Idea to spread awareness about Accessibility to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As you all know 3rd December is marked as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and a lot of activities around the world. Here are some ideas to raise awareness about disability and accessibility.

Mini Accessibility Showcase

: We can create mini accessibility showcase absolutely at no cost but will have a great impact. Here is the list of activities and set up:

  • Experience a screen reader:
    • Install NVDA Screen reader a free and open source software on Windows and let users browse website by turning off the monitor. Here is an article by WebAIM on how to evaluate a web page using NVDA Screen Reader
    • Mac users can turn on VoiceOver by pressing CMD+F5; when you turn on for the first time, it will display a dialog for training; press “V” key to continue. (Press CMD+F5 again to turn off VoiceOver). Read Chapter 6: Browsing the internet – an Apple guide
    • Use Screen reader on iOS: VoiceOver comes with all iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) turn on from Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> voiceOver. When VoiceOver is ON, swipe / single tab will announce the app / option focused and double tapping will activate the same. Read VoiceOver guide on Apple website
    • Use Screen reader on Android phone: Android devices comes with a screen reader known as Talk Back. This can be activated from Settings -> Accessibility -> TalkBack. Similar to iOS, talk back announce app name / option by single tap and double tapping with activate. Off late, there is significant improvement in Talkback. Visit Talk Back Help page
  • No Mouse: Ask users to pick one of their favourite website that they usually love browsing (not Google.com please!!), and ask them to use it for a few minutes (may be 15-20 minutes) without touching mouse. It would be fun to visit some airline websites and try to search for flights (force them to use calendar picker!!).
  • No sound: Play a video by turning off audio. Pick a video that has captions. First time, turn off captions and then play sae video with captions; this will help users understand how captions are important for people with hearing impairment.
  • Using on-screen keyboard: From Windows Ease of Access Centre, Enable On-screen keyboard and ask users to type a couple of paragraph only using on-screen keyboard with mouse; this will help users understand how people who cannot use physical keyboard would type
  • Using voice recognition: This is a bit tricky on windows but easy on iOS and Android (now on OS X too!). Most of the users would know about Siri on iOS and OK Google on Android. Ask users to open a messaging app and dictate a message either using Siri or OK Google; this will show them how people who can’t use hands would rely on voice recognition software to dictate to computer.

Visit Ability Cube by Ted Drake for great set of set up ideas.

Test websites for accessibility and report

Pick your favourite website, do a testing for accessibility using automated tools such as aXe by Deque or WAVE by WebAIM. Once you are done with testing, either do a blog post or create a readable report; remember your post / report should consist of good practices that went into the website along with accessibility findings. It’s only when there is a positiveness in the post / report, it gets attention. Please visit our resources section for checklists and other documents.

Host a talk

If you are an accessibility professional or a person with knowledge of accessibility, do host a talk on a topic that would interest your target audience. Be sure to make your talk itself inclusive. It would also be cool to invite an inspiring accessibility professional for your session. If you have such a person nearby, do the event in person or host a virtual event.

If you have any other ideas, feel free to share via comments section or by emailing to reachus@serveominclusion.com and we will add them to this post.

Good luck,

Impact of Inclusive Design

Srinivasu speaking at UX India 2016This is full text of presentation made at UX India on 21st October, 2016.

Thank you for having me here and I’m delighted to talk about inclusive design. Thank you UX India organizers for including this topic as part of this conference.

To begin with, let me quickly introduce myself. I’m an accessibility evangelist, currently leads accessibility efforts at Informatica. Accessibility is something I am passionate about; I live in Bangalore with Hema (wife), Varshi (our angel) and 3 months prince!

Since we have very limited time, let’s get to the agenda – in next few minutes, we will be talking about Impact of inclusive design – beyond disabilities. The reason I specifically mentioned about beyond disabilities is because it’s often we see discussions about accessibility are focused only around disabilities and sometimes even specific to visually impaired. Through this tiny talk, I would want to wipe that myth! Of course, accessibility empowers users people with disabilities but not only people with disabilities.

In this session, we will be talking about:

  • What is Inclusive Design
  • Social Impact
  • Technical Impact
  • Financial impact
  • Legal impact

Please note that it’s not something I worked from scratch but I’m just explaining business case created by W3C.

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design is not a rocket science; it’s just about building products that are usable to all users irrespective of disabilities, age group, devices used etc., Let’s looks at few things that we commonly use:

  • Elevators: These are mainly designed to help those who cannot use stairs; I can understand, when someone is uses elevator to reach 8th or 10th floor in a building; but today, we see mostly everyone uses elevator even for a floor or two.
  • Ramps: Again, ramps are not only for people with loco motor disabilities; but also helpful to a women with pregnancy, elderly, a person with a heavy baggage. This is a reason we see ramps at most of the super markets at the exit gate.
  • Subtitles: These are actually meant for people who are hard of hearing; but mostly, everyone reads through them specially when watching a video / movie in a language that is other than that we know of.
  • Audio announcements in Rail station: This is quite common, when travelling by train, we await to hear announcements made though same may be displayed on screens. Because screen may be away from where we are standing or it’s the way we habituated for a long time; expecting announcements at rail stations. In-train announcements are not only helpful to blind passengers to know about next arrival station but also to those who are new in that route.

So this means we do not really have to build products for a particular group of users but we need to make sure our product work for diverse users.

Now let’s talk about impact of inclusive design.

Social Impact

By making products accessible, companies could showcase their social responsibility. It increases the brand value and inspire other product companies. It would also brings in respect and trust to your products. Inclusive products create equal opportunities to diverse set of users.

Technical Impact

These are benefits to you, as a company! An accessible product improves quality of your product, inter-operability, reduces site maintenance time – accessible code will be more semantic and hence becomes easy for future engineers to update / modify the existing code, it would also optimize server load time since accessible code will not have junk code in it. And sites that are accessible would work very well on different configurations such as mobile and tablets.

Financial Impact

As your product becomes accessible, number of users would grow thus eventually your users will grow. An Accessible product would be more usable to diverse set of users including those with disabilities, elderly, slow bandwidth connection, mobile users etc., It also saves cost on maintenance as semantic code would be easier to maintain than a lot of junk code. Once accessibility practice is in place and applied through product life cycle, it would reduce investment on accessibility and mobile readiness. Often accessible websites could be easily adoptable to mobile platforms.

Legal Impact

Lastly, building accessible products will avoid dealing with lawsuits. In several countries such as the Europe, US, Australia etc., consumers and advocacy organizations could file a case against products that discriminate inclusion law. Accessible products would not only enable compliance but also build trust among consumers. In addition, accessible products will have added advantage to sell to government organizations. In many countries, procurement policies of government do include requirement of accessibility.

Above all, it makes you as a responsible business. Let’s build inclusive products.

Thank you all!

Slides

Video of talk

Accessibility related events in October

Here are a few accessibility events that I have / going to participate during October.

  • Accessibility Week at Intuit India: Thanks to leadership, team of Special Needs and Abilities Network (SNAN) of Intuit and of course our good friend Ted Drake for having invited me to be part of a panel discussing about “Journey and challenges in the space of accessibility” with co-panelists Nirmita of Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) and Vishwajit of Intuit. Panel discussion received incredibly great response. As part of their Accessibility Week, Intuit has also set up a few experience zones including one by GiftAbled and Intuit’s own Ability Cube
  • Bangalore Accessibility Dinner: This is sponsored by Intuit; it was wonderful evening meeting with a few very old friends and making a few new friends. There were discussions about what can be done to raise more level of awareness, there were also discussions about certain technology related. It was great to see people from different companies have joined the dinner but I wish to see more new companies
  • UX India 2016: This is happening in Hyderabad later this month. There is a presentation on Assistive Technologies and UX by Chandni Rajendran and I’ll be speaking about Impact of Inclusive Design

All-in-all, October is a busy month!