Digital accessibility and inclusive design is a fairly straightforward concept: when you make something, you want to ensure that it can be accessed and interpreted by as many people as possible.
It is so easy to slip into a mindset, however, of thinking that while accessibility is important, it’s just something to tack onto the end of a project. Just something that maybe you should include so it looks like you’re trying to make an effort. Just something to make sure you don’t get in trouble for being discriminatory.
At this year’s A11y Camp, however, we were taught that making something accessible doesn't deserve a lollipop and a pat on the head, but rather should be expected from all businesses.
Here are our 5 key takeaways from this year’s conference:
1. Allow the experts to make the calls
“People with lived experiences can provide direct input into the design of systems, processes, products and services that don’t marginalize us as a community, but also people with no disabilities benefit from” – Santiago Velasquez
Santiago Velsquez from EyeSyght outlined to us the importance of including people with disabilities in the design process, as they are the ones with lived experiences that are worth contributing. The “mad-ass problem solving skills” that Santiago describe people with disabilities to have are necessary to include in a successful design build.
2. Make accessibility a part of your build pipeline
If accessibility is a step in the process of every project you design and build, then it is almost impossible to leave out! Balram Singh, a Senior Front End Specialist from WPP-AKQA taught us how to ‘Design around people’ with the following three steps:
i. Make accessibility a part of your design system
ii. Add accessibility to your software editor
iii. Make accessibility a part of your style guide
3. Adjust your social media strategy to include accessibility
While sometimes easy to overlook, making your social media posts accessible to everyone is imperative in creating an inclusive business. Allison Ravenhall directed us to make sure we ‘Tweet Accessibly’, making sure to add alt text to all images, describing them for those using screen readers. This feature is also available across Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Further to this, she advised us to capitalise each word in our hashtags, to make them easier to read for those with visual impairments.
4. Captions don't solve all problems
Colin Allen taught us that captions don’t solve every problem for those with hearing impairments. During the recent bushfires, a national news broadcaster captioned a report stating that bushfires were occurring in Campsie, instead of occurring in Kempsey. This illustration showed us the importance of accurate captioning and incorporating interpreters where possible.
5. Don’t just do the bare minimum – do your best!
The UN CRPD prescribes obligations for the State Parties to the Convention with regards to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Edward Santow the Australian Human Rights Commissioner stated “It’s great when technology is used in a positive way to make our communities more inclusive, but that in no way justifies counter examples where technologies are used in ways that disadvantage people - especially people with disability.”
While accessibility is protected by conventions, simply put it is just the right thing to do. As a society we need to be looking out for everyone and making sure they are able to participate in all technologies and designs.
At Savv-e, we have developed an Accessibility Checklist, which helps you to design software and programs in line with the WCAG 2.1 web accessibility guidelines. Click here to download it for yourself.