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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.

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.,

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. 

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.

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 Intuit Annual Accessibility Summit, Inclusive Design 24 and Bangalore Accessibility Dinner

11th October, 2018 was fabulous day for Bangalore. Intuit hosted their 6th Annual Accessibility Summit in their Bangalore office. 

Summit has began with energiser by Prarthana, Co-founder of GiftAbled. Then summit was kicked off Ted Drake, Sanket and Somnath (leadership of Intuit) India.

Balashandra Shetty
Balachandra Shetty speaking at Intuit Accessibility Summit

First talk is by Bala from Google (ex-Intuit) talked about Next billion users where he talked how “voice” become more popular as an input method. He has also explained how much important the accessibility for Google’s new billion project. 

Srinivasu presenting his lecture with laptop
I’m delivering my #ID24 talk

Soon after a short break, I have delivered by Inclusive Design 24 talk on Building Accessible Websites with WordPress. I have started my talk with a brief introduction to myself, a little about WordPress, reasons as to why I would prefer to use wordpress as a platform, problem statement from accessibility prospective, talked about how one should choose themes from WordPress, my favorite plug-ins and finally some thoughts an author should consider while building websites with WordPress. In case you have missed mine and/or any other Inclusive Design24 talks, head over to Inclusive Design 24’s YouTube Channel and you will be able to listen to all of the talks.

Then we left for lunch break! Food was tasty and awesome conversation with Prarthana… Oh, yes I had desert twice!! (Blame Prarthana, if it’s against rules :-))

Panel on Life Style in Tech environment

After having great lunch, again Prarthana did another energizer to make sure all of the participants are awake and that started first afternoon session with a panel discussion on “Accessible Life Style in Tech environment” moderated by Prateek Kaul, Co-founder of GiftAbled. During this panel, Aleena from Intuit did a demo of and Android keyboard they have created and intend to open source at some point. This keyboard can be used will have a single button interface. Other panelists Hatim from Cisco and Madhumitha from Coco cola shared their experiences in their diversity and inclusion journey. Final panelist Rajarajeswari, Founder of Arteius spoke about technologies they are building in the health care sector. 

Sunil Jain speaking about importance of sports

Then Sunil Jain, Founder Trustee and Chief Enabler of Astha spoke about importance and accessibility in sports. He has discussed about challenges faced while entering in the area of sports. He has rightly pointed out how children of today are not getting opportunity to play sport thus unable to develop power of thinking. He urges irrespective child having disability or not, everyone should be given an opportunity to play. 

Panel discussion on Accessibility achievements, challenges and opportunities

Next panel is about Accessibility achievements, challenges and opportunities; again moderated by Prateek. In this panel, Basavaraju, Commissioner, Persons with Disabilities, Government of Karnataka spoke about what accessibility means to him and what role his department should play for inclusion. Other panelists are Apoorv Kulkarni, Accessibility Lead at Ola, Siddhant Shah, Founder of Access for All and Krishna Kumar, Programme Manager (Accessibility & Technology) of GiftAbled. Each of them spoke about efforts put in by each of them to ensure inclusion both for their internal employees and customers. 

Krish Srikant, speaking at Intuit Accessibility Summit

In the final session, Krish Srikant, VP of Customer Strategy, Prakat Solutions spoke about Autism at work: Exploring new opportunities for employment & services. He has talked about work that Prakat is doing in this area in Denver. 

Whole summit was anchored by Chandrasekhar, Talent Acquisition team member of Intuit. Fabulous inclusion T-shirts and goodies were distributed. Those goodies are crafted by people with disabilities and promoted by GiftAbled. 

Then we all have left for Bangalore Accessibility Awareness Dinner hosted by Intuit. It’s great to see a lot of new people this time. A fantastic networking and of course great food!

All photo credits in this post goes to Prarthana and Ted! 

Upcoming Accessibility Events in Bangalore

In next few weeks, there are a series of interesting accessibility events are happening in Bangalore, India. These are some interesting events that not only brings platform to gain/share knowledge but also make a lot of friends. 

Design @ Business

This is a by invitation only event taking place on 21st September, 2018 at Informatica. While discussions are focused on design related topics, there is also one quick talk by me titled “Accessibility practice at Enterprise product companies”.  Visit Design@Business website for details. 

Bangalore Accessibility and Inclusive Design meet-up for September 2018

Image result for bangalore design for accessibility meetup

As part of initiatives to raise awareness about accessibility Prakat Solutions organizes Bangalore Accessibility and Inclusive Design meet-up once in two months.  This month event is hosted in partnership with PayPal India on 27th September, 2018. Agenda for this months event is:

  • Welcome Address by Guru Bhat, General Manager, PayPal India
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act: What’s in for corporate? – Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Lead Accessibility, Informatica
  • HTML 5 API, AI and People with disabilities – Nawaz Khan, Accessibility Evangelist, PayPal
  • Accessibility and Aesthetics ByPrakash Ramamurthy, PayPal

This event is going to happen at PayPal’s new office in Bangalore. Visit Bangalore Design for Accessibility meet-up page to join the conversation.

Inclusive Design 24

Inclusive Design 24

The Paciello Group hosts fabulous accessibility talks for 24 hours on 11th October, 2018. I’ll be speaking about “Building Accessible Websites using WordPress” at 11:30 AM (Indian Standard Time). I will be speaking from Intuit Bangalore office as it falls under same day of Intuit Annual Accessibility Summit. View Schedule of #ID24

Intuit Annual Accessibility Summit

Intuit hosts accessibility summit with exiting series of activities followed by a dinner at their office in Bangalore. This event will happen on 11th October, 2018. Stay tuned for more details.