Panel: Accessibility, inclusion, and digital experiences
10:17PM Aug 10, 2020
[A recording of a remote panel discussion held over Google Meet with four speakers and one host. This was a live online public discussion that happened on Wednesday 29th July, 2020, for Techweek].
Kia ora, welcome to our tech week panel on accessibility, inclusion and digital experiences. Thank you for joining us. My name is Ella and I'm Digital Marketing Specialist at Springload. I'll be hosting today's session. I've got Emilia Zapata, Jason Kiss, Ruth Hendry, and Meena Kadri with me today.
First I'd like to run through what to expect during the session, captions are available, and you can turn them on by navigating to the bottom right of your screen and you can see three vertical dots, which you can click and there should be a turn on captions option available. You can also change how you view this webinar on that menu as well.
We're also recording this session and we'll be publishing it with a transcript on YouTube after the event and only those speakers will be visible in the recording, but to everyone watching, please could you turn off your video and your microphone for the session today. We'll start with introductions, and then we'll move on to the panel discussion, where we'll also address some of the questions that you are asked during your ticket submissions. We also encourage questions throughout via the chat function. And my colleague, Kelly will be monitoring this. And we will address these at the end with a Q&A session section.
So let's start with introductions — Emilia.
Hello, everyone. So the name's Emilia. I'm a Front End Developer at Springload. I also happen to be a queer woman and disabled and that influences the way I work a lot especially concerning the topic we're currently focusing on, and yeah, that's me.
Thanks Emilia, Jason.
All right. I'm Jason Kiss. I'm Principal Advisor in Accessibility for the Department of Internal Affairs where I help lead the all of government web standards, one of which is the web accessibility standard, obviously focused on government content online is is accessible to all users, including disabled users.
Thanks, and Ruth,
Kia ora koutou, ko Ruth Hendry ahau, I'm the content director here at Springload, which means that I help our clients create inclusive and accessible content that works for people and for their businesses as well. So one of the things I'm really passionate about is that none of our products should leave anyone out.
Kia ora tatou I'm interested in the intersection of innovation, culture and social change. I've got a background and anthropology and design, and I did a decent stint with global innovation agency IDEO, across a range of digital startups focusing on community engagement. These days on consultant in New Zealand and including with good folks at Springload.
Thank you. Thanks for those introductions. And I'd like to say a quick word about Springload before we jump into the discussion. We are an independent digital agency based in Wellington. We research design and build digital products and experiences that enable change for good. Our clients include Te Papa, Klim, and government agencies, including the Ministry of Education, ACC, and DIA where Jason is principal advisor in accessibility. Over the past few months, we've been focusing on updating the Springload website to make it more accessible. And that's what's prompted us to focus on accessibility, inclusion, and digital experiences today. So, that brings me to kind of my first point, what does accessibility inclusion mean to you? And I'd start with Jason
Sure, um, in terms of just defining those terms for me, I think about accessibility, rather simply as an outcome or a characteristic of some product or service something which basically means it's, it's usable by disabled people. For me, that's that's what accessibility means. It's a subset of usability if you will, for except for disabled people. Inclusion is much broader. For me it's a concept around just making sure that all individuals are able to participate as they are, are enabled to participate to share their perspectives, to contribute their points of view, in a way that allows them to do that independently with dignity. And regardless of particular characteristics — they're setting, the other tools they might be using. So it's a broader concept, sort of associated with inclusive design or a universal design, which is, which again, is a methodology for achieving certain outcomes, one of which is accessibility for disabled people.
Thanks for that. And so does anyone else have anything else they'd like to add in what that means for them?
Yea I have two main questions that I'd be asking either of myself or of designing for that I'd be thinking in terms of them would be, do I feel welcome and able to participate? And do I feel like I belong here?
Yeah, building on what Meena said there. For me, inclusion also means do I understand what I'm participating in? Can I participate in this thing and equitably? And sometimes issues are systemic that might need to be actually addressed as both the digital product, and are there options for me as a participant to participate in another way non-digitally.
So for example, for those people who provide health care information, are there ways for people to access it in the way they want to, and that might be digitally, or it might be in physical format, for example, in a doctor's office. And another good example is I know that Plunket — so for those of you who don't know, Plunket is a charity that's Aotearoa's biggest support service for tamariki under-fives, something which I'm quite passionate about because I've got a four year old and a two year old — they're looking for ways to make that content more accessible, and some of the ways they're thinking about doing that is, for example, if you're breastfeeding or you're holding that baby, people want you to be able to ring them, use a voice search, use a chatbot, as well as the kind of holding the baby one finger typing that people do. So Plunket there are considering the situational accessibility issues that people might have as well as the more permanent accessibility issues. And in my opinion, in terms of participation, they could do more to show the role of men in caring for young children, but that's a different inclusion issue for them to consider later.
great examples Ruth, Emilia?
To me, I tend to think of inclusion as not excluding people and being careful about my intent and the result of that intent because it's often really easy to have a certain intent but have a very different impact. I don't think people are making things inaccessible because they want it to be inaccessible. But the impact is still there. And so, to paraphrase someone way smarter than me, "intent does not erase impact". And that's something that's very, very much at the core of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility to me is making sure that my impact is not affecting anyone negatively.
That's a really great point. And I think you've all touched on things where we can be asking ourselves and in our everyday work and I think, as well with that, those examples that you provided Ruth and thinking about how we're moving very quickly to make sure everything is online, especially after lockdown. And we might be moving too fast and there's some might, there might be some people being left out in those situations. So kind of like moving on to my next point, especially I'm sure there might be some people watching and thinking about how they can include accessibility and inclusion in their work, especially now that we are moving online, and at what point should people consider accessibility and inclusion in their work?
I think it's important to acknowledge that it should be part of all processes, because if we don't think about everyone at every step, we risk losing people along the way. And so, I think it's a cross discipline concern, as in design has to be aware of it, and development has to be aware of it, content has to be aware of it. It's often making sure that we keep an open discussion to get these things resolved and actually addressed. That means making sure that everyone is safe to raise any issues, making sure that everyone can actually make a change in the right direction.
Yea I think that drawing on what Emilia's saying ideally it's at the start of a project when you're creating the principles for a project so that they're embedded into what is guiding the project rather than just been tick boxes that you're that you've got at some end point of the project.
I really liked Emilia's point there about having a team that facilitates open discussions and a place that's safe to raise issues that's vital for accessibility and for other issues. Of course, it is better to consider accessibility and inclusion right from the start. It's better for the people who are using it, it's better for businesses, it's often more cost effective.
But for many people, and that sometimes includes Springload, probably some of the people who are on this panel at the moment, some of us aren't always in a position to affect change from the start. Sometimes a project might already be live. And it's never too late to make improvements. And that's the beauty of digital I suppose it's not an all or nothing game.
So if that's the case, for me, the things I'm thinking about, what does the audience need? What's of most benefit to them? And how can we best help them and so for example, that might be things like, including captions on video so better for hearing impaired video viewers. But also better for commuters as well. There's also considerations around language like for example iteratively improving Te reo Maori content. So making focusing on content that's meaniful to an audience with fluent in Te reo Maori and Te Papa have done a really good job of that. I think lately over the past five or seven years, I was having a poke around this site with one of my kids and saw their videos called 'He Paki Taonga i a Māui' so they're stories for tamariki and Te reo Maori which they've added to iteratively over time, and that's the kind of content you can build on and improve.
Nice, and yeah, I think there's, I think in an ideal world, we would all like to be building and kind of baking everything we do with accessibility and inclusion, but definitely speaking from, you know, experience and working at Springload, and we've been working on our accessibility and something sometimes it is something that might need to be done at a later stage. Jason, is there anything you'd like to add?
Well, I guess I agree that obviously, I think everyone's on the same page in terms of understanding that accessibility, inclusion, those sorts of considerations, alongside considerations around security and privacy, for example, and general usability, all of those need to be considered from the various very earliest stages and throughout as one iterates through a project. That's the ideal, in the case that that doesn't happen — what can we do? Certainly, if you haven't considered accessibility and then you've launched a product or service and then you're stuck at that stage with a live product or service, having to go back and remediate for say, conforming to the web content accessible guidelines the international accessibility standard, it seems really daunting. Nobody really has the budget or the appetite to sort of do that at that point, even if it's formally required or even legally required in some instances. But it's true that the iterative nature of digital makes this a goal that we can set for the future. And we can just take it bit by bit as we go. It may not be at that stage that setting a goal of complete WCAG conformance is reasonable. Maybe you want to focus on some top issues that are high impact for disabled users. For example, maybe it's captions, lack of captions for videos, if you use a lot of video. If you use a lot of images or graphs or charts, maybe it's long descriptions, maybe it's just proper semantic HTML so that people who use assistive technologies like screen readers can get the same information about the structure of the content on the page.
So I think you know, one can be practical about it and identify some quick, high impact goals to start tackling iteratively. And then just keep expanding that as you as you reach those goals, add some new ones, so that eventually you are as accessible as you can be. But I think being practical about it is probably the most important bit.
I just wanted to add something else about sort of experience from online communities because with some online communities that I've worked with, we've actually been able to co-cultivate quite a strong sense of collaboration within the community. And that means that they will often step up to the design for inclusivity themselves. So we had an open IDEO member who invited community members from across the community, which I think was about 60,000 people at that stage, to form a collaborative translation group to translate parts of project from English into other languages, so that kind of speaks to the strength that you can cultivate within an online community.
Nice. Yeah. So setting actionable points and actionable goals to reach, and getting people on board with that, being transparent and sharing — sounds like great tips. And I just want to go back to Jason, you mentioned about whether it's like a legal requirement or not. And I think this ties into a question that was asked during booking which is, at present, only government agencies are required to meet the New Zealand web standards, what is being done to spread awareness and encourage digital accessibility in the private sector? Would anyone like to answer that?
I could give it a go. I mean, it's certainly true that the New Zealand government web accessibility standard is mandated by cabinet only for the public service departments, the main core government agencies of which they're about, you know, the number changes every year, but it's between 30 and 40. It's the core departments. And that's an internal government directive from cabinet, but the point of that cabinet directive was to give effect to the human rights legislation that exists, and all organisations, whether public or private, are bound by the Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the delivery of goods and services on the basis of disability among other characteristics, protected characteristics. And so, in some sense, nobody is allowed to discriminate. Nobody is allowed to put up public facing or to deliver goods and services in a private sector context online that's not accessible.
So there's already a requirement there, but there's no formal obligation that says you need to meet the web content accessibility guidelines or you have to meet this or that standard. That is possibly changing given that the Ministry of Social Development is currently involved with the work programme looking at new accessibility legislation for New Zealand. And that would establish more formal, ideally it would establish more formal regulatory mechanisms, making it clear that private sector and public sector organisations need to make all of their products and services, their physical environments, their online environments, all of those would need to be accessible in some way, shape or form, however, that ends up being defined. And so we could see in three to five years more direct requirements or obligations on private sector companies in addition to public sector for delivering accessible product and services.
So now is a good time to start setting those actionable goals. In five years time we'll be, you know, smashing it. Thanks for giving that a go. Would anyone else like to add anything to that point?
There's a precedent in the US with the ADA not explicitly requiring websites to be accessible. But recently Domino's was bascially condemned for not being making their website accessible on the base that the ADA required them to do so, and so while there's no explicit legislation there as well, they created a legal precedent which means that websites actually do have to adhere to certain guidelines. And maybe we're just one lawsuit away from doing that here as well.
I think as well, regardless of if it's legal or not, one of the good things about having communities online is that people do share their experiences and call people out and call companies out when they're not accessible or inclusive. So even though it's not a legal requirement, it's something that more and more companies are facing, especially with this public voice holding them to account.
This kind of goes on to one of the next points, sometimes when we're proposing accessibility work, you might hear someone say, 'accessibility and inclusion is expensive and time consuming' as a kind of a reason not to do it or a barrier, and I'd like to know kind of what your responses would be if someone said that to you.
It goes back to what we said earlier. Yes, accessibility is going to cost you if you didn't factor it in from the get go because you have made decisions along the way that you'll have to walk back. You'll have to repair what has been broken, and that's the sort of thing that's going to cost money.
But businesses as a whole, do have a vested interest in making things accessible as well because disabilities don't mean that we stop being humans. It doesn't mean we stop consuming. It doesn't mean we stop buying stuff online, etc. So making sure that you include everyone is actually increasing your ROI as well. There were a few studies showing that depending on the scale of your website, 1% increase in sales can be a lot of money, and money that could be directly injected into making things more accessible as well. And you'd still have plenty of money left. So yeah, I guess it can depend on where your business sits, but there is always something to gain out of making things accessible that are not necessarily quantifiable with money directly, but can have a positive impact on a business revenue.
There's a great study out of the UK called the 'Click-Away Pound Survey', and I think it's actually been done a couple of times now. And it basically documents that behaviour of disabled people, when they go go to a website that's selling things that isn't accessible. They click away, they go away, and they don't sell there, they don't spend their pound there, right. And this is an attempt to provide a business case for accessibility just along the lines of what Emilia was saying, basically just lost market revenues when you don't consider that percentage of the population, that could be spending money on your site. But that that 'Click-Away Pound Survey' is really well researched and provides some really strong documentation along that argument that you know, businesses are losing money by not catering to disabled people who have lots and lots of money to spend.
Yeah, and I guess sometimes it's about, if it's an e-commerce site it is actually about transactional money, but it's also having that discussion with your clients at the beginning that outlines the strategic direction of the project. So you know, what are the outcomes that you're pursuing? So if you're pursuing health outcomes, if people can't use your system, your digital system or any system, you won't meet those health outcomes. So I think when it comes to digital, you need to not confuse the vehicle with the destination — digital is the vehicle, the destination are the outcomes that you're trying to get to, so you need to get the vehicle to work together with that.
And I think, you know, if you're co creating principles, at the beginning of your project based on those purpose based outcomes, that you want to achieve that are beyond digital outputs, you can usually get your clients thinking about broader goals, and accessibility and inclusion will usually come up and if they need a nudge, you can come armed with data and insights about excluded groups that they need to think about and ask the hard questions. Is it really their intention to leave people out? I think it's part of our jobs as designers to help people understand, well help people think more aspirationally, help clients think more aspirationally and help them navigate this kind of complexity.
So there's the side where we're emphasising the kind of monetary gains and the transactional value of being accessible and inclusive, but then also I'm hearing the other side which is talking and appealing to clients' values and doing it just because you know, as as a thing in itself. Is there anything else? Ruth, you would like to add to that?
Hmm, I think this is a really great question, Ella. It's something that lots of us will have faced at some point or other in our careers. And obviously, it would be great to align on values all the time, because in the ideal world, we're all working together to create inclusive products, because it's the right thing to do. That's not always practical, particularly for clients who've got competing pressures.
So when I think about persuading people to create inclusive products, it's the same tactic that you use for persuading people to do anything really that they might not initially want to do. It's thinking to Meena's point, what are the goals of the project beyond digital? How will inclusion help them achieve those outcomes? And who are the people in the organisation that you're talking to and what do they value? How can you use what they value to encourage them to create inclusive products, and to help people understand the relationship between the digital goals and the real world goals as we talked about.
And sometimes you need to think about, you want the people you're convincing to do the thing you want them to do — they don't necessarily need to know you were right — you just need to get them to create the inclusive projects in the first place. And so some of the tactics we might use, for example like Emilia said conversion or search engine optimisation, discussing the percentage of an audience that we might be ignoring, who might never convert.
To give an example here, we're working with a university at the moment who are really fully behind making their website inclusive, which has been awesome and really heartening to see. They're really committed to Te Tiriti in particular a tikanga-led approach and to be really clear, they're taking this approach because it is the right thing to do. But one of the benefits of this which we hadn't considered initially came to light through our customer research.
So by this university demonstrating that they're a place for tangata whenua and reflecting their commitment to te ao Maori through content design, this meant that any international students, particularly non-white international students, perceive this university to be a really safe, non-racist place. So it makes them feel like they'll be included, they'll be welcome, and this is likely to increase international enrollments as well. So by making products inclusive for one group of people, there's often a secondary benefit sometimes benefits we might not even realise at the start of the project, so having those kind of examples can be a really powerful way of persuading people.
Hmm, so they have like that knock on effect, and actually how you treat and how you create for accessibility and inclusion, all your customers or people that you're trying to talk to are watching and they're watching what you're doing — and that's kind of helping other people form opinions about your business.
Yeah, that's quite right. And it was really heartening to see that a lot of our clients do care about inclusion and accessibility. And to Meena's point when they don't it is our job to persuade them and to help have those hard conversations as well.
Nice. And before I go onto another question that was asked, does anyone else have anything to add from that kind of values versus outcomes argument?
I'll go ahead and say that while I agree, I think that when we're looking for that outcome of inclusion or accessibility, we may find ourselves in situations where we have to use rhetoric of different types to convince them, and whether that's business commercial rhetoric, whether that's rhetoric around innovation, whether that's rhetoric around legal risk, these are all things we're saying to try and convince or translate the real need for accessibility into reasons that will speak to this other person or this organisation. And I get, I guess that's a necessity at certain points if we're looking for that outcome. But I find it frustrating that we need to provide those arguments, for example, you know, SEO for years has been raised as one of the reasons to do accessibility online, is increasingly not as true as it ever was. But what happens if SEO no longer has any benefits when you do accessible designer development? Is the argument for accessibility then gone for that organisation?
Aren't we all saying — and isn't that the reason we've entrenched these values and things like the Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act — that is, it is the right thing to do. That's why we're doing it. This is the kind of world we want to live in. We want to make sure that people with disabilities are part of that world. And so I guess all I'm doing is expressing my own personal consternation being caught between that, the real reason I think inclusion and accessibility are important, and why we think that and then these arguments to get people who are resisting to come along. And I worry that that sets up a problematic dynamic around the 'why' of accessibility.
Hmm, I think that's a really fair point Jason, and it's really hard, isn't it, to sell the 'why' of accessibility, which is really that is the right thing to do. I mean, regardless of it being enshrined in law or not, alongside people who might be resistant to that for perhaps budgetary or time constraints. I wonder if there's a way to weave those two stories together for best effect, and to have people ideally in-house, speaking from an agency perspective, in-house with clients who are able like you to sell the benefits and the real why behind doing accessibility and inclusion, along with people who are able to show those secondary benefits, and then weave those two stories together with the hope that eventually everyone understands why we should be doing it.
That sounds like the right kind of approach to me. And I think, well as if we think about that kind of blending of those arguments, and we're looking for practical solutions, we start to think of, you know, technological approaches that we can leverage. So things like, you know, component systems or design systems or design pattern libraries. Certainly in a government context, something like an old government design system, where all the components are accessible, and you can rely on that having all government websites use that Design System, for example, would solve a lot of that issue for us and get those outcomes that we're looking for without even having to get into those arguments.
Although one would hope so also that over time, if we all as desingers do our job keep pushing this along with a lot of other groups who pushed this agenda, that it would become more accepted. If you think of things like the right of woman to vote or gay marriage. At one time, they were this thing like, well, you know, that's weird, or why would that happen? And now they largely unquestioned and so I hold out hope that if we all keep doing the thing that Ruth is talking about, that Jason and Emilia have brought up as well, that it will eventually become a thing that is not so much of a push. It's just expected by clients that, you know, that this is going to be part of what is going to be done.
And that also means that something everyone can do as well is you don't have to ask for an explicit agreement around accessibility, you can just make what you do accessible, inclusive, and that's where I think a lot of it can come from because unless there are big legislative changes, it's not something that's going to come from the top.
It's going to be coming from us sending mails to support at different companies saying, 'I cannot access the content, I feel excluded by the content'. This does feel wrong to me also means during my practice, I want to make sure I do everything I can to make things accessible. And that's not necessarily cost me a lot of time, because it's going to cost at the beginning because you have to learn new things and learning thing takes times. But once you get to a certain level, you know what to look for and when to look for it. And it becomes almost second nature to build things in a more inclusive manner to begin with, and not have to worry about, 'should I ask for it?' and just make itself.
So it becomes natural and not an afterthought. And, and I think, yeah, everything's daunting to start with. Really great points. That kind of ties in to one of the other questions that was asked during submission. I understand that it's definitely there's not really shortcuts we should be taking, but are there any software or apps you would recommend using to ensure your content online and your digital experiences are online, more accessible and inclusive?
You want me to take the content part first Ella?
Yea that would be great thanks.
If we're speaking specifically about written content here, there are a few different digital tools you can choose. So for example, some of our clients use the test called Fleisch-Kincaid test, which I can send you a link to in the chat. This can help me show the reading age of your content and that word, actually, weirdly, it's one of the things that word does quite well, this is automated in a Word document.
You can also use things like Cloze tests that help people understand, it shows how easy it is for people to understand your content. And I think the Hemingway app can help with this too.
To be honest, though, there's really no substitute for actually testing your content with real users. So you could do this with remote, unmoderated tests, like Chalkmark, which Optimal in Wellington produce, or in-person usability testing. Testing content with real people, even if it's just your colleagues, is definitely the best way to understand how accessible it is.
Thanks, and does anyone else have any general kind of software or apps that they have felt has helped them with their accessibility and inclusive journey that they'd like to add?
From a very technical perspective, I'm going to talk about axe from deque system. Its plugins for web browsers that allows you to find the biggest issues that pertains to accessibility. It's not a silver bullet by any means, but it helps avoiding the most obvious issues which are surprisingly there in a lot of websites. It's very rare that even a small check like that does come up empty.
On the point of content, I would like to add the Self-Defined app — it's a dictionary of definitions that was created by Tatiana Mac, who's the one behind the phrase I told earlier, 'intent does not erase impact'. And I'm gonna leave a link in there as well.
And last thing for people who are more bookish is 'Accessibility for Everyone' by Laura Kalbag. It's a very good book that introduces a lot of the common mistakes you can make and how to alleviate them during your design process and building software.
thanks to those recommendations, I'm definitely gonna have a look at that book. Jason, is there anything else you'd like to add?
No, I would second all those recommendations. I would caution, at the beginning Ella you mentioned 'are there any tools that people use to ensure the accessibility', and I would say that 'help ensure', because these sort of tools are hard to rely on 100%. Certainly in the content space, things like Fleisch-Kincaid and Hemingway, those are really important tools to use, but you know, a good Fleisch-Kincaid score doesn't necessarily represent a meaningful sentence, it's an indicator. You still need the expert content person to use that tool and their own expertise in tandem, to decide if something is plain language, for example.
And finally, the reason that axe is really good is because barring any bugs in the software, it only reveals known accessibility bugs that it can find. In other words, it doesn't have any false positives. And historically, that's a big problem with automated accessibility tools is that it flags thousands of potential errors that you need to go and manually review. And again, no developer wants to spend time doing that. So that's the nice thing about axe.
There are some similar tools available out there. Tenon, t e n o n . i o, that's another service. It's a server based tool, it doesn't have a browser plug in, but it does have a website where you can put in a URL and it will check. But it also has a continuous integration service whereby just like axe, when you're making commits, you can have them checked by Tenon, and then have that stop your commit, and you can address those bugs when they're found. So both of those are really, really good. And they can get integrated with the developers' workflow, so they're really practical in that way.
Other tools, I mean, there's just there's lots, colour contrast analysers are a big one. There are a number of those — there's no end of colour contrast tools available. There are vision impairment simulators available for browsers. So plugins where you can see what your page is going to look like for someone with protanopia or deuteranopia different types of colorblindness, or people with floaters or astigmatisms, or different types of, you know, visual impairments. But there are a lot of tools out there.
Thanks for that. Jason. Does anyone else have anything to add before we go into the Q&A section?
Yeah, just to wrap up on that Ella. There are loads of tools out there but there is absolutely no substitute for putting your product in front of real people to see how they use it. Because to Jason's point about the Fleisch-Kincaid test, you're quite right, you could have a web page full of things that says things like, 'the cat likes the dog', 'the dog likes the cat', highly readable, or passive Fleisch-Kincaid test, completely meaningless and unusable. So putting it in front of real people is the way to just finally double-check.
Just a little segue there away from accessibility. When Jason was talking about content and communications expertise, made me think about, you know, I've often been working in content and communications and get quite worried when we become the gatekeepers for expertise. So in the case that you're talking about, I fully agree, but there's some cases where it's not about the tool. It's where you decide to place your efforts as someone working in content or communication. So you might decide to curate a conversation rather than pushing out internally devised content.
So an example of that was quite a few years ago now. The Ministry of Health approached us to create non-smoking messages for rangatahi, and it was like, oh, well, you know, I'm not rangatahi, I was in my mid 30s. And so it's like, well, I don't know how they speak and how can we approach that? So the way that we did approach it was through a Twitter rap competition. And so the rangatahi themselves, were pulling together messages and then having conversations about it and that kind of thing. And so it's just interesting to think sometimes about maybe it's not the technology maybe it's that you curate a conversation that is by nature more inclusive than broadcasting information.
That's a really good point Meena, and to step away slightly from the tools, but to build on that — sometimes creating things that are inclusive can mean breaking your expectations around what best practice is. So there's an agency called Paper Giant who are based in Melbourne, Australia, who are pretty amazing actually. And they recently did a project to create a website for St Kilda, which is a suburb of Melbourne, their LGBTQ Legal Service. And one of the things they did related to content is to put this module on the homepage that housed actually 10 different pride flags including things like asexual, nonbinary, and intersex, as well as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. And it's quite unusual to have a module that takes up so much real estate on the home page. And lots of people might think it pushes important content down. But what it does is it makes it really clear that this service is a really safe place for a variety of communities who might have felt excluded from those kinds of services previously, and so kind of breaking the mould around what UX best practice are can be really helpful around this and then obviously testing that users to make sure it fulfils the intent you think it's going to fulfil.
Thanks Ruth. So it's like using kind of a bit of human intuition, which is great because it means machines can take over all of our jobs
We're not being taken over by machines.
So if anyone has any questions, yep — Emilia.
I just wanted to add one last thing. It's very important to take a compassion based approach, where you need to trust the feedback you're given, even if that feedback may be uncomfortable because we're not used to receiving it because we take it as a personal failure. It's important to accept that it may not always be comfortable to be inclusive, especially when we have lots of privilege, that means actually checking our privilege at certain points, and that's not necessarily comfortable that something that can be hard to come to terms with but that's still something that's very necessary and something that everyone should do.
That's a really great point, really resonates kind of having uncomfortable conversations and giving people space to voice their opinions.
Does anyone have any questions? I'd just like to open up to questions. If you do, please pop them in the chat.
So, a question from Adele — what's the view on embedded text within video content feeds versus captions, versus captions (sorry). Would anyone like to answer that?
So from a technical perspective, it's definitely a big no no, because someone using a screen reader will not be able to actually read it. And that's something you that's why you have captions. That's why you want to have transcripts on audio or video as well. It's because people may consume media differently than we do, and we have to include all these different ways and within the video content means you have to be actually sighted to enjoy that content.
Yeah, one of the team members shared a video from Twitter that we re-posted showing how a person visually impaired used her iPhone. And it was really insightful to watch, I didn't realise that there was for example, like a braille keyboard. So like thinking about how they were using their screen reader, to go through and listen to the Tweets and navigate around the phone it was quite eye opening to watch.
I'm curious what the question is the question about burned in or open captions versus closed captions? I'm just wondering what what is embedded text within video content mean? I'm reading that as being captions that are embedded in the video. They're hard coded in the video, or what we call open captions because they're always there and you can't turn them off. And in that sense, you know, there's not necessarily a big problem, there is a potential issue like Emilia mentioned, if the captions are available as a separate caption file that is presented on top of the video as text, it's possible with some players for those captions to be announced by the screen reader. But that sets up an interesting situation because a vision impaired person unless they're deaf blind, or have a hearing impairment, they can typically hear the audio that's in the video clip. And so what they're missing, usually for a vision impaired person is any important visual information. And that's why we have audio description.
But as well as also why transcripts are also critically important, especially for people who are deaf blind, in which case a text transcript, which is basically a text equivalent of all the meaningful audio and visual information in the video clip, can be read by a deaf blind person who's using basically a screen reader to translate the content through a Braille display device. And they don't have access otherwise to any captions or any audio and certainly not the visuals in the video.
So in some cases, open versus closed captions is not a big deal. Sometimes open captions are even to be preferred. For example, if you're at a conference and you've got a television at your booth at a conference and you're showing a video, it'd be good to have the captions going all the time, because you likely have audio turned down. But I think what's more important is that you provide captions always as well as a text transcript.
And Kay Jones mentioned, 'if captions cover a face, they can impede lip readers'. So that's point
That's a good point there are best practices for placement of captions. The length of a caption on a screen at one time. There's lots of good practice best practice guidance around that online.
Hmm. I'm just looking through the chat now it looks like there's been lots of useful conversation and one person has popped in a quote from Matt May from Adobe — "what we have are a few people who know a lot about accessibility, what we need are a lot of people to know a little bit about it." That's a great quote. Thank you for sharing that. And if you've got any more questions, please put them in the chat. I'm just having a look through.
I'm still like, I love the quote that Emilia provided — "intent does not erase impact" — I think that's a brilliant one. And yeah, does that does anyone have anything else that they would like to end the discussion with, end the discussion on a note?
I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who's here listening is really heartening to see that there are so many people interested in accessibility and inclusion, Jason's point earlier about taking a values based approach, the more of us that are interested, the greater the chance of creating that argument and creating some real change and impact. So thank you everyone for listening.
And it was also great to see people actually having conversations in the chat, because obviously, it doesn't need to be about all of us, so it was good to see communications happening amongst people who worked in similar areas or who were facing similar issues.
We just had one more question from Adele — where do you even start making your content accessible, especially online? Maybe Ruth would like to deal with that first.
If I'm understanding the question correctly, do you mean, I'm going to have a weird voice to text conversation here, Adel do you mean around your written content, how it's understandable? Or do you mean how it's technically accessible?
[Adele typing 'both' into the chat]
Oh, great question. All right, I'll talk to the written part of it rather than the technical.
Firstly, it's about thinking about what do your customers want. Who are they? What do they need? And what do they need to be able to do? And what's their preferred channel for participation?
So it's about thinking of the customer journey holistically, not just thinking about the words you're going to write on the page. So this is a non-exhaustive list, some of the things I would be thinking about are the language I was using. So is it inclusive? Does it make me feel welcome, do they understand what they need to do?
Then I'd be thinking about the channel choice. So is the website the right channel choice or should we be offering non digital experiences too. And then I would be testing the content that I thought fulfilled those needs with real customers, ideally, firstly in just its written form so you've got a bit of a chance to refine it, but then also in the context of design to see how the UI elements and the content actually work together. What's the impression they give to these people? Does it meet their goals and needs? Does it make them feel welcome, included? And do they know what they need to do next? I hope that answers your question from the content perspective. I'm also happy to talk about this offline if you like, I can talk about inclusive content for quite a lot of time.
I wonder if Emelia or Jason, you want to take the technical parts of that.
[Jason talking but no sound]
You are mute.
I added a couple of links. The Web Accessibility Initiative from the W3C. They've got a bunch of great resources, introductory resources, resources explaining how different people with different disabilities use the web, some of the considerations around design and development for them. They have a whole bunch of tutorials and they have some easy checks that anybody can do. So I would go there. If you have questions, I also posted a link to the WebAIM email discussion list, which is a long standing email discussion forum. And it's very active. If you have any question whatsoever about accessibility, web accessibility, post it there. It's very friendly, open, judgement free. And the web accessibility experts that respond are top notch. So you'll get really great, great feedback there from the WebAIM discussion list. And I see that Caelan put in the Accessibility Project — that's another great one, they have a good checklist there. But I think if you're just starting out, those are the resources to start looking at. From a technical perspective anyway.
Thanks for that. I think there was Matty Wilson touched on point about, is there ever a reason that stakeholder can demand the team to ignore best practice accessibility? And I guess we kind of touched on that earlier in the sense of maybe sometimes accessible experiences don't necessarily have to follow best practice. But is there anything else that anyone would like to quickly add? bearing in mind this is our last question before we wrap up. Emilia?
So ideally everyone should make accessibility a core part of every web project they're working on. Certainly that's not true at the moment and also if someone is telling you to willingly ignore accessibility, is nothing actually telling you to follow that. And also, like I said, if you make things accessible by default, it's going to be accessible, tou don't need to be loud and proud about it, you just do the work.
And yeah, and also, if you're talking about projects that have legacy, you can't just stop the train and ask everyone to focus on that because a business still has to run, still has to provide value to their customers. That means sometimes balancing act between features and making things more accessible.
There's a good point that I like in the development world, which is the Scout Rule of leave everything cleaner than you found it. So that can apply to accessibility as well. If you touch the parts of a system that you know is not accessible, you can tweak it at the same time, it's not going to add much time to the actual effort you were going through. But every step counts, and every step is making life better for someone else. And I think it's worth doing it.
Thank you for that. Thank you for that, Emilia. Yeah, that was, that's a great point to end on. It can be, it doesn't have to be something daunting to be put off and worried about if you just take it step by step, you'll be making that difference to other people, and other people's experiences on and offline.
I just like to say thank you. Thank you to all of our panellists for joining. And thank you for Kelly for supporting and thank you for everyone who has had a really great conversation in the chat and has joined us today. This has been recorded so we will publish it and let people know when that's online. And I hope you have a great day and I hope you have a good rest of the Techweek.