49:55] Yeah. Yeah. 

Awesome. Thank you, Lea. This has been fabulous.

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