There’s a new movement which is taking hold across many disability communities, one which has existed for about 6 years now. Their main website highlights the background and motive for its creation. Checking the website out is highly recommended as it will provide a good overview and interviews for understanding a present-need for such an event. Although opponents of GAAD would argue that there is no need to create a special day just to place disabilities on a high-horse, with the rapid and transforming state of technology, companies need to know that accessibility has to be a part in every aspect of their design cycle.
Let’s highlight a few companies and their efforts this year (at least top ones we could find) on what they’ve done to recognize this day, if any action. Slowly, the movement will continue to grow, and every year the work of these companies to recognize the event only fuel the flame.
I-Devices sends an early morning e-mail, recognizing need for Global Accessibility Awareness
This morning, iDevices who create accessories for connected homes, recognized efforts in which their products are a model for inclusive design. Here are some of the ones highlighted. Although the table included in the e-mail placed each cell under a heading and created more of a cluttery experience to screen readers by double-repeating section titles on the graphics, it was still very well done.
- NEW ACCESSIBILITY HINTS: With new helpful navigation tips,
it’s now easier to control and move through the app.
- ENHANCED SUPPORT FOR COLORS: Use the night light and change color settings more easily with spoken color names.
- UPDATED ACCESSIBILITY TRAITS: When using VoiceOver mode, all
buttons and links will be called out uniquely, making it easier to use the app.
- IMPROVED ACCESSIBILITY GESTURES: App navigation is even simpler, with added support for commonly used accessibility gestures.
Not bad, and it educated developers as to some accessibility features in platforms as well as their devices.
Some companies are doing Webinars, others help find jobs, and some do articles
It’s worth noting that Blackboard joined the fun this year by also hosting webinars for educators and other classroom experts to discuss design and accessibility principles.
After contacting GettingHired.com about lack of alt text of company logos presenting in a webinar they were providing on May 16th For job seekers, it was fixed. After the Null alt-texts, they added another one underneath explaining the problem to those who are blind with every company name listed in the apology, so it deserves some recognition as well.
Finally, Mashable did a great piece on technology and how people adapt to changing it for their needs.
Microsoft, a huge vocal advocate for accessibility, releases a series of posts marking the global event
Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who we have also done a spotlight on late last year, highlighted many recent efforts the company helped in shaping to create a more inclusive world, including in the education environment. We know that if new students and those becoming disabled can be welcomed in a way which encourages using inclusive tools to further their workflow, accessibility could be always part of the conversation. Of course, the implications are far-reaching to employment and the workplace and break the divide slowly over time for some as well.
Then, Jeff Petty, lead PM at Windows/Narrator accessibility, highlighted what is to come in Narrator. This is huge, including braille display gestures for moving around Windows, better handling of controls and elements to create a consistent command design everywhere, and a new “device help” mode which will allow you to learn which each Narrator key is mapped to on your system. In addition, Microsoft will begin using its Cognitive Services API to provide alt-text on graphics Narrator encounters with lacking alt-text. This latter feature is more revolutionary than Mac OS being able to announce properties of an image – it would, for the first time, add some AI capability to a screen reader. Many also wanted to use Narrator and magnifier in conjunction, a feature now promised for the fall update. Zooming out with the mouse wheel? Awesome, and will allow more to use magnifier perhaps as their solution for the magnification needs they require. And for anyone buying a Windows 10 S device in their future and need to use a specific assistive program that’s not in the store, you will be glad to know that a Windows 10 pro upgrade will be a free click away for you, rather than the standard USD$50.
It’s also worth highlighting a new video they released at build of a new project, called Emma:
Apple creates videos for Global Accessibility Awareness Day
There are so many different disabilities, which is why inclusive design is what can help drive the extreme degree to which people’s needs can vary. Last week, we posted about Apple releasing their videos highlighting accessibility with several types of disabilities, from a woman who uses speech to communicate on her iPad with ease, to Carlos, part of the band Distartica with blindness who uses Apple’s tools during tours. It’s incredible to see screen curtain be demonstrated and for the every day world to see a glimpse into understanding how these tools work to create a cohesive experience for anyone who has some disability.
On this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, let us also not forget that 2/3 of disabilities are those which are unseen or so well managed that the world cannot distinguish it from what we have framed as “normal.” Treating everyone, no matter their challenge, as an individual and dignity for their rights is just common sense, not a tacked-on effort companies should make. So let’s move the needle forward each year.