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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.

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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!

#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.

2019 Road ahead…

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2019. As always, I do hope new year brings in a lot of hope, good luck and success.

In 2019, I’m looking forward to co-host Bangalore Accessibility and Inclusive Design meet-up on every alternate month. Also, expand meet-up to at least one more place in India. Those of you would like to join hands and make this happen, do please reach out.

Next I would like to educate at least 12 (one in a month) non-profit organizations to understand the need of accessibility and how they could play a role from advocacy prospective.

Further I would like to share accessibility knowledge with at least 60 new developers to ensure they include accessibility as part of their development.

I would encourage each of you to spread accessibility love with a few people and together we could make a huge impact.

Good luck for 2019.

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.

NVDA 2018.4 is now available

Wow, NV Access is such a committed organization that I have never seen them missing a release nor compromising quality in a release. NV Access has just announced release of Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) 2018.4. NVDA is a free and open source screen reading software that enable people with vision impairment to have access to use of computer. 

Highlights of this release include performance improvements in recent Mozilla Firefox versions, announcement of emojis with all synthesizers, reporting of replied/forwarded status in Outlook, reporting the distance of the cursor to the edge of a Microsoft Word page, and many bug fixes.

Source: NV Access News

Visit What’s new page of NVDA website to learn about what are the new features and what has been changed. And visit Download NVDA page to download NVDA 2018.4 and update your screen reader. 

Smart House for People with Disabilities

This is a guest post by Melisa Merzitt

Smart house for people with disabilities

Many new Internet of things applications are comfort and safety oriented. They make it to where a user is able to regulate temperature and lightening in a room, manage door locks, activate signalization system, etc. With the assumption that, these applications promise its users comfort and manoeuvrability with household appliance, for people with disabilities and older people they mean essentially new level of possibilities in support of independent lifestyle.  


Improvement of accessibility functions made smartphones applicable for far more broad range of people with disabilities. A lot of producers developed smartphones with a simpler and intuitively understandable interface. Such devices are far more suitable for older people who faced with difficulties at using smartphones due to impaired vision or hearing, problems with movement and insufficient mobility. Smartphones of the kind are already used as remotes for equipment of smart houses, smart vehicles and smart cities. They offer people with disabilities a simple in using tool, which would make it easier for them to move  giving an opportunity to take part in economic and social life in a more full measure.  

Industry experts agree upon Internet of things has a great potential in order to make it useful for people with disabilities. Shivpriya Sridhar, product marketing manager of Smart+Communities+IoT company Cisco, says, that her company is already taking well-directed efforts in order to make a fortune out of advantages of Internet of things for people with disabilities. «We believe that the most useful for them are going to be those applications, which are servicing connections of household appliances  to home network and allowing users to automatically switch in and switch off such devices on the basis of day part and other fixed preferences, she says. – an ability to manage, for example, temperature and lightness can also be  in demand among people with a mobility impairment. Besides that, Internet of things is able to significantly improve employment possibilities for them, make an independent life easier and improve social integration of people with disabilities». 

Internet of things may greatly improve access to medicine assistance for older people and people with disabilities. Influence of Internet of things is going to be just enormous and, as a result, a patient will no longer go to a doctor, on the contrary, a doctor will come to a patient. Special sensors will follow a patient`s movements, medication taking, content of carbon dioxide in the building, creating a full image for specialists of medical institution, which will make it to where individual service will be possible and allow a patient to lead an independent way of life. In further perspective, it will have a favorable image of medical service cost. Ultimately, processes of standardization and normalization on the market will lead to medical equipment and infrastructure cost decreasing.


Home automation technologies out of all Internet of things applications, which are able to improve life of people with disabilities, home automation means or differently, smart house technologies are the most promising. Home automation technologies are used cameras and sensors of different kinds for data transfer into a smartphone, allowing it to manage lightness and temperature in the building at the distance, control household appliances operating, security systems and many other devices. In combination with an accessible smartphone interface, smart house technologies embrace a huge potential of possibilities for disabled people, improving quality and providing independency of their way of life. There are many examples: 
• Home automation applications will allow blind people and those who barely see to manage household items operating, regulate temperature in the building with one click on the smartphone. It is very important, however, so these applications to be combined with a screen-reader program using by a smartphone or other special functions. 

• Smart home technologies will help people with disordered motor function to manage everyday objects, access to which for disabled people will be difficult due to their disease such as light regulators, door locks and security system.
• For deaf people and those who can barely hear home automations means will be useful in order to increase safety. A deaf person cannot hear sounds signalizing about strangers in their homes however intellectual system of safety is able to compensate this problem: it will direct an alarm signal onto a phone of a user as soon as sensors fix a suspicious activity beyond their houses.

• Besides that, smart home technologies allow children and elderlies trustees to control everyday activity, operatively reminding about necessity of accomplishment of this or that prescribed actions or tasks.

Several companies have already mastered production of smart home platforms. Digital Life AT&T company is one of such platforms including classical options such as video cameras inside the house, remote control and temperature regulation, home light remote control, remote water leak detention, entry door code locks and so on. 

Digital life AT&T company: from conception to active applications


Taking into account special needs of elderly people and disabled ones, Digital life was developed in order to help with leading an independent life emergency security. For example: 

• Sensors placed at the foot of the bed sets the signal about an elderly person or a disabled one to get up.; 

• Sensors inside the medicine box or a fridge fix time and number of them being opened; 

• Water leak detection sensors automatically cover water supply in case water flood from a bath or a sink.

All these functional capabilities are getting realized due to the net of connected sensors, which during a certain period of time gather information in order to define a typical user every day behavior scheme. After such a scheme to be installed, there will be little difficulty to personalize the system, so it automatically inform relatives, curators, neighbors  and other people in case of routine behavior manners changes.

Digital life  if one of a few smart home platforms available at present time on the market, but it clearly demonstrates an Internet of things potential for improving quality of life and ease of independent living for elderly and disabled people.

About the author: Melisa Marzett whose current activity is writing for <a href=”http://resumeperk.com/”>resumeperk.com</a> simply enjoys the process of writing. She loves cats, French movies and classic literature along with her writing career and hopes to write a book some day.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018

international day of persons with disabilities. Image contains keywords such as Take action, disability inclusion, women with disabilities etc.,

3rd December is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.Theme for this year is Empower people with disabilities and ensuring inclusion & equality.This theme certainly falls in-line with our vision to build an inclusive world. Here are a few ways that one could mark this auspicious day. It’s not necessary that one needs to work in the area of people with disabilities are having prior association to people with disabilities. Anyone could celebrate. It’s all about building awareness. Empowerment happens through raising awareness. 

How you can celebrate:

  1. Bring together a group of people and talk to them how people with disabilities could lead an independent life. 
  2. Ask people to close their eyes and walk around for a few minutes. This will give them an experinece how the world is for people with vision impairment
  3. If you know of a person with disability, invite them and hear their story..
  4. Initiatie a discussion about hiring persons with disabilities and ensuring accessibility as part of business (if not exist already)
  5. Spread the word about inclusion using social media
  6. Visit Big Bazar stores to experience their effort for inclusive shopping
  7. Read about disability and inclusion
  8. Talk to government around you about implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India)
  9. Create a small video about what disability / inclusion means to you.

These are not only the ways you could celebrate but you can mark the day in any way you want. Let’s together spread the word about disability, inclusion and accessibility. 

If you would like me to be part of your celebration and through your journey of inclusion, drop me an email or comment on this post. Will be happy to help. 

Revised Guidelines for Indian Government Websites and Apps has been published – Accessibility related sections

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has published revised Guidelines for Indian Government Websites and Apps. Ministry has published first version in January, 2009 and after 9 years, Ministry has now published second version to align with current technologies. These guidelines are adopted by Department of Administrative Reforms and public grievances, Ministry of Personnel, public grievances and pension, Government of India. Revised guidelines not only has guidelines for websites but also for mobile applications.

Following sections are related to Accessibiility:

  1.  1.8 talks about Web Accessibility 
  2. 11.4 talks about Mobile Accessibility Guidelines
  3. Compliance matrix has specific set of guidelines for accessibility both for websites and mobile applications

It’s great to see that guidelines are developed based on international standards including ISO 23026, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India) etc., 

Guidelines are made into three categories; i.e Mandatory, Advisory and Voluntary. 

  • Mandatory: The usage of the term ‘MUST’ signifies requirements which can be objectively assessed and which the Departments are supposed to mandatorily comply with. It is anticipated that there will be no exceptions for a Department not complying with these. In the case of any Department, these guidelines shall apply to all the WebPages/websites under the ownership of that Department. The websites will be checked against these guidelines when audits for compliance are undertaken or for the purpose of quality certification. It is the responsibility of each Department to address and bring into compliance, any non-compliant issues found in any website under their ownership.
  • Advisory: The usage of the term ‘should’ refers to recommended practices or advisories that are considered highly important and desirable but for their wide scope and a degree of subjectivity these guidelines would have otherwise qualified to be mandatory. Departments are, however, expected to comply with these advisories.
  • Voluntary: The usage of the term ‘may’ refers to voluntary practice, which can be for Indian Government Apps & Websites

Guidelines for Indian Government Apps and Websites has adopted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and document clearly explains principles of WCAG. 2.0. With having accessibility guidelines in places, GIGAW aims to address the needs of persons with disabilities and ensure that websites and applications are compatible on all major browsers and platforms. One good thing is that accessibility guidelines are embedded into the chapters and not provided as a seperate guidelines. Advantage of doing this is less chances that users do skip these guidelines. Accessibility related guidelines can be found under following sections:

  • Chapter 2 (Indian Government Identity) – guidelines 2.1.6.
  • Chapter 5 (Quality of content) – guidelines 5.3.7, 5.4.2, 5.6.1, 5.6.3, 5.6.4.
  • Chapter 6 (Design) – guidelines 6.2.1, 6.4.5, 6.5.1, 6.5.4, 6.6.1, 6.6.3, 6.7.2, 6.7.3, 6.8.2, 6.8.8, 6.9.1, 6.10.1.
  • Chapter 7 (Development) – guidelines 7.5(a) to 7.5(j), 7.5(m) to 7.5(q).
  • Chapter 11 (Mobile App Guidelines) – most of the guidelines under section 11.4.

Read the full guidelines

Recap of Empower 2018

I have attended Empower 2018 – Assistive Technology Conference hosted by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi from 25th to 27th October, 2018. Here is a recap of the conference.

Empower 2018 has been kicked off by Prof. Balakrishnan of IIT Delhi. In his address, he has welcomed all the participants, speakers, partners, sponsors and volunteers. 

Then, Dr. TV Raman of Google Research has delivered his keynote where he talked about eyes-free communication access, revolution of technology over the years and what it could be in the days to come. It’s amazing to to know Dr. Raman is an alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1984. 

Next there was a panel of speakers talking about accessible CAPTCHA solutions, inclusive interfaces. There was also talk about 6 by 6 app by BarrierBreak. In one of the talks, National Institute of Speech and Hearing has talked about how they leverage on technologies to communicate. One of the example is they leverage on WhatsApp web to communicate with people who are hard of hearing. Other method they do is use Google docs to communicate using text while a meeting is happening. One person will type live and someone else keep editing the same. 

Exhibition was awesome. It’s great to see a lot of products from IIT Madras including affordable note takers, Tactile printers etc., Saksham’s experience zone is just amazing where they showcased MI’s 32″ Television that is fully accessible, folder chess board, audio games, talking BP meter, and much more! 

Here are photos from the Empower 2018

Overall, it has been a great conference and I look forward to attending more of such events. I would also like to see it happening in different parts of the country.