Resources to use and share this Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Tue 19 May 2020

#GAAD

Thursday 21 May 2020 marks the 9th annual celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and the first year of celebrating it virtually! It is an opportunity to get people thinking, talking and learning about digital accessibility and inclusion.

Digital accessibility is about designing and developing websites, software, applications, and tools that can be used by everyone. At a time where many people are working remotely, it is especially important for organisations to make sure communication and information can be easily read and understood by all potential audiences.

Here are some practical tips to make your content accessible and inclusive: 

‘True’ headings

Headings help make content easier to understand and navigate. They provide a content overview, break down blocks of information, and make it easier to revisit a certain topic.

Screen reader software cannot identify headings if they are solely distinguished by visual cues such as different font, therefore it is important to use ‘True’ headings. For example, MS Word uses Styles and Headings. True headings are categorised from H1 to H3, with H1 being the topic heading at the top of the page, H2 is a subheading, and H3 is a point within a subheading. Screen readers will recognise and announce the heading level which provides the user with clarity and understanding of the document structure.

Short and descriptive titles increase comprehension and help search engines.

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Readability

Improving readability, comprehension and findability also enhances user experience. Simple changes for greater accessibility include:

  • Use clear, simple language and avoid jargon and metaphors.
  • Left-align text to avoid uneven spacing between letters and words.
  • Use sans serif fonts, such as Arial and Verdana.
  • Expand acronyms
  • Be consistent with fonts, layout, and features across webpages.
  • Use paragraphs and lists where appropriate
  • Avoid tables. Consider alternative ways to display tabular information.
  • Consider how your information will be displayed on various mobile devices.

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Links

One of the most persistent accessibility problems is “Click Here” or “Read More” links on webpages. The uncertainty of where the link will direct users is frustrating, especially for people using assistive technology. The ambiguity of links results in less click throughs.

Linked text should be concise and descriptive so that it can be understood without context. For example, “How to write accessible social media posts”. If a link is a download, include details about the document name, type and file size, such as “Download text description of the 'Access and Inclusion is Good for Business' video (Word, 165KB).

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Colour Contrast

Colour also poses a barrier for people using assistive technology. Like other guidelines, one feature should not be used alone to convey meaning such as using colour to differentiate between headings and paragraphs or to signal required and non-required fields in a form. 

To meet WCAG AA requirements, the foreground and background colours need to have a 4.5:1 contrast ratio. Vision Australia’s Colour Contrast Analyser is a free tool available to test this.

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Image Descriptions

How much information, entertainment and understanding do you think you could miss if you could not see images?

Image descriptions should convey the meaning or content that is displayed visually in an image. Tips for writing effective image descriptions include:

  • The description should be succinct and accurately reflect the image content or function.
  • If the image contains text, repeat that text in the description.
  • If the image has been used as a link, describe the link destination.
  • If the image is for decorative purpose, it could be described as “decorative”.

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Video Descriptions

Whether videos are embedded into your website or posted on your social media platforms, it is important for video and audio media to have transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions. Live media can be highly inaccessible for people with disability including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, and have difficulty focusing or processing video or auditory information.  

  • Captions or subtitles are a synchronised text version of the speech in the video. Captions also benefit those who prefer comprehend words than sound, have a different native language, or are in a situation where they are unable to use volume.
  • Transcripts are a textual version of the video’s audio information. An example transcript can be found accompanying Australian Network on Disability’s Access and Inclusion is Good for Business video.
  • Audio description explains visual information to better understand the content.

It is also important to avoid flashing lights or loud sounds in videos, as this can detrimental to people with disability.

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What can your organisation do to improve web access and inclusion?

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