Category: accessibility

Making virtual events more accessible

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last spring, I began drafting a guide to making online events more accessible and published it on this website. Many people got in touch to say that they had found it useful, and earlier in the year, Lisa Sweeting of Green Sense Events asked if I would give a talk to her community of events organisers about it. If you’d like to learn more, here’s the recording of my talk.

Sustainable Development Goal number 10 is about reduced inequalities. Whilst we are still delivering a huge number of virtual events, how can we ensure these are more accessible for anyone that is perhaps partially sighted or hard of hearing?

Writing and designing for accessibility (videos)

I feel really privileged to have worked with Alastair Lee at Panda and Giles Turnbull at Use the Human Voice over the last few weeks to produce a series of short videos about content design and accessibility.

It’s been part of the Catalyst Definition Programme, mentoring UK charities as they turn their user research into ideas and solutions to problems. All the videos are freely available on YouTube, so why not take a look:

Writing and designing for accessibility – three short videos by Jon Gibbins with advice and tips for creating more accessible content.

Content design foundations – seven videos by Giles Turnbull introducing the aspects of content design thinking.

Making sustainability accessible

Last week, I spoke at a Future Economy Network event about the importance of accessibility as part of sustainable development. There are slides on SlideShare, but the essence of my talk is outlined below.

Leave No One Behind

This is one of the core principles of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. If something does not work for all people, it is prone to risk and not sustainable.

If we exclude people in our work, then we create products and services that are less sustainable. And as we look to the future, our idea of what it means to be inclusive and sustainable is likely to shift. We have a growing, ageing population. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2060 there will be twice as many older people than younger people. This relates to the ‘people’ pillar of the triple bottom line and the definition of sustainability:

Around 1 in 5 people have a disability – more than a billion people in the world. Looking after our planet is a team sport. We need to include disabled people. We need their help.

Sustainable goals

Accessibility is a measure of social sustainability. In fact, disability is explicitly mentioned 11 times in Agenda 2030, and relates directly to 5 of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs):

  • Goal 4, Quality education: Access to knowledge and awareness.
  • Goal 8, Decent work and economic growth: Access to employment.
  • Goal 10, Reduced inequalities: Social, economic and political inclusion for disabled people.
  • Goal 11, Sustainable cities and communities: Accessible human settlements.
  • Goal 17, Partnerships for the goals: Data and monitoring of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

And accessibility impacts on yet more of the goals, for example, “Access to health services”.

Inclusion is encompassed by yet more parts of the goals and their targets and topics:

  • Gender equality
  • Financial inclusion

Through a COVID lens…

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of many businesses, but also every one of us as individuals. We have a greater understanding of what it is to feel isolated or excluded. But for many disabled people, the pandemic has amplified the effects of social inequality around the world.

Disability inclusion isn’t a tick-box exercise. It’s vital to achieving the SDGs.

Android keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet

Did you know you can control your Android devices using a Bluetooth keyboard? I use a keyboard to test apps on Android for accessibility. Having to remember keyboard commands across multiple platforms, one can get quite confused. This is why I have a series of cheat sheets to help me when my memory fails me.

Earlier in the month I popped my rough and ready cheat sheet for Android keyboard commands up on Github for anybody to use or contribute to:

Android keyboard shortcuts

I’ll be adding more resources here over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

The dark art of WAI-ARIA

When I’m auditing sites for accessibility issues, I find that WAI-ARIA has been used in an attempt to improve the accessibility of the content. And that’s exactly why WAI-ARIA exists, but so many implementations misunderstand how the tools provided by WAI-ARIA should work together.

In my experience, it’s not that there is a lack of willingness by web developers to incorporate accessibility, but rather that there is much confusion and misunderstanding of how accessibility technically works and what is expected of them.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, and I finally have over on the Dig Inclusion blog:
WAI-ARIA: the dark art of accessibility?

Elsewhere