News for Betty + Accessibility Hackathon

Today, I participated in an accessibility hackathon run by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, 18F, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, and DC Legal Hackers. The day was packed with demos, discussion and coding on all sorts of projects, ranging from solving the lack of alt attributes on Twitter images to a more efficient way to integrate Section 508 into the government procurement process.

We didn’t solve everything in one day, but we had lots of ideas, worked together and did it in the open. I contributed to a new, in-progress web app called News for Betty. It’s a news aggregator that takes the home pages of major news sources and cuts out the cruft, making it easier for people of all abilities get to the news faster. A fun project for a former journalist! You can check it out on Github. A handful of my pull requests centered on improving its accessibility have already been merged.

It’s easy to jump into any problem thinking you need to bring a new solution. With a newer, but established project like News for Betty, the creators had already formed a solid base to an existing problem. Sometimes you just need to give something support, a nudge in a new direction or a different way of thinking, and maybe a few pull requests. 🙂

This is especially true on the Web where thousands of worthy projects need more accessibility attention. What have you helped today?