Adelle Frank Interview

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Adelle Frank, Georgia Institute of Technology

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In this interview, Janet Sylvia (WAG Coordinator and Accessibility Specialist at AMAC) discusses web accessibility with Adelle Frank (Web Developer Manager Senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Institute Communications).

Janet: How did you get started with web accessibility?

Adelle: In my first full-time web development position, I was lucky enough to work with a great accessibility advocate, Arthur Murphy (Aeolian Solutions, LLC and Arthur Murphy Twitter). He helped write the original Section 508 standards for equal access via various technologies. I was already committed to the ideal that people should have equal rights, and Arthur inspired me to apply that to website access, too.

Janet: Why do you think web accessibility is important?

Adelle: That same nebulous drive toward open knowledge, which led to a degree in library science, makes me want all information to be easy to use. My slight obsession with clean and well-organized code might also be a contributing factor.

Janet: How do you currently incorporate web accessibility into your work?

Adelle: Whenever I'm helping someone learn how to edit a web page, I mention a few easy things they can do and quickly explain why it matters. In fact, I've even made guides to them in our online documentation. In addition, when I'm working with folks on a web site or project, I try to speak up about any accessibility concerns I have, as well as offering my ideas for how to solve them. Heck, we even managed to add real-time captioning to the live streaming video of our 250th commencement this year. This was a win for remote attendees with hearing issues, but also for those with cognitive disabilities! I also participate in a committee that meets to try and figure out what accessibility resources my campus needs, and how we might get them.

Janet: What inspires you to continue this important work?

Adelle: Knowing that I help make my corner of the web a little better, a little easier to use. And that I can help other good people share their content as widely and universally as possible.

Janet: What advice do you have for others (newcomers, colleagues) regarding web accessibility?

Adelle: One of the concepts from seminary (another story) that I took to heart was the idea of always seeking, but never reaching, perfection. Even today, people can still probably find some accessibility error in our templates or in a particular feature we've added to a site. As technology changes, we have to grow and learn better and new ways to keep producing accessible code and content. To put it another way: Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. My mentor always emphasized that 508 was about reasonable accommodation - when you have little or no budget, some forms of accessibility may be out of your current reach. But that doesn't mean you give up on the whole idea! Instead, you do what you can, get help from those who offer, and always seek to be better.

Janet: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Adelle: Just the insider secret that accessibility is sometimes abbreviated as "a11y" online. It can be a useful tip for newcomers, if you're following hashtags.

Janet: Special thanks to WAG Member Adelle Frank for sharing her story and inspiring us to help make the web more accessible for all!