Ever wondered what “W3C” means on websites? Web accessibility is becoming increasingly important as we move ever closer to reliance on computers and other internet devices. Web accessibility is not just a matter for people who are blind or have low vision. The online AFB Access World Magazine gives some background to the W3C organisation and includes easy to read informationfor making websites more accessible. The webpage begins:
“As society continues to become increasingly more reliant on the World Wide Web for essential products, services, and information, the importance of inclusion and accessibility in the digital arena has rapidly become a right and a necessity. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) plays a leading role pertaining to digital access and the Web. W3C represents an international community consisting of member organizations, full-time staff, and participation from the public related to Web standards. At the helm of W3C is none other than the inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee. W3C launched the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1997 with endorsement from the White House and W3C members.”
All webpages, blog pages, or uploaded documents or pictures should be accessible and this information is a good start – not just for website managers, but others who provide newsfeeds, documents and pictures for their website. You can access more information in the ICT and UD section of this website.
As an adjunct to the Inclusive Design Toolkit, the Inclusive Design Team at the University of Cambridge are publishing success stories of inclusively designed products and packaging in a regular bulletin. Included in the latest bulletinis a really interesting demonstration video of e-commerce image recommendations (see below for video). When the shopper is trying to work out the brand, the format, the variant and the size of a product on a mobile phone or tablet, the images just blur and it is often pot luck with choosing. They claim Mobile Ready Hero Images are better than conventional pictures of packages in fast vertical scrolling. The video was made by Cambridge University in conjunction with Unilever. More detailed information and image recommendations can be found on this link.
Also in this latest issue they have published an article based on the final panel session from the 2016 Australian UD conference, The Economics of Inclusion. It showcases the Woolworth’s supermarket trolley with two types of handle grip and a cup holder.
Note: I found the upright grip good for controlling an empty trolley and the horizontal grip good for controlling a heavy trolley. So having both types of handle was great – very convenient and easy to use! Jane Bringolf
In 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.
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. It 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.
Microsoft has produced a great set of resources to introduce digital designers the the world of inclusive design. You can download separately the manual and activities in PDF, and the informative videos. The website has additional resources of interest including gaming and film making. There is an opportunity to download the text to the videos so that people using screen readers can access the content. Videos are captioned. Microsoft are living the message with their own web design and content.
Media Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications. Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. Examples of where this Guide may provide useful information include:
Setting up a new computer for a person with a disability.
Formatting internal documents in an accessible way to help employees with a disability.
Creating an accessible website.
Ensuring that people with disabilities can access important social media messages from a service provider.
The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013.
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. Also, not all deaf people wear hearing aids with the requisite “T” switch.
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.
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. 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 Clearasound 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.
To find out how to improve the accessibility of a website, you must find out the current level of accessibility. A web accessibility auditmeasures 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. This useful resource from Centre for Excellence in Universal Design will help demystify the auditing process, and help identify the actions you need to take.