My post: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

By May 15th, 2014

Hoping to increase awareness for accessibility, I posted this note over on FaceBook—to try and reach out to a different audience than the technology industry.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about getting more people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities. I posted this to my Facebook account, primarily because most people that follow this site, already have some idea of what accessibility is and why it is important. Most people that I’m connected with on Facebook aren’t from our industry. I thought for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I’d post something that would be seen by and hopefully grow awareness in people that aren’t in the technology field.

What can you do?

You can help too. Post something beyond the echo chamber of us geeky technology digitalistas. Turn to Facebook, or your Tumblr, or Instagram, or wherever to tell part of the story. Talk to your families at dinner. Tell your children’s friends about what you do.

Tell them about how you make the world better every single day.


Title: What we do…

Many of you aren’t really sure what I do. That’s okay — I’ll give you a little taste today in honour of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

I’d like you to watch this video from Undercover Boss. A high up executive at Roto Rooter goes undercover and works briefly in the dispatch office. As the high up executive is learning the dispatch system and how it works, the person teaching him goes through the meaning of all the different colour codes. Interestingly enough, that exec had a hand in actually designing the system.

Yellow icons mean stand by, blue icons mean they’ve been assigned a job, orange means they’ve accepted the job, and green icons means that they’re a go. You only need to watch the first few minutes. Then come back :)

Undercover Boss: Roto Rooter (Season 1, Episode 8)

Here’s the crazy bit. He designed the system. And he’s colour-blind. He can’t use the very system he designed.

What we do

Accessibility professionals work with teams of designers and developers to ensure that things like that don’t happen. We make sure that different abilities are considered during the design and development process.

In the case of the dispatch system, we would have made sure that colour wasn’t the only way to determine the technician’s status. We’d use a shape along with the colour, or maybe even use a simple word or letter with the icon to convey the same meaning of “stand by” or “accepted job.” That way someone that is colour-blind can use the system alongside their non colour-blind co-workers.

We tend to think a lot about diversity and inclusion. We want software like that dispatch system to be inclusive. We want things to be easy to use for everyone.

What inclusive means

We help make sure that the apps that you have on your phone can be used by people that are blind and can’t see the screen. We help make sure that your company’s web site can be used by someone that uses voice recognition because they lost both their hands serving as part of their country’s military. We make sure that media like online videos or elearning has captions so that someone that is deaf can easily get at the audio portion of the content. We make sure that the college or university admissions application can be easily filled out by someone who is losing their vision. We make sure that forms are consistently designed, easy to understand, and work well, even if you have difficulties with memory.

There’s much more to it than that, but that’s a taste of what we do in the world of information, communications, and technology accessibility.

Wanna know the best part? Everything that we do that makes something easier to use for a person with a disability, also makes it easier for people that don’t have disabilities. Cool, huh? I think so…

That’s what I and thousands of other designers, developers, researchers and specialists around the world are proud to do each and every day.

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