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Web accessibility: An editor’s guide

By Ambrose Li

Web accessibility: An editor’s guide

Is web accessibility for people with disabilities the responsibility of just web designers, web developers, or accessibility consultants? Editors Toronto certainly disagrees, or it wouldn’t have organized a seminar on web accessibility standards last November. But what if you missed that seminar?

Web accessibility in a nutshell

Ontario’s web accessibility standard is based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It consists of four principles divided into 12 guidelines that together form the basis of more than 60 success criteria and over 400 techniques; it deals with not only web pages but also other kinds of content posted online, including PDFs. Its official guide, at 262 letter-sized pages, is more than five times longer than the standard itself.

This sounds intimidating, but the four principles of accessibility (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust) and 12 guidelines that underpin the WCAG standard are surprisingly simple. And, as an editor, only two of those guidelines should catch your attention: readable and navigable. Readability is clearly the job of all editors, and navigability—organizing the site so that readers can easily glean its structure and find their way around—is central to what substantive editors do. Even when acting within traditional editorial roles, we are already qualified to meaningfully contribute to a site’s accessibility. (more…)

Editor for Life: Pietro Cammalleri, freelance editor

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

Editor for Life: Pietro Cammalleri, freelance editor

Pietro, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I have been a Torontonian all my life, and my first paid work as a copy editor and proofreader was in 2003. Magazine publishing and advertising are the two industries in which I’ve worked the most.

As the owner of Pietro Cammalleri’s Editorial Services, I currently work anywhere from 20 to 40 hours a week, in the healthcare division of an ad agency whose clients are mostly large drug companies. The material I proofread ranges from print ads for medical journals to microsites for prescription medications. A large chunk of the “proofreading” I undertake is actually copy editing because the copy hasn’t been previously edited; surprisingly, in this role I mark up on hard copy much of the time. I also do quality assurance for iPad apps that have been tailored to client needs by checking the screens against hard-copy laser prints.

When I’m not at the ad agency, I try to pick up the odd freelance editing or proofreading work. Recently, for example, I finished copy editing a collection of a friend’s short stories; the manuscript has already been submitted to two publishers. (more…)