Weblogs: Web Accessibility

Guild of Accessible Web Designers launches

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

GAWDS, the Guild for Accessible Web Designers is an organisation of web designers interested in promoting accessible, and responsible, website design. It is an organisation geared around mutual support and guidance, as well as recognised accreditation of skills.

The Guild of Accessible Web Designers marked its launch today by calling upon Web designers to embrace accessibility as the cornerstone and guiding principle of their profession.

Web designer accreditation

From my perspective, GAWDS fills the gap identified by the DRC - the need for a website developer organisation that fosters best practice in the creation of accessible websites. On the requirement of formal accreditation of web developers, Joe Clark mentions GAWDS as a possible organisation that meets this objective.

I think it is important for web designers to actively participate improving their knowledge and skills - especially in web standards and accessibility. Currently web designers are perceived as the source of many inaccessible websites - so it is essential that steps are taken to tackle this perception as well as tackling the real issues - the lack of knowledge and skills.

The DRC have urged for the UK government sponsored organisation to promote web designer accreditation - looking by past government results in this context, government participation heavily relies on big business support which has the unfortunate side-effect of ignoring grass-roots developers and knowledge experts.

In this light, GAWDS is a proactive step into meeting the spirit of the DRC requirements by choice, rather than have it enforced on us later by a governmental body that neither understands nor has a passion towards web accessibility.

Design competition

As part of its launch, GAWDS has started a design competition for its own website. Web designers who can combine excellent taste in design along with accessible practices are encouraged to participate. The goals of the project are two-fold:


I support the efforts of GAWDS. I am already a member, joining a few days after the DRC report confirming the inaccessibility of UK websites. Part of my reasons were to participate with other web developers who also want to progress accessibility of websites in a constructive and positive manner.

I am passionate about creating a better Web - for everybody with an Internet connection. I've expressed more thoughts and feelings about accessibility in my GAWDS interview.

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