Cristopher Broyles: Hello, everyone. My name is Cris Broyles, and on behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind, I'd like to welcome you to AFB's celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018.
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I'd like to begin today's presentation by introducing you to our three presenters. First is me again, Cristopher Broyles, and I am the Chief Consulting Solutions Officer for the American Foundation for the Blind. With me today is Matthew Enigk. He is one of our Accessibility Engineers. And we also have Lee Huffman with us, who is the Editor-in-Chief of AccessWorld.
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In today's presentation, we will be covering five topics to help celebrate accessibility. The first topic we'll be talking about is the real-world value of accessibility, which I will present. Then Matthew will be talking about some recent advances over the last year in the accessibility space. Lee will then be talking with us about AccessWorld and some of the neat technologies at publications last year and then we will pass it back to me, and I'll share about some of the common characteristics that I have observed in successful accessibility programs and then we'll close things out by talking about some of the services and solutions that AFB Consulting offers to organizations and companies to help support their accessibility programs and Matt and I will present that information together.
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Whenever I talk with organizations about the real-world value of accessibility—why they need to be doing it—there're really four reasons that come to my mind and the reasons aren't listed in any particular order here, but the first one which relates to lawsuit mitigation. This one is not my favorite. In my mind and in my heart, this is why not why we should be doing accessibility for other reasons, but in my experience when talking with organizations, the unfortunate truth does seem to me that lawsuits and the potential for lawsuits does seem to be the most powerful driving factor in getting organizations to do the right thing.
In 2017, there were over 814 lawsuits related to website accessibility. Now I have not read all 814, but all of the ones that I have looked at have all resulted in sort of the same end game. It's always been a settlement agreement whereby the organization commits to a given set of criteria to help ensure that their content is accessible thereby ensuring they're not excluding any potential customers from using their websites, or PDFs, or apps, or what have you. Now there have been a few exceptions. Five Guys is one exception. They went ahead to "No, we're not going to do a settlement agreement. We're going to take it to court." The court said, "No. Not going to happen. Not going to work. You've got to make yourself accessible." I am not a lawyer, but my feeling in seeing all of the success in the accessibility space in 2017 is that though you can read the American for Disabilities Act word for word and you won't find "website," "mobile app," "PDF," "PowerPoint"—you won't find any of those terms expressly written, but my feeling is that they have been interpreted to be there in the spirit of ADA. It's more of an implicit thing, not an explicit thing. And we've been very fortunate that companies and attorneys and courts have seen it that way. That doesn't mean that it will always be the case. I'm still—despite all the success we've had in 2017—I'm still looking forward to the day when the Americans with Disabilities Act is expressly amended so that language is there about websites, about mobile applications, and about the digital space in general so there is zero question, zero doubt. It is a given. It is a must.
A second thing I'd like to talk about regarding accessibility when I talk with organizations relates to brand and publicity. I don't think there's ever been an age in which people's opinions can be shared so openly, so freely, and so vastly than we live in today with digital at our fingertips. We have social media. We've got Facebook. We've got Instagram. We've got Twitter. We've got discussion boards like Webbing. If your organization is not doing right by its customers, that will bubble up. If your organization is doing right by its customers, that will bubble up. So the question becomes, what message are you hoping that your customer base is going to bubble up? Are you hoping they're going to bubble up they have a great experience on your website? Or are you having them bubble up that it's a bad experience and that they can't complete certain things like being able to add items to a shopping cart?
Along that same line of business value thinking, there's also been the idea that if your digital properties are not accessible, you're purposefully not reaching up to 20% of what could be your potential customer base, and that just doesn't make sense to me. A lot of organizations on a yearly basis have goals around revenue generation and around growth. An easy way to help with that is to make sure you're not excluding that potential 20% by making sure that your digital properties are accessible. Again, that's your websites, you mobile apps, etc. Accessibility helps you to reach the largest audience possible. I think that's a win. At the same time, you're going through that effort to make sure that you're reaching as many customers as possible. You can take those same methods, those same tools, that same strategy and you can apply that to your internal facing things for employees and new potential employees. Ensuring that your online applications are accessible will help to make sure that you're reaching again the largest applicant pool possible and that you're getting the best talent pool possible. A lot of organizations, in my personal view, kind of take a cheap way out. They put up their application, they don't label their forms fields, they don't label their buttons, and then they just put on a tag line: "If you're an individual with a disability and you need help with this application, call this number."
I don't think there's anything wrong with that "Call this number" approach. For me personally, what I think is wrong is, it becomes a license for organizations not to try to be accessible. It is not hard to label form fields in an application. It is not hard to label your buttons like "Attach resume," "Save," "Submit the application." It just takes some time and some effort, and what I like is I like an application that is fully accessible, wholly screen reader-compatible, but still on top of all that, still has the call-in number so that the call-in number doesn't become the excuse to not to try. The call-in number is just the cherry on top of a well-built sundae, and that's what I like to see.
Any questions about my take on the real-world value of accessibility? Again, you'll need to unmute yourself if you do have a question or a comment.
Okay, at this time I'd like to go ahead and move on to the next slide and to the next presenter, which is Matthew. Matthew, take it away.
Matthew Enigk: Yes, I'm Matthew. I'm the accessibility engineer at American Foundation for the Blind and last year we've had some pretty big advances, mostly from the web development and some mobile development side of the web content accessibility guidelines and the accessible-rich internet applications, respectively the WCAG and the A-R-I-A or Aria. ARIA 1.1 was the most recent version was accepted December 2017 and there's even new working drafts. One was published actually two days ago with some changes to it. The WCAG 2.1 proposed a recommendation in April of 2018, and they're expected to accept that proposed recommendation some time next month in June.
So, for WCAG 2.1, it was proposed, or the proposal was published in April of 2018 with an expected adoption in June. It adds one new accessibility guideline, five new Level A success criteria, seven new Level Double A success criteria and five new Triple A success criteria. The changes are focused primarily on mobile and responsive design, non-text contrast, such as images, buttons and other controls and enhancing input methods actually other than the keyboard for either low vision or maybe some mobility impaired users—those types of things.
The new guideline added in the WCAG is number 2.5 and its input modalities. This deals primarily with touch and mouse click event behavior. Since a lot of mobile applications—of course with mobile applications you're dealing with touch events and also on the desktop or laptops you're dealing with click events—these guidelines are designed to enhance the requirements around what happens when you touch, when you actually put your finger down on the touch screen and release it or same thing with a mouse when you click and release it. It's designed to make it easier for the users to operate functionality through other input methods beyond the keyboards, so touch a mouse and it sets out the guidelines for behavior on clicker touch. It also enhances the size of click or touch target requirements, so the button you know for a web or mobile application, you can't have the buttons so small that it's nearly impossible to click and then the behavior of motion controls such as swiping gestures. Motion control is actually involving the cellorometer of a phone or the orientation of a phone—those types of controls. The WCAG 2.1 also added a lot of new Level A and Level Double A success criteria.
We have 1.3.4, which requires contents does not restrict its view to a single display orientation such as portrait or landscape. There are a lot of users who use, might use, their phone in a fixed orientation, may be attached to something and they can't rotate it from portrait or landscape, so this requirement is designed around the fact that every website or application should generally be able to be used in any orientation just in case a user cannot take it from portrait to landscape—maybe it's physically mounted to a wheelchair or some other physical object and you're unable to rotate it. 1.3.5. requires standard html5 autocomplete attributes, so this means when you're on an address field, or say billing or shipping address, when you're buying something and the autocomplete uses standard html5 autocomplete setup so a screen reader or other assistive technology interfaces with the autocomplete properly.
1.4.10 is around content can be resized without loss of information or functionality and without requiring scrolling in two dimensions. This is restricted for portrait content 320 pixels wide, so at minimum of 320 pixels wide, content only has to be scrolled vertically and for horizontally scrolling content, this requirement applies to anything 256 pixels tall or taller.
For 1.4.11, this extends the 3 to 1 contrast minimum to important graphical information, visible focus indicators and other interactive controls. Maybe a button itself—the text had high contrast—but the color of the button itself didn't have high enough contrast with its background. In this case, this extends the 3 to 1 contrast minimum to the color of the button itself and not just text within the button.
We have 1.4.12, which enhances the spacing requirements around text, making it easier to read for low vision users.
We have 1.4.13 requires that tooltips do not obscure the parent element, and that the tooltip is easy to focus on. This requirement, we see a lot of issues with tooltips. Dealing with the tooltip might cover up the original control, and that's a pretty big problem. It also requires getting into the tooltip with assistive technology say navigating it by keyboard is required to be easy to do, getting focus from say a button or an element that is focused on into the tooltip. Sometimes it doesn't want to go, and this covers that requirement.
2.4.11 requires that keyboard shortcuts use more than a single key so that screen reader controls are not hijacked. Let's say somebody implemented a control to use a letter "P" or "H." Well, the "H" key is headings on most assistive technology screen readers and implementing a control on a website using the letter "H" as a shortcut would cause a lot of problems for screen reader users who are trying to navigate by headings and controls start being navigated when unexpected.
4.1.3 requires the use of Aria-live regions for visible status messages, so if you're adding something to your cart and there's a visible status message that says, "Three items added to your cart," this is requiring that Aria-live setting is used so assistive technologies announce that text that let's say those three items were added to your cart.
For Aria 1.1, the accessible-rich Internet applications, this focused on adding new properties and roles to allow better ways for developers to provide context to users.
A couple of the big ones are Aria-keyshortcuts, and this almost goes back to one of the last WCAG guidelines, where if a developer uses a custom keyboard shortcut on their website, this is an attribute that allows a screen reader or assistive technology to announce, "Hey, this control uses this keyboard shortcut." Now this doesn't actually set up the control to use that shortcut, but it just makes it so that, let's say you are using Java script and it's looking for a custom keyboard to activate a control, this attribute is able to tell the screen reader, "Hey, this control uses this new shortcut that the developer set up." That way it makes it easier for the screen reader user to find or to understand what the shortcut is.
Aria-Modal is a big new attribute. Modal controls are one of the major sticking points for web accessibility from what I've seen. It's often done incorrectly. Focus can go behind the modal screen, modal dialogue, and the Aria modal attribute tells the screen reader or assistive technology, "Hey, keep focused within this window or this modal dialogue because that's what we want it to do." This makes it much easier for developers to set it up, so the focus doesn't go outside the dialogue. The user knows, "Hey this a modal dialogue, and you're supposed to stay within this until you either close it out or complete what it's asking for."
Next one is Aria-errormessage. This is used to associate error message with control, that is only exposed when Aria-invalid is true. If you're filling out a form and you've done something wrong, there's an error message. This way the error message can be set up so that when Aria invalid is set on that control because something is wrong, the error message is read when you focus on that control. This allows developers not to rely on setting focused to a box of error messages or other area on the screen. It really prevents a lot of jumping around and focus issues and this is pretty big and pretty helpful for development.
Next, we have Aria-current, which is extremely useful, so you can inform the user which item they are on within a collection of items. This can be the current page in a breadcrumb style of navigation or if you're in a multistep process like checkout when purchasing something, this could be used on the navigation to say, "Hey, you're in this step in the checkout process."
And finally, we have Aria-details. This is used to indicate an element that gives details for the current one. So, let's say you have a product and it has a title you could use something like Aria-details to point to the detail section with all of your specifications or the written text detailing what the object is, and this can be pretty handy for pointing a user to where the details will be for that item.
And then finally there are a lot of new roles including Feed, Search Box, Switch, and more. These are used so that's when you focus on an item, like for Feed, this role is used for social media feeds where you know every time a company posts a new Twitter post and there's a little box on their website with all their new twitter posts. This can indicate, "Hey, this is a social media feed where new items are being posted all the time." Or Search Box, so you know, "Hey, this is where I can use to search this web page." Switch, sort of like a check box, but it toggles slightly differently and that can be used to indicate that and there are a few other more that along the same lines but there was a lot of updates to Aria 1.1 roles.
As far as other technologies, Microsoft was demoing their Canetroller, which is a virtual reality controller that allows a visually impaired user to navigate and interpret their environments using a white cane style controller and it's set up to mimic typical cane behavior. A physical break stops the cane controller's movement when it hits a virtual object in the VR world. A speaker attached to the cane vibrates it to mimic the different types of vibratory feedback from rough or carpeted surface, and a spatial sound system is used to mimic the sounds of the cane hitting various objects such as wood, metal, plaster, concrete. The example they gave was a person was walking around a room with this Canetroller and the virtual room had a trash can and a metal table and the user was able to identify the plastic trash can because of the sound and the way the cane would bounce when it quote-unquote hit the trash can and then when it hit a metal table, it would make a much higher pitched pinging sound to duplicate the cane hitting metal.
Amazon has added captions to their Echo devices with screens so users with hearing loss are able to take advantage of the features of Alexa that Amazon incorporates into the Echo devices.
Last week at Google i/o, they demonstrated the Google Assistant feature called Duplex, which can call in and book appointments for users without them needing to speak. So you say, "Hey, Google, book me an appointment at the salon," and it will call the salon and the robotic voice will talk to the person and schedule the appointment for you without you needing to call. This seems to be have great potential for users with speech impairments.
That's all that I have. Are there any questions? As a reminder, if you have any questions you'll need to unmute yourself.
Jason Page: Hi, this is Jason Page. I was wondering if you had any details or information about the Controller that Microsoft had made for the Xbox. I was reading some information around that, and I just thought it was another interesting technology that was out there. It seemed to be able to port a lot of the assistive technology tools and with a lot of like the audio ports on the back so you could plug in to and set up really the Controller to guide you through the process as your needs were there.
Matthew Enigk: I'm not sure that I have seen that one specifically. I know a couple years ago, they released what they called their Elite Controller, which was more customizable, and I think that that came from development of a Controller for people with some motor skill issues or maybe issues with hand disfigurations. But I have not seen that one with additional audio features in the Controller.
Participant: Good morning. Just wondering if you could provide some or your best guess as to when WCAG 2.1 will actually become an accepted standard. I know you said it was just introduced. I remember seeing something about that, but I'm curious if you have any idea about what the timeline looks like from here's the graph to when it becomes an accepted standard.
Matthew Enigk: So right now they have a proposed recommendation. They've gone through a couple release candidates or recommendation candidates over the last two or three months. They're expecting to formally adopt the current recommended proposal in June. I think there may be some minor changes just in terms of like spell check or wording, but I don't expect they're going to change much between now and June.
Cristopher Broyles: And just to add on to Matt's answer to that. The thing to keep in mind about 2.1, is it's an addition to 2.1. It's not a replacement. There's already talk of WCAG 3.0 which will be a full replacement, but that is several years away.
Matthew Enigk: And I have a couple questions in chat. The first one is, can people use Google Assistant if they are unable to speak? Is there a typing option? Yes. From my understanding and my experience with it, you should be able to get the same features by typing the results out or typing your question out into the Google Assistant. However, I'm not sure if that will continue with the new features they've demonstrated or how well those new features will work with the text input.
Next question was, how well supported is Aria 1.1 by assistive technologies? Can we start using the new roles etc. in working code?
From our experience, the new roles are generally supported. I believe NVDA is supporting most of them. If not, I don't believe they support all of them just yet, but most of them seem to be working. There's still some issues with browser compatibility and user-agent compatibility, but from what I have seen you can add most of these new roles and attributes alongside the legacy implementations and it looks like they have designed Aria the new Aria rolls around. They will take precedence over the old ones if they are supported.
Next question. I don't have a URL that lists the addition and slash changes to Aria 1.1 right now. Someone else posted the new WCAG 2.1 features.
Cris I have there's one question here. Will the slides be available after the webinar?
Cristopher Broyles: Yes, there's going to be some marketing that AFB is going to do around this and ultimately will be shared publicly. But it probably won't be for a week or so.
Matthew Enigk: Any other questions? Alright, if not, I'm going hand it over to Lee.
Lee Huffman: Okay. Matthew. Thank you very much. Hello everyone. Thank you very much for including me in the webcast today. My name is Lee Huffman, and I'm the Editor-in Chief of AccessWorld, which is AFB's online technology magazine. My slide that I have up just lists some bullet points that I want to go over and cover today. One is the history of AccessWorld, AccessWorld's content, AccessWorld's Readership, the Future of AccessWorld, How You Can Become a Reader of AccessWorld. Then we can take questions or comments from the folks that may be participating today.
So a little bit of history of AccessWorld. AccessWorld has been around for about 20 years and actually started as a publication small newsletter run by a lady named Deborah Kendrick and that was a publication called Tactic, and this publication she created because she felt that people who are blind or visually impaired needed a better way to learn about technology products mainly at the time, it was assistive technology or access technology products, when and about what's available, how well it works, does it function well under this condition or that condition, and make sure that people have more information before they actually select or purchase a product. That was her initiative for creating Tactic.
Around the 1998 time frame, AFB became familiar with Tactic and thought it would be a great idea for AFB to acquire Tactic and hopefully take that newsletter that she had started and take it to a larger platform to reach more and more folks to be able to spread that information. And that's exactly what happened. AFB acquired Tactic. They changed the name to AccessWorld and was able to leverage the resources of the American Foundation for the Blind to create what was then a print publication. AccessWorld initially started in large print and on audiocassette tape and every two months that package would arrive at your home or arrive at your office and that was how people subscribed and paid for as a subscription fee like a traditional magazine for AccessWorld. Those were the early days. And in 2000 AFB became a digital resource online and so did AccessWorld.
AccessWorld became online in the year 2000, and currently, every back issue of AccessWorld up until that point is available archived on AccessWorld. At the top of the slide, I've got afb.org/aw, which will take you to the AccessWorld page where you can actually even go back and look at those back issues if you would like to. Many of them are obviously and thankfully outdated as technology has moved forward, but that is a great way to get some information that still may be relevant and also may be able to get a historical perspective of how far we've come.
After AFB became an online publication in the year 2010, July 2010 specifically, AccessWorld became a monthly publication moving from every two months to monthly publications, so we doubled our content at that time and over the time period, AccessWorld, our content, which is the second thing I'm going to talk about, has really changed. In the beginning, it was mostly the review of access or assistive technology. And we've gone through several different phases. We have looked at over the years, as many of you, if you are AccessWorld readers, you will remember some of our series of informational articles on office equipment. Most specifically we did articles about the multifunction document centers, which these are the big large printer, copier, scanner, fax devices that are in most every office, school across the country. We were able to work with companies like Canon and Xerox and Ricoh, Lexmark to evaluate some of the accessibility features they were building in and, in some cases, that weren't unfortunately being built in.
AccessWorld editor, myself at that time, and some of our former writers, were able to present with Canon at ATIA, CSUN to make more folks know about these products that were including access features.
We've also looked in AccessWorld at medical devices. We have done informative interviews with medical professionals and reviews of blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, insulin pens as many people deal with losing vision due to diabetic retinopathy. Many people have to live independently and use these devices to monitor their blood sugar levels every day. So we've written articles about the accessibility of those types of devices.
We've also, over the years, looked at small visual displays and ways to increase the readability of small visual displays. If any of you can remember back to the days of the flip phone, candy bar-style phones, most of those had very few, if any, speech output features for people who had low vision. The screens were very small. They were hard to read. They were not adaptable in any kind of way to make them respond to larger or change contrast. So the need for improved readability of small visual displays was taken on by AFB and we wrote about this in AccessWorld, and today obviously we have smartphones that have very large bright adaptable displays which additionally have speech output.
We used to do a lot of articles about screen reader and screen magnification software. For example, the Zoomtext and the Jaws, Windoweyes at the time, NVDAs. And we would do a review every time a new version would come out. We've moved away from some of that. We've gotten into more accessible mainstream technology or the accessibility features built into those pieces because it's happening more and more.
Most of our coverage and AccessWorld today relates to mobile, whether it be tablets or smartphones, apps that are associated with those, whether they be access technology apps, or mainstream apps that just happen to be accessible. So whether it be a US Airways app or whether it be something like BlindSquare or a GPS Wayfinding—all these new technologies are changing the content of AccessWorld to keep up with those as well.
We also cover the review of technology books. For example, iOS for All, or Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 11. There's another one we've just recently done to help people find other resources, more in depth resources, like getting started and using technology.
We also do a lot of conference coverage. This year, for example, we've done conference coverage related to the Consumer Electronic Show, which was in January which is CES. We looked at ATIA, CSUN, and AFB's own Leadership Conference coverage. One of the reasons we do this and the main reason is to bring the technology and information of those conferences to our readers. It's difficult, if not impossible, for everyone, and we're very fortunate in my position to be able to go to these conferences to learn about the new, the latest and what's coming. We want to be able to have accessible readers have access to that information as well.
And so we're doing more conference coverage in AccessWorld.
One of the things I want to point out, you know as the technology in general has changed in advance. We've been changing and advancing in the way that we cover content and also the content that we cover and one of the things that Cristopher mentioned in the beginning was some of the highlights of the year. I want to mention three things that stand out to me as the editor of AccessWorld that were new sort of technologies over the year. Now these are only three in the interest of time because there were several. But ARIA, which is A-R-I-A, different from Aira. But Aria is a pair of glasses that has a camera built into those glasses and through that piece of access technology, a person is able to relate to an actual person which is called an agent on the other end who can look through the lens of the glasses or the camera mounted on those glasses and help a person who is blind or visually impaired navigate their surroundings. They can read documents. They can help find things, maybe that have become misplaced. They can guide through airports, a work situation, a home situation, where sighted assistance just may not be available.
Another one that just really—these are sort of wearables—is the Iris glasses from Iris vision. These are for people who have low vision—maybe macular degeneration, cataracts—something that was causing a low vision situation. These are a set of goggles and there are others besides Iris. But one of them is Iris. They are virtual reality glasses that many times used by gamers or people who play a lot of games through the computer. The virtual reality headsets use a Samsung phone and the camera of that phone and the processing power of the phone to magnify both distance and close up or desktop viewing in a way that is really meaningful for people who have different types of low vision. There are ways of magnifying text, creating different types of backgrounds and foreground colors that you might expect from an electronic magnifier. You can create bubbles to zoom in on different types of text and customize that in a way that helps the person individually.
So that's another interesting thing as far as wearables where technology's going, things that we're going to be covering more of in AccessWorld. And also as an app, the Seeing AI app, which was recently this past year made available by Microsoft, has really been, you know, a game changer in technology. It used to be, and it still is, that people had to buy several pieces of technology or have several tools, for example, the Seeing AI app from Microsoft has several components. It has a short text identification so if you need to read small bits of text maybe on a card or a pamphlet, it can do that, it can do full-page text, OCR, you can have a currency identifier, a color identifier. There is a scene where you can take a picture of a scene and tell you what's in that scene. For example, "Corner office with big window." This was my dream picture. You can have things that tell you what a scene may be. It has handwriting recognition and there's also light recognition, so if you need to know whether or not you need to turn on or turn off the light in your home or office, you can use the Seeing AI app for that. Of course, that is downloadable free from the app stores and it used to be you had several devices each costing $100, $200 for each of those. And this is a great turning point where we can download to our smartphone something that is really lifechanging that is absolutely free for those who have smartphone access.
So those are three that I wanted to call out specifically that we've written about in AccessWorld and as that technology moves forward, we will continue to cover that as well.
One of the other things I wanted to mention about is that we do have focus issues. In January of every year is always our, based on Louis Braille's birthday, it is the braille technology and braille issue. We look at new technology that are coming out such as the Polaris Mini or others that might be available related to braille technologies.
February is always our low vision awareness issue, so we are very lucky to be partnering for the past two years and hopefully next year as well with Mississippi State University as a partner to sponsor that content and as part of that we focus on people who may be aging into low vision and talking about the importance of a low vision evaluation and concentrating those articles in the February issue toward lower tech or less complex tech for people who are new to the subject. In that issue, we also try to incorporate a deaf or hard of hearing component as well. So people who may be aging and experiencing vision loss as well as hearing loss to find devices or access or mainstream technology that can benefit those individuals as well.
The July issue is always our back to school issue, where we focus on things that will help students in a classroom, accessible textbooks, how to talk to your instructors about accommodations that you may need, getting people ready for going back to school.
October is always our employment month where we talk about the importance of preparing for the job search process, some access technology and mainstream technologies as well that will help in that capacity as well.
The November and December issues are always geared around the holidays and gift guide ideas for people with vision loss. We also look at the accessibility of many shopping websites and shopping apps that people can use and just regular gift ideas for people who may be experiencing vision loss that are on your gift list.
So we always try to focus some of our issues throughout the year on specific topics that people can really focus in on to get specific information on those areas.
So, our readership in AccessWorld, we have of course people who are blind or visually impaired—all levels of light perception all the way up to higher levels of low vision. We have people that are friends and family of people who are experiencing vision loss, employers of people who have vision loss, and also companies that make the technologies. So, for example, when we write about a product and review it in AccessWorld, quite often there is critique of that product and in some way, one thing or two that can make it much better or much more useful. The companies that create this technology, we usually always partner with them. We never pay for a device to be reviewed. They are always on a lending situation. We try to maintain that type of relationship. Once we finish with the product, we send it back.
The manufacturers read of course what we write and many times, we find in the next version of a product a suggestion made by an AccessWorld author will be incorporated into new versions of the product. We're very happy that not only are we providing information for the people, we're also providing ideas and constructive criticism to the manufacturers who make this technology the next generation possibly more useful or better for folks.
We have approximately—and this has grown over time and we're very proud that this has continued to increase—about 45,000 individual unique visitors to AccessWorld every quarter. And so, that is a little bit about where our readership is at the moment and of course that has increased and continues to increase over time. And that is a little bit about the reach that AccessWorld currently has.
For the future of AccessWorld, one thing that we would like to do is, while maintaining our current readership, to expand the readership to folks such as the larger companies, the Microsofts, the Googles, the Apples of the world, the AT&Ts, the Verizons, the IBMs, to include those types of folks in a more engaged level, possibly where we could have case studies or situations that these companies can write about and talk about so we can have business-to-business learning through AccessWorld, where for example, ATIA or AT&T can learn from a Verizon aspect and how they created more accessibility either within their corporation for hiring practices or internal access or the way they've increased the accessibility of their products or services or website so that they can learn from each other and also people who experience vision loss can learn what these larger companies are doing to create more accessibility.
We would like to expand the readership of AccessWorld and get that into our pipeline as well. So how can you become a reader of AccessWorld? The best thing that you can do, and the best and easiest place to start is by going to afb.org/aw. This takes you to our main landing page for AccessWorld and from that page, you can select the button to sign up for AccessWorld alerts. And AccessWorld alerts are emails that come directly to your In box, of course, and that is twice a month—for the beginning of the month when AccessWorld goes live. If some of you are readers, then you know, this is a Table of Contents with the titles of all the articles in that issue with a little teaser copy to kind of entice you to read. From that email, you can click the link, select that link takes you back and forth to each individual article so you can read from that alert.
There's also a mid-month alert that comes to the middle or end of the month to remind you "Hey have you read AccessWorld? Have you read this month's issue?" to keep reminding you of the availability and the resource of AccessWorld. So, afb.org/aw is one way to do it. You can sign up for the alert, which we would love for you to do.
And also, an increased part of our readership is those readers who read through the AccessWorld app, which is also available free at the Apple app store, so you can download that on to your smartphone or device or tablet or smartphone and read AccessWorld there. And through the app, you can read the current issue. It's updated every time a new issue goes live. And we're happy to have at least 15%+ of our readership currently reading through the AccessWorld app.
And that's a little bit of an overview of where we are on AccessWorld, where we've been, where we're looking to go, and about our readership and who reads AccessWorld. So, if you any have questions, I'll be happy to take those at this time.
Participant: Well, if no one else is going to ask, I'd just like to commend you guys for what I consider to be one of the best AT publications out there. Your articles are—you don't speak down to the audience, you don't use geek speak, and I appreciate that, and I'm sure other people do as well. Good job. Keep it up, and thank you.
Lee Huffman: Well, thank you. We appreciate your comment and we do our best to reach as many people as possible. We thank you for that. Thank you very much.
Just so you know. Just as a sort of a caveat to what we've been talking about. You know our AccessWorld authors, Deborah Kendrick, who actually initiated Tactic which became AccessWorld is still an active writer and author for AccessWorld. That's for over 20 years. Bill Holton is another one of our authors. Jamie Pauls was recognized a few years ago by ACB for excellence in writing. That was one of his articles on UEB. Janet Ingbeborg is a writer for AccessWorld. Shelley Brisbane has written in the past and does for us as well. Jane Meadow and others. From time to time, Aaron Preece who is a staff member at AFB also writes for AccessWorld. All of the folks who write for AFB, including myself, we are all either blind or have low vision. So, we're not only looking at the technology. We're looking at it from the perspective of our daily use. We use these devices, these types of devices in our daily lives so we have that perspective and bring that to our articles and our readers as well.
Any other questions? Okay, thank you, if there are no other questions, we'll go ahead and move on to Cristopher Broyles.
Cristopher Broyles: Thanks, Lee. Okay. Our next topic are the common characteristics for what I consider to be a quote good or mature accessibility programs. And there's really two things I want to share. I want to talk a little about scope for an accessibility program as well as a framework for an accessibility program.
So, talking about scope. When I work with organizations, I like to help them transition into to what I consider to be an enterprise-wide view for accessibility. A lot of times, when I start working with organizations, they are starting at a risk-mitigation perspective, meaning it goes back to the idea of not wanting to be sued. What is the minimum we need to be doing to comply with the law? And that typically lets them focus in on customer facing digital assets like websites and apps. And that's okay. But the problem is, a lot of accessibility programs stop there. And for them, that is accessibility. That is the program and that's what it means. They overwork so many other critical areas of a quote true accessibility program, some example being physical spaces. The assumption is you build an office building, you build a store, ADA-compliance is part of the construction, and usually they're right. The hallways are the right width, you've got your handrails in the restroom, you've got your doorways the right width, etc., etc. But what they don't understand is that compliance with ADA building code can only take you so far and it doesn't mean you're creating a truly inclusive experience for your customers or your employees. So, a lot of times we're working with employees to help them think about "What is 2.0? What is experience 2.0?" And that's conversations around Tactical 4.0. It's conversations around appropriate contrast between your walls and your floors. It's conversations around lighting controls. And all these other things that can really help to create optimal experiences that you don't necessarily see in ADA building codes.
Importantly, organizations don't often think about intersection points, where your digital and your physical come together for your customers. A great example of this is a self-checkout at a grocery store. You've got your digital piece, which is the little tablet screen things that is reading to you as you scan your items, and then you have to push the button to do the checkout, you've got your physical piece, which is the conveyor belt height, the positioning of that display unit, the positioning of the credit card, and a lot of times how things go together in the digital and the physical to create that optimal experience and that optimal user flow. Organizations are thinking about that.
And of course, everything I've talked about so far has been customer-facing. Everything I've just shared also applies to employee-facing things, and helping employees to be the most successful that they can be at their job. Making sure they have the right employee accommodations, making sure the office is set up in a way to facilitate movement, lighting, etc. And a lot of times organizations just don't have this holistic view of accessibility. They think consumer-facing website—if I get that good, I'm safe. And that's just the wrong perspective. It's too narrow of a scope. It's not an enterprise-wide view.
The second piece that I wanted to cover is a framework for how you can actually do all of those things. And there's really four core elements that in my experience every accessibility program needs in order to make a lasting, sustainable, effective change. First and foremost, you need resources. You need people. A lot of times when organizations are starting out in the accessibility space, they hire one person, they call that person an accessibility lead and that person's function is to go forth and evangelize accessibility and to talk about it and to do some teaching. But at the end of the day, one person does not, and cannot, make a program. So, when I talk to organizations about resourcing, I talk to them a little about having resources who can do day to day, the tactical, to keep the engine going, and I talk to them about having resources that can focus on the programmatic and the strategic. Plan for today. Plan for tomorrow. Adapt. That sort of thing.
In addition to resources, you need an actual training program to help evangelize accessibility throughout the organization, and it cannot be a one and done program. It can't be once a year thing. When I work with organizations, I encourage a role-based training curriculum so that individuals can learn the accessibility responsibility within their roles, so developers can know X, Y, and Z. Content authors can know X. Graphic designers can know A and B, etc. etc. And then I encourage them to do continual monthly brown bags on new accessibility topics with the idea of keeping accessibility alive. And I also encourage them to develop some sort of as you need it resource, or maybe a wiki. So as a developer sitting there hammering out code, if they're not sure how to do an accessible carousel, they can go to this wiki, do some reading and keep cranking out code. Come at one demand. Have it right then in their training.
You're going to need tools to help with the testing, to help with the metrics collection, to help with the dashboarding, to show accessibility progress as a whole, and underneath it all, you're also going to need some standard operating procedures, some governance and some policies—something that gives what you're doing teeth, gives what you're doing a foundation. Something that you can point to when you're telling an organization, when you're telling a specific group within an organization they need to be complying with WCAG or whatever the standard is. An important thing about the policy is that it does have to have some teeth and it has to give the accessibility office some power. You need to be able to say, "If your website is not accessible. It can't go live."
That's pretty drastic, and you'll probably get some pushback. But I guarantee you, if you do it once, and you actually stop something from launching, that group has learned, that group will not make that mistake again. They will plan accessibility throughout the lifecycle, which is the way it should be handled. And other neighboring groups in the organization, other product groups, other business groups, other technical groups, they're going to hear that product group X fell flat when it came to accessibility. They're going to hear that they missed their launch date, and those leaders of the other groups are going to say that "That cannot be us, guys. Let's make sure we're doing accessibility right." So even though it's an extreme line to draw, in my experience, you only have to draw it once. The group only has to violate it once and it won't happen again.
Next slide please.
On our last slide today is just a little bit about how the American Foundation for the Blind's Consulting Group can help you in your organization. When we talk to our clients and potential clients, we really frame it as two levels of solutions.
We've got tactical solutions for accessibility that are meant to help with the day to day. These are things like digital accessibility reviews of mobile paths, websites, pdfs, PowerPoints, etc. against WCAG 2.0 or 2.1. Media evaluations, video evaluations against CBAA. Product evaluations like refrigerators, microwaves, TVs against UAAG, and more. We also do physical space reviews, which we've talked about. And of course, we also do actual usability testing with individuals with visual impairment, cognitive impairments, hearing deficit, etc. to help us identify issues above and beyond the standards so that we can help our partners truly create an inclusive, engaging, exciting experiences for their customers and employees.
And then we also offer programmatic solutions for accessibility. These are higher level things around strategy. We can help with policy, governance, standard operating procedures. We can help your organization make decisions around dashboarding and tooling. AFB does not have any tooling. We are tool-agnostic. We have relationships with a lot of the key vendors. We are not married to one specific tool. We find that each organization we work with has different needs, has different budgets, has different ways things are set up, have different technical needs for what the tool can do. By having multiple partnerships, we're able to help make sure that the organizations we work with get the best tool that's out there for their specific need. We can also help with staffing models and actual staffing and of course we can help with evangelism and culture change within in an organization.
For our engagement models, you can literally buy our time one hour at a time. We can't do a lot in one hour, but we do work with a lot of community colleges for example, and they have to buy hour per hour just because of budget constraints. We also allow for bulk hour purchases starting at 40 block hours all the way up to 1,820 block hours and we have a pricing scheme set up. The more block hours you buy in one chunk, the better per hour rate we're able to give you. Nice thing about our per hour rate is that they are below industry standard. We are a not for profit. At the end of the day, yes, we do want to make some revenue off of our consulting projects. Doesn't need to be a lot. We do want to make something so that we're covering our base cost, and we're turning around and we're able to invest money back into AFB, so we can do all of this wonderful free things like AccessWorld. And of course, we do offer a mix of remote and on-site solutions and services.
To learn more about consulting, and this information that I'm about to read will also appear in the chat window, or to learn more about please check out www.afb.org/consulting or feel free to email me, again I'm Cris Broyles, at cbroyles—C, my last name B-R-O-Y-L-E-S at afb.net, or, you can call me at 212 502 7612.
Next slide please.
Okay. That is everything for our formal presentation. We are about eight minutes over. I think we can do maybe two minutes of questions, and then wrap up at 2:10. Are there any final questions for any of the content or any of the presenters today before we wrap up? And again, please remember to unmute yourself.
Participant: Hi. You said slides would be available probably about a week or so. How would we reach out in order to access this presentation at that time?
Cristopher Broyles: I'm still working with Communications on it. But I have a feeling what will happen is, once these slides are posted to YouTube with the captions and all of that wonderful stuff, I have a feeling we'll be sending out a mass email to everyone who is registered for this webinar, so you can watch for that. You can also watch the AFB Blog. I'm sure this presentation will be mentioned there as well.
Participant: Thank you.
Cristopher Broyles: Any other questions or comments? Okay. Well I would like to thank everyone for attending our celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018. Please plan to join us in 2019, and watch for that invite probably a month before. Thank you. Bye everyone.