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.
The RAUR draft
was developed by the W3C WAI Accessible Platform Architecture working group’s
Research Questions Task Force (RQTF). The purpose of the draft is to outline
user needs, requirements, and scenarios for real-time communication (RTC) to be
accessible to people with disabilities. Accessible telecommunication technology
is increasingly important for people who are working remotely and relying on
RTC for daily needs. The document is designed to inform the development of
specifications and underlying architecture at W3C and beyond. Some of the
requirements apply at the system or platform level, and some are authoring
on the RAUR is welcome. To comment, please open a new issue in the APA GitHub
repository, and add the “RAUR” label:
issues raised in the original article discussed how the ANZ, bank which has
great accessible online banking features chose to provide a bank refund by
cheque which needed to be cashed within a short space of time. This is
virtually impossible during the current Coronavirus crisis and would go against
current government advice. In Trying to contact the bank, an automated
assistant indicated the call wasn’t important enough at this time and repeatedly
hung up making it impossible to directly discuss the matter with ANZ,
In light of
the article I wrote about it being shared by BCA and circulated on social
media, ANZ heard about the issue and called me to discuss the matter. They offered
and apology and have pledged to review their processes so that people with disability
and vulnerable health conditions can be better supported by having similar
matters handled electronically. The ANZ representative also explained that the
call system, which is under tremendous strain due to the number of enquiries
during the Coronavirus crisis, would also have its processes reviewed.
in the original article and with ANZ on the call, it is difficult to understand
why when funds can be removed from a bank account in error electronically, the
reverse can’t be handled electronically as well. ANZ have acknowledged the
point and will look to improve their processes in the future. The refund of
$16.74 was credited to my bank account today.
I’d like to
take this opportunity to offer my thanks to BCA for their support in promoting
the article which led to my concerns being addressed, and to offer my thanks
and gratitude to ANZ for taking the time to provide the apology, provide the
refund and pledge to improve their processes so people with disability can
continue to use their accessible online services.
As a digital access specialist, there are times when issues arise that force people with disability to respond to things that are so completely unnecessary that there doesn’t seem to be any logic to it. I’ve just had one such instance happened to me, and thought it was a great case study into the challenges of digital access.
ANZ bank sent a letter to me, which in itself is logistically
difficult to read as I’m legally blind. In the letter which my daughter helped
read out to me, it stated that due to the bank making errors in its deductions
for cash payments, it had provided me with a refund of $16.74. Always happy to
receive money that’s unexpected, I assumed that this would naturally be
credited back to my account.
However, as my daughter continued to read the letter, it
indicated that in the same envelope was a physical bank cheque which would need
to be cashed at an ANZ bank branch. The letter stated that if this cheque was
not cashed in a relatively short period of time, the money would be donated to
Under normal circumstances this would be a bit challenging in
itself: taxi fares for a round trip to my bank alone would cost more than the
cheque is worth, and in the digital age there’s no reason they couldn’t have told me about the payment via the SecureMail
facility in my online banking, and just credited the amount to my account.
However, this isn’t a normal time: due to the Coronavirus
when our society is being required to stay away from non-essential travel and self-isolate,
my bank has threatened to take my money away if I don’t physically appear at an
ANZ branch which goes against all the messaging currently coming from the
Federal and state governments.
So, in essence, ANZ have sent me a letter saying they owe me
money for a bank error but will also be taking it away from me shortly as I
have no mechanism to effectively go to an ANZ branch to bank it. I tried
calling ANZ but each time the automated voice said that based on my responses
my request wasn’t important enough and hung up on me.
This perfectly illustrates why ensuring people with disability
have effective access to digital content: if the letter was provided via an
accessible secure portal and the amount added to my account, there would be no
issue. The irony is that ANZ have very accessible banking products, even
winning an Award for their digital access, so if they’d just used the channels available
to them it would have been quite effective for me. The bigger issue though is
that people with disability that have respiratory conditions may have also
received a similar cheque, and it’s beyond comprehension that vulnerable people
should be asked to visit a bank at this time.
I’m not planning to cash my $16.74 now due to the Coronavirus
crisis recommendations by the government. However, if I were in a difficult
financial situation which many people who have just lost their jobs are, then
ANZ would have created a whole lot of movement by people at a time when it’s
least preferred. I challenge ANZ and
other financial institutions to consider the needs of people with disability when
planning these processes
I’m excited to report that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) working group that I’m involved in, has recently published its first public working draft of the XR Accessibility User Requirements (XAUR).
The draft was developed by the W3C WAI Accessible Platform Architecture working group’s Research Questions Task Force (RQTF). The purpose of the draft is to provide guidance on the accessibility of XR – an umbrella term to cover the spectrum of hardware, applications, and techniques used for virtual reality or immersive environments, augmented or mixed reality and other related technologies.
The accessibility aspects of the XAUR looks specifically at the implications for users in the XR space. As described in the Abstract, “This document lists user needs and requirements for people with disabilities when using virtual reality or immersive environments, augmented or mixed reality and other related technologies (XR). It first introduces a definition of XR as used throughout the document, then briefly outlines some uses of XR. It outlines the complexity of understanding XR, introduces some accessibility challenges such as the need for accessibility multimodal support for a range of input and output devices and the importance of customization. Based on this information, it outlines accessibility user needs for XR and their related requirements. This is followed by information about related work that may be helpful to understand the complex technical architecture and processes behind how XR environments are built and what may form the basis of a robust accessibility architecture.”
Examples of scenarios and guidance provided in the XAUR include the ability for a vision impaired person to zoom into a second of an XR environment without losing context, overcoming current XR issues across proprietary platforms which don’t contain an accessibility feature set and guidance on providing sign language support. A presentation about the XAUR that I did at the recent OZeWAI conference can be viewed in the video above. The draft will continue to evolve and feedback is welcome.
is a household name in Western Australia. Scitech’s work over the past three decades has
brought cutting edge science to everyone from adventure-ready kids to
inquisitive adults – igniting a lifelong curiosity in the process. Recently
Scitech decided it was time to take on a different kind of adventure: building
a new website that
ensured effective access for people with disability – with fantastic results.
Here’s some insights into Scitech’s accessibility journey.
the new website
neared completion, a website assessment was conducted by the Centre for
Accessibility’s Dr Scott Hollier to determine its compliance to the W3C Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standard. This involved
testing with several automated accessibility tools and code validators, a
variety of different assistive technologies including screen readers on desktop
and mobile devices along with dictation software and several different browsers
across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
the technologies and a baseline were determined, sample pages were identified
for the testing. This included a range of pages based on typical content,
multimedia content, event pages, interactive elements such as forms and date
pickers, and the home page. Once the assessment was complete, it was found that
overall, the Scitech website worked well in broad terms, but some accessibility
issues needed to be addressed.
of the issues picked up in the testing was that the initial video playback
lacked controls. This included controls for fast forwarding and rewinding
videos and adjusting the volume. With the issue identified Scitech were able to
replace the video plug-in with a more accessible video player, ensuring that
all control functionality for the video was available.
common accessibility issue is the use of descriptions such as ‘click here’ ‘or
‘read more’ which are difficult for screen reader users as it’s not clear what
the ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ will do. Taking this feedback on board, Scitech
worked to ensure their links are more descriptive so that it’s now clear what
links will do if selected.
common accessibility issue that can creep in during development is issues
relating to colour contrast. This may be through the use of colour alone to
identify a change which makes it difficult for people with a colour vision
impairment, or poor contrast overall. While the Scitech website prior to launch
had considered contrast, there were some elements where colour alone was used
and other sections where the recommended 4.5:1 colour contrast ratio had dipped
in places. Taking the feedback on board, Scitech rectified the the issues
ensuring that the website has an excellent use of colour.
the initial review, there were some form fields such as the Search box which
were difficult for assistive technology users to pick up. This issue was easily
addressed, and the search box now works well.
issue that was identified in the accessibility assessment and testing related
to screen orientation whereby some elements would not view correctly in both
portrait mode and landscape mode. This would mean that if a person had their
mobile device mounted in a particular position, there would be aspects of the
website that didn’t function correctly. Scitech worked with their developers to
address this issue and the website now works great in both portrait and
the new Scitech website
now live, it’s great to see that its accessibility journey is largely complete
with ongoing vigilance from its development and content teams to ensure that
accessibility issues don’t creep back in.
thanks to Scitech for the opportunity to provide the assessment.