Accessible websites: debunking the myths

Stylised picture of a group of computer monitors in various shades of blueIn a straightforward fashion Cris Broyles addresses five common myths about what you can and can’t do to make websites accessible. So no, they don’t have to be boring with just plain text and no images. Yes, you can use images, videos, and audio clips. And no, it is not enough to ask a blind friend to check the website. And it doesn’t have to be difficult – with the right resources it can be done.



Cognitive disability digital accessibility guide

Front cover of the cognitive disability media access guideMedia Access Australia has produced yet another great media guide. The latest is for people with cognitive disability. If you are looking for specific information about how best to accommodate and interact with people who have a cognitive disability, this Guide is for you. 

The Cognitive Disability Digital Accessibility Guide is designed to provide practical, step-by-step information for designing and delivering effective best-practice web and digital communication. It provides useful information on:

  • Guidance on policies and technical standards that best apply to people with cognitive disabilities in an organisational context.
  • Creating websites that support people with a cognitive disability.
  • Developing documents structured and written in ways that support people with cognitive disabilities.
  • Preparing communication messages for people with a cognitive disability.
  • Understanding how best to support people with cognitive disabilities in their ability to use computers and mobile devices.

The Guide also covers traditionally-implemented accessibility guidelines of WCAG 2.0 Level AA as well as looking at the increasing relevance of Level AAA requirements. The guide also delves into the role of affordable consumer devices such as tablets and helpful apps.

Of course, if the design is suitable for people with cognitive disability, there is a very good chance it is going suitable for everyone.

People with cognitive disabilities or impairments include: acquired brain injury, autism, dementia, developmental disability, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and learning difficulties in general.


Learning is for everyone: free technical article

Wayfinding picture yellow background and black symbols show toilet and baby change The eLearning Industry website has some interesting articles for anyone interested in inclusive learning ideas. “Designing eLearning that is accessible for people with disabilities isn’t easy. The key is to find ways in which basic principles of good web design, along with the principles of Universal Design, can improve access to and the experience of eLearning for all learners, regardless of ability.” In their free technical article they examine several important issues related instructional design and accessibility: 

  • Legal requirements for accessible web sites.
  • Problems encountered by people with disabilities who use educational sites.
  • Guidelines for accessible design from various government and private organizations.
  • Assistive technologies that aid learners with disabilities.
  • Developing accessible eLearning using the guiding principles of Universal Design for Learning.

Diverse Personas

Picture of front cover of version one of the toolkit with cartoon characters depicting the various disabilitiesI previously posted an item about “Diverse Personas” to help businesses understand the diverse needs of their current and potential customers.  Version two of this useful toolkit is now available with more personas, or archetypes, of people including those with osteoarthritis, dementia, ADHD, Down syndrome, and more. It outlines a life script and through this we can understand the individual is capable of doing and how they prefer information to be presented. Sponsored by Barclays Bank, it has a banking focus.

You can access the pdf version of version 2 or go to the Technology Taskforce website for the full story and access version one and version two in both pdf and Word.


7 tips for smart Word doc accessibility

Graphic of Microsoft Word with a cartoon person scratchng their head Your website might be W3C and WCAG compliant for accessibility, but what about the documents you upload? In some organisations operational staff are expected to write material such as fact sheets, promotional flyers, and other documents for uploading to the website. Larger organisations might have an editor or someone in charge of media and communications. But do they all know what is required to make these documents accessible?

Media Access Australia provides Seven Simple Tips for smart Word doc accessibility. While some of the advice looks a bit technical, most of it is fairly basic such as creating Alt-text for images so that a screen reader can identify the picture or graphic. Another good point is not using terms such as “Click here” to go to a link. Instead, embed a hyperlink within the name of the file that is in the text. And the perennial one, avoid jargon. Note that .doc files don’t have the same accessibility features as the newer .docx (Word 2010).


Inclusive Toolkit by Microsoft

A black circle with the word inclusive in white letteringMicrosoft has produced a great document that spells out the need to design inclusively. The way the issues are explained can be applied to any design discipline. This resource is a best practice example of how to present a persuasive argument for designing universally. Here is a sample from the text:

“Inclusive design has a strong heritage in accessibility. There are great examples of inclusive practices from architecture, physical products and public spaces. Yet, digital technology presents new opportunities to expand this expertise in new ways. In this toolkit, we define inclusive design as a set of practices that can be applied to any existing design process. Inclusive is how we design. It’s our tools and methods. In comparison, accessibility offers ways to improve access to what is already designed. A curb cut is still a curb. The cut makes the curb more accessible. Inclusive design gives us ways to design for ever-changing human motivations and needs. And design systems that can adapt to fit those diverse needs.”

Download the toolkit here



10 Apps take accessibility to the next level

accessibility-apps-644x250The Make Use Of website has a section on technology and accessibility. It covers Apps that help people who are blind and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The videos simply explain how they work and what value they add to the lives of people who are blind, deaf, or hard of hearing.  They include RogerVoice, and Tap, Tap See.  

Of course, you don’t have to be blind or deaf to benefit from some of these Apps. As in many cases, products designed for people with disability often create greater convenience for others.