Event organisers not only have to consider physical access – they also have to consider communication access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, while one in six people in Australia have a hearing loss, this aspect of events is often forgotten by event organisers and venue managers. Communication accessibility is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. While some venues claim that a hearing loop is installed, this may not be sufficient, particularly if it is not functioning as is often the case.
Deaf Children Australia have produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for event organisers covering Auslan interpreters, live captioning, and hearing loop technology. At the end of the guidelines is a useful checklist. Unfortunately the website has pale lettering on a white background.
People who have a hearing loss often choose not to reveal this aspect of themselves, consequently organisers receive little, if any, feedback about the efficacy or otherwise of hearing loops. Anecdotally, people with and without hearing loss often find captioning useful particularly if they have English as a second language, or if the speaker has an unfamiliar accent. More technical detail on hearing loops can be found on the Printacall website.
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a comprehensive Toolkit that takes potential purchasers of IT systems through the process of procurement, inlcuding assessing potential suppliers, and overseeing the successful implementation of accessibility features. It also shows how to build the skills required to manage the accessibility of the resulting system and user interfaces once the set-up phase is complete. This means ensuring that documents staff produce for uploading to the website also meet the accessibility criteria.
Download the IT Procurement Toolkit here.
The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is keen to support the concepts and principles of universal design. This Canadian based NGO has a comprehensive website with resources relating to the built environment, ICT, transportation, tourism, disaster management, and conferences. The GAATES about us section describes their vision:
“A comprehensive implementation of Universal Design principles takes everyone into account and results in fully inclusive and sustainable environments. Implementing the principles of Universal Design is the sustainable approach to designing for everyone as it equitably addresses the full life span of individuals as well as environments. This approach is quickly replacing the limited scope and vision of accessible and barrier-free design. Mainstreaming education about Universal Design rather than relying on codes and standards about accessible design, is the only way we will truly achieve an environment usable by all – without adaptation.
Universal Design and Accessibility do not exist in a vacuum, they are inter-dependent upon a number of factors; Education by designers and developers; Development of best practices criteria for Built Environment, ICTs, Transportation, Tourism, etc.; Legislation, Standards and policy that recognize the important of Universal Design; and Universal Design adaption of all facilities and services.
GAATES promotes this comprehensive and inclusive approach, and our unique multidisciplinary, multi-cultural, multi-regional membership assures a global vision in all our projects and solutions.
Every minute, 47,000 apps are downloaded around the world, but millions of Australians are missing out if the apps are not accessible.
Four winning apps in Australia’s only accessible mobile apps competition, The Apps for All Challenge are making a difference. The challenge is run by the Communications Action Network (ACCAN) to draw attention to the benefits of including digital accessibility in software development.
Winners were judged on accessibility, which means that an app can be used by the most people possible without the need for modification. Apps in the challenge were also judged on ease of use, market gap, value for money, universal design and availability. To see the winners, go to the Every Australian Counts link.
Barclays Bank IT Accessibility Team has been developing resources to aid project teams when they’re thinking about how accessibility should feature in their design process. One of these is their ‘Diverse Personas’ – a set of profiles of a range of people with disability including dyslexia, colour blindness, cerebral palsy and mental illness. The Diverse Personas handbook uses comic book characters. Each profile details the likes and dislikes of the person, which methods they use to engage with the bank and why, how they currently use technology, and, more importantly, how they’d like to use it if they could.
Thanks to Shane Hogan from the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland for this item.
This video from the Universal Design Centre California State University explains the importance of providing multiple means of representation – documents and information in alternative formats. The video is an example of universal design itself, and is something we should all strive for in our communications and documentation every time.
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has developed a very useful resource for web developers and website managers.
To find out how to improve the accessibility of a website you must establish its current level of accessibility. A web accessibility audit measures the accessibility level of your website against accessibility standards. It should lead to a list of actions to make your site more accessible to all users.
Go to the CEUD website to download the resources.