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#NothingWithoutUs – a campaign to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities

This years Global Accessibility Awareness Day has more significance than ever before due to changing times of unprecedented COVID-19 situation. Due to COVID-19 almost everything has gone digital except eating food or taking bath! All events – may it be corporate events, may it be social events, may it be GAAD events, all are happening on virtual. As we prepare to accommodate our guests with disabilities when we host an in-person event, it’s equally important, we make sure our virtual platform is accessible to all of our guests including those with disabilities. Today, there are several platforms that are fairly accessible including Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, YouTube etc., While platforms are accessible, one needs to configure some features such as Live Captioning. For Google Meet, just pressing “CC or Closed Captions” button display captions on the screen as presenter speaks. (as much as I know this works for English and I have not tried for other languages).

Another important area to consider accessibility is Education. As we know Carona Virus is going to live with us at least for a few years and it’s new normal to host classes online. Some schools in India are already planning to have 50% of students attend school each day and when they are at home, they are expected to attend virtual classes. To ensure inclusion of students with disabilities, schools, colleges and universities must choose platforms that are accessible and make their course material, examination platforms accessible. Investing on these platforms involves huge cost and if accessibility is not considered at the initial stages of procuring technology, it will be almost impossible to address the problem later and students with disabilities will feel impairment and left excluded.

Urge all organizations to include term “Technology must be complaint with accessibility standards and accessible to users with disabilities” while signing contract for any product and do not agree to claim that they will fix it later. It’s not rocket science to make product accessible. Often products are inaccessible, because accessibility is not part of product development roadmap and code is written without having all users in mind. It’s just about changing the mindset.

Accessibility is not limited just for employment or education, it needs to be ensured everywhere including entertainment, travel, shopping, physical spaces like apartments, townships, parks, home appliances like Washing machine, Television etc.,

So do your bit by ensuring your platforms are accessible to everyone including people with disabilities.

Happy #GAAD! Again promote campaign #NothingWithoutUs.

Virtul classes are more inclusive… while in-person teaching is the best!

Due to unprecedented situation of COVID-19, as every businesses have moved to virtual mode, even schools have started imparting education through virtual classes. While virtual learning is some normal in a few countries like, it’s not really an usual thing in India. However, some schools have worked with their teams and ventured into virtual classes.

Our children study at New Baldwin International School; they have started virtual classes for our daughter who is in class 2. I must say that teachers have done a fabulous job putting videos together. They have all of needed material around and handy for them to use. It was just as good as in-person teaching. Way teacher was describing each activity is pretty well and accessible to even a student with disability.

I am a person with low vision and I have been missing teaching to our children not that I do not know to read or write but I was always under the impression that I may take a lot more time than my wife while helping our children doing homework. With virtual classes, it has become easy for me to help our child learn. I have first watched video sent by teacher, then I have watched video along with our child and then helped her do the activity along with me. It was indeed a productive activity and felt education became inclusive.

Even when schools are resumed, I would recommend leverage on technolgy to possible extent while I believe writing with pencil and reading a physical book have their own importance.

This could be yet another topic to exchange thoughts to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 21st May, 2020.

Stay home, Stay safe!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2020 – virtual this time!

May is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s month to celebrate what I work everyday. Third Thursday of May is observed as Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Since 2011, it has become a global momentum and various activities take place across the world; some are small, some are big, some are in-person and some are virtual.

Due to unprecedented situation due to COVID-19, this year, we are forced to celebrate virtual and still a lot of organisations are planning variety of online activities. Glad to see the great spirit.

Since Working from Home is now a new normal, I would urge people to think of accessibility challenges due to remote work places and how we can overcome those challenges; we should also keep in mind that our solutions need to be cost-effective since companies are also facing financial crisis. Either our solutions should be at no cost or at a very minimal cost.

For example, how do we include our employees with hearing impairment in scrum or any meetings; During Empower 2018 Conference, I have noticed a person sincerely typing on a google document whatever speaker is speaking. Later I was told, they have shared that document with view only mode to all attendees with hearing impairment. It helps them even when an event does not have sign-language interpreter. Another advantage is that attendees with hearing impairment need not just sit in fron row and they can sit anywhere they like.

Another example is how can we ensure people with vision impairment could participate in meetings? Today there are a lot of accessible meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.,

So start thinking more innovative ideas and let’s mark a successful Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 21, 2020.

WhatsApp dark mode: what do we think?

Keeping eye comfort in mind, many apps today offering feature to view content in dark mode. This is also known as high contrast mode for many years. In the recent past, WhatsApp has also introduced dark mode.

What is dark mode?

Dark Mode is a supplemental mode that can be used to display mostly dark surfaces on the UI. The design reduces the light emitted by device screens while maintaining the minimum color contrast ratios required for readability. The advantages of Dark Mode are, it enhances visual ergonomics by reducing eye strain, facilitating screens to adjust according to current light conditions and providing comfort of use at night or in dark environments.

Additionally, it conserves battery power, thereby enabling device usage for longer periods without charging. Usually, the Dark Mode theme can be turned off or on using a prominently displayed toggle icon on the screen. Alternatively, it is placed in the menu options or within the app’s settings.

While dark text on light background is always better for readability, light text on dark background reduces eye strain. At the same time, with dark mode, it may be difficult to read long content.

How to enable dark mode on WhatsApp?

Go to Settings -> Chat -> Themes -> Select Dark (Default theme is light).

When dark mode was introduced, text color was a sort of gray which got fixed to white in later updates. Still one issue though is links are displayed in blue and that is something difficult to read.

There are many other apps that offer dark mode including Google, Twitter, YouTube etc.,

Accessibility related Jobs in India – January, 2020

It’s great to see there are growing accessibility related job opportunities in India. Below are a few requirements that we are aware of:

  • Salesforce is looking for UX Accessibility role at Hyderabad
  • VMWare will have a few openings Look up for “accessibility”. Watch out VMWare Careers page after 20th January, 2020
  • IAAP India Chapter is looking for Community Manager. This will be a great opportunity if you are someone interested to spread love for accessibility.
  • Heads-up: ServiceNow will be having a few accessibility opportunities; stay tuned!

All the best,

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. 

Tribute to Jim Thatchar (1936-2019)

I am extremely heart broken to hear the news that one of the pioneers fo accessibility Jim Thatcher has passed away at the age of 83 on December 7, 2019.

When I started my journey in the year 2005, the first website I have used for learning is JimThatcher.com. I am fortunate enough to have met him at CSUN Conference and witnessed his life time achievement award.

When I have joined HCL Technologies back in 2014, I asked some of my colleagues who have helped them to got started with accessibility and it was nice to learn that it was Jim who have helped them.

Thank you Jim for everything you have done and may your soul be rest in peace. You will be missed.

With respect,
Srinivasu Chakravarthula
8th December, 2019

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2019 – Greetings and announcing accessibility-help Slack channel

Good morning, we in India, always privilege to be ahead of many other countries to start celebrations of Global Accessibility Awareness Day and we can also celebrate longer than just 24 hours!

It’s amazing to see a small (but powerful) idea introduced by Joe Devon and Jennison has become a strong global moment and what could be bigger achievement than seeing 90+ events happening worldwide! Thanks to those of you celebrating either in a small or big way! Oh, you don’t know about GAAD? That’s OK, it’s still not late. you can still celebrate. Just grab one of the ideas mentioned in GAAD website (you can also browse on this website) and go with it. One of the simplest activities is “Go mouse-less”, ask your community / teams to work (or have fun) without using mouse for an hour! then share experiences of each other! That could lead to some wonderful things of your journey towards building accessible world!

Announcing accessibiilty-help Slack channel

To mark this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I’m announcing accessibility-help slack channel. I am investigating how I could post a link and let people join the channel directly but in the meanwhile, please share your email address by writing to us at reachus@serveominclusion.com and I will be sure to add you to the channel.

Purpose of creating this channel to provide support to those who start their journey into accessibility and/or just got stuck with something. I intend to document conversation with resolutions to our Knowledge base.

Once again, happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day to everyone!