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Friday, 3 December 2021

Fighting for rights in a post-Covid era

Firstly, for me, the jury is definitely still out as to whether we are post-Covid. It hasn't gone away. Sure, we have to learn to live with it but that's easy to say for someone like me, who is healthy and particularly has a strong immune system. I have family, friends and general contacts though who are clinically extremely vulnerable... who have been vaccinated but still have no immunity... who are afraid. I can't even imagine what post-Covid means to them.

International day of people with disabilities

IDPWD logo with the full text: international day of people with disabilities.

Today is International Day for People With Disabilities. (I'm sure we could shorten that a little!)

The company I currently work for, SSCL, and its parent company, Sopra Steria, have both been working really hard this year to improve online accessibility. Now that more people are working from home, it has become even more important, as people can't just ask a colleague at the next desk when they get stuck. 

On Wednesday, we held a Lunch and Learn event, in preparation for today. The aim was to show people a few simple things they can do in their daily communications to make content more accessible for all. It covered a range of impairments and the barriers that prevent people with them from accessing content, and we showed how to remove some of those barriers. At the end, we asked everyone to pledge to take action from today and either start or stop doing something. The response was amazing! So many people pledged to add alt text to images... to check the reading order of their PowerPoints... to reduce jargon and speak in plain English. For me, the one I liked best though was: I pledge to start asking people for feedback on the accessibility of my content. This came from an idea related to lorries having a sticker on the back saying, how is my driving? What a fab idea!

A few reminders

So, with no further ado, here are my top five tips for making your normal, daily content accessible:
  • Provide alt text for all images - usually, right-click and then add a description of your image. On social media, this is usually done through an EDIT button when you upload your image.
  • Check colour contrast is sufficient - ideally, start using a free tool such as the WebAIM contrast checker.
  • Give your hyperlinks meaningful text - the text on the page should tell the user what they are going to see. The URL (web address) should be hidden in the background.
  • Check the reading order - this is especially important with things like PowerPoint, where you create content in a random order and then rearrange it on the page. A screenreader doesn't know how it should be read unless you check the reading order. This is often in the Review menu under Check Accessibility.
  • Structure your content correctly - use headings and subheadings so that your content is easy to follow and understand. Don't just change the size and style of the font. Change it in the Styles section of your software.

If you don't know how to do any of the above and want some help, please let me know. I have videos to show how some of these work in practice, but I'm happy to make more and look at different applications if it helps.

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