The Design Business Show 102: Website Accessibility with Mychelle Blake

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | August 7, 2020
Check out episode 102 of The Design Business Show with Mychelle Blake to learn about website accessibility!

Mychelle Blake runs her own web design and SEO company with a focus on small to medium businesses and non-profits. She provides a full range of online business services including website design, copywriting for the web, search engine optimization, Google analytics setup and reporting, and web accessibility audits. She approaches her business with an eye towards online solutions that fits each of her clients’ unique needs. She also has a specialty in helping individuals develop online course platforms, whether it’s on their own website or using pre-configured learning management systems. She has studied web design and internet technology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and was one of the very first students of the Las Vegas campus of the Iron Yard Front End Engineering program. She also works as a writer for LoveToKnow, writing on a diverse set of topics from website design and social media to pet care and gaming.

In addition to her technical background, her professional background includes over 20 years working in administration, development and marketing/communications positions in the non-profit world. She has worked for both 501c3 charitable organizations and 501c6 nonprofit professional associations. She previously was a Certified Association Executive (CAE) through the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE). She has a Masters in Social Welfare with a concentration on Community Administration, Planning and Programs through the University of California Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of directors of SiouxperCon, a 501c3 charity in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and as head of the Marketing Committee for the Spencer Group, a 501c3 charity based in Minnesota. She also volunteers as a trial secretary for the Sioux Empire Kennel Club.

Mychelle lives with her dogs Kaylee, a Sharpei/pit bull mix and Jack, an American Staffordshire Terrier, her bearded dragon Haku and several aquatic creatures in Sioux Falls, SD. She is an avid science fiction, horror and fantasy book, movie and TV fan. She is also a passionate video and board gamer all the way back to owning both an original Atari 2600 gaming console and Dungeons & Dragons sets as a child.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

  • How Mychelle and I met on one of my webinars last year and how she was the first to apply to my Mastermind
  • Mychelle shares how she first got started in working for nonprofits on the administrative side while working with some clients on the side and eventually moved to association management
  • The story of how Mychelle and her team were laid off because the people who ran the association were looking to do a different model
  • How Mychelle had been going to school on the side studying web and has been doing websites on the side since the Internet first became accessible
  • When Mychelle got laid off she took her severance pay and went back to school, finished up a coding bootcamp program and went from there
  • Mychelle shares that after she got laid off, people she had met along the way through the association contacted her to do part time work
  • After doing so much part time work Mychelle realized she could do this full time instead of always looking for a job
  • Mychelle shares that she does a lot of WordPress but can do pretty much any platform and works with a lot of small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits and associations
  • What sets Mychelle apart is that she has a wide background in content writing and social media and creates a personalized service to each of her clients
  • The services Mychelle offers includes, website design/redesign, WordPress sites, SEO, Google Analytics, content writing and website audits
  • Mychelle also shares that she doesn’t have set prices for any of her services because she feels that everything she does for clients is different highly personalized
  • How Mychelle gets her business from a small community of animal behavior professionals because she used to be a dog trainer, from networking locally and doing some advertisements
  • How to network and become connected by joining BNI (Business Networking International) if there is a chapter near you, using and search for groups that have to do with your niche, small businesses or entrepreneurs, and then use Facebook to become part of small business groups in your area
  • How networking might be difficult for you but you should do it anyways and go in with topics you can talk about to make it a little easier, and how you should have an elevator speech prepared
  • Mychelle explains what website accessibility is and how it comes from the ADA (Americans Disabilities Act)
  • How most people follow WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
  • How you should put yourself in the shoes of someone with a disability and try to navigate your website and see how accessible it is
  • Main issues you want to look for include contrast colors for people who have a visual disability and making sure your site is properly set up to work with a screen reader for people who are blind
  • How you should make sure your site is accessible by keyboard only for people who have physical disabilities and cannot use a mouse or touch screens
  • Why you should make sure your videos have captions and an audio file to go with for those who are deaf or those who may have a visual disability
  • Other things to look out for are making sure your site doesn’t lack header tags, which the screen reader looks for, making sure your site doesn’t just use PDFs because they generally aren’t accessible
  • Offer a link to skip navigation so they can get through the site quicker and making sure you use proper anchor tags for links that are descriptive and underlining your links
  • Mychelle shares that if you have a page that times out after a certain amount of time you want to provide a static version because people with a visual or learning disability won’t be able to get through it as quickly
  • How if you have an autoplay video or audio on your site making sure you allow them to stop, pause it or slow it down because they might not be able to process it as quickly
  • How providing an email or phone number people can contact if they get stuck is useful that way they can ask questions and get help
  • Mychelle shares that there are free website checkers that will tell you how accessible to your website is and tell you where there are issues
  • How including an Accessibility Policy can show that you are making an effort and will continue to is better than not including one and potentially be targeted for a lawsuit

Links mentioned:

Mychelle’s website

Mychelle’s Accessibility Tips

BNI (Business Networking International)


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