The digital environment is equally important in terms of accessibility as the built environment. Not being able to access information and the online world for some people is the equivalent of not being able go through the door. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) explains that all goods and services must be accessible, including online platforms, content, back and front ends of digital systems, and social media. Some scholars have described inaccessible digital environments as a digital apartheid. All organisations are at risk of complaints under the DDA if their digital environments are inaccessible.
UTS aims to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, AA standards (WCAG2.0AA). This means that we intend to make our platforms and content accessible for people who use screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, captions, audio description, and use plain English. The guidelines assist us to think about the user perspective of people who experience barriers to accessing information and communication. They are the key to increasing digital accessibility at UTS.
Here is a brief summary of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. If these guidelines intersect with the work that you do, whether it is about a digital invitation to an event, making a video, posting on social media, designing an app or website, or setting a timer for an online form, for example, then it is important to meet these principles.
1. Perceivable – users must be able to perceive the information being presented
- Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language
- Provide alternatives for time-based media
- Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
2. Operable – users must be able to interact with your website
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard
- Provide users enough time to read and use content
- Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures
- Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are
3. Understandable – the content or operation of your website cannot be beyond the understanding of the user
- Make text content readable and understandable
- Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes
4. Robust – users with a wide variety of assistive technologies must be able to use your site now, and in the future as technologies evolve
- Maximise compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies
Note: There are several organisations who do access audits of websites, and who can assist with making content accessible under WCAG2.0. Some of these companies include Accessibility Oz, Media Access Australia, and Vision Australia.
For more information:
Do you have any suggestions for making digital environments more accessible? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to take a look at the resource guide for more information about accessibility.
Feature image credit: Derick David