Accessibility News - Summary for the Week of April 7th, 2017 Apr 07, 2017

Computer screen with "Accessibility in the News" written on it

Happy weekend! It's time for our weekly recap of the news, we have a lot of stories to get to this week. There are several groups that are starting to call attention to just how inaccessible websites and other digital content can be for users. This attention is awesome, but it needs to be followed up by actual improvements. The authors of this week’s articles see this gap between the intention to create an accessible internet, and the act of actually making the critical improvements. They also show how important it is to build digital accessibility in at the beginning of new projects instead of waiting and making the updates later. Read on to get summaries of some of the biggest accessibility stories of the week.

Accessibility in India

First, a lot of accessibility news is coming out of India. As more digital progress emerges, many are calling for more attention to be paid to inaccessibility on the internet. Here are two articles that will give you some insight into the current state of digital accessibility in India.

Laws are one thing, but actually following and enforcing them is another.

TechRadar India published an interesting interview that brings up a lot of really important accessibility inclusion topics. While the focus is often on developed countries and inaccessibility, developing countries are facing the same issues. The interview covers the gaps within the infrastructure that is currently in place to create accessibility online for the people of India. The article explains one big source of issues, “I think the government is quite serious and at the Prime Minister’s level, there is a lot of push. But again, when it comes to implementation that is where the gaps are.”[1] It also explains that even with the legal push, there are other barriers in place. Particularly, the fact that many accessibility tools are extremely expensive and the people who need them cannot necessarily afford them. It’s an article with a strong voice and helpful insight into what needs to be fixed to make digital accessibility more prevalent.

Read the full TechRadar India interview and learn more about the state of digital accessibility in India.

Accessibility needs to be considered earlier in the process of digital development.

Did you know that approximately 8-10% of India’s population is disabled?[2] The next article shows just how deep of a divide the digital inaccessibility in India will cause. In fact, they even point to the call to action “Do No Harm” that is being used to spur digital developers to include accessibility in the work that they do. This quote really sums up the problem best, “Poor accessibility due to lack of focussed information and political will has led to social exclusion of people with disabilities, exacerbating the negative impact of the existing digital divide.”[3] This social exclusion is a hugely concerning factor, as one of the benefits of the internet should be that everyone can use it equally.

You can read the full article here, and get another great sense of the work that needs to be done in India to lessen the digital divide.

Digital Accessibility on Campus

By this time, universities are all aware that they need to address digital accessibility and ensure that digital resources are available to their entire community. This eCampus article notes that 11% of post-secondary students self-identify as having some form of disability, and that does not even include the staff and faculty that work for the university and use campus resources.[4] How should universities make sure they make everything accessible? Well, the article sets out a few really important areas that universities need to consider when creating digital content that is accessible. While the plan is brief, the article gets straight to the heart of some of the biggest issues students with disabilities need help with when they attend a university.

Read more about which areas eCampus thinks are the most critical for universities to get right when they are creating a more accessible campus. You might just pick up some helpful tips to implement on your campus!

Government Websites Are Missing the Accessibility Mark

A Science website put everything in the title with their recent article, Many government websites frustrate those with disabilities. Now, we know that some websites, in general, are frustrating. And we also know that there are tons of websites out there that are also inaccessible. But it might be a bit surprising that these things also apply to government websites, even though they have special regulations to make sure that they are accessible to the public that they serve. This isn’t just a few sites either, “…a Washington, D.C., think tank, found that 42% of the 300 most popular government websites posed significant accessibility problems.”[5] That’s a big chunk of government websites that users can’t easily utilize. The problem is being addressed in certain situations, but there are huge hurdles to cross with issues like legacy sites the need big updates.

Read more about the reported problems with government websites, and how certain groups are trying to fix them.

These stories really shed light on how much work needs to be done to create universal access online. We tend to focus so much on getting laws in place but that is only a small part of the work that is left when bringing digital access to everyone regardless of the modifications they need. We can all do our part to create more digital accessibility, so if you are a website owner or work somewhere that has a site that could use improvement, take action. Bring it to your web designer’s attention or learn how to make improvements yourself. Reviewing the WCAG 2.0 guidelines is a good place to start your journey toward an accessible website. The internet should be accessible for all, and we need to work together to make it happen!

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