Surfability News: Press coverage

Accessibility Call draws Blind and Deaf professionals

BWDMA logo

Professionals from both the blind and deaf communities join the British Web Design and Marketing Association's (BWDMA) new working group for accessibility and usability. The call, issued only a week ago, has already attracted members across the digital economy.

Aiming to devise practical initiatives to remedy social exclusion from the Internet, the working group has attracted scientists, academics, and industry professionals. According to Jodie White, BWDMA Relationship Manager, it is the participation of people with disabilities that make the composition unusual.

White explains: "The group is designed to attract a broad range of professionals from trade bodies, advocacy groups and industry professionals. But by having contributing professionals that are both disabled and work in the digital sector, the group has greater insight into the diversity of requirements for people with disabilities."

Meetings are now being planned in London, Bristol and Manchester.

Acting Chair for the working group, BWDMA member Léonie Watson, was a creative designer and programmer who went from 20:20 vision to absolute blindness. She now works as a fulltime Usability and Accessibility Consultant assisting local government, corporate and academic organisations for human-centred design company Nomensa.

According to Watson, the working group's industry-wide composition gives it gravitas: "Since the evolution of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) usability and accessibility have become hot issues and inevitably there are those that 'jump on the bandwagon'. I am so very encouraged however, by the commitment of people that obviously have a real passion for usability and accessibility. We already have some very interesting initiatives to consider that could make a significant difference."

Working group member Jeremy Freeman (Managing Director, Bamps Ltd) is profoundly deaf. He comments: "The DDA places a burden of responsibility upon all website owners and yet there is still a very low level of awareness amongst commercial organisations. Large enterprises should seize the opportunity to contribute; we are going to generate opportunities of excellent exposure for those that decide to sponsor our initiatives."

The BWDMA working group will hold its inaugural meeting in October and will continue to seek contribution from across the digital industry. Interested parties can join by visiting

Notes to editor:


The British Web Design and Marketing Association (BWDMA) is a "broad church", inclusive organisation attracting companies and individuals with an interest in the digital economy. The Association seeks to improve e-business standards through sharing knowledge, understanding and proliferation of best practice.

BWDMA is an active participant in the Digital Content Forum (a Government partnership with industry). DCF provides a platform to exert an influence over government policy. The BWDMA provides a gateway for businesses to purchase with confidence from reputable suppliers through the free procurement service Web Project Guide.

The Association proactively operates a programme of industry collaboration with reputable trade bodies in the digital economy. Additionally, they actively support the development of associations, network organisations and community groups that share our values. This reflects a genuine commitment to knowledge sharing.

About Léonie Watson

From creative designer and flash programmer, Léonie went from 20:20 vision to absolute blindness in just two years (2000 -2001). In less time than that, Léonie equipped herself with new skills and established a reputation for her usability and accessibility abilities. Now Léonie is an Accessibility Consultant at Nomensa. She is also a key contributor to the Nomensa Accessibility Research Programme pioneering accessible design techniques for the Internet. In this role Léonie has worked on projects for British Gas, Nottingham and Swansea Universities.

Léonie is currently studying for a BSc (Hons) Computing & Information Technology and is also an active member of British Computer Association of the Blind. (BCAB).

Katy Howell
immediate future.
01932 706 810
07803 898 511

Released on September 22nd 2003 by the
BWDMA Usability & Accessibility (UA) Working Group

Dr Mark Williams, The Managing Director of Surfability, is a member of the BWDMA Usability & Accessibility Working Group.

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