A11y Bytes Melbourne

What’s this ‘A11y’ I hear you say? A11y is shorthand for Accessibility using the first and last letters of the word, and then 11 in the middle to represent the 11 letters of accessibility. A11y Bytes is a community-driven local organisation who run events centred around Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

Team Seamless had a great night at the A11y Bytes event in Melbourne this week in celebration of GAAD 2015. We learned much through the six short presentations and were pleased to have Rem and Riz there from Team Seamless sharing our own Accessibility story.

The Seamless Team at A11yBytes Melbourne

I thought I’d highlight some of our favourite presentations:

Andrew Normand from Melbourne Uni answered the question ‘Does my website need to be accessible?’. In the U.S, non-accessible sites present a serious legal risk, as we saw by the case mounted by U.S. Department of justice against Peapod.com (an online supermarket). However, Australia may not be far behind. The recent court action against Coles Online may be just a sign of things to come. So the short answer is – yes, your website should be accessible!

Online forms are a staple of any government website, so ‘Forms for Everyone’ by Jessica Enders of Formulate really resonated with us. Unfortunately, most forms are not very accessible or well built, and this prevents users, even those that are not vision impaired, from engaging online. In turn, people have to download and hand fill clunky PDF’s or Word files, call or email in, or physically visit customer service centers. So instead of wondering whether we can afford the cost and effort of building good online forms, we should instead be thinking whether we can afford not to!

Mat Mirabella showed us how assistive technologies like NVDA can be used to show how a vision impaired person using a screen-reader would typically navigate a website. We had an opportunity to take a walk in his shoes, and the demo reinforced how frustrating and difficult some sites are to navigate for people using assistive technologies.

Last but not least our own Rem and Riz (pictured below) shared their presentation, Embedding accessibility know-how into agencies. It’s great to keep up-to-date with reading, seminars and training, but until you embed accessibility thinking within your project or product delivery process, you’ll struggle to build truly accessible solutions. At Seamless we set up a committee with representation from members of each team (design, development, testing, user experience) and ran regular meet-ups to build up internal accessibility knowledge and capability. Through that process we were able to translate each key accessibility principle into an clear, unambiguous and actionable task for each role and stage of the project and product development process.

Bonus: check out our new poster 10 Simple Things Writers Can Do To Improve Web Accessibility, our Global Accessibility Awareness Day treat for you.

To find out how we can help you create accessible websites and intranets get in touch.

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