Refactoring my role as the Drupal Core Accessibility Maintainer

I was first introduced to Drupal while working on a short-term contract at the University of Toronto in the winter of 2009. Soon after I began to research and contribute to the accessibility of Drupal Core. Over the past two years I have essentially served the role of Accessibility Product Manager for the project. I have built many friendships, learned a great deal, and believe that working together with the community we have significantly improved our product.

The time will come, in the future, when I reduce my involvement with the accessibility of Drupal, to allow myself the time to focus on areas of the community / product that have become more interesting to me. Since the release of Drupal 7 I have begun to scale back my involvement in writing accessibility related patches, and have been focusing more on the HTML5 initiative. I do not, however, want to walk away without first developing, and then implementing a sunset plan for my role.

I believe that there are three essential components required to ensure that Drupal remains accessible, and that it continues to increase in accessibility. Firstly, we need more contributors working on accessibility related issues, we had a strong group with a representative cross-section of skills working on some of the major issues during the Drupal 7 release cycle. Secondly, we need several committed contributors with experience and solid skill in the accessibility field to serve as accessibility maintainers / reviewers, particularly where the addition of new UI patterns are concerned. Thirdly, we need to work more closely with upstream communities, such as jQuery, to ensure the accessibility of the products that we currently use, or that we may wish to use in the future.

To this end, I am planning on taking some actions, and making myself more available to others in the community, to ensure that Drupal continues to be a highly accessible product.

1. Over the next few weeks I will be contacting larger Drupal shops to see if they have interest in focusing some of their Core contributions on accessibility. If 4 shops were to commit to resolving 1 Core accessibility issue per month then about 50 issues could be resolved within the next year. I made a list of about 25 significant Drupal 8 accessibility issues in a g.d.o discussion: Working on Drupal Core accessibility.

2. I am offering to make myself available to up to 3 individuals who are interested in being mentored as Drupal Core accessibility contributors. Candidates may be Drupal contributors who are interested in improving their understanding of accessibility, accessibility professionals interested in improving their knowledge of Drupal, students with little knowledge of Drupal or accessibility, or really anyone who is committed to the principals of accessibility and open source software.

3. I am interested in collecting a list of upstream products currently used in Core, and a wish list of products desire for Core (such as jQuery UI Chosen). I am willing to work with the upstream communities to help them to understand our accessibility requirements, so that their products can be improved for all who implement them.

What lies ahead is a significant task. Our community, however, has proven that accessibility and equity are part of its set of core values. We would not have been capable of improving the accessibility of Drupal 7 without working together, and I have no doubt that we will continue to work together to ensure that we offer a product, and community, that is equitable and welcoming to all.