Unfamiliarity with how to read and write for web accessibility represents a form of illiteracy whereby the disservice, injustice or exclusion that extends from the illiteracy is not felt by the person who is illiterate, but by already marginalized communities of disabled and otherwise disadvantaged internet users.

The writing strategies recommended by the WAI can be found repeatedly in technology and compliance literature, however, they are not categorized or engaged with as literacy skills. And technology and compliance literature often lacks the contextual information that would assist educators in framing these strategies as literacy skills.

Unfortunately, there is also little direct engagement with these skills in digital, web or multimodal literacy discourse.

I’ve extrapolated from both the WAI recommendations and literacy skills literature to present the WAI’s strategies as literacy skills here.

Content Creation Skills

Proficiency in the main strategies (and the related tactics and rationales) recommended by WAI to create content that would comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Ability to check the accessibility of your work before it is published and shared.

  • Proficiency with the accessibility checkers in publishing software (Office, Adobe, Google Docs, WordPress, LMS, etc.)
  • Know how to source advice, plug-ins or workarounds when an accessibility checker is not built into a publishing tool (for example, a citation manager may be part of a publishing workflow but may not offer an in-product accessibility checker, how might a bibliography generated by the tool be checked?)

Content Curation Skills

Ability to identify, search out or request web-accessible versions of files.

  • Proficiency reading for the use of the above strategies in digital files (and seeing when files do not employ the strategies or employ them poorly)
  • Know to source accessible versions of files from third parties for sharing
  • Be aware of the legislative framework supporting web accessibility, and copyright allowances and limitations to produce accessible versions of files. Or know where to go for advice and information on versioning content.

I’ll share videos, articles and tools in the Resources and FAQ categories to support each of these literacy skills.