In the month of May, we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day! Since ten years, this day has become paramount in the realm of accessibility and every individual, in the quest of driving this cause forth. Global Accessibility Awareness Day or GAAD symbolizes the very essence and need of the hour to have conversations around accessibility and an inclusive digital space for all. Hence, this calls for keeping some accessibility promises – few of which are elaborated upon herein.
Keeping Accessibility Promises Intact
Although we have come a far way in making accessibility a well-considered thought within any product, there sure is a long way to go. GAAD comes in as a trigger to push us in embarking upon that long journey and ensuring that we make and keep certain promises –
1. Alt Texts and Captions in Digital Products
Albeit an extremely basic promise, this is something that gets quite neglected by many organizations. The least that products can incorporate, be it images or videos, are alt texts and captions. For example, at times, an email would contain an image which would make no sense to a visually-impaired user if there isn’t any alt text attached to it.
Missing alt texts lead to a complete bewilderment for users in deciphering an image. The same is echoed with missing captions in videos. More often than not, videos become inaccessible to hearing-impaired users due to incorrect or no captions at all. Providing transcripts also becomes important.
2. An Inclusive Workforce
A very crucial promise should be to have an inclusive recruitment process in any organization. Many organizations or employers still shy away from recruiting differently-abled people due to the very stigmas that make rounds in society on the very competence of people with special needs.
Recruitment becomes an important facet in creating an inclusive workforce. People should be judged on their capabilities and not their disabilities. Every organization and every employer should make this salient promise of upholding equality in all aspects; of creating an inclusive environment with people from all walks of life.
3. Accessible Communication Channels
In such unprecedented times, a major impact has been felt in the sphere of communication. Work from home (WFH) has brought about a drastic shift to the digital domain and a grounded reliance on digital communication platforms. It thus becomes extremely important to have these platforms accessible to each and every individual.
From conducting conference calls to accessing any written material over the internet – digital accessibility should become paramount. For example, any documents, be it PDFs or PPTs, should be made accessible to differently-abled people as well – especially the ones containing vital information (such as COVID-related guidelines, etc.). These documents should be end-to-end accessible in terms of being well-tagged, semantically coherent, etc. This should be another promise that one should make and keep this GAAD.
4. Accessibility Testing with Real Users
When vowing to further digital accessibility, testing efforts play a crucial role. However, one of the best practices followed for accessibility testing is when real users are involved in the process. When differently-abled people test applications themselves, realistic feedback can be given about the product’s accessibility.
But sometimes, one might face hardships testing a software product all by himself/herself. Thus, a niche strategy that we, at QA InfoTech, follow is the approach of paired testing. Herein, our SMEs work with differently-abled engineers to identify real bottlenecks – thus, ensuring reliable and realistic results. Hence, accessibility testing with the help of real users is another promise that one should make this GAAD.
5. Proactive Evangelism
No hard-hitting efforts become possible if there aren’t conversations around it. GAAD in itself, is a step forward to create a space for such conversations; evangelism. To know what are the real-life problems faced by end-users who are either visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, have special cognitive or motor needs, etc., one needs to talk about it.
Forums, conferences, meets, etc. should be a way of effectively evangelizing and advocating the cause of accessibility – a need of the hour. Each and every person, differently-abled or not, should make such a promise of proactively talking about this need and vow to make that change.
These promises are just a start to the bigger picture of realizing an inclusive digital space. There are many others that we can vow upon and make that difference. It is also important to keep a check on these promises from a legal standpoint – there have been many instances of lawsuits for websites which aren’t accessibility compliant, putting organizations in jeopardy.
On the brighter side, many organizations have stepped forth in driving accessibility to greater heights and creating an inclusive space for all – digitally, in their workforce and workplace. So, why should others slow down on this quest? The starting point can be these basic promises this GAAD, and then the future of accessibility would be clear as the day.
Furthering the cause of accessibility shouldn’t be a one-day thought. It should be celebrated and spoken about everyday. The main aim of GAAD is just a start and a reminder to everyone that accessibility should not be an afterthought; stigmatization should be put to an end.
People with or without disabilities should take a step forward and bring conversations to the table. This GAAD, let’s make some promises (that are not meant to be broken) and create an inclusive space for everyone.
We, at QA InfoTech, a Qualitest Company, vouch for that through our niche expertise in the domain and our evangelism – something which you’ll be watching very soon. So, stay tuned!