Once upon a time, 34 years ago…
A life-changing event
4 teenagers come out of a club in Brighton at 2am. The driver felt he had too much to drink, so they all agreed to sleep in the car. Clive slept in the back seat and his fiancée Jess slept in the boot, as it was an estate car. Their friend Jane slept in the passenger seat.
The driver woke up at 4am, felt OK and set off. He didn’t wake the others, so they were all in prone positions without seatbelts.
He was, sadly, still way over the limit and he fell asleep at the wheel on the Old Shoreham Road, by the cemetery. The car hit a lamppost at approximately 46mph and was a wreck.
Everyone suffered life-changing injuries. Clive punctured his lungs and was on life-support, he suffered damage to his back and had severe head trauma, which has had a profound effect on his life. Jess was far worse, she suffered multiple injuries, including head trauma and was permanently paralysed from the waist-down. Jane’s suffered a broken leg and severe facial injuries. The driver had cuts and bruises but his trauma was mental. No-one blamed him, it was just one of those things
Clive and Jess were not able to marry until the following year, as she was in spinal rehab. They remained married for another 30 years until 2021 and had 3 amazing children.
A new set of train tracks
Sometimes your life changes direction. Sometimes it does not just change direction, you literally find yourself on another set of train tracks altogether, with no reference point.
Clive and Jess discovered that beautiful, historic, Chichester (in the UK), the City they lived in most of their lives, was actually beautiful, historic, inaccessible Chichester and at that time, there were no laws in place to ensure that access to buildings was a legal requirement. That legislation, the Disability Discrimination Act did not happen for another 5 years.
So the long, hard battle to make the world a more accessible place began. Jess formed a pressure group and campaigned relentlessly. She was in the local paper and things began to change.
Things began to change
The local Council put in 4000 dropped kerbs, one by one, the historic listed buildings discovered that they could become more accessible and a building that was several hundred years old had a lift put in. Jess literally changed the face of Chichester.
- After both having had success in the Creative Industry (Jess as a digital artist, Clive as a composer for TV and Film), they moved into web design.
By now, the world was a more accessible place than it had been but, virtually-speaking, it was like being back in the 1980s. Most websites were completely inaccessible for disabled people and those that were accessible were, frankly, not exactly aesthetically pleasing.
What is in a name?
Jess came up with the name Access by Design. It wasn’t just a name, it was a statement of intent. To show the world that it was possible to have a website that was both accessible and beautifully designed.
She stepped back from the business due to increasing poor health in 2010 but Clive carried on. Access by Design created the Web’s first mobile and tablet-friendly, fully accessible in 2011 and was recognised for that when it received an award for Innovation in 2015 at the Observer Business Awards.
Clive kept promoting accessibility at every opportunity and, through Covid, focussed on doing so online. Thanks to Dale Howarth, he was able to give a TEDx Talk on Accessibility in March 2022. This was featured on TED.com in January 2023.
Clive, having worked in computers since the age of 11, was fascinated by the technical side of accessibility and has worked with many clients over the years, helping them along in their journey through the complex world of digital accessibility. As he began to build his team of amazing Disabled Auditors, he was reminded, time after time, that the only way to truly know how accessible a website truly is, is to have disabled people use it.
His team have visual, physical and cognitive disabilities and they do not go looking for issues. They just try to use websites like everyone else but it is their Lived Experience that reveals the issues that cannot be found by any other means. This is what makes them so invaluable.
Access by Design have created perhaps 200 websites over the last 16 years, a mere drop in the ocean of over the 230 million websites live today. However, each agency Clive works with then goes on to create more accessible websites in the future, so there is perhaps some kind of a compound effect. However, the sad reality is that, in 2023, over 96.12% of websites fail basic accessibility tests.
It may be that Clive does not hit his rather ambitious target of helping every website to at least pass basic accessibility tests. In fact, his impact may be absolutely minimal, too small to even measure. He is OK about that.
He is OK about that because he found an #a11y.
He then found another one.
And another one.
One after another, after another. Amazing, like-minded people who share his passion to make the world a more accessible place and are all doing their bit to Change the World, One Website at a Time.
Together they can do it.
We have choices
Many people have some experience of disability, either permanently or temporarily and it gives them a perspective that they might not ever have had otherwise.
If the accident had not happened, there would have not been Access by Design.
You may not have any choice over things that happen to you but you have a choice in how you respond to it.
It does not matter where you are on the journey through digital accessibility. As my poll last week showed:
14% have just begun!
38% are getting there, slowly!
48% are Full steam ahead!
Imagine if this was reflected across the Web? How amazing would it be then?
Let’s journey on together. Join my army. https://cliveloseby.com/join-me/
Would you like to find out more?
If you would like to find out more about website accessibility, please follow these links:
Access by Design
Beautiful, WCAG Compliant, Accessible Website Design
Delivering an Outstanding Website Accessibility Audit
Award-winning Web Design, Chichester