Message from Chandra – September 2021
Almost two years ago, the team at Blind Low Vision NZ asked me if I’d like to take over running the digital accessibility part of Access Advisors. How could I refuse when accessibility has been my passion for more than 20 years? And, once the decision was made, there was no looking back. We’ve helped some inspiring businesses improve their offering, met some amazing people along the way, and raised awareness as we’ve gone. This email updates you on some important progress in the sector, and our journey so far.
Since we started out we’ve faced a few hurdles with a global pandemic, my mother dying suddenly and an accident that took me out of play for several months. But we slowly grew and employed several amazing consultants to handle the increase and together, we’ve managed to create a viable business that works with many wonderful clients and people around Aotearoa. We’ve connected with a multitude of disability organisations and recruited about 100 wonderful people with access needs to join our Research Panel.
The first two years in any business can be tough and are usually about building connections. We’ve certainly had some tough times and built some fabulous connections. The next two years will hopefully be more about helping more businesses in Aotearoa become aware of the benefits of digital accessibility, breaking down more access barriers and raising awareness. Thanks to those who have already been involved. I hope you’ll enjoy some of our stories in our first newsletter and keep supporting us as so many of you have already. #AccessibleAotearoa
NZ businesses missing out on revenue
Access Advisors recently tested the homepages of the top 1000 non-government websites in Aotearoa for basic accessibility problems and found 97.5% of the websites failed NZ accessibility guidelines.
This is bad news for people with access needs, those who rely on assistive technology and people who struggle with websites because of poor interface design.
But it is also a missed opportunity for New Zealand businesses. And it’s not insignificant either. Approximately 24% of Kiwis have some form of permanent impairment, many more are undiagnosed or have undeclared issues and still others have temporary or situational impairments. This equates to more than a million people in New Zealand, with millions of dollars of missed business opportunity.
The news is not all bad. Our research shows that if businesses were to fix just the top few issues their websites would be significantly better. In turn, this means increased revenue, reduced customer service costs, and better reputation. If businesses paid just a bit more attention to colour contrast, adding alt text to their images, properly labelling forms, the accessibility problems would improve significantly and potential revenue would be gained rather than lost. Read the full article on our website.
Accessibility law a step closer
When a robust Access Law is passed in New Zealand, our businesses will need to pay more attention to the accessibility of both their digital and built environments to avoid being sued.
Elsewhere in the world where strong legislation exists, companies are being sued for poor website and app accessibility. For example, a blind man in the US successfully sued Dominos recently as he couldn’t order pizza online.
We need this type of legislation here to make things better for people with access needs by helping them hold businesses with poor accessibility responsible.
Good news is that things look to be changing as a cabinet paper is planned to be presented later this month. The Access Alliance is calling for help to get this Access Law passed in New Zealand. The legislation must deliver on the Access Alliance’s 13 principles for the accessibility law. We cannot waste this opportunity to improve the current situation. We need to build a better accessibility system that delivers nationally consistent accessibility standards that will future-proof New Zealand’s built and digital environment for generations to come.
Please take action to get this law supported by going to the Access Alliance website for all the resources you might need. And, if your business would like to get ahead of the law change, then get in touch with Access Advisors and we can help.
Quantifying accessibility in New Zealand
Improving accessibility in workplaces for people with disabilities is a continuous journey to enable equal opportunity for all. The path taken differs depending on the organisation. One of Access Advisors’ partners is interested in understanding what leads to accessibility success, as well as what barriers exist.
They invite you to participate in a significant research project being conducted on the state of digital accessibility in Australian and New Zealand workplaces. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete, and your answers will be completely confidential.
Once you’ve finished the survey, you will be eligible for an invitation to a virtual and exclusive pre-launch session on the insights gathered through this, first of its kind, study in Australia and New Zealand.
At the conclusion of the project, our partners will randomly draw 10 names to nominate a charity involved with reducing barriers for people with a disability. Then a NZ $400 donation will be made to each of these charities on their behalf. If you would like more information about this project, please contact Samantha Bell from TKP firstname.lastname@example.org.
Involving people with lived experience in research gives clients first hand feedback about problems and the impact they have. Clients can make changes before products are designed or released. Our research panellists have been busy the last few months, helping clients understand the access issues of their products.
Recent projects include pre-production usability testing of websites, reviews of wireframes prior to development beginning and discovery interviews about digital identity. Covid hasn’t been able to stop the research either! Almost all of our research has gone online. Our panellists have a range of access needs and live around New Zealand. The panel provides an opportunity for them to get paid to have a say.
If you’d like to know more, check our website for details. You’ll find information on how the Research Panel can help your business. Alternatively, email email@example.com or call 0800 300 099.
History of Digital Accessibility in Aotearoa
In 2020, the IT Professionals celebrated their 60 Year Anniversary. To celebrate, they put together a publication of IT stories, edited by Janet Toland.
‘From Yesterday to Tomorrow’ has a variety of interesting articles about the last 60 years in the tech industry. Articles range from the impact of technology through to a chapter entitled A history of digital accessibility in Aotearoa written by our own Chandra Harrison.
You can either read the book, including Chandra’s chapter, online for free or buy a copy of the book from the ITP. Enjoy and let us know if we missed anything for the next iteration.
Access Advisors’ Recent Awards and Achievements
We’ve been involved in a few other impactful activities in the last few months as well. The NZ Government is working on a Tech Industry Transformation Plan. Access Advisors has been involved in NZ Tech Skills workstream, waving the disability flag, facilitating a disability hui to help inform the Digital Tech Skills Plan and helping raise awareness of accessibility.
We’ve also been recognised in a couple of awards recently. Access Advisors was a Finalist in the Digital Spaces ‑ 2021 Access Alliance People’s Choice Awards. It was fantastic to be in such great company with several of our clients also finalists.
Additionally, Chandra was a Finalist in the 2021 ITX Excellence in Inclusion Award. While she didn’t win this year, there was definitely some fun had with staff member Britta and friend David watching the ceremony and dancing until late. Together, they met some awesome people including the Young IT Professional of the Year, Eteroa Lafaele, and her brothers.
Welcome Aboard Julius
Access Advisors is thrilled to welcome Julius Charles Serrano to the team. Julius will be helping us with reviews and training and generally making Aotearoa a more accessible place. He has spent more than 15 years working in digital experience as well as an extra special level of understanding of screen reader use.
Julius has conducted accessibility training and workshops in New Zealand and several countries in Asia. He has trained hundreds of people on web accessibility and assistive technology. Attendees are treated to a combination of education, inspiration, and his unique sense of humour.
As much as he loves being an accessibility advocate, Julius is first and foremost a husband and a father. When he’s not working on accessibility or creating personal growth content, Julius enjoys most of his time with his wife Minnie and their two children in one of the peaceful suburbs in Wellington.
Design Assembly – with Chandra Harrison
22 September 2021, 11.30am-1.00pm
Quick Accessibility Tip – for Māori Language Week
To help screen reader users with Te Reo Māori content on your website, put a full stop in between Maori and English words. Let’s say you have a link, and you need to put both Maori and English words inside the link text. We recommend putting a full stop (.) in between the Maori and English words.
Example: <a href=”shopt.html”> Shop. Wharehoko </a>
Screen reader users will benefit from the full stop. This is because they will hear a quick pause in between the two words. As a result, they will perceive the distinction and the relationship between the two words.
Please visit our website to meet the team, for more news and blog posts and details of all our services. You can contact us by calling 0800 300 099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact us through the form on our website to ask a question or request our help.