So that was January, eh?
The first month of this year, that is 2024 for those who are counting, went by really, really fast for me. It felt like accessibility is going to change a lot over this year.
It was all kicked off by Level Access’ December 31st announcement to buy overlay company UserWay for almost 100 Million Dollars. I’m still baffled why an established company would do something so damaging to their reputation. Learning that Level Access is backed by private equity firms explains some of it.
Do I think this is the start of overlay companies getting bought and integrated into real accessibility companies? I don’t know. But I can certainly see how this move legitimizes overlays despite their general ineffectiveness. Selling tools is super profitable compared to services.
And of course, Level Access had the uproar blow over and at some point just stopped interacting or responding to critical voices. We have seen this in other situations. I don’t think we have the structures to keep the discussion on that going, especially as we are all so busy.
I wrote down my thoughts on the whole debacle shortly after it happened: Level Access crosses the line; buys accessibility overlay company (Opens in a new window)
At least good news on the activity front towards overlay platforming. I noticed that a well-known conference in Austria planned to platform overlay vendors and posted about it on LinkedIn. It was framed as an IAAP panel, but apparently a volunteer organized the session and wasn’t authorized to do it, which leads to the session being cancelled. Lainey Feingold has a great write-up on why this needed to be tackled (Opens in a new window).
I wrote some blog posts since the last newsletter:
WCAG 2: Guidelines and Guardrails (Opens in a new window) – About the two standards in WCAG 2.
2023 (Opens in a new window) – My year in review article.
Level Access crosses the line; buys accessibility overlay company (Opens in a new window) – The aforementioned article.
The Year of Focus on Focus (Opens in a new window) – Where I publish my yearly theme… and to be fair, that hasn’t gone too well yet. Such a busy January!
It looks like I tend to always write a blog post very shortly after sending out newsletters. I guess my writing brain gets activated by the practice of writing. Interesting observation.
The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has gotten consensus to continue with a complete WCAG 3 revamp (Opens in a new window) instead of a WCAG 2 evolution. This is not surprising, I think most people steering the effort are tired of the way WCAG 2 is structured, and they yearn for something new. I get that.
It will probably take until the end of the decade until we have published a full version of W3C Accessibility Guidelines 3. However, the Working Group has also agreed to a modular approach. If that is done well, we might see the first finished modules by 2028 or so. I hope we will be able to add them into WCAG 2 without too much fuss.
These are weird and unprecedented times, not only in the accessibility industry. I am glad to see millions of Germans taking to the streets to stand up to fascist people and parties that have befallen my country yet again. This makes me hopeful that we won’t tolerate those who are intolerant.
Thanks again to everyone who has subscribed to this newsletter, you rock! Thanks also to the members who directly support my activities financially.
I hope February is a little less stressful, but somehow I doubt it. Take care.
My primary social media/Fediverse/Mastodon handle is still @firstname.lastname@example.org (Opens in a new window), and you can also find me on LinkedIn (Opens in a new window) (where I make a fuss about overlay panels) and Bluesky (Opens in a new window) (where nothing happens).
(Yes, this is all quite complicated!)