Accessibility – still standing in the corner?

Don’t be the cool penguins – invite Access over for a chat.

A sad penguin in an icy pool asks if he can play while the cool penguins party at the design club.

It’s been interesting recently to see accessibility from a mainstream perspective recently, particularly as I work through a course on visual design.

I expressed horror at the use of text boxes whilst acknowledging that they are a neat tool for getting certain programs to align text.

“But they’re not accessible”, quoth I.

“Not to worry”, replied the tutor, “Let’s get the visuals right and we can sort accessibility later. This exercise is for print anyway.”

Now, I totally understand where he’s going with that statement, if you’re designing for print then the only accessibility you need concern yourself with is, indeed, visual. The trouble with that is we live in a world where material is used and abused in all sorts of formats. I can pretty much guarantee that the pretty print brochure you’re working on will be slapped willy-nilly on the website for downloading. I can also bet, with pretty good odds, that it won’t be accompanied by an accessible version of the information.

So what should we do? My view is that when designing a print resource that we should do our very best to use accessible tools and assume that it will appear as an lectronic version somewhere. It’s not hard to do – at the very least you could do as a document I recently had to work with did – they did all their text as graphics, but put decent ALT text on them. At least no information was lost (unless their colour and font choices caused you problems). I’m not arguing for perfection just making accessibility part of your design team rather than the awkward kid that gets picked last every time.

A great tip is to use the Colour Contrast Analyser to define colours that work for the web or electronic documents and then convert them back to a suitable print equivalent.
The colour contrast analyser showing two RGB values that fail the W3C checkpoint.
If your designers insist that they can’t work with RGB values then there are plenty of online tools to convert RGB to CMYK such as Rapid Tables.

While we’re talking visual design here’s a neat article discussing some aspects of designing for colour-blindness (and great to see low vision getting a shout out too)

If you want to know more about creating accessible content why not give me a shout at Access1in5. It’s what we do after all.


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New Zealand Internet Research Forum.

On Monday 9th Feb I was privileged to be a part of the NZIRF’s first meeting organised by Auckland University of Technology and InternetNZ. I have to admit to feeling a bit of a fraud amongst group of academics but I was made very welcome. It was very interesting to hear the varied threads of internet-related research and topics that each attendee presented. Whilst I’ve been involved in some research recently, it isn’t at a stage to discuss publicly yet so I concentrated my presentation on Inclusive Research. Whilst I rapidly realised I had to define what I meant by inclusive as there is such a wide range of understanding it was great to be able to discuss ways to design online and other approaches so as not to create unnecessary and unintentional barriers to participation from the technology and tools used. This could be as simple as not insisting on telephone as the only way to interview as that makes it very hard for the Deaf; or by using only landlines to conduct a survey a surprisingly large sector of the population are immediately excluded as they don’t have them.

I left my group with 3 things to takeaway if they forgot the rest:

  2. Think about colour contrast and font
  3. Be flexible in the ways that people can respond

Useful Links

I also pointed to some great tools and resources that they could use such as:

  1. Paciello Colour Contrast Analyser
  2. The WAI Demo Good/Bad Website
  3. The WCAG Quick Ref (there’s an interesting use of quick but certainly better than the normative standard :))
  4. NZ Government Web Standards
  5. Webaim’s Designer Infographic and associated textual versions
  6. and Tom Smiths’s awesome FILTH guide to working with Word


I’m never too sure how useful slides are without context but here they are. They include all the links above.
InclusiveResearch – Slides from NZIRF 9/2/15

Next Steps

Thanks to InternetNZ and AUT for making the NZIRF possible. There’s likely to be a meet-up at Nethui 2015 in Auckland in July. See you there?

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Welcome to Access 1 in 5.

This is either a momentous or terrifying prospect – having taken the plunge to set up as an independent IT consultant specialising in Accessibility I find myself with an expanse of bits to write upon and writer’s block. Let’s start with two easy questions:

  • Why Access 1in 5?
  • What can Access 1in 5 do for you?


Why Access 1 in 5?

1 in 5 is a number that occurs regularly in literature around disability and impairment – 1 in 5 people report or are noted as having an impairment that affects their daily activity or is considered a disability. Whilst that figure covers a wide range of impairment it is a sobering thought that, should your website be inaccessible, it will to varying extents restrict 1 in 5 of your potential customers from getting your message. Beyond those users with more obvious impairments we are all getting older and older users start to suffer from low vision, cognitive issues and physical pain and tremors. All these make it harder to access online information and services unless your site is built appropriately

What can Access 1in 5 do for you?

Kevin has been working in accessibility since 2006 and before that on user interfaces for a variety of consumer electronics. Access 1 in 5 can audit, advise and, where appropriate, update your content for maximum accessibility. Access 1in 5 also has a passion for using IT effectively – we can advise on making the best of your considerable investment in It, hardware and social media to reach the widest audience with the least pain.

Watch this space for more updates or contact us on 021 2220638 or for more details

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