The WP Community Collective (WPCC), a non-profit organization created to support individual WordPress contributors and community-led initiatives, has funded its first fellowship. Alex Stine, a fully blind individual contributor who has been working with the WordPress Accessibility team since 2016, is the first recipient of the funds designated for the fellowship.
WPCC reports that the fellowship received donations from 59 individuals and organizations that want to support the cause of improving the open source project’s accessibility. The organization uses Open Collective as the fiscal sponsor for its 501(c)3 status, enabling donations to be classified as charitable giving. All donations coming into the organization are transparent and publicly documented.
The fellowship provides Stine with five paid contribution hours per week for six months, which allows him to continue his work on accessibility reviews and patches in WordPress core. It includes a travel stipend for WordCamp US where Stine is volunteering as a co-organizer and participating in the Community Summit. As the first to embark on a WPCC fellowship, Stine will also help establish a framework for future Accessibility Fellowship cohorts.
“I am really excited for the future as this will allow me to commit real time to improving the project,” Stine said. “The support I received from the community shows me there are others who recognize the importance of accessibility.
“Time itself is the biggest win here. The funding allows me to focus more of my day on WordPress and less on side work. The main projects include the Gutenberg post editor.”
Stine recently conducted an accessibility audit of Gutenberg, which shows the current state of the block editor in WordPress 6.3. This video is very enlightening for anyone who hasn’t yet seen how Gutenberg works with assistive technology like a screen reader.
Stine has performed many accessibility audits for different products in the WordPress ecosystem. The fellowship funds enable him to continue his contributions on existing WordPress open source accessibility initiatives without having to take on as much consulting work.
“Alex has demonstrated a deep commitment to creating an inclusive experience for all WordPress users,” WPCC co-founder and president Sé Reed said. “We are delighted by the community’s willingness to invest both in Alex and in the future of WordPress accessibility. In supporting his work, we aim to improve accessibility across the entire project, from the core software to the greater WordPress community.”