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Where’s W-a11y on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Did you know that some of the most common reasons why people can’t access online material is because of low contrast text and images missing alt text description which describe them?

In 2020 WebAIM analysed one million home pages for accessibility issues. Unfortunately 83% of these pages had low contrast text and 66% had missing image alt text. These are common accessibility features as outlined on the GAAD website

On May 21st 2020, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we encouraged people to find where ‘W-a11y’ raise accessibility awareness. You could only find where W-a11y was located if you were using screen reading software.

The picture shows a graphic of W-a11y with words underneath saying 'Your challenge, where is W-a11y hiding? Use alt text to find out. Answer: W-a11y is hiding at home in his kitchen because of social isolation and COVID-19
Challenge: Where is W-a11y hiding in this image? Use alt text to find out

Why W-a11y? Because the a11y has become a well-known abbreviation or acronym for ‘accessibility’. There are 11 letters between the ‘a’ and the ‘y’ so it becomes a11y.

Screen reading software reads aloud content and information on computers, phones and tablets to assist people with vision loss and blindness.

The ChromeVox Classic Extension can be easily installed onto Chrome and recognises Alt text. Download and activate it and tell us where W-a11y is hiding in the diagram below.

How to use the ChromeVox classic extension

You can find the ChromeVox page in the Chrome web store. Once you’ve found it, select the ‘Add to Chrome’ button.

In the new dialog select the ‘install’ button to download and install ChromeVox in the background.

Once complete you will hear a chime and ChromeVox will open a new tab.

When using ChromeVox to read the content on the web page, you need to use a combination of keys. These will be different depending on what operating system you are using:

  • Windows and Linux – use Shift and Alt
  • Mac – use Command and Control
  • Chromebooks – use Search and Shift

To navigate through the page:

  • Use these keys above at the same time along with the Up and Down keys on your keyboard. Or
  • Use these keys above with the letters N and G – be patient!

If you want to learn more study the Chrome Vox’s keyboard shortcut guide.

You can also use other screen reading software built into your devices such as Narrator (Windows), VoiceOver on a Mac, VoiceOver on IOS devices and Talkback (Android devices)

What is GAAD Day?

GAAD Day is held every year in May and the purpose of the day is to encourage everyone to think and talk about technology accessibility.

Image shows keyboard with a lock and chain around it symbolising lack of accessibility.
GAAD aims to encourage conversations about accessibility on a global scale

Most people take advances in technology for granted. It’s evolving so quickly that for many people new concepts are easy to grasp.
But, how could you find your way around a website, documents and different types of content if your vision was poor and you couldn’t use a mouse? The experience would be very different to what you’re used to.

We want accessibility to be incorporated into the original design of online websites and content creation. That way it will become the norm rather than an afterthought.

There’s no doubt people are genuinely interested in the topic of making technology accessible. Unfortunately, the reality is that they don’t know how or where to start, so awareness comes first.

Accessibility issues

So what are the problems for people with a disability?

1. People who are blind need alternative text descriptions to understand images. They use a keyboard rather than a mouse to interact with elements.

2. On videos they require description and closed capgens so they can understand what’s happening.

3. People who have low-vision or colour blindness have difficulties reading documents when text colour in the foreground does not contrast with the background colour.

4. On videos, people with hearing impairment require a closed captioning and transcript file so they can understand what’s happening.

3. A screen which offers clarity, and is easy to navigate and uses plain language is preferable.

4. People with mobility issues may need adaptive computer hardware to navigate devices which may work off eye control.

Image shows someone tapping on a laptop in a cafe setting with a cup of coffee in the background.
There’s plenty of screen reading software options

There’s a variety of screen reading software available for people with vision loss to utilise on their computer. Current products on the market include Windows Narrator, NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver and TalkBack.

To ensure you have good colour contrast for your content and website, use the Paciello Colour Contrast Analyser. This tool confirms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 standards and indicates a pass or fail of the choices of foreground and background colours you have used.

So every year we mark GAAD, it’s a chance to think about the 15% of the world’s population, that’s one billion people, who have a disability and face challenges with digital technology.

We have a team at VisAbility offering accessibility consultancy. We want to ensure companies and organisations can have a digital presence which is accessible and inclusive to everyone. Contact us today if we can help you.