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Accessibility Check: updated website – Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of India

We have noticed Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of India has re-designed their website and we took a quick look from accessibility prospective.

Compare to the earlier website, new website has a better look, more usable. However, considering department itself work in the area of people with disabilities, it’s important, their website must be fully accessible and set themselves as an example. Here is a list of a few accessibility issues that we have noticed. Please note that this is not a exhaustive report.

  • Search button does not have an accessible name
  • Alternate text for font resize icons is inappropriate
  • Deprecated mark-up “marquee” has been used on the page
  • Text alternative for department’s logo is inappropriate
  • Navigation menus do not have visible focus indicator when they receive keyboard focus
  • Navigation: Schemes appears and functions like a menu but marked up as a link
  • Tenders / Procurements, RTI and Contact us elements are visually not available
  • “What’s new” section has a scrolling content with no mechanism to pause / stop
  • Under Latest tweets section, dummy text is placed
  • Under Important links, active links do not have text alternatives
  • Important links section uses a scrolling content with no mechanism to pause / stop.
  • Visitor count informaiton is not read by screen reader
  • Scroll to top link is not available in tab order
  • Menu items are read twice by screen reader
  • Who is Who page: Table – data cells do not have association with their header information.
  • Organization Chart page: Contents of this page is not accessible to screen reader users. There is no text alternative to the chart

We have tested only a few pages. Overall, it’s a good beginning but it’s important that this website is fully accessible to set an example to other departments and organizations. Please spread the word.

#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.


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.

Talking OxiMeter is now available in India

Due to unprecedented Carona Virus (COVID-19) situation, one of the gadgets that one should have is an OxiMeter to track oxygen levels. Are those OxiMeters available in the market accessible to people with vision impairment? Not really, then how would they be able to monitor their oxygen levels independently?

Good news! Saketek Foundation has just launched Talking Pulse OxiMeter available at INR 2,800/-. By the way, SakTek, a few months back launched their market place to deliver assistive technologies to dorr step of people with disabilities (mostly for people with vision impairment though).

About Talking Pulse Oximeter

Portable pulse oximeter

This pulse oximeter is a special product, that can measure your blood oxygen saturation(% SpO2) and your pulse rate. It can indicate the measurement readings by electronic real person voice, which is more convenient for people who have a vision problem. If you have good eyesight, it will benefit eye protection. Thoughtful functions & Simple operationThe operation of this oximeter is simple. There will be a beep when the measured data displays on the screen. The pulse oximeter will speak out the current measured value when long-pressing the Power Switch.Low power consumption. When no signal or low signal is detected, the pulse oximeter will power off automatically in 8 seconds. The pulse oximeter will beep three times when the low power indicator appears.

Appreciate great efforts by SakTek for bringing accessible solutions to people with vision impairment. Stay safe!

Upcoming live talk: Career in the area of Accessibility – getting started!

While whole world is experiencing unprecedented situation, it has also grown the use of technology to a great extent specially in the area of education. All learnings are now gone digital. Even schools are sending pre-recorded videos for primary class children; live virtual classes are being organiszed for grown-up children. Several training programs and events have been moved to virtual place.

This is in a way great thing for people with disabilities especially those with vision impairment. There are increased conversations to ensure digital platforms are accessible.

Not just education, but technology is playing a role in every industry including health care, banking, industrial, rehabilitation agencies and almost everywhere. This hopefully increases employment opportunities in the area of accessibility.

I have been working in the area of accessibility for 16+ years and learnt a lot of things (still learning) from many experts! I will be hosting a live talk on how to get started in the area of accessibility as a career on 11th July, 2020 at 15:00 Hrs IST (3:00pm IST). This talk will be live on YouTube.

Please leave a comment on this post if you have a question that you would want me to talk about. There will be an opportunity where questions may be asked during live session.

See you next week.

#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.