Dear AccessWorld readers,
Last month, AccessWorld celebrated Disability Employment Awareness Month by providing information about employment resources, strategies, and insider perspectives. Good job search strategies and resources are important all year long, so I encourage you to look back at the October issue by visiting the AccessWorld Back Issues page. There, you'll find helpful information you can reference as you move through your own job search and that you can forward to anyone you know who may be looking for employment or advancement opportunities in the coming year.
As you know, there is now a chill in the air, and the days of fall are well upon us. It's time to start thinking about the holiday gift-giving season. Ready or not, the shopping season is just around the corner. I know many of you have already started shopping, and the AccessWorld team wants you to be ready with information about accessible shopping options and gift ideas for yourself or those in your life who experience vision loss.
In this November's issue, J.J. Meddaugh shares his perspective on this season's top gift ideas in the 2019 AccessWorld Gift Guide. Continuing the theme, Janet Ingber provides information, advice, and tips to get the most from holiday shopping using the Kohl’s and Petco websites and mobile apps. As Janet relays in her article, apps can, at times, provide a more streamlined, less cluttered, and therefore more accessible shopping experience than can be found on a retailer's full website.
While this is an exciting time of year, shopping can be especially challenging for people who are blind or visually impaired. As a reader of AccessWorld, you know that with every website or app update accessibility and usability can be greatly improved or hampered.
Despite the huge increase in the overall awareness of accessibility issues, despite the efforts of all blindness groups, despite legislation, and despite lawsuits that have been filed and won against retailers, many still fail to offer fully accessible electronic shopping options for people with vision loss—I am looking at you Domino’s Pizza.
Today there are many companies and organizations, including the American Foundation for the Blind, who offer consulting services to help companies of all types and sizes develop and maintain accessible websites and apps. These consulting services also lend themselves to the remediation of inaccessible sites and apps, which can help companies become more compliant with accessible design principles and best practices.
I'm not sure how multimillion dollar and multibillion-dollar retailers continue to justify the inaccessibility of their electronic presences. Is it just too difficult? Is it just too time consuming? Is it just too expensive? Brick and mortar stores are built to stringent, complex, plumbing, electrical, and structural codes, and architects design for access by people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers. Ramps, elevators, and escalators are installed to accommodate people who are not easily able to climb stairs, yet the same stores often turn a blind eye, so to speak, on the designs needed by people who experience vision loss and want to shop online and by app.
An estimated 25 million Americans experience vision loss to the point where they find it difficult to read standard-size print, even with best correction from surgery, glasses, or contact lenses. These 25 million Americans purchase goods and services, and more would likely purchase them electronically if that choice were more readily available.
The obvious answer is for retailers to design with full inclusion in mind. There is no reason for retail websites or apps to be inaccessible to people who use access technology. Design guidelines and consultants with expertise are available and ready to make accessibility a reality, if retailers would choose to take the initiative.
If you have a favorite accessible online shopping website or mobile app you would like to share with fellow AccessWorld readers, please let us know. We may share your suggestions in the December Letters to the Editor section of AccessWorld.
The AccessWorld team hopes this issue and the December issue help you find just the right holiday gifts for you and your family and friends with vision loss.
We wish you and yours health, happiness, peace, and prosperity as we enter the holiday season.
As Helen Keller once said, "Peace and prosperity will come when we realize, and incorporate into our lives, the truth that we live by each other and for each other and not unto ourselves."
American Foundation for the Blind