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SEO and Accessibility becoming more aligned

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In August Google announced more changes to their Google algorithms. With the huge increase in people using mobile devices to browse the internet, Google are continuing to ensure their search comes up with quality websites, as a result sites are being penalised if they do not work well on mobile devices.

One issue on websites displayed on mobiles which is annoying as a user and can create a complete show stopper for people using assistive technology is pop-ups and interstitials – which take focus from the page, force a user to take an action like signing up to a newsletter or close them before they can continue viewing the main web pages content.

 

Many of these pop ups that we find when auditing are not keyboard accessible, often the focus doesn’t go to the pop up, so a screen reader user isn’t aware it is there. It can cause issues for screen magnifier users trying to pinch and zoom and ultimately it disrupts the user journey for the benefit of the marketers, not the user.

There are however some exceptions to this new rule, for cookies and age consent but also smaller banner ads that do not fill the page. It is still important to make sure that if you use pop-ups for these reasons to ensure they are still accessible, after all, if you are changing to comply with Googles SEO algorithms to ensure more visitors find your website, you want to make sure your website is then accessible to all that have found you.

At Dig Inclusion we can check any pop-ups on your website through our help desk service if you want to ensure any changes you make are accessible for people with disabilities across all devices.

Your customer experience with digital accessibility

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A complaint or feedback is an opportunity to improve your business. Which is why it is surprising how difficult it is for many people to make complaints to organisations, especially if you have a disability.

At Dig Inclusion, in partnership with Visualise training, we’d like to understand what it is that stops disabled customers from complaining to companies about their inaccessible websites.
In our experience working with businesses to make their websites accessible the motivating factor is rarely a complaint, the majority of the time it is because someone in the team has prior experience of accessibility, or because a staff member is disabled, or knows someone with a disability and wants to make an improvement. From our experience, very few projects come to us due to a customer complaint the recent survey from The Click Away Pound they found 71% of customers have ‘clicked away’ from a website taking with them £11.75 billion.
I’d like to understand why a group with such a significant spending power is walking away and why businesses don’t seem to take this seriously.
• Do businesses not know there is a problem?
• Do people with disabilities not feedback when they encounter a problem?
• Do businesses ignore the problem?

I hope we can understand what the barriers are to encourage organisations to start making more content accessible and celebrate those who are already doing the right thing, so to take part please follow the link: Your customer experience with digital accessibility

We intend to release our findings on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which this year falls on Thursday 18th May, if you would like to be contacted with the results please provide your email address via our contact form until then you can keep up to date with the work we are doing via our blog and Facebook page

Solution driven consultancy

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Many accessibility auditing services will test your websites and apps to guidelines you’ve probably never heard of and provide you with a report telling you what is wrong from a user perspective. And that’s great for gathering a list of issues to fix, but what happens next? How will you work out what needs doing to fix the issues, and how much time will that take?

First, understand the problem

You need to know how to use the assistive technology and understand how it works, but more importantly you need to understand how people with disabilities use assistive technology. It also helps to be able to replicate any issues that your user testers report so that you can verify the fixes you put in place.

We actively encourage our customers to conduct basic testing themselves and teach teams to do this with our training courses on accessibility testing for websites and testing mobile apps. We’ve shared our WCAG testing spreadsheet to help kickstart your accessibility testing strategy.

We’re open about the assistive software and testing tools we use, many of which are free. Take a look at NVDA screen reader and NaturalReader, or testing tools such as WebAIM’s WAVE toolbar, TPG’s colour contrast analyser and Jonathan Snook’s contrast checker.

Building your team’s understanding of the software and how people with disabilities access the Internet ensured that they are well equipped with the right foundation knowledge to inform designers and developers when designing and building your website or mobile app.

Getting practical about accessibility

At Dig Inclusion, we believe in getting practical about accessibility. Do your accessibility issues get put into an issue tracker to be relegated to low priority or forgotten about altogether? By focussing on solutions rather than simply documenting accessibility issues, we help lead you down the road of championing accessibility, instead of encouraging testing too late and piling onto your todo list.

Our accessibility testing stands out from other testing services available in the UK because we have the technical experience and expertise to recommend practical solutions to the accessibility issues we identify in our testing. When it comes to mobile app accessibility, our resident mobile accesssibility expert, Jon Gibbins, is one of a handful of people in the world who has the specialist knowledge needed to recommend practical solutions for making your mobile apps more accessible.

And if you’re unsure, our accessibility help desk service is designed to support you, whether your making accessibility repairs or building something new.

Making accessibility achievable and affordable

At Dig Inclusion, we want to work in partnership with you to develop an accessibility strategy that builds your knowledge and makes accessibility achievable and affordable in the long term. Working on projects together, we strive to help you understand the issues your customers face and learn the best practices needed to make informed decisions when designing and building products. We help you develop a roadmap and nurture a culture of inclusion that, in time, will mean you’ll need us less and less, allowing us to help more people and work towards a more inclusive Internet.

Become an accessibility champion

If you want to make 2017 the year you reach all of your customers, talk to us and let’s turn your business into an accessibility champion in your sector.

Virgin Atlantic New York captioning

Video accessibility services now offered by Dig Inclusion

In the last couple of years we have seen a huge increase in the amount of video on websites. As a result, organisations wanting help in understanding what they need to do to ensure their video content is as accessible as the website it’s hosted on. Video accessibility itself is not complicated to do. However, it is a time-consuming service that not every company has time to do in-house.

We’re delighted to announce that we’re now offering video accessibility fixing services at Dig Inclusion.

If you’re new to video accessibility, or confused about the differences between captions, subtitles , transcripts, audio description, etc. you can learn more in our new resource page, ‘What makes a video accessible?’. This new resource includes recommendations on when to apply each of these elements in order to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

We have already completed work for some of our clients, including a project for Virgin Atlantic adding timed captions and providing transcripts. You can read more about the project in our Virgin Atlantic customer story.

Grant with Premier League trophy

Premier League digital inclusion talk

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We were delighted to be asked back for the second year by the Premier League to present a talk on digital inclusion to the Premier League clubs.

Grant Broome attended on Wednesday 9th November and the focus of the talk was building an inclusive culture into web teams and providing an ongoing focus on providing accessible content to their fans.

Grant with Premier League trophy

Accessibility for club stadiums has long been a focus and we are really pleased to be helping the Premier League and the clubs to improve their websites and applications.
The training session links well to the work we have done with the Premier league and the clubs so far in the form of training, consultancy, audits and the creation of guideline documents.

Dig Inclusion gets involved in helping people back to work

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Monday 10th October, Carmarthen

The Department for Work and Pensions invited Dig Inclusion to run a workshop, aimed at their Work Coaches, so they can better support disabled people find suitable work.

The workshop, run by Dig Inclusions Director Grant Broome looked at the challenges that disabled people face when accessing computers, and the type of software and equipment that they use day to day.

Prior to the workshop, many Work Coaches didn’t have a very clear idea about the scope of things that a person with disabilities is able to do on a computer, some weren’t clear on whether certain types of disabilities can use a computer at all. In order to match people with disabilities with appropriate work, Work Coaches needed to a good understanding of what is possible, and what barriers disabled people might find when looking for work that involved computers.

The feedback from the workshop was extremely positive” said Fran Knight, Employer Advisor at DWP, “…all of the Coaches felt that they had a much clearer understanding of access to computers. The level of engagement was high and this was a vital step for us towards gaining a better understanding of how we can help remove barriers for disabled people in the digital workspace. I am very grateful for Dig Inclusion’s involvement and we are looking forward to working with them in the future”.

In the UK 46% of working age disabled people are unemployed.

Grant Broome from Dig Inclusion said “This type of workshop can make a tremendous difference to people’s understanding of disability and digital access. We were able to wrap up a wide range of useful content and deliver it within a short space of time. It’s a useful format that we will definitely be deploying on other projects”.

We hope the workshop will support the Work Coaches to not only help those with disabilities get into work but also help them educate employers more on the tools available to support staff.

If you’d like to know more or have an event you’d like us to talk at please get in touch.

Amazon Dash Button – promoting laziness or independent living?

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Amazon have just launched its Dash Button in the UK. It’s a stick-on button you can pop anywhere in your home, connect to your WiFi and Amazon account and it automatically orders a predefined product when you press it.

Perfect if you’re throwing a load of washing in and notice the washing powder is getting low, the Dash Button is a tool that some – like myself, a forgetful person – will feel a godsend. Others will see as purely a lazy person’s way of shopping, or technology for the sake of technology – imagine having a button for each product you buy!Red bull dash button

Supporting independent living

Much technology has hidden benefits that we don’t think of until someone else says why they use it, and I believe this is will be one of those technologies. As soon as I saw the Dash Button, its potential shouted out to me. For anyone needing help and support with independent living, this could be hugely beneficial.

The button itself only orders one product at a time rather than ordering multiple items, so you could press it 20 times and not worry about a truck loads of washing powder arriving at your front door the next day. This is ideal for people with certain cognitive behaviours or hand tremors. The button resets after 24 hours and allows you to order again, by which time your order should have arrived.

Pressing a button is also easier for people with mobility issues or restricted movement. Anyone relying on friends, relatives or carers to go shopping can now get household items literally at the press of a button.

amazon dash button on washing machine

The future

It would be fantastic to see this product developed into a pictorial shopping list and customisable against as your everyday shop like milk and bread. Can Amazon revolutionize the shopping experience for people with disabilities?

What has the Internet done for us?

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The Internet is today celebrating its 25th birthday. The Internet has bought about many changes that are incredibly positive for people with disabilities and this is what we want to discuss and celebrate.

In the words of Monty Python, as opposed to the Romans, what has the Internet done for us?

  1. Online shopping allows those with mobility problems the ability to do their food shopping and take their time looking at anything they want to buy without relying on public transport or needing help and support from anyone.
  2. Many businesses have an instant online chat service for you to talk to an adviser by typing messages. This is ideal for reaching out to deaf customers in real time.
  3. Audio description also helps those with autism. People who struggle to understand emotions, sarcasm or to recognise faces follow the plot better. Judith Garman from Mindful resources expands on this concept
  4. Video calling allows deaf people to sign to each other. Facebook was recognised as being a powerful resource for this, Read more at the BBC
  5. Regulatory changes like those brought in by the Department of Transport in the US open up online booking of travel and tourism to the USA by making their websites accessible, again making it easier to shop around and get the best deal.
  6. Accessible ebooks allows students access to the same reading material as their peers, reducing the need for classroom support and increasing independent learning.
  7. Online banking gives people greater access and control over their money, so making this accessible is a must. There is still work to be done in this area but both Barclays and Legal & General are doing great work in this area.
  8. Twitter hosts excellent discussion grounds like AXS chat bringing together experts in accessibility and individuals wanting to learn more.

To list all the ways the Internet has changed the world would take a very long time and I don’t believe it is at all possible to explain the impact it has on individual lives, the network, the support, simply knowing you aren’t alone.

There is still work to be done though, and I hope our list inspires you to think how your digital content can be more inclusive.

Why not tell us how the Internet has helped you in the comments below.

Photography on social media

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Today the world celebrates 177 years since the birth of photography. The volume of images we see each day and the way we share them has completely transformed since digital photography and social media have come into our lives.

Social media is growing as a platform for businesses to raise brand awareness and advertise their wares. It is well documented that images and video increase engagement on social media, and both can be made accessible to blind users through the use of alternative text on your website. However, businesses have so far had very limited control over the way their content is displayed on social media platforms, and therefore next to no control over accessibility on social media. This can be frustrating for companies dedicated to creating an accessible web presence, but things look set to change.

Social media accessibility features

At the start of the year, both Facebook and Twitter made announcements that will improve accessibility of images on these social media platforms:

Facebook introduced object and activity recognition for images posted on their platform. The system uses artificial intelligence to automatically describe the content of images to blind people. This feature is still very new and little has been reported back on its effectiveness for users. More here:

BBC News: Facebook lets blind people ‘see’ its photos

Twitter also introduced an accessibility feature that helps describe images to blind people. Users now have the option to add text to the images they share on Twitter. Rather than describing images automatically, Twitter users type in the description when they post an image, in the same way as you would write alternative text for images on a website to describe the content to a user. First released on iOS and Android via the Twitter mobile app, the feature has since been rolled out on desktop, too. It isn’t switched on as standard, however, so you need to activate the feature in settings. More here:

Twitter blog: Accessible images for everyone

Making images accessible for people on Twitter

screen shot of alt text on a tweet.

Watch the décor…

Not all images on the Web need to have alternative text. Sometimes an image is decorative – a space-filler – to break up the text or supplement the content. Whilst aesthetically pleasing, these images don’t add anything of value to the text, so attempting to describe it may be unnecessary, and even slow down blind people’s reading or detract from the meaning of your content.

Help make a difference

Social media is an important means of communication for people with disabilities. Images are powerful, so make sure as many people as possible benefit from what you share. If they are worth sharing on social media, they are worth describing.

PokemonGo is too visual, no notifications of running out of Pokeballs

Pokémon Go accessibility: Is gaming becoming more inclusive?

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Boy on mobile playing Pokémon Go

© Laura Clark

When it comes to new things in technology I always want to be one of the first to try it. Social media and accessibility has been gaining quite a bit of momentum and been in the spotlight recently. Gaming, however, is moving more into the social arena with people playing through social media sites, playing with friends online and interacting with people all over the world. So when Pokémon Go was launched this weekend I made it my mission to download and see what all the hype is about and see if this hype could be in anyway accessible and inclusive.

Game accessibility research

We already know game accessibility isn’t great, In March on our Facebook page we shared an article about the Robert Gordon University and the grant from SISCA which they were given to increase inclusion in gaming. The study wanted to not just create games for those with disabilities, but to make mainstream games inclusive.So any person with a disability wouldn’t be excluded from the latest trend. With the launch of Pokémon Go I wanted to check back in with Robert Gordon University to see how they were progressing before checking to see if the latest game (which is in no doubt trending) would be suitable for those with disabilities.

RGU research impact so far has indicated a 2 impact approach to increasing inclusivity in gaming:

  1. Accessibility toolkit for developers: Accessibility is complex, so this will give developers with little knowledge of accessibility practical tools in a cost effective way to start to build inaccessibility features
  2. Framework for adaptive accessibility: One of the best ways to see if something is accessible is having real users test it, the adaptive accessibility framework will focus on issues players have and looking for solutions to these.

Pokémon Go first thoughts

Through a thinly veiled claim to research, and a massive desire to see what all the hype was. I downloaded Pokémon Go to my Android phone and went out with my son to catch a Pokémon.

This is not a full accessibility review: frankly I knew before I started playing that Pokémon Go wouldn’t be fully inclusive or accessible but in the way that RGU are creating an accessibility toolkit, I want to see what if any features are included within the game.

Pokémon Go highly visual screenshot

Mobility

As I live in the countryside, I am very much used to country lanes and no footpaths so I can’t fully comment on how this would work within a city environment however one thing became apparent quite quickly, whilst the Pokémon are supposed to be within public places, The first issue I found was with access. A Pokémon in a field with no way of reaching it, No good for a wheelchair user and I had to pull my son away from trampling on the farmers crop’s. Another issue for wheelchair users is that at points in the game you place Pokémon into incubators, and to hatch them you need to walk a certain distance,Sadly it doesn’t count travelling by wheelchair which excludes wheelchair users from this part of the game. Apple did make an announcement in June saying the apple watch will, come autumn track activity of a wheelchair user, the first mainstream fitness tracker to do this.  This could be an ideal way of applying adaptive technology to improve the game.

Pokémon found in a field

Low vision

When I  get close to a Pokémon, the phone vibrates to give you an idea you are close. For some low vision users I believe this, alongside certain zoom features on Android phones like Samsung and the zoom on iOs might allow a low vision user to catch a Pokémon.

Blind

Due to the visual aspect of this game, throwing balls towards a Pokémon target even with TalkBack enabled on the Android this game in inherently inaccessible to blind users.

Pokémon Go is too visual, no notifications of running out of Pokeballs

Cognitive

Creating an inclusive game isn’t just about physical disabilities, there are also cognitive disabilities. Social interaction is difficult for many, Minecraft is a game that has benefited those with cognitive disabilities like autism, in particular aspergers, a virtual world where people can talk and interact with others. Pokémon Go can encourage people to get outside and to walk around, and who knows who else you may bump into hunting for Pikachu.

As with anything that takes people including vulnerable people outside does need a certain amount of safeguarding, making sure my son looks up as he crosses the road, not talking to strangers, keeping a tight hold on the phone – but the vibrate when you are close to a Pokémon is great for people to keep their phone out of sight and in their pocket until they get close. For my son and I, it was an opportunity to go for a walk and chat a little whilst he hummed the Pokémon theme tune and sang happy songs about finding Pidgey.

What Inclusive games can we recommend?

As Pokémon Go may not be to everyone’s taste, and not yet fully accessible I wanted to highlight some other inclusive games that both able and disabled people could enjoy.

One game, Grant Broome Dig Director has been playing lately, is Alto’s Adventure, a game which can be played with just one tap of the screen and has won many awards including App Store best of 2015.

Alto Adventures logo

I hope as the research continues with RGU more games will be released that can be enjoyed by everyone and that the makers of Pokémon Go apply adaptive accessibility as feedback from users comes to them.