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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3rd December

3rd December of every year is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Objective of observing this day is to raise awareness about people with disabilities and bring them to the mainstream. As we are gearing up to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I would like to spend a few minutes and pen my thoughts how lives of people with disabilities have changed over a few years.

Before technology came into existence, people with disabilities has to depend on support for almost everything. May it be a blind person who would like to read a printed material, may it be a person loco-motor disability who wish to go for shopping, person with hearing impairment, who wish to communicate etc.,

Technology has addressed a lot of problems and brought independence to lives of people with disabilities. Today person with blindness can have access to digital books, convert any printed material to digital format and read independently, there are libraries like Bookshare and Sugamya Pusthakalaya, who brings together efforts of accessible books, access the wealth of information around the world, communicate to their friends and relatives using digital channels. Through the advancement in technology, opportunities for employment in the mainstream have been increased.

Again, with the advancement of technology and evolving e-commerce industry, it has become lives of people with loco motor disabilities more independent. Most of the shopping malls are inaccessible to wheel chair users; though a few brands have recently introduced Shopping Assist programs, it is still not as joyful as shopping independently. Online shopping has made this possible whereby users can shop from their location and things get delivered. Most importantly, online marketplaces may have more options than those available in the physical stores.

But what is lacking is that though there are advancement in assistive technologies that enable people with disabilities to access the technology, most of the technologies remains inaccessible; this is because due to lack of awareness about accessibility. There are enough resources available but what is important is that introduce those resources to developers at the stage when they actually learn to code! Accessibility and standards should be incorporated in the mainstream technological courses at school, college or whoever offer technological courses.

There is also a part that has to be played by users with disabilities. When user finds something unusable, write a detailed note to the app developer and keep following up until there is a response. While reporting, ensure to include some resources that helps them in resolving the issue. Another advantage of providing resources is that adds encouragement for developers to investigate the issue.

To conclude, here is an idea – starting this month, let’s meet one developer a month and educate them about accessibility and let’s see how many people we could impact by International Day of Persons with Disabiolities in 2018.

Idea to spread awareness about Accessibility to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As you all know 3rd December is marked as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and a lot of activities around the world. Here are some ideas to raise awareness about disability and accessibility.

Mini Accessibility Showcase

: We can create mini accessibility showcase absolutely at no cost but will have a great impact. Here is the list of activities and set up:

  • Experience a screen reader:
    • Install NVDA Screen reader a free and open source software on Windows and let users browse website by turning off the monitor. Here is an article by WebAIM on how to evaluate a web page using NVDA Screen Reader
    • Mac users can turn on VoiceOver by pressing CMD+F5; when you turn on for the first time, it will display a dialog for training; press “V” key to continue. (Press CMD+F5 again to turn off VoiceOver). Read Chapter 6: Browsing the internet – an Apple guide
    • Use Screen reader on iOS: VoiceOver comes with all iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) turn on from Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> voiceOver. When VoiceOver is ON, swipe / single tab will announce the app / option focused and double tapping will activate the same. Read VoiceOver guide on Apple website
    • Use Screen reader on Android phone: Android devices comes with a screen reader known as Talk Back. This can be activated from Settings -> Accessibility -> TalkBack. Similar to iOS, talk back announce app name / option by single tap and double tapping with activate. Off late, there is significant improvement in Talkback. Visit Talk Back Help page
  • No Mouse: Ask users to pick one of their favourite website that they usually love browsing (not Google.com please!!), and ask them to use it for a few minutes (may be 15-20 minutes) without touching mouse. It would be fun to visit some airline websites and try to search for flights (force them to use calendar picker!!).
  • No sound: Play a video by turning off audio. Pick a video that has captions. First time, turn off captions and then play sae video with captions; this will help users understand how captions are important for people with hearing impairment.
  • Using on-screen keyboard: From Windows Ease of Access Centre, Enable On-screen keyboard and ask users to type a couple of paragraph only using on-screen keyboard with mouse; this will help users understand how people who cannot use physical keyboard would type
  • Using voice recognition: This is a bit tricky on windows but easy on iOS and Android (now on OS X too!). Most of the users would know about Siri on iOS and OK Google on Android. Ask users to open a messaging app and dictate a message either using Siri or OK Google; this will show them how people who can’t use hands would rely on voice recognition software to dictate to computer.

Visit Ability Cube by Ted Drake for great set of set up ideas.

Test websites for accessibility and report

Pick your favourite website, do a testing for accessibility using automated tools such as aXe by Deque or WAVE by WebAIM. Once you are done with testing, either do a blog post or create a readable report; remember your post / report should consist of good practices that went into the website along with accessibility findings. It’s only when there is a positiveness in the post / report, it gets attention. Please visit our resources section for checklists and other documents.

Host a talk

If you are an accessibility professional or a person with knowledge of accessibility, do host a talk on a topic that would interest your target audience. Be sure to make your talk itself inclusive. It would also be cool to invite an inspiring accessibility professional for your session. If you have such a person nearby, do the event in person or host a virtual event.

If you have any other ideas, feel free to share via comments section or by emailing to reachus@serveominclusion.com and we will add them to this post.

Good luck,