Beware digital consultants who offer a range of services “plus Accessibility services”. If they list it as a separate service then it is likely they don’t truly know what it is. Why? Because accessibility should be built-in regardless. It’s not an added extra. But it is specialised.
As Sheri Byrne-Haber says, “Just because you are good at one does not make you good at the other”. If you say you are good at both it implies you don’t understand the business drivers for either.
In her article Byrne-Haber lists some other mistakes commonly made by consultants: 1. They assume that you can wave a magic wand over people and turn them into accessibility testers. 2. They rarely employ people with disability, but outsource to disability services and pay them a pittance for their knowledge. 3. They tell people they can do every type of accessibility testing in their contact messages.
Byrne-Haber also points out that digital accessibility specialists will be in demand as disability discrimination legislation gets tighter. Big tech companies are already on board with an increasingly diverse workforce. But you do need to know what questions to ask. The list of questions to ask is in her article, Vetting Accessibility Vendors.
It is good to see human-centred values and human, social and environmental wellbeing now included. A closer look shows that older people, people with disability, people from diverse backgrounds and children are included in these principles by virtue of including human rights. The Fairness Principle includes mentions of Inclusion and Accessibility.
How smart can a smart city be? ‘Smart’ is everything from the footpath to the website. So not so smart if it doesn’t include everyone and join the dots between all the factors that make a city a city. With digital transformations happening worldwide, the aim of the Smart Cities for All Toolkit is to eliminate the digital divide and improve urban environments for everyone. In the video below, James Thurston talks about the issues cities are facing.
The main part of the toolkit, the Inclusive Innovation Playbook, is detailed and aimed at a policy and planning level. Stakeholder participation and inclusion is an essential theme. Case studies assist with understanding. There is a helpful checklist at the end of the Playbook. There’s a lot to digest, but this means it isn’t a cursory overview with simplistic solutions. It goes much deeper than a digital accessibility checklist. This is about joining the dots across city assets and leveraging them for everyone’s benefit. Other sections of the toolkit cover:
Guide to adopting an ICT accessibility procurement policy
Implementing priority ICT accessibility standards
Communicating the case for stronger commitment to digital inclusion in cities
Database of solutions for digital inclusion in cities
“The toolkit supports a range of organizations and roles related to Smart Cities, including government managers, policy makers, IT professionals, disability advocates, procurement officials, technology suppliers, and developers who design Smart City apps and solutions.
Each of the tools addresses a priority challenge identified by global experts as a barrier to the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in Smart Cities.” See also Smart Cities for All: A Vision.
James Thurston of 3Gict discusses the issues in the video below.
Gerard Goggin has written a thoughtful piece on the issue of automated vehicles and how they might, or might not, be a boon for people with disability. The value of automated vehicles for people with disability is often mentioned in articles related to this technology, but will that value be realised? The article raises some important pointsabout the depiction of disability and how it is communicated and how that plays out into the world of technological development. Goggin covers “blind driving”, developments by Google and Waymo and more. Mentioning the inclusion of older people and people with disability as good news stories is insufficient to put these users at the centre of designs. Written in academic style but important thinking going on here. The title of the article is, Disability, Connected Cars, and Communication.
Introduction: In this article, I take up a highly visible theme in discourses, experimentation, and manufacture of connected cars and autonomous vehicles: disability. I analyze the leading ways in which this new kind of technology is imagined for particular users with disability, as in the highly publicized case of Google’s pilot driverless vehicle promoted as a boon for blind people and those with vision impairments. Then, I try to stand this kind of framing of connected-cars-as-good-for-disability on its head, and discuss the implications for questions of emerging social technology, equality, diversity, and design. Reflecting on this analysis, I look at what disability tells us about connected cars, and, indeed, how we might rethink communication and technology.
Note: Gerard Goggin co-authored a book, “Disability in Australia: exposing a social apartheid”. Written in 2005, it is still relevant today. It can be bought online or accessed through the National Library of Australia.
Six different posters help designers make online services accessible in government and elsewhere. They cover low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, dyslexia, motor disabilities, people with autism and users of screen readers. The posters are simple and this is what makes them effective. Basically they act as visual prompts to designers rather than offering technical know-how. You can download each of the postersfrom the UK Government website. There’s other useful information and links too. Also available in 17 languages.
The international Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index (DARE) rates Australia as 71 points out of 100. Apparently this makes us 12th in global rankings with an implementation ranking of 10th. The index takes Australia’s laws and regulations, policies and programs, and capacity to implement inclusive technology into the scale. It seems Australia has full capacity to implement, but has only just passed the halfway mark in actual implementation.
G3ict has also produced a report with more detail. “The report gathers insights from the survey by Level Access in cooperation with G3ict on the current state of accessibility in organizations as undertaken by 550 professionals from organizations of all sectors. The high number of responses shows the considerable interest for trends in accessibility implementation. Readers are encouraged to go through the detailed results of the survey and compare them to their own experience to help advance their own endeavors and the accessibility profession at large.”
People with disability are often early adopters of new tech, but these new ideas can also come with unintended barriers to users. As we improve built environment accessibility, it is important we don’t fall into the same design traps with digital designs. Plug and Pray? A disability perspective on artificial intelligence, automated decision-making and emerging technologies is the title of a report by the European Disability Forum. There are two versions of this report:the standard full text and an Easy Readversion. The Easy Read version is great for non tech people. It is a great way to get your head around the many issues that need consideration without wading through lots of words.
Click-away customers are not those clicking on the pages on your website. They are clicking off because they can’t navigate the pages.A neat video by Barclays Bank debunks common myths about customer complaints, costs of being accessible, access being someone else’s job, it’s too small a market for all that time and effort, and accessible design is boring design. Towards the end there is a great statement, “accessible design should work well for those who need it, and be invisible to those who don’t”. A really useful video for anyone promoting accessible customer service in our digital world, and for others wondering if it really is worth the effort. The video is captioned.
Artificial Intelligence is here and it’s global. Australia won’t have the last word on all developments. Indeed, we have AI elements in our technology now that was developed overseas. AI holds promises of improved quality of life for most people, assuming all the privacy issues can be solved adequately. And we have to make sure it is fair and inclusive. But AI runs on data – data collected from individuals, their behaviours, and life events. How can we be sure this data is applied through algorithms in a fair and inclusive way? There’s a survey you can do.
Now is the time to ensure the Australian Government and others get the feedback they need on future developments of AI. I encourage you to contribute to the consultation on the Australian Government’s AI ethics framework. You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, just an expert on inclusion or your experiences of being excluded by design.
The online survey is short and allows lots of space for your opinions and experience. Or you can write a submission and send it in. The discussion papers are easy to read and available in a PDF document and a Word document. Submissions close 31 May.
According to an article by the Design Council, mental health conditions can have an impact on spending, something which banks and financial institutions often neglect. Zander Brade, Lead Product Designer at Monzo, talked to Design Council about the importance of designand innovation in implementing a broad range of features to help people with mental health conditions. Research has resulted in Monzo designing product features to help people with mental health conditions, including real-time balance updates and an option to block transactions relating to gambling. Zander believes that accessibility applies as much to mental health as physical health, and that embedding accessibility within their services will ultimately benefit all their customers.