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We write about Digital Accessibility. This includes topics related accessibility news, accessibility events, accessibility techniques, reviews of websites and applications, tips related to accessibility and in simple words all possible things about digital accessibility.

Posted in

March

2018

Missing alternate text: GAAD count down!

To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we will posting about common accessibility issues each day from today. Objective of this initiative is to let product owners know about how they are creating barriers to their users and how they can fix them. Let’s see how we could impact the world for this 6th edition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

To begin with, we will start with missing alternate text.

OK, what’s the alternate text anyway? Alternate text is information provided for as an alternative to images using <alt> attribute. Read our earlier post on “alt” – what, why, how and when? to learn more about alternate text.

We have tested a few websites from different segments and see how many of them are providing alternate text to images.

Government of India

  • Government of India Home page has one image without alternate text. Appears to be a subscribe button.
  • Supreme court of India home page has one image without alternate text. It’s a slider image
  • Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology also has a subscribe button similar to Government of India home page and this too does not have an alternate text
  • Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has two images without alternate text

Telecom Service Providers

  • Bharath Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has 3 images without alternate text
  • Airtel home page has alternate text for all images
  • MTNL home page one image without alternate text
  • Vodafone home page has alternate text for all images

E-commerce portals

  • Flipkart home page does not have alternate text for a few images
  • Amazon.in displays several shapes which does not have alternate text
  • Tata Cliq has one logo image without alternate text
  • Olx.in has alternate text for all images

Travel

  • Indian Railway Catering and Ticketing Corporation (IRCTC) has 11 images without alternate text
  • Abhibus home page has 2 images without alternate text
  • Yatra.com has 8 images without alternate text
  • Cleartrip home page has 14 images without alternate text

OK, can we campaign to have these websites (and others) learn and fix issues related to alternate text by 17th May, 2018 which is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Short note: Why it’s important for promotional emails to be accessible and not text embedded into an image?

These days, almost every day, we will end up receiving an email about a promotional offer but quite often they are image based. If you are a user with vision impairment, you cannot read that email with a screen reader. If you are viewing that email on a mobile device, often, images does not get loaded or take a lot of time to load due to poor connectivity.

Today (though not really new), I have observed email applications specially GMail uses some sort of intelligence to filter if an email is spam, if it decides as spam, it doesn’t by default load images of that email. Here is a screenshot of a promotional email I have recently received and how GMail displays it:

Screenshot from GMail

This Screen short displays a warning from GMail saying that this email may be spam and hence images are not loaded. Though there is an option to load images, what if user is a beginner or someone who does not know such features. In this scenario, actually messaging is lost. Fabulous emails can be generated using HTML and not really just as embedded into an image.

Read The ultimate guide for accessible emails

Pioneer in disability sector Shri. Javed Abidi has passed away – great loss for entire disability sector

He was such a person who have strength to have a Minister chair an event and point out what he has not done in spite he has power to do so.

He was such a person who chose to work on untouched issues like policy and advocacy instead regular empowerment and welfare activities.

He was a person who promoted the philosophy of “Nothing about us without us”. He was one person who have dedicated life for improvement of lives across disabilities; not just a specific disability.

He was person who have led the movement to have Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 and The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.

He was a person who has continued his hard work even when there was oppose from disability sector itself. He was a person who have been instrumental in sensitizing several corporates towards people with disabilities.

That was Shri. Javed Abidi who has passed away earlier today. This was untimely and shocking demise.

Shri. Javed Abidi (1965-2018)
Shri. Javed Abidi (1965-2018)

I know Shri. Javed Abidi for about 18 years. Have interacted with him through emails during my stint at The National Association for the Blind, Karnataka Branch and then later during my journey of accessibility.

I had a privilege to interact with him directly on multiple occasions on the subject of accessibility. He was such a person who never underestimate anyone and explore source of working together in everyone. I coordinate an informal group called Accessibility Enthusiasts in Bangalore. It was one day he invited us to discuss how we all can work together to spread awareness about accessibility.

In 2010, I have represented Yahoo! India along with Sandeep Datar to receive NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Award and in 2013, I was honoured with the same award at my personal capacity. Shri. Javed was instrumental in instituting many awards to recognise those who are doing wonderful work in the disability sector. Helen Keller Award and Universal Design Awards are a few among many other wonderful initiatives.

Srinivasu Chakravarthula receiving NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Award in 2013. Shri. Javed Abidi is seen in this picture.
Srinivasu Chakravarthula receiving NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Award in 2013. Shri. Javed Abidi is seen in this picture.

I was honoured when he said in one of our conversations where I wanted to recommend a company as potential accessibility service providers and have asked him what is the process to have them on-board, his response “Your word itself is enough”. That was how he trust people.

Perhaps this was his last interview; Thanks to Radio Udaan for having this done.

Disability sector has lost a true activist and replacement to Shri. Javed is close to impossible. We must continue his vision of “nothing about us without us” and his vision to have Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act gets enforced.

May the departed soul rest in peace. Miss you Shri. Javed.