Monday, August 27, 2018

Digital Accessibility Challenge Week 1

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital Accessibility is the practice of insuring that all people, including those with disabilities, can access and use our electronic resources and communications. Digital accessibility is very important, because not only is it the law, it promotes a more inclusive experience for all people using the web.
Digital Accessibility can be promoted for common elements such as:
  • Websites
  • Software
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Videos
  • Documents
  • Presentations
  • Mobile Devices
Utilizing practice that promote digital accessibility helps those with hearing difficulties, visual difficulties, cognitive & neurological disabilities, and physical disabilities.

Infographic detailing Hearing, Visual, Cognitive & Neurological & Physical Disabilities that affect web use

Although we tend to center our discussion of accessibility on people with physical impairments, we can all relate to the experience of using an interface that is not accessible to us for other reasons.  Have you ever had a problem using a desktop site on a mobile phone, or seen the message "This content is not available in your area," or been unable to find a familiar menu on a tablet? Those are all accessibility issues.

As you learn more, you will find that addressing accessibility issues in this broader, more general sense almost alway improves the experience for everyone. Let's look at an example:
a form with poor accessibility
This form has several accessibility issues:

  • The text is low contrast, which is hard for people with low-vision to read.
  • Having labels on the left and fields on the right makes it hard for many people to associate them, and almost impossible for someone who needs to zoom in to use the page. Imagine looking at this on a phone and having to pan around to figure out what goes with what.
  • The "Remember details?" label isn't associated with the checkbox, so you have to tap or click only on the tiny square rather than just clicking on the label; also, someone using a screen reader would have trouble figuring out the association.

Now let's wave our accessibility wand and see the form with those issues fixed. We are going to make the text darker, modify the design so the labels are close to the things they are labeling, and fix the label to be associated with the checkbox so you can toggle it by clicking the label as well.
a form with improved accessibility

Which would you rather use? If you said "the accessible version," you are on your way to understanding a main premise of this guide. Often, something that's a complete blocker for a few people is also a pain point for many others, so by fixing the accessibility issue you improve the experience for everyone.
This video describes the importance of  Digital Accessibility and the important role we all must play when creating documents:

Introduction to Web Accessibility

Why is it important to make sure that online content is Digitally Accessible?
What are some of the electronic resources that have to be accessible?

Please note, for planning purposes, it will take approximately 30 minutes each week to review the material and take a questionnaire based on the content.
Participants who complete all 5 weeks of content and weekly questionnaires will be awarded a Credly Digital Badge.

Once you complete reviewing the materials from the first week of the Digital Accessibility Challenge take a few minutes to answer these questions:
Week 1 Accessibility Questionnaire