My journey into web accessibility

A little background about me and my journey into web accessibility.

Who am I?

My name is John Sexton and first started learning about the web in 1999 at a short web media course at a local college. This was my first look at HTML and basic CSS. I progressed to JavaScript and started work as a web developer at Newham NHS in 2001. I had been using screen readers since 1990 with MS Dos and then Windows from 1997. I have a degenerative eye condition called retina dystrophy, which I believe to be a little similar to RP (retina pigmintosis).

During my time at Newham NHS, I developed skills in ASP, VB Script, MS SQL, PHP, MYSQL, XML and jQuery. I developed their Intranet, various web applications for different NHS departments as well as there public facing website. I also got my first guide dog Rebel, a large German Sheppard, in 2005, who quickly became very well liked by everyone.

When I first learned about WCAG

Around the time I was tasked with producing the Newham NHS public facing website, part of the remit was NHS guidelines and web standards. This is when I first learned of WCAG. As I was already a long standing screen reader user, many of the WCAG guidelines I had been already following due to my own access needs. However, I quickly learned through attending various events that there are many more access requirements different to my own and I became an accessibility advocate.

Difficulties as a visually impaired web developer

Having a severe visual impairment has its fair share of difficulties in every day life and its no different in the work place. Many systems companies choose to use will have varying degrees of accessibility issues and often as the employee, you don’t get to say what systems get chosen. So after twelve years of service at the NHS, I was made redundant and started work for a local small web design company. After six months it was time for me to try something new and I decided to go freelance.

What am I doing now?

I am building my network of web accessibility enthusiasts and like minded developers. Sharing my experiences of web accessibility and beta testing WordPress to help with the future of its accessibility. Plus I am working on a community based project for the Native Instruments Traktor DJ community.

What are my interests?

Writing code, latest gadgets and digital DJ mixing and production. As after leaving college in 1991 I started mix DJing and did mobile discos up to 1999.

If you’d like to learn more, just ask in the comments.

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