The Importance of Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Thursday May 21, 2020 is Global Accessibility Day! At WISE Employment, one of our roles is to assist people looking for work by connecting them with an inclusive employer. This is done through education on an individual’s disability, illness or injury, and sharing how small adjustments can be made to create a better, more inclusive environment for all. We aim to create inclusive environments in person with our customers and online too. Find out more about why Global Accessibility Awareness Day highlights the importance of this.
What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?
Global Accessibility Awareness Day falls on the third Thursday of May every year with the purpose to raise awareness and start conversations around the importance of inclusion in the digital space. This includes ensuring everyone can access and is included in websites, social media, videos and various other online tools. Along with this, Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebrates the steps made towards inclusion so far and the companies, designers and technology developers who have contributed towards the movement.
What is being inclusive?
Being inclusive is considering all people of any age, gender, language, cultural background, education, disability, religion and lived experiences. You never know who will read your information, so ensuring everyone can understand it is essential.
Steps to being more inclusive:
There are several factors and people to consider when being more inclusive and making information more accessible. We’ve put together three aspects to consider when starting this journey. More resources and tips can be found at the end of this article.
Photos and diagrams: A common issue for low-vision users are images and diagrams which have no accompanying text or description of what they are or what they’re portraying. Ensuring these are described correctly through appropriate use of alt-text along with relevant descriptions and headings can help communicate to screen readers better. This is not just on websites, but also on social media platforms such as Instagram.
ABC’s, Nas Campanella, explains the importance of alt text here.
Media with Audio: When creating videos or forms of audio media, it’s important to ensure accurate transcripts, descriptions and captions are used correctly.
The Australian Network on Disability explains:
- Captions or subtitles should be synchronised to the speech in the video. This benefits people in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, have a different native language or are in situations where volume is not accessible.
- Transcripts should provide all the video information in a text version. An example can be found here.
- Audio Descriptions give visual information to better understand the context or situations in the video.
Using Auslan in videos, especially when live, is important to ensure everyone is provided with information. One of WISE Employment’s Consultants, Naomi Frost, explains why she prefers Auslan on screen:
“I actually very much prefer having Auslan interpreters on screen when they do a daily COVID-19 update. This allows me to understand information fully as Auslan is my first language and I don’t feel like I have to strain my eyes to read the captions. Sometimes captions are not 100% accurate and can cause delays or sometimes captions are not even available. This is something that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community have been working heavily on advocating for in the last few months.”
Inclusive language: Language is very powerful. Using the correct terms can ensure people feel included or recognised in content or excluded. Terms to consider include describing people’s gender, cultural background, disability, education, values, language and many more.
For example, In Australia, best-practice language is to use “person with disability” or “people with disability” (Source AND).
There are plenty of tools, e-learning classes and sources readily available to help improve accessibility, including:
- Vision Australia’s Accessibility tool
- Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker
- Deaf Australia’s Information on Captioning
- Australian Network on Disability’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day’s tools
- The Australian Governments Digital Guide to Accessibility and Inclusivity