Ravelry and accessibility: Taking action

(Last update was June 6 2021 6:04pm ET.)

Lots of things have already been done, and there are still things which can be done and are being done.

What's been done so far

  • Voicing concerns:
    • Twitter user @VesperLoved has filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice for Ravelry's non-ADA-compliant website. 
    • Now-closed petitions:
    • The Epilepsy Foundation has reached out to Ravelry to alert them to the reports of harm being caused and to take the concerns of people with epilepsy seriously, and has urged the epilepsy community to use caution when visiting Ravelry.
    • At least one user is making official complaints to consumer/trade organizations.
  • Community reaction:
    • Ravelry strike March 31- April 6 - "Days of silence" for Ravelry Classic. The idea was that you lot out of Ravelry during this time period and encourage your contacts to do so too, so that Ravelry would see a huge drop in online presence. Plus, spreading the word about the accessibility problems! 
    • The Demon Trolls group ran a "pulse check" survey on people's reactions to the whole situation, and the results are now available.
    • Instagramuser stitchedinthemiddle put together an independent survey on Ravelry's lack of accessibility - the survey is now closed but you can access the results, and read an analysis of their results! They also did an Instagram Live talking about the results. There is now a part 2 of the analysis.
    • As a tongue-in-cheek response to the October 15 system update, which included no accessibility improvements but did enable the embedding of Spotify playlists, a #Ravelry Accessibility Spotify playlist has started up, which contains songs whose names refer to the problems of the redesign and Ravelry's problematic response.
  • For Ravelry advertisers and shopkeepers: 
    • There was a series of Twitter polls running to find out about how designer sales on Ravelry have been going since the launch of the new design. 
    • A completely off-Ravelry alternative to the 2020 Indie Giftalong was created, the Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long (full disclosure: I'm one of the co-creators). We're looking at doing it again next year, too.
    • The 2020 Indie Giftalong on Ravelry included some off-Ravelry components. For more information, you can email indiegiftalong@gmail.com.
  • Data-gathering
    • Twitter user @cefryber gathered data in late March/early April about Ravelry's new design in a short and simple survey. No identifying information is being collected. She's finding that problems with the redesign are likely disproportionately affecting people who wear glasses, and she's trying to understand this effect better. Information about her survey methods is available.

What can still be done

  • Voicing concerns/official complaint channels:
  • Reacting on Ravelry:
    • Although Ravelry is forbidding discussion in the Main 6 forums about the accessibility issues, there is still discussion happening in other forums:
      • There's a thread in the Demon Trolls group, which you can get to by adding '/discuss/demon-trolls/4045988/1-25' after the Ravelry domain name in your browser's location bar. It contains 206 pages of discussion devoted to providing an outlet for those who needed it where folks could talk honestly and openly. The thread has now been locked, because...
      • There is a new group on Ravelry called Ravelry Accessibility Discussions, which you can get to by adding '/groups/ravelry-accessibility-discussions' after the Ravelry domain name in your browser's location bar. This is the result of the above-mentioned Demon Trolls thread. Obviously, those who can't access Ravelry can't participate directly, but if you have access to a friend who can still use Ravelry safely, reach out to them to see if they can help you know what's going on in that group and perhaps even post on your behalf?
    • You could make a statement via your Ravatar
  • General action:
    • Please do not post links anywhere to Ravelry; or at least, not without a warning that following it may cause physical harm.
    • Please do not post screenshots of the new Ravelry design anywhere; unfortunately, even screenshots of the new design gives people problems.
    • "Hit them in the wallet": According to their blog post from January 25, 2012, Ravelry's biggest income earners, in this order, are:
      1. Advertising: For this, their biggest income-earner, there are multiple ways you can make an impact: by not buying ad spots on Ravelry and by not clicking through on Ravelry ads (to make the ad spots less valuable to those who are still advertising there).
      2. Sale of Ravelry merchandise
      3. Pattern sales: There's lots of information on alternative ways to buy patterns in the list of resources for getting off Ravelry
      4. Amazon commissions
      5. Selling extra features on Ravelry to users
      6. Other affiliate programs
      7. Contributions
      8. Events (although it doesn't seem like these are money-makers for them anymore)
    • I've created a thread on Twitter to try and connect users who can't access Ravelry to those who can and are willing to help in whatever way they can.
    • Twitter user @TaniaRichter is trying to gather data from Ravelry users (monitor resolution and suchlike), to try and figure out what's going on (she has had a Ravelry-induced migraine for over a month). Please respond in this Twitter thread.
    • Please be patient and understanding with independent designers. They've been blindsided by all of this and many are scrambling to migrate their products to alternative sales channels while running their day-to-day-business and coping with the pandemic. Additionally, some of these designers are among those who can't use Ravelry safely anymore!
    • That said, many independent designers may be completely unaware that all this is going on, or unaware of how important it is for them to make their patterns available on other sales channels. Prospective customers can help here, and reach out (kindly and respectfully, of course!) to designers to ask them if they can make their products available off-Ravelry. (This idea comes from Twitter user @kaysaraahsaraah.)
    • In a related vein, you can (again, kindly and respectfully) reach out to anyone hosting a Ravelry event (e.g. knitalong) to point out to them that this is not accessible.
    • Twitter user @knitswhereitsat wrote a thread on what crafters can do.
    • There is an extremely interesting Twitter thread about how easily a small group trying to get people in power to stop doing something which hurts them can get effectively sidetracked and diminished by the people in power; and how the group can stay on track. It outlines some of the things that have been happening in the Ravelry Accessibility situation and is a very good read.
    • This Twitter thread is a place you can report what happens to you when you try to access the new design (assuming you're comfortable doing so).
  • For fibre-related businesses (including Ravelry advertisers and shopkeepers): 
    • If you're a designer still selling on Ravelry, consider putting your pattern up for sale earlier on your alternative platforms, or running a sale on your alternative platforms but not on Ravelry. (Thanks for the idea, @Retro_Kitty79!)
    • You can help people who are potentially at risk from Ravelry by identifying where links are going in your communications, so that people can be informed about what links they're going to follow. (Thanks, @LynneSki!)
    • Any businesses which provide yarn support can refuse to do so for any designers who sell exclusively through Ravelry. The Knitting Goddess shop is already doing this!
    • Many people are now, whether by choice or necessity, actively seeking to buy patterns off-Ravelry. Designers can help by:
      • Creating a non-Ravelry sales channel for their products (see the designers section of Getting off Ravelry for more information)
      • Including non-Ravelry sales channels on their Ravelry pattern pages (extra convenience points if you link to the off-Ravelry buying page within the pattern description). This may seem counter-intuitive, but remember that there are people who still use Ravelry's search capabilities but are unwilling to spend their money there.
    • Ravelry reported on Twitter that 56% of their 2018 revenue came from on-Ravelry advertising, and 34% from pattern sales fees. Mass withdrawal advertising and patterns for sale on Ravelry may therefore convince them to take accessibility seriously where other communication has not. (The open letter from designers mentioned in What has been done was part of this.) Advertisers seem to be abandoning Ravelry; hopefully this will have an impact.
    • There is starting to be an impatience among the community of people with disabilities to see fibre-related businesses (especially those with big followings) speaking out about this issue. If this means you, please say something - the more people who make it known that this is a problem, the better.
    • Some designers are deliberately not paying their Ravelry invoices right away, or even allowing their Ravelry invoices to roll into overdue status.
    • Life after Ravelry is possible! Here are some details from designers who are comparing before and after:


  • Twitter user @kantwerk reported that accessibility problems are affecting visitors, clicks, and potential customers.
  • NEW: Spreadsheet showing the levels of global traffic and engagement on Ravelry before and after the redesign (as of June 6 2021, Ravelry has slid in Alex rankings from place 7,992 to place 14,222 - an all-time low).
  • Twitter user @cathairknit put together the latest site stats promoted by Ravelry on February 18 to demonstrate that sales took a very significant drop in June 2020 vs. how previous Junes have compared to their corresponding Mays. (All the more significant when you consider that the new design launched halfway through June, so the drop presumably represents two weeks of new design problems as opposed to an entire month's worth.)
  • Instagram user @evanitaewm indicates that the March 31-April 6 "days of silence" has resulted in a follower growth decrease of 242% compared to the previous week.
  • Sewing and fabric online community and database Textillia has announced that they've removed all Ravelry social media links from member profiles and their About/FAQ pages for the foreseeable future. This is a direct result of Ravelry's decision to remove the Classic toggle combined with their comments in a recent New Yorker article.

Previous page: Getting off Ravelry
Next page: What I'm doing

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was also a Dreamwidth community set up for the accessibility discussion, which due to the actions of the people behind the Ravelry Accessibility group, has been largely missed.

If anyone would like to join in and support it the address is

There is also an email for people who can't use DW to reach them.