Today marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day designed to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with different disabilities.
By “accessibility,” we mean the design and development of a website (or app, or any digital tool) that allows everyone, including people with disabilities, to independently use and interact with it, as well as create with it and contribute to it.
What follows are just a few easy ideas that you can put into action today, to celebrate GAAD:
Go into your Twitter account right now, select "Settings and Privacy," then choose "Accessibility," and turn on "Compose image descriptions." [Editorial note: As of May 27, 2020, the Compose Image Descriptions feature is now the default setting.] Now whenever you add an image or a gif to a tweet, you can add a short description for Twitter users who are blind or low vision. Learn how to add alt text on Facebook and Instagram posts, too!
On any social media platform, remember to capitalize each word in your hashtags so that they're easier for people with low vision to read, and will be pronounced correctly by screen readers. #TheMoreYouKnow
Purge "read more" from your web and email templates. Write descriptive, meaningful link text instead. For example, you can make the title of the article the text of the link, and then trust your readers to know, in the year 2020, that they have to select the link to read more.
Narrate the text portions of your videos — don't rely on onscreen text with dramatic music behind it. Try listening to your video without watching it. Does it still make sense, or is critical information missing? If so, that's what you need to narrate, or audio describe (also referred to as video description or described video). Learn more at afb.org/videodescription. Curious what audio description sounds like? Here's an example of an AFB video with audio description.
Routinely include people with different access methods in your usability testing. According to a 2018 CDC report, one in four Americans has a disability of some kind — which includes mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive impairments. If you are excluding people with disabilities from your user testing processes, then you will not be getting an accurate picture of how your website, app, or product performs in the real world.
And a globally applicable tip from Tanner Gers, AFB Consulting: “Consider how accessibility improves the experience for all users. Some people cannot listen to your video or podcast at work and would rather read the transcript. Closed captioning and audio description can help second language learners better understand the context and application of language in a given situation. Keyboard access helps individuals perform repeated tasks more quickly and efficiently. And all of us could use more time in the day.”