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.
8th December, 2019
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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:
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”.
Labels for form fields: Ensure that all input fields have associated labels, all radio buttons and checkboxes are associated with their group labels.
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)
Keyboard: Ensure all elements are operable using keyboard including drop-down menus, dialog, media players etc.,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
Bring together a group of people and talk to them how people with disabilities could lead an independent life.
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
If you know of a person with disability, invite them and hear their story..
Initiatie a discussion about hiring persons with disabilities and ensuring accessibility as part of business (if not exist already)
Spread the word about inclusion using social media
Visit Big Bazar stores to experience their effort for inclusive shopping
Read about disability and inclusion
Talk to government around you about implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India)
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.