Accessible Digital Services
Some key considerations

2018 ALGIM Spring Conference

Access Advisors — Increasing engagement
Jason Kiss
Lead Consultant (Web)
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Web a11y

What is it?

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Inclusive design

A broad range of people use the web.

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Vision Impairments

  • Blindness
  • Low Vision
  • Color Blindness
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Hearing Impairments

  • Deafness
  • Hard of hearing
  • Tinnitus
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Diminished motor control

  • Arthritis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
  • Paralysis
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Cognitive / Neurological

  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Memory Loss
  • Photo-sensitive epilepsy
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
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  • Anxiety, depression
  • Repetitive Stress Injury
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fatigue, lack of sleep
  • Temporary injury
  • Situational disability

Percentage of people with disability in 2013

0–14 yrs 15–44 yrs 45–64 yrs 65+ yrs Total
11% 16% 28% 59% 24%
2013 Disability Survey, Statistics NZ

In 2014: 14% were 65+ yrs old

In 2041: 22-25% will 65+ yrs old (90% prob.)

National Population Projections: 2014(base)–2068
Statistics NZ

Assistive technologies


Close up of left hand on a Mac keyboard. Image source

Large print keyboards

Large print keyboard with yellow keys on black body. Image source

One-handed keyboards

Maltron one-handed keyboard for the right hand. Image source

Mice and trackballs

Large Kensington trackball. Image source
EZ Minicute vertical mouse. Image source


Straight headwand strapped to a styrofoam head for display. Image source
Articulated headwand with head brace. Image source
Man with curved headwand typing at keyboard in front of monitor. Image source
Man with short headwand using onscreen keyboard on iPad. Image source


Mouthstick being used to type on iPad. Image source
Man using short mouthstick on special keyboard for mouthsticks. Image source
4 mouthsticks. Image source

Button switches

Red AMDI moon switch. Image source
Blue AMDI moon switch on articultated mounting brace. Image source

Sip and puff switches

Man using sip and puff switch with onscreen keyboard. Image source
Girl with sip and puff switch. Image source

Eye blink switch

Close up of fibre optic eye blink switch next to woman's eye. Image source

Proximity switch

Hand hovering over an Ablenet Candy Corn proximitiy switch. Image source

Switch scanning

Animated gif of scanning software selecting letter on SwithXS onscreen keyboard. Image source

Speech/voice recognition

Cortana logo. Image source
VoiceOver logo. Image source
Dragon Naturally Speaking. Image source
Amazon Alexa. Image source

Screen magnifiers

Screen magnifier in Mac OS. Image source
Screen magnifier in Windows 8. Image source

Screen readers

JAWS for Windows banner image. Image source
NVAccess logo. Image source
VoiceOver logo. Image source
Android Accessibilty Suite logo. Image source
Orca logo. Image source

Braille displays

Braille Memo BM46 40 cell Braille display. Image source
Humanware Braille Notetaker. Image source

But how?

How can I make my online service accessible?

Web Content a11y Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Screenshot of WCAG 2.0 web page.

NZ Government
Web a11y Standard

WCAG 2.0 Level-AA compliance

Screenshot of NZ Government Web a11y Standard web page.

Web Content a11y Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Screenshot of WCAG 2.0 web page with emphasis on 11 December 2008.

Gaps in WCAG 2.0

  • touch interface ('mobile')
  • low vision
  • cognitive/intellectual/learning disabilities

WCAG 2.1

5 June 2018

Screenshot of WCAG 2.1 web page.

WCAG 2.1

17 new Success Criteria

  • 5 at Level A
  • 7 at Level AA
  • 5 at Level AAA

12 new SC for Level AA conformance!

Start now

WCAG 2.1 is backwards-compatible with WCAG 2.0.

Be more accessible to more customers in more contexts:

  • touch interfaces, small devices
  • voice recognition
  • people with low vision
  • people with learning/intellectual disabilities
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We've been saying this for years!

  • Definitely more interest in a11y
  • But, we're not there yet
  • E.g. We don't yet treat a11y like we treat security.

Legacy processes and inertia

  • lack of knowledge, skill, training
  • 3rd party software not accessible
  • the organisation is not ready
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So, education and training

Yes! But...

  • Culture must change
  • Priorities need to shift
  • Firm requirements must be set

Reasons: Business

Reach more people, sell more products/services.

Do the right thing, gain more customers(?)

Reasons: Government

Legal requirements -> mandatory standards

Still, business reasons: reach more people, maximise benefit from investment

How important is it?

Human Rights Act: NZ society is to be free from disability discrimination.

Certainly, then, a11y must be fundamental to how we serve our customers.

And especially for government agencies, no?

Be careful, though

Holding firm to rigid requirements can backfire:

  • don't implement anything
  • pay lots for changes to 3rd party software/widgets
  • alienate content providers, designers, developers, others
  • give a11y and inclusion a bad name (zealotry)
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a11y is an ideal

A measurable standard (e.g. WCAG 2.1)

but also

An ideal standard to continually approach.

There's always more we can do.

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Find a balance

100% a11y


Practicalities of your current context

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Be practical about it

Always require a11y as a baseline, except when...

Only deal with exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The benefits must outweigh the drawbacks of not being accessible in that case.

Distill the benefit of the thing

What is the value of the thing to customers?

What are people wanting to use this thing for?

What do people expect from this thing?

Now make those benefits accessible

It may be that:

  • there are accessible alternatives for delivering the same
  • it's easy enough to provide accessible alternatives
  • it's a sounder investment to do so
  • the accessible alternative is easier for everyone to use
  • the inaccessible 'flashy' version becomes the alternative.

Example (fictitious)

Proposed boundary change for the City of Ottawa.

Overlapping map polygons showing proposed changes to City of Ottawa boundaries. Image source

How do we represent that to someone who can’t see it?
Derek Featherstone

Example (fictitious)

Map of proposed changes to City of Ottawa boundaries with simple lookup form to accomplish same outcomew. Image source

Why do we have this map in the first place?
Derek Featherstone


(for local government)

Prioritise a11y for your agency based on:

  • the cultural/ethical reasons for a11y
  • the business reasons (maximising reach, reducing cost)

Be practical, make it happen

If you can:

  • get internal agreement that a11y is core
  • take a practical approach as discussed

You'll have a better chance of taking meaningful steps towards the goal of accessible services.

We can help...

Blind Foundation Access Advisors

Find us on the NZ Govt Web Services Panel