One of the things I love most about running a business in this day and age is the ease of getting information to people in a whole variety of ways. For example, it’s easy to translate text into another language with just a few clicks and have it be a fairly accurate translation. All of the technology has also helped create incredible strides in leveling the field between those who have disabilities and those who don’t. Since today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about some of the ways we can be more sensitive and more proactive about making sure our businesses and information are accessible to more people.
Video is an easy way to take people places they can’t go and also provide an experience with your words that isn’t possible through some of the software that will read the text for you. But for those who can’t hear, it’s disappointing and frustrating that so much of the world is going to video and away from text. The recent changes within browsers that are blocking auto play videos or blocking the sound from videos has actually done some really good things for accessibility, because companies are now including text within the videos, allowing more people to experience the video (and improving on what closed captions could do). Including a transcript with the video is also helpful for those who prefer or need the text.
I love writing, and I think that writing is one of the best ways to reach many people because it can be easily translated or read by software. But when text is within a graphic or there is no text, there’s no way to translate that text or read that text with a software. For photos on websites it’s helpful to include a sufficient title/name with the photo so software can read the photo. For photos on social media an example of what you could do is like what some of the Guide Dog social accounts do, wherein they include a sentence at the end of the written part of the post explaining what the image is for those who can’t see it. Make sure that the text on your site isn’t within a graphic and can’t be translated or read, or that the text that is within graphics/images isn’t important.
One of the newer innovations are all of the audio devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. These devices talk to you, do searches for you, play music for you, play games with you, and find all kinds of information for you, with only your voice in control. Yes, these devices make things easier for everyone in terms of accessibility, but they also help unite people and provide a uniform experience in a way that hasn’t happened in the past for those with sight or physical disabilities. For many businesses this is a new world, but there are companies getting involved in and using the devices for their businesses, and opportunities to learn about and grow into.
While Global Accessibility Awareness Day is really about technology, it’s a good reminder to businesses that there are people with various disabilities, things that they may not take into account when designing their store or creating their products/services. There are laws with regards to being required to provide accessibility, so today is a great opportunity to go ahead and check that your business is compliant, and even supportive of equal access for everyone.