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Dr Scott Hollier - Digital Access Specialist Posts

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Welcome to the home of Dr Scott Hollier, Digital Access Specialist

Get Scott’s professional and personal perspective on how to make your digital content accessible.

Dr Scott Hollier

The recent changes to guidance on international and Australian accessibility requirements makes it a great time to assess your organisation’s digital access credentials and maximise your support for people with disabilities.

With his collaborative, non-militant approach to consultancy, Scott can provide you with a range of workshops, auditing assessments and research endeavours to make websites, apps and documents accessible. Scott can also be booked for speaking engagements based on a variety of topics relating to disability, education, current and future technologies and his life story discussed in his book ‘Outrunning the Night: a life journey of disability, determination and joy’.

Scott’s credentials include a PhD in the field and two decades working across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Scott is also an active contributor to W3C research and has a personal understanding of digital access as a legally blind person. You can learn more about digital accessibility in the news items below.

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Affordable Access resource receives a refresh

In my former role with Media Access Australia, I worked with VisAbility to project manage and write the contents of the Affordable Access resource. The resource was well received at the time and I was very excited when the Centre For Inclusive Design (CfID) invited me back to develop content for its recently launched refresh.

Affordable Access screenshot

The original resource was funded by an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) grant, focused on providing guidance on consumer-based technologies that are both affordable and contain accessibility features. As explained on the homepage of the resource:

“The Affordable Access initiative is all about providing equal access to technology for people with hearing, sight or cognitive issues or disabilities, that is both affordable and easy to use.

There are lots of great products on the market that contain accessibility features, yet it’s often hard to work out which ones are well suited and which options are best on a limited budget.

This resource has been created to help you make educated choices on options priced up to $250. You’ll find useful information on the specific accessibility features that are in popular devices such as tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, TV media players and assistive technologies that provide the best deals for the average user on a budget.

The options presented on this website include commonly used everyday products plus additional options for those who are more tech savvy.”

At the beginning of the year the CfID contacted me regarding their interest in wanting to update the website which was now several years out of date, and it was a great privilege to be asked to return to the project to support CfID in the refresh. With new content and a design overhaul, the resource again provides up-to-date information across what’s accessible, what’s available, what’s suitable and what’s possible.

Many thanks to CfID for the opportunity to be involved in updating the Affordable Access resource. The resource is located at www.affordableaccess.com.au.

Google Android 10 changes naming convention and improves logo for vision impaired users

The new version of Google Android is dropping its dessert-base naming convention and has updated the Android logo to improve accessibility.

Traditionally Google Android has featured a naming convention based on desserts and in alphabetical order in addition to its numerical name. Recent examples of Android operating systems include 7.0 Nougat, 8.0 Oreo and 9.0 Pie. However, for the next version Google has announce did will simply be called Android 10.

In addition, Google has launched a new Android logo that has been specifically designed with accessibility in mind. In a video outlining the change, it is stated that the updated Android logo features a “…new colour palette and visual identity system.”

The video highlights the change by stating “The core of Android is for everyone…accessibility has already been at the heart of Android recognition…we wanted to stay in the family of green but unless we use a really dark green, its hard for some people to see.”

 “So we developed a more robust accessibility palette…we now have all our communication accessible to all.”  

The logo change significantly improves the colour contrast, making it compatible with the 4.5:1 colour contrast ratio required by the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standard.

Android 10 is currently available as a public beta with its formal release, along with the new logo, expected in the coming months.

W3C WAI expands its translation of accessibility standards and related guidance

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has recently announced a significant expansion in its translation of accessibility-related documents including new translations of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard.

In an e-mail update from Shawn Henry, it was stated that:

“Over 20 new translations of W3C WAI accessibility resources are listed at: All WAI Translations https://www.w3.org/WAI/translations/  You can get to that page from the “All Translations” link at the top of WAI web pages.”

Languages that currently featurein W3C WAI wtranslation workinclude:

  • Arabic
  • Belarusian
  • Catalan
  • Danish
  • German
  • Greek
  • Spanish
  • Estonian
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Dutch
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • European Portuguese
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swedish
  • Simplified Chinese

Further information on the available translations can be found in the Translations section of the W3C WAI website.

Minecraft 1.14.0 Java edition adds accessibility menu and features

 Minecraft, the block-building computer game, remains one of the most popular video game titles of all time. Despite the game recently celebrating its 10th birthday, it continues to draw a crowd with an estimated 91 million active users continuing to enjoy the interaction with blocks, zombies and creepers as of March 2019. While the game already has a global following, it may see growth among disabled gamers due to recent improvements to the Java edition of the game.

Minecraft screenshot featuring a person walking along a beach with captions

In its recent 1.14.0 major update known as Village and Pillage the first bullet point states that there are “lots of accessibility improvements!” The Release Notes provide more specific detail, outlining the accessibity improvements as:

  • There’s a new Accessibility menu which provides a useful place for all of our accessibility features to be toggled
  • When the narrator is turned on, buttons will be narrated on focus
  • Most screens allow tab and shift+tab navigation through buttons, edit boxes and other UI elements
  • Most lists allow up/down arrow keys to navigate through them
  • We’ve added a new option for turning up the background of all transparent text elements, which should help make them more readable for some people

Minecraft accessibility menu screenshot

With the help of player SuperkidsST I was able to try out the use of Narrator in Windows 10 and could successfully move around the buttons and read out text. The other accessibility features appear to work well too. The inclusion of the new menu panel made it much easier to locate the features and quickly toggle between them.

Given the age of the Minecraft Java edition, it’s great to see Microsoft continuing to improve the accessibility of the game. Special thanks to SuperkidsST for helping me to see the accessibility features in action.

The internet thinks you’re a robot, and other ‘dark patterns’ people with disabilities face online: ABC

Interest in the area of digital access appears to be receiving more mainstream interest in Australia with the ABC writing an article relating to online dark patterns and how they affect people with a disability.

In the article, titled The internet thinks you’re a robot, and other ‘dark patterns’ people with disabilities face online, journliast Ariel Bogle discusses the challenges faced by people with disabilities due to web accessibility, current government policy and CAPTCHA. Due to several of these issues overlapping with my work, I was invited to share a few thoughts for the article. The first part of the article is as follows:

Scott Hollier logged into an online portal recently, and was immediately faced with a familiar yet irritating internet question: “How many of these pictures include buses?”

CAPTCHA security tests, or the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test, to Tell Computers and Humans Apart”, are not always accessible to people with disabilities — sometimes putting them, ridiculously, in the “robot” category.

“I had two choices,” said Dr Hollier, a digital access specialist who is legally blind.

“I could either not do what I needed to do for my work. Or I could ask my 11-year-old son to come figure it out for me.”

The article continues to discuss the issues of dark patterns and explores the challenges accessibility causes along with the importance of WCAG 2.1 and the need for people with a disability to be involved in user testing.

While it was exciting in itself to be given the opportunity to contribute to the article, it’s even more exciting that this is the second news story in recent months on the tpic, following on from the ABC article Call for online disability access standards for computers from Equal Opportunity Commission posted in April.

Thanks to Ariel for the opportunity to contribute to the article and again great to see continued reporting of digital access issues and the need to improve Australian policy and legislative frameworks.