Interview with Rachel Cherry: Automattic Pledges to Fund WPCampus’ Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

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While at WordCamp US, I had the opportunity to catch up with WPCampus director Rachel Cherry, who is coordinating an audit on Gutenberg for the organization she leads. WPCampus launched its crowdfunding campaign at the end of November and more than $10K has come in towards the $30K goal.

The day before WordPress 5.0 was released, WPCampus announced that Automattic has pledged to ensure WPCampus’ accessibility audit of Gutenberg is fully funded.

“I think that they [Automattic] see that it is important,” Cherry said. “Even when they said they weren’t going to do it, I don’t think it was ever ‘We’re never going to;’ it was just ‘Not right now.’ For us, we couldn’t necessarily wait for ‘maybe we’ll do it later,’ so that’s why we jumped on it and got the ball rolling. I think they saw an opportunity where they could step in and have the means to move this along even further. They see the value and I think that’s why they wanted to jump in. They also saw all the community effort going on.”

In the interview below, Cherry discusses how leaders in the WPCampus community rallied to get the audit in motion. The organization has received seven responses from vendors and is currently in the selection process. She also shared a little bit about her conversation with Matt Mullenweg during his community office hours and their discussion about how WordPress is used in higher education.

Cherry’s strategy in advocating for accessibility is to focus on slicing through the confusion surrounding accessibility problems with an emphasis on education and communication. Although WordPress has set accessibility standards, the project has fallen short on enforcing them. In addition to putting automated accessibility testing in place for core, Cherry said she would also like to get more support for helping theme and plugin authors meet accessibility standards. This would help ensure that the code WordPress.org puts on the web is more accessible for those who are creating customized sites.

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