Get Scott’s professional and personal perspective on how to make your digital content accessible.
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is currently undertaking an interesting study relating to disability self-employment, entrepreneurship or social enterprise research project. The following information has been provided by UTS and I’d encourage anyone with a disability that meets the criteria to get involved.
Call For Participation
The UTS Business School is conducting research which aims to understand the experiences of people with disability in Australia who are sole traders, have small businesses, social enterprises or are entrepreneurs.
Your participation in this study
is highly valued.
The survey is open. It’s for you!
It needs you now.
published findings will be shared. It’s to help people like you, organisations
like yours, and those you support. Our questionnaire will take approximately 20
minutes to complete, and can be completed in different formats, such as large
print or E-text.
To access the survey
please click on the link below:
common story – you’ve been asked to check if your website is accessible, so you
figure the best place to start is to look up this ‘WCAG’ thing everyone’s
talking about. Upon arriving on the page of the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
(WCAG), you send it off to the printer figuring that you can use your spare
10 minutes later in the day to find the answer. After a short pause you head to
the printer to pick up the document only to discover its out of paper, the toner
is low and an entire ream of paper has been used up with the printer wanting
more. It’s at this point you realise checking webpages for accessibity is not going
to be easy.
there’s a number of free tools that can help you to sift through the complexities
of the WCAG standard, providing the ability to check your web content against
many of the testable success criteria and present the information in an
easer-to understand manner. In this article I’ve highlighted a selection of free
tools that I’ve found useful, along with some recommendations that keep being discussed
in the Professional
Certificate in Web Accessibility course that I teach.
you start using automated web accessibility testing tools, there’s a few things
you will need to know about how they work and their reliability. Firstly, most online
tools work by providing you with a box whereby you can enter a web address.
After selecting ‘submit’ or an equivalent option, you’ll get a webpage back
that explains how accessible your chosen webpage is. If you are using a tool inside
a web browser such as a Chrome extension, the tool works by installing the
extension, visiting the webpage, then selecting the options in the extension to
do the same type of test. The results will then be displayed and explained in
relation to the WCAG standard, highlighting why the webpage is or is not
compliant. Most free tools tend to only check one webpage at a time with more
advanced features being left to the commercial products.
AUTOMATE OR NOT TO AUTOMATE
testing process is straightforward, there’s several things you need to consider
when it comes to interpreting the results. Here’s some important points to
Automated tools cannot check all aspects of WCAG: it is important to note that even the best tools can only check about half or less of the current WCAG standard. As such, there is still a lot to be tested. Read through the documentation of the tool you’re using to find out what it can and can’t do in relation to its testing processes.
Different tools give different results: if you use a free automated tool to check itself (e.g. enter the WAVE web address into the WAVE checker) you’ll find that it says the web page is completely accessible. However, if you enter the WAVE web address into a different automated tool, you’ll find it reports there’s errors. This is largely due to the coding methods used to check a website as mentioned in the previous point, so it may be helpful to consider the results of several tools to identify if an issue is there.
Automated testing does not replace user testing: while automated tools can be useful, they cannot replace the actual use of people with a disability testing the content with assistive technologies or the testing of every WCAG success criteria in a formalised audit process. If you simply run an automated tool over a webpage and fix those errors it’s unlikely that the web content will be accessible.
Many tools need updating: while most tools support the WCAG 2.0 standard, few have been updated to the WCAG 2.1 standard meaning that there are a number of important success criteria that will be missing from your tests if you are aiming to conform to the latest WCAG 2.1 standard.
IS IT WORTH USING AUTOMATED TOOLS AT ALL?
Based on the issues above, you may be asking whether its worth using such tools at all given the risks. In my opinion, it is worth using automated tools. In specific circumstances, such as locating missing alternative text, they can be very useful as they will clearly highlight where the issue is and guide you to the correct location to make the change. This can save a lot of time and effort in hunting around the code trying to track down a potential issue. That said, it’s important to ensure that testing with assistive technologies and methodical testing against all aspects of the WCAG standard that you’re testing against is the priority. If it is, these tools can be very useful.
demonstrate the tools in action, I’ve used where possible an archived version of
Mr Bottles, one of the most inaccessible websites I’ve ever come across. However,
some of the online tools couldn’t recognise the URL so in these instances I’ve
just used Google which is a very simple and accessible webpage.
FREE ONLINE TOOLS
If you’re in a working environment where the Standard Operating Environment (SOE) on your workstation is locked down like a fortress, you may not be able to install some of the popular browser extensions or automated tool software. In these instances, there’s two online tools I’d recommend. The first is WAVE.
of the WAVE tool is that it provides the results in an intuitive and visual
manner which can be helpful to easily identify issues such as alternative text
and colour contrast.
online free tool that I really like is aChecker. This tool is not as
visually appealing as WAVE, but can make it easier to hunt down issues through
its comprehensive reporting structure.
many other free online tools available but in my view using WAVE and aChecker
together provide you with a good overview of the issues, presented in different
styles and can be useful in cross-checking the validity of results.
Similar to the WAVE online tool, the WAVE Chrome extension is very popular among web accessibility specialists. Once the extension is installed in the Chrome Browser, it is a relatively straightforward process to browse to the webpage you’d like to test, then using the extension to test it, providing a useful report.
Axe for Chrome
tool to consider is Axe,
This tool is more difficult to use, as
the extension requires some digging through the developer settings to bring up.
Its output is also more technical focusing heavily on addressing coding issues.
While not as easy for new users, technical professionals will find its attention
to detail very useful in hunting down accessibity issues.
toolkit for Chrome
Toolkit works a little bit like Axe in that you must wade into the developer
settings to find it, but it also performs a comprehensive analysis on all web
These are just a small portion of tools available. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of both free and commercial tools, the W3C has a list of accessiblity tools to consider. If there’s a tool you like to use that’s not on the list, let me know by e-mail or Twitter and I’ll look to add it to the list.