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Accessibility

#BESCOM make CAPTCHA accessible

Like many websites, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) uses CAPTCHA to secure portal from fraudulent attempts. BESCOM uses CAPTCHA at several places including:

  • New user registration
  • Forgot the user ID
  • Online Payment landing page

CAPTCHA implemented currently is a image based combination of alphabets and numbers. However, there is not alternate mechanism to aid users with vision impairment / deaf-blindness / cognitive disabilities.

Recommend BESCOM adopts an accessible CAPTCHA solution such as Google’s reCAPTCHA or provide an alternate method of athentication such as by sending an One Time Password (OTP) to registered phone or email address.

I’m sure there would be many individuals with disabilities and organizations run by people with disabilities who uses services of BESCOM and it’s important that portal should be accessible to all users including people with disabilities.

Do get in touch if more explanation is needed.

White Cane enables people with vision impairment to walk independently, but what causes problem?

15th October is celebrated as International White Cane Safety Awareness Day. White Cane enable users with vision impairment to walk independently. It offers indication if there are any obstacles in front of them. There ae traditional white canes which comes in variety of models such as long cane, folding cane, cane that comes with a ball that rolls. It comes in various sizes too. Today, there are also smart canes that not only detects objects on the floor but also detects and alert if there are objects at face level.

While these assistive aids are available, in many countries, it’s still difficult for people with vision impairment to move around independently. Why is that? Because it’s due to lack of accessible infrastructure. In some countries, foot paths doesn’t exist; even when they exist, we will see uneven path ways, someone selling goods etc., At the traffic signals, some people doesn’t follow rules. In urban areas, due to increased traffic, at many places, it’s difficult to cross roads and we don’t see footever bridges.

It’s not about accessibility of public places but even offices, residential buildings, all of these need to be accessible. In the modern apartments, we see elevators that has floor buttons in a touch panel without any alternate method. Accessibility needs to be considered for everything including entertainment.

On this day, let’s all write to various stakeholders and raise awareness about importance of having right infrastructure and how it can create positive impact on people.

Accessibility Courses and Certifications

Let’s help more people to learn accessibility!

It’s good to see there is increased interest to pursue career in the area of accessibility. There are also growing opportunities. It’s important to have more people with accessibility knowledge so that more products become accessible. Now that many things including education are going virtual, it’s important that supporting technology is accessible. Here is a quick list of accessibility training programs and certifications.

Accessibility Trainings / Courses

There are several organizations that host on-demand accessibility trainings. Some offer in-person and some are virtual. Some of the organizations that offer accessibility training are:

  • Learning at BarrierBreak As of this writing, there are two free courses listed. That are Understanding disability and Creating Accessible Word documents.
  • Deque University – Offers courses on Web Accessibility, Document accessibility and preparation courses for IAAP Certifications. While offerings are commercial, they provide scholarships to people with disabilities.
  • The Paciello Group – TPG offers trainings both on-site and through series of webinars for designers, developers, testers and other stake holders on web and mobile accessibility. TPG also has a few self-paced trainings via their TPG Tutor platform
  • Knowbility – have 17 instructor-led, hands on training programs that they can deliver as is or customize as per needs of an organization. They host variety of online events to promote accessibility. They intend to provide online courses in the near future.
  • Level Access – Offers trainings with various options such as classroom training, small group instruction, side-by-side coding with your developers.
  • WebAIM – with a stratagy of educating and empowering customers about accessibility, WebAIM brings seminars to onsite as well as host a few training events at Utah State University
  • We at ServeOM Inclusion offer training programs to small and medium level organizations. We also offer training to freelance consultants. Reach us on +91 6366 778 991 for more details.

Certifications

W3C offers an introductory course through edX platform. This course is free; however, to get a verified certification, there is a fee. The course is interactive and taught directly by staff of Web Accessibility Initiative Group of W3C.

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Tester is a process that offers in-depth self paced online training on Section 508 standards and provide certification as DHS Trusted Tester with a Trusted Tester number. To qualify to attempt final exam, one must score minimum of 90% in practice exams. Once user registers for practice exam, they must pass witin 30 days. Once enrolled for final exam, user must complete within 10 days and score minimum of 90%.

International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) offers following certifications:

  • Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies
  • Web Accessibility Specialist
  • Certified Professional in Accessible Built Environment

I personally have felt DHS Trusted Tester Certification Content has in-depth with examples and practice assignments. This is a great place for thorough learning about accessibility. For CPACC exam, I found course material available on Deque University useful.

Let’s help more people to get certified and join family of accessibility professionals.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 – Final Draft is now available

Accessibility Guidelines Working Group at World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released final draft of WCAG 2.2 on 11th August, 2020. WCAG 2.2 has introduced 9 new Success Criterions out of which 8 are Level AA and.. Let’s take a look at new Success Criterions.

  • Success criterion 2.4.7 Focus Visible (Changed from Level AA to Level A) – Any keyboard operable user interface has a mode of operation where the keyboard focus indicator is visible.
  • Success Criterion 2.4.11 Focus Appearance (minimum) (Level AA) – For the keyboard focus indicator of each User Interface Component, all of the following are true:
  1. Minimum area: The focus indication area is greater than or equal to a 1 CSS pixel border of the focused control, or has a thickness of at least 8 CSS pixels along the shortest side of the element.
  2. Change of contrast: The color change for the focus indication area has a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 with the colors of the unfocused state.
  3. Adjacent contrast: The focus indication area has a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 against all adjacent colors for the minimum area or greater, or has a thickness of at least 2 CSS pixels.
  4. Unobscured: The item with focus is not entirely hidden by author-created content.
  • Success Criterion 2.4.12 Focus Appearance (Enhanced) (Level AAA) – For the keyboard focus indicator of each User Interface Component, all of the following are true:
  1. Minimum area: The focus indication area is greater than or equal to a 2 CSS pixel solid border around the control.
  2. Change of contrast: Color changes used to indicate focus have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 with the colors changed from the unfocused control.
  3. Unobscured: No part of the focus indicator is hidden by author-created content.
  • Success Criterion 2.4.13 Fixed Reference Points (Level A) – When a web page or set of web pages is an electronic publication with pagebreak locators, a mechanism is available to navigate to each locator and each locator maintains its place in the flow of content, even when the formatting or platform change.
  • Success Criterion 2.5.7 Dragging (Level AA) – All functionality that uses a dragging movement for operation can be operated by a single pointer without dragging, unless dragging is essential.
  • Success Criterion 2.5.8 Pointer Target Spacing (Level AA) – For each target, there is an area with a width and height of at least 44 CSS pixels that includes it, and no other targets, except when:
  1. Enlarge: A mechanism is available to change the CSS pixel size of each target, or its spacing, so there is an area with a width and height of at least 44 CSS pixels that includes it, and no other targets;
  2. Inline: The target is in a sentence or block of text;
  3. User agent: The size of the target is controlled by the user agent and is not modified by the author;
  4. Essential: A particular presentation of the target is essential to the information being conveyed.
  • Success Criterion 3.2.6 Findable Help (Level A) – When a single web page application or set of web pages having options like Human contact details, human contact mechanism, self help option, a fully automated contact mechanism, then access to at least one of the options should be made available in the same relative order on each page
  • Success Criterion 3.2.7 Hidden Controls (Level AA) – Controls needed to progress or complete a process are visible at the time they are needed without requiring pointer hover or keyboard focus, or a mechanism is available to make them persistently visible.
  • Success Criterion 3.3.7 Accessible Authentication (Level A) – If an authentication process relies on a cognitive function test, at least one other method must also be available that does not rely on a cognitive function test.
  • Success Criterion 3.3.8 Redundant Entry (Level A) – For steps in a process, information previously entered by or provided to the user that is required on subsequent steps is either autopopulated or available for users to select. Exception: When re-entering information is essential; example: Re-enter new password on a password reset form.

Looks like there are some good changes made and I personally happy to see 2.4.7 Focus Visible has been promoted to Level A.

Looking forward to have WCAG 2.2 become a recommendation.

A tribute to Joseph Karr O’Connor

Just after about a few weeks that Jim Thatcher has passed away, it’s sad to sad and unexpected demise of yet another accessibility advocate Joseph Karr O’Connor (1953 – 2020). He is one of those people who have contributed immensly in the area of digital accessibility. He is popularly known as Joe and AccessibleJoe. 

I met him for the first time at CSUN Conference back in 2010 and we had a great conversation. When I asked for his business card, his answer was “I’m just CSUN’s Webmaster; I’m not that important person to carry business cards.” that was his simplicity. 

Sure he must have done a great work at CSUN as a Webmaster but also post his retirement at the Universityl, he has contributed a lot to the world of accessibility specially for WordPress platform. He has educated a lot of people about accessibility. 

Joe – you will be missed and may your soul rest in peace. 

Profound regards and condolences to Joe’s family,

Srinivasu Chakravarthula
8th January, 2020
Thank you, John Foliot for letting me know this news through Facebook. 

Intoducing SI a11y (AccessibilitY) HelpDesk

What’s What’s SI HelpDesk?

SI (ServeOM Inclusion)’s a11y (AccessibilitY)’s Help Desk is a platform where anyone who is building a website, web application, mobilie application to ask questions related to accessibility. 

Yes, there are plenty of resources on the web and they are all great and SI a11y HelpDesk is just another helping hand to support individuals and organizations in the area of digital accessibility. 

How to connect with SI a11y HelpDesk?

SI a11y HelpDesk can be reached via voice call or WhatsApp Text on +91 6366 778 991 or +91 9482 506 558. Our phone support works from 9:00 AM (India Standard Time) to 2:00 PM (India Standard Time) From Monday to Saturday. Questions can also be sent using email at support[at]serveominclusion[dot]com. 

Who should use SI a11y HelpDesk?

  • Web Developers
  • User Experience Designers
  • Quality Assurance Personnel
  • Product owners
  • Non-profit organizations working to promote accessibility
  • People with Disabilities

What kind of questions you should ask?

Questions related to digital accessibility including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Accessible Rich Internet Applications, Accessibility Testing, Accessible Pattern libraries, Mobile accessibility. Currently we have limited knowledge about document accessibility; however, we shall be able to help you by routing your questions to our colleagues in the industry. 

We encourage you to keep something handy for you to take notes of the conversation. 

Looking forward to having a convesation. 

#GAAD2019Series: 5things to get started with Accessibility

It’s that time of the year again when world celebrates the momentum of accessibility by observing Global Accessibility Awareness Day curated by Jennison and Joe back in 2012. It’s encouraging to see a lot of in-person and virtual events have been already planned.

This year, I will be posting a few things that enable people to begin their journey (those who have not started yet) and it may just become reminder to others who are already contributing their wonderful efforts to make digital world a better place!

Here is a list of 5 things that gets you started with accessibility:

  1. Text alternative for non-text content: It’s easy; all that you need to do is provide alternate text for informative images, active images (images that are links). Ensure no informatiion is conveyed using background images (CSS images). If there are images just for decorative purpose, be sure to mark them up using null alt attribute. Read my earlier post to learn more about “alt”.
  2. Labels for form fields: Ensure that all input fields have associated labels, all radio buttons and checkboxes are associated with their group labels.
  3. Colour contrast: Ensure every element including text has minimum colour contrast ratio of 4.5:1 between foreground and background. You don’t have to do any manual math while choosing colours. Just use either Colour Contrast Analyzer (stand alone tool) by The Paciello Group WebAIM’s contrast checker (online tool)
  4. Keyboard: Ensure all elements are operable using keyboard including drop-down menus, dialog, media players etc.,
  5. Validate your code: Often, a cleaner and semantic code makes a product more accessible. Use W3C’s Validator service to verify that code written is valid and compliant with specifications.

Begin your journey with these 5 things and it will be a great beginning.

World Braille Day

Although it has always been observed as World Braille Day on 4th January, this year, it got true recognition as The United Nations has declared 4th January as International Braille Day.

Louis Braille

World Braille Day is celebrated every year on January 4th because it is Louis Braille’s birthday, the inventor of braille! Louis was born in 1809 in France. He became blind after a childhood accident, and he quickly mastered his new way of living. When he was just 15 years old, he created the system we know today as braille, based on a system of writing developed by Charles Barbier. Over the years braille was tweaked to make it easier to read, and now it’s used the world over!

While Technology is an enabler, it is still important that children with blindness use Braille at the young age. Braille enable them to read with their fingers thus they could improve spellings. Learning spellings would not be practically easy if they do not read and use only audio as medium of perceiving information. For people with deaf-blindness, Braille is the only means of using technology. What is unique about Braille is that just with 6 dots, script is available in many languages world wide. There is a lot of advancement took place in the area of Braille. There are Braille printers which has ability to print large volumes of Braille in fraction of seconds.

Spread the word about Braille and Braille literacy.

Year in Review 2018

2018 has began where we started using videos as a medium of video to send greetings. We have started with a video message on the occasion of new year and birth anniversary of Louis Braille

Judges panel at I-STEM Hackathon consist of George, Srinivasu and Prof. Srikanth
Srinivasu one among the judges at Inclusive STEM Hack-a-than 

During January, 2018 – Inclusive STEM in partnership with International Association of Information Technology has hosted Inclusive STEM Hack-a-than. It has been a privilege to have been part of this event both as a mentor and judge. January has also witnessed grand win of Indian team won against Pakistan at World Cricket Cup for the Blind. Ola has stepped up their efforts to make their mobile app accessible to people with disabilities. It was also heartening to see recognition for Rajani Gopalakrishnan, who happens to be first women with blindness to become a chartered accountant. We have posted about all of these great things in January 2018

January 2018 also recorded great milestone that Web Accessibility Initiative group of W3C has released Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 as a recommended standard. 

Srinivasu speaking at 5P conference

In February, 2018 got an opportunity to present at 50p conference on Accessible Digital Payments. It was for the first time, got an opportunityto talk in the mainstream fin tech industry. opportunity to present about accessibility in mainstream events in the FinTech industry. The room was full for this talk and great to see fabulous pre-planning by HasGeek Team. The conference was well organized. 

In February, I have started using Android and wrote two blog posts one is about Day 1 experience of switching to android and then about one week of life with Android. Interestingly, I did not feel regret though I have been an iOS user for about 8 years. There is a great improvement in android both as a platform and for accessibility as well. 

Shri. Javed Abidi (1965-2018)

On March 4, 2018 The Pioneer in the disability sector and well known disability activist Shri. Javed Abidi has passed away. It was a huge loss for community of people with disabilities in India and many around the world. He has been instrumental for many disability related issues in India. It has been a blessing to know him a bit closely though I have not worked much with him directly. Post I have published to his memory

Inspired by Steve Faulkner, started writing short notes and in the month of March, we wrote a short note on importance of making email promotions accessible

Then to get ready for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we have started writing about different things and started with missing alternate text. As part of #GAADSeries, in the month of April, we wrote about Using WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool by WebAIM and posted some ideas to mark GAAD beyond digital accessibility

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May was huge, a lot of events took place around the world and great set of events took place in Bangalore. In fact, in Bangalore, GAAD was marked as a month long events. There was a competition for college students, an event for organizations working in the area of disability, a meet up was organized for developers and there was also a gala event. It was great to have Facebook accessibility team has joined us in Bangalore. 

DAISY forum of India has released Simply reading app – an android app that enable users to connect directly with a few digital libraries for people with print impairment. Read our post on simply reading app to learn more. In the month of May, during Google I/O, accessibility team at Google has announced many new accessibility features on android. 

On June 5, 2018 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 has become official. In June, IRCTC has released next generation ticketing system and we have published an accessibility review of IRCTC new portal. 

We have removed Twitter for WordPress plugin and replaced with Accessible Twitter plugin by Joe Dolson and wrote a post that talks about how accessibility has been improved.  

It has been a privilege to present “Accessibility – a game changer” talk to design team at IBM. 

Towards end of June, Mozilla has released Accessibility inspector for firefox

In July, we wrote a tip on inserting widgets into a wordpress post and reviewed Eye-D app. This is a great app – intended to help people with blindness but helpful to all. 

In August, we wrote about prioritizing accessibility issues and app review of 6 by 6 that has currency identifier, magnifier and light detector. 

In September, we wrote about WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.5.1 Pointer gestures (Level A), events that are happening in October and we have also written about International Day of Sign Language.  

Srinivasu presenting his lecture with laptop
Speaking at Intuit office

In October, I have presented on Building Accessible websites using wordpress at Inclusive Design 24; this was a live event on YouTube and thanks to Intuit for hosting in-person talk at their office. It has been also a pleasure to join annual accessibility summit and dinner hosted by Intuit. I was also part of a great event at The National Association for the Blind, Karnataka Branch to mark International White Cane Safety Day. Towards end of October, attended Empower 2018 and it was great to meet Dr. TV Raman in person. Great conference and awesome products displayed at the exhibition.

In November, Government of India has published revised guidelines for Indian Government Websites and apps. It has been an honour to got an opportunity to work with a few other awesome people on Mobile Accessibility Practices document. 

In December, 2018 hosted Dr. Ramana Polavarapu, Data scientist and VP of Goldman Sachs at my work place (Informatica) on the event of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I also got an opportunity to witness Wheelchair Tennis Tournament; also addressed students at Sri Ramana Maharshi Academy for the Blind. 

The United Nations has declared 4th January as World Braille Day. Read the announcement.

Thank you for all the support in 2018 and looking forward for a great 2019.