It seems silent movies have made a come-back. According to the Digiday website, as much as 85 percent of video views for some publishers on Facebook happen with the sound off. That is, if they can view them that way. And that means having closed captions to interpret speech, or text over vision without narration. Apparently this is the new way to catch the immediate attention of Facebook viewers. It might also be a reason for Facebook to upgrade its auto-captioning because this doesn’t work well (sometimes known as “craptioning”). Once again, taking an inclusive approach to videos to include people who are deaf or hard of hearing with captions has proved popular with many others. Read more about the changing habits of Facebook users in the Digiday article.
A leader in standardarising accessibility functions over specialised accessibility is Apple. Their products are recognised as being easy to use with intuitive functionality. With organisational values such as “inclusion inspires innovation”, the experience of engineers like Jordyn Castor provides a personal perspective when designing for usability. Born 15 weeks early, Jorydn beat the odds and being blind from birth doesn’t stop her from some masterful coding.
In the Mashable Australia article, Castor says her own success – and her career – hinges on two things: technology and Braille. That may sound strange to many people, even to some who are blind and visually impaired. Braille and new tech are often depicted as at odds with one another, with Braille literacy rates decreasing as the presence of tech increases.
But many activists argue that Braille literacy is the key to employment and stable livelihood for blind individuals. With more than 70% of blind people lacking employment, the majority of those who are employed — an estimated 80% — have something in common: They read Braille. For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement. “I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”
The Interaction Design Foundation understands that accessible design is not just for people with disability, but about how all users engage with design. Aside from recognising that World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C-WAI) should be considered at the start of the design process, they also offer other helpful tips in making your website user-friendly in their article, Accessibility: Usability for all. Here are some examples of their tips and advice:
- If you use a CMS, choose one that supports accessibility standards. Drupal and WordPress, for example, support these. If you’re going to amend a template rather than create one for the theme, make certain that the theme was designed with accessibility in mind. It can save time, effort and money.
- Use header tags to create headings in your text; ideally, ensure that you use CSS to make this consistent throughout the site. Try not to skip from one heading level to the next (e.g., H1 to H4, rather H1 to H2); this can confuse screen reader software. Users with more severe vision impairments may access your site using a refreshable Braille display or terminal, which depends on screen readers.
- Use alt text on your images; if you use images to enhance content, then a screen reader will need to explain them— that’s what the alt text is for. However, if your image is purely for decoration and adds no other value (other than looking good), you should skip the alt text to avoid confusing someone having the site content read to him/her.
- Have a link strategy. Screen readers sometimes stutter over links and stop on the first letter. That means it’s important not to have “click here” links scattered through the text. The best link descriptions have a text description before the link and then a unique name for the link. (E.g., “Read more about the Interaction Design Foundation, at their website.”) Consider offering a visual cue (such as a PDF icon) by links to make it clear what the link will deliver. Use underlines on links (they help color blind people distinguish links from text). Highlight menu links on mouseover to assist with locating the cursor.
- Choose colors carefully; if in doubt, test your color schemes with some color-blind people. Color blindness is an incredibly common disability, and the wrong palette can make it difficult for a color-blind person to read your text or navigate your site. You also need to ensure that you provide high levels of contrast between text and background; older people, for example, can find it hard to see text unless the contrast is high.
- Don’t refer just to the color of something when giving instructions; “click the red button” isn’t helpful to a color-blind person. …
Read the full list on the Foundation’s website. Scroll down for the section on website design. There is also good information on other design ideas.
Barclays Bank has been a leader in inclusion and accessibility of their branches and now taking the next step to mobile banking. The short video below explains clearly how inclusive design is good for everyone as well as the bank’s profits. The video ends with a call to action: “Accessibility – make it your mantra”. Mark McLane from Barclays Bank will be speaking at the AND national conference on diversity in Melbourne in May. There is a great line-up of speakers.
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. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides.
The sub title from the e-book “Ageing, Adaption and Accessibility: Time for a revolution!” says it all. The book includes chapters from UK, Denmark, USA, Slovenia and Norway. The theme is the digital age and how to include everyone. It covers the economic case, putting people at the centre of the design, keeping it simple, and user testing.
In the foreword CEO of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson, says, “The experts interviewed for this book have given all who are involved in developing technology food for thought. It sets out the opportunities, challenges and impacts that communication solutions present to users, to help ensure that what we develop in the future does not end up excluding people whose lives we actually set out to improve. “
Ageing, Adaption and Accessibility is published by the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and is free to download. Several well known authors are featured, including Valerie Fletcher, Roger Coleman, Ger Craddock, Hua Dong, and Baroness Sally Greengross.
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 bulletin is 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
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.
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a comprehensive IT Procurement Toolkit. It takes potential purchasers of IT systems through the process of procurement, including 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 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. Each section of the Toolkit is provided separately. It includes:
- Writing Request for Tender
- Assessing Candidates and Tenders
- Development and Implementation
- Evaluating Deliverables
- Maintaining Accessibility.