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Dr Scott Hollier - Digital Access Specialist Posts

Finalists announced for the inaugural Australian Access Awards

Finalists have been announced for the 2019 Australian Access Awards.

The Awards, an initiative of the Centre for Accessibility, are a national celebration of organisations, designers, developers and content creators who are making efforts to implement accessibility in their digital resources.

Winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Fremantle, Western Australia on Thursday 12 December. Tickets are now available via Humanitix.

Finalists

Not-for-profit/community website of the year

Sponsored by VisAbility

Not-for-profit/community app of the year

Government website of the year

Sponsored by Web Key IT

Government app of the year

Educational website of the year      

Educational app of the year

Corporate website of the year

Corporate app of the year

Accessibility initiative of the year   

Sponsored by OZeWAI

Accessibility person/organisation of the year

The Centre for Accessibility is an industry and not-for-profit collaboration working to promote digital access. The Centre has developed a free, highly accessible online resource to promote and respond to digital access. It also offers accessibility services such as audits, DAIP reviews and disability awareness training, and has conceptualised the Australian Access Awards.

The Awards have been made possible by the generous support of the Centre’s sponsors. This includes VisAbility, Web Key IT, Cahoots, OZeWAI, Digital Gap Initiative, Centre for Inclusive Design, ACCAN and Inclusion Solutions.

Australian Access Awards 2019 Sponsors

W3C Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules 1.0 standard released

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has announced that the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) and the ACT Task Force have published the Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0 as a “W3C Recommendation” web standard.

As stated in the Recommendation Abstract, “The Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0 defines a format for writing accessibility test rules. These test rules can be used for developing automated testing tools and manual testing methodologies. It provides a common format that allows any party involved in accessibility testing to document and share their testing procedures in a robust and understandable manner. This enables transparency and harmonization of testing methods, including methods implemented by accessibility test tools.”.

The ACT Rules 1.0 focus on a structure based on Atomic rules which describe how to test a specific type of solution, and Composite rules which describe how the outcomes of multiple Atomic rules can be combined into a single outcome for each test target.

It’s great to see this guidance made available to help provide consistency in the way online content is tested for accessibility.

Domino’s Pizza accessibility case stands despite Supreme Court appeal

The ability to order pizza in the USA remains at the forefront of accessibility discussion as its Supreme Court rejected Domino’s appeal to a case regarding the accessibility of its pizza ordering app.

As posted in January, the complaint was brought forward by Guillermo Robles, a blind Domino’s customer who said that the iOS based app on the iPhone did not work effectively with the VoiceOver screen reader. As a result, he was unable to change pizza toppings, complete the order or use coupons.

The case began in 2016 with an argument based on the belief that not being able to complete an order placed Domino’s in breach of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Specifically, the Act states it is unlawful for businesses to deny individuals with disabilities access to their goods and services unless the effort involved places them under an “undue burden”.

Supreme pizza from Domino's

Supreme Pizza (Copyright © Domino’s Pizza)

While the case was initially lost, Robles was successful on appeal and Domino’s Pizza USA was required to fix its website and app. Domino’s appealed this ruling, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, paving the way for other claims by people with disabilities should online content not comply with accessibility standards. This ruling represents the first time a federal court of appeals has ever decided whether Title III of the ADA applies to a business’s website or mobile apps.

The accessibility issue featured in the case primarily revolves around the lack of alternative text for images, a common complaint faced by blind and vision impaired users of fast food apps due to the rapidly-changing nature of special products often resulting in alternative text being skipped over in the rush to promote items. As a result, a future Domino’s online store is now required to ensure that its website and app are compliant with web accessibility standards and compatible with VoiceOver on iOS devices.

While Domino’s Pizza USA is a separate trading entity to Domino’s Pizza Australia, the ruling is likely to spark other online food providers to take notice and update their content to more effectively support the needs of people with disabilities.

South Australian accessibility toolkit nominated for Human Rights Award Toolkit

The South Australian government has published an online accessibility toolkit that is a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards 2019.

South Australian government accessibility toolkit

The resource has been co-designed with over 100 organisations including Vision Australia, the Royal Society for the Blind (SA), Blind Citizens Australia (SA), not-for-profits, people with disability and leaders in the disability sector.

The toolkit contains a wealth of information, designed to assist across all areas of digital access including project management, digital content, development, visual design, policy and support.

It’s my view that the toolkit is a valuable and comprehensive accessibility resource that demonstrates both the importance of digital access and how such information can be delivered in a straightforward and practical manner. I’d encourage everyone to have a look at the resource and it’s great to see this work receiving the recognition it deserves.

Microsoft releases Surface Earbuds with live captioning support

Microsoft recently announced at its October Surface Event in New York a number of new products. While the new tablets and laptops were the primary focus, an important accessibility feature was also highlighted in the form of real-time captioning using the new Surface Earbuds and its integration into Office 365.

The earbuds feature two microphones to minimise background noise and improve audio clarity. The live demonstration showed how new functionality in Office 365’s PowerPoint can effectively show live captioning.

In addition to the captioning feature, PowerPoint can also be used to instantly translate the text providing improved accessibility to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences.

While automated captioning remains an issue in relation to its quality and accuracy, recent evolutions in audio quality, speech processing and improved integration between hardware and software have seen a notable improvement in the ability for largely usable captions to be more widely available at events and in the classroom.

The initial price of the Surface Earbuds will be $UDS249. There is currently no release date. For additional information, visit the Microsoft Surface Earbuds page.