We called 2018 “The Year of Accessibility” and We Were Right

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business meeting with team discussing the year of accessibility

It wasn’t until I was having lunch with a handful of millennials in the medical, banking, marketing, and digital media industries that I realized how far accessibility has come. When asked about my chosen industry, over a plate of salsa and chips, I said, “I work in the marketing department for an accessibility company”. That’s when an analyst at one of the top Big Four banks of the United States said, “Man, accessibility is such a big deal! Right now I’m programming ADA-approved features into one of our solutions for people with disabilities.” Funny enough, he didn’t know anything about this industry a year ago.

But he’s right. Access to information is a big deal.

Last year, Braille Works called 2018 the Year of Accessibility, and we were right. We’re hearing people talk about accessibility and they know their stuff. It excites us that there are so many informed developers, business owners, and decision-makers who are enhancing independence for the millions of people with visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive disabilities.

a hand turning the volume on a recording studio mixing desk

How Did We Turn Up the Volume on Accessibility?

First, we tackled the knowledge gap and many of the myths concerning accessibility. Let’s just say there were A LOT of preconceived notions. For one, there’s a myth that making a website accessible is always difficult and expensive. The truth is it doesn’t have to be, and it’s a lot less expensive than a lawsuit. Next, we combatted myths that accessibility was not for small businesses; i.e., mom and pop shops. A few months ago we ended up as part of the topic of a Reddit thread for accessible menus. We had a blast reading through the dialogue, hearing people with disabilities advocate for themselves, and watching restaurant owners of all sizes chime in to say, “Okay, I’m interested! Where can I get braille and large print menus?”.

twitter post from @alyssaherrera33 that says "my sister has been in this world for 18 yrs and today is the first time she has been offered a menu at a restaurant".

reddit comment from digdat0: "I own a restaurant...How do I get my menu made in braille? I'd love to offer this".

reddit comments from WallyJade: "First Google hit: www.brailleworks.com/resturants" and responses from someone who works at braille works says "I actually work for this company, good to see the stuff I worked on out in the world!"reddit comment from running-toilet-bowl "Huh. A braille menu isnt something "I really ever thought of. Menus are just something that I take for granted."reddit comment from LoneBullseye: "I worked at Applebees for years as a host. I am proud to say I offered Braille menus to all those who needs them, regardless of whethere or not they had someone with them. Chain restaurants are usually more sensitive to this issue. But as always, it depends on the employee to implement the policies."a reddit comment from owlgal4ever: "That is awesomr! My dad was blind and these type of menus were not available during his lifetime. I have glaucoma. If I ever go blind, It's nice to know these will be ready and waiting for me." a reddit comment from Alien_Hawk: "This is so awesome. I have a five year old that is blind and am always worrying she will miss out on these kind of experiences. I'm so happy for your sister. Thanks for the post it gives others sometime to hopefully look forward to."

From Novice to Knowledgeable

man posting a blog on wordpress
Second, we wrote blogs and published a monthly newsletter chock-full of accessibility tips and compliance industry news. Our materials were also published on Medium.com where over 60 million of their unique monthly readers could learn more about accessibility. We did this because it’s important to better understand how communication barriers affect someone’s experience and what still needs to be done to create inclusive websites, apps, software, and spaces. We watched as accessibility moved from an afterthought to a key element of the design and implementation process. And, since the U.S. Access Board published a final rule updating accessibility requirements in January 2018, and the Department of Justice recently reaffirmed that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act does apply to websites, we’ll continue to answer your time-sensitive questions and Google searches, because #AccessibilityMatters.

Lastly, we have a new team member. He’s Large, Loud, Lumpy and Legal!  Meet Seymour.

Braille Works team member Seymour the camelBut what does a camel have to do with accessibility? Well . . . He’s Large (for large print), He’s Loud (for audio), He’s Lumpy (for braille) and He’s Legal (for accessible PDF’s)

You might see him at your local library using a screen magnifier, ordering from a braille menu, or giving shout outs for companies that are accessible. Seymour will not only get you over your compliance humps, but he’ll lead the way! His goal is to help the world see more, hear more, feel more, and do more.

 

From all of us here at Braille Works, thank you for a memorable and accessible 2018. We may not know what to expect in 2019 but we know it will be a very good year for accessibility. We’ll even say that 2019 will be Large, Loud, Lumpy, and Legal!

Did you know?

  • Braille Works published 33 original blogs on accessibility in 2018?
  • Forbes covered 32 blogs on accessibility in 2018?
  • Even Medium has an extensive repertoire of blogs on accessibility!

To wrap up the year, we thought we’d share some facts on 2018’s accessibility accomplishments.

  • Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, Airbnb, eBay, Lyft, and Amazon Alexa became more accessible.
  • Video gaming got more inclusive. Check out the Accessibility Revolution in the gaming industry!
  • Universities continued to make websites, online courses, and documents meet web accessibility standards. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility even shared the results of tests run to check the accessibility of a handful of school websites.
  • Since the lack of accessible clothing is a barrier to greater independence, and being unable to dress one’s self is a big part of the independence lost to disability. Designers created clothes that are fashionable, functional, and accessible.
  • The UK held its first ever accessible shopping day, Purple Tuesday, where hundreds of retailers focused on the needs of disabled customers.
  • NBC Olympics and Comcast announced they’d be providing video description services for viewers with visual disabilities watching the 23rd Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea –Making it the most accessible Winter Games in Olympic history!
  • People with colorblindness now have a new tool to help them access on-screen information thanks to the work of @visionaustralia Digital Access team.
  • We put Braille on Mars!
  • A stargazing app guides users with visual impairments through the stars with “auditory and vibrational feedback.”
  • In honor of the National Federation of the Blind’s 40th anniversary, the Baltimore Orioles added braille to their jerseys.
  • Braille and audio “Love Notes” were added to Rice Krispies Treats wrappers. “This year, love and support will be more accessible.”
  • Tech companies, including Microsoft and Apple, worked together to create “plug and play support for braille displays” across devices and operating systems.
  • A rise in accessible apps helped those with visual impairments navigate cities, transit systems and airports with confidence.
  • Ford’s “Feel the View” allowed riders with visual impairments to “view” scenery outside the car’s window.
  • Jaguar worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind to develop sounds that give an audible cue when an electric vehicle is in motion nearby.
  • Apple submitted a new set of accessibility emojis to be released in the first half of 2019.
  • “ADA Accessibility as a Human Right” was CSUN’s 2018 theme.
  • Pharmacies used prescription readers, like ScripTalk, to read aloud dosage information from the bottom of the prescription bottle.
  • In-flight entertainment was made accessible for passengers with sight loss.
  • Herbal Essences made a line of hair products accessible.
  • Accessible voting – Voters with disabilities have been able to cast ballots by mail for years or at the board of elections with assistance. But this technology allows them to vote in person without anyone’s help. Not to mention, volunteers spent a chunk of Election Day visiting poll sites to survey accessibility and enforce the Help America Vote Act.
  • Intuit made Aira available for free to all entrepreneurs and small-business owners. “If we can help a blind or low-vision entrepreneur build their business or start a new one, then hopefully that will lead to a lower unemployment rate and better jobs and lives for a lot of people.”

For more follow our hashtag, #AccessibilityMatters, on your favorite social media site.

BrailleWorks 2018:

  1. Why Web Accessibility Still Relies on Human Action
  2. The Braille Challenge is Back!
  3. Why We Champion the Odyssey of the Mind
  4. Supporting Easterseals to Take on Disabilities Together
  5. CSUN 2018: An Opportunity to Witness Significant Advances to Accessibility
  6. Don’t Lose Readers Because of Poor Website Accessibility
  7. What You Need to Know About the 508 Refresh & ICT
  8. Are Digital Marketing Agencies and Communication Managers Key Players in Accessibility?
  9. Saving Time, Saving Money: “Can we buy a braille printer and just do this in-house?”
  10. The 411 on Braille Business Cards
  11. Why the Rise in ADA Lawsuits
  12. Why You Can’t Stop at Braille Business Cards
  13. The Need For Accessible Documents Is On The Rise
  14. Why I Love WCAG (And You Should, Too!)
  15. Section 508, ADA, WCAG, 2.0, 2.1, AA, AAA, Compliance… What Does It All Mean?
  16. Reflecting on Life Before the Americans with Disabilities Act
  17. Why the Leader in Accessible Documents is Attending PRINT18
  18. Your Customers Can’t Read Your Documents
  19. Empowering People: More Than Just a ‘Feel Good’ Move
  20. A Crash Course in 2019 Medicare Options
  21. Stay Ahead of the Trends and Find A Niche in Marketing
  22. 10 Terms You’ll Need to Know to Understand Accessibility
  23. Happy World Sight Day
  24. It’s White Cane Safety Day!
  25. Voters with Visual Disabilities – Make Your Vote Count!
  26. Things To Know Before Making Your Documents Accessible
  27. Dyslexia: The Hidden Disability
  28. Plan Ahead for Accessibility: Consumer’s Responsibilities & Rights
  29. Disaster Preparedness for People with Visual Disabilities
  30. A President Remembered; George H.W. Bush (41)
  31. How the Video Game Community is Addressing Accessibility
  32. What Website Compliance Has to Do with Getting My Beauty Products
  33. The Recipe Calls For a Serving of Independence

Forbes 2018:

  • Designing For Accessibility Doesn’t Drive Costs; It Drives Opportunity
  • Enablement, Empowerment And Accessibility Using Education Technology
    Apple Proposes A New Line Of Accessibility Emoji
  • The Importance Of Web Accessibility And How Marketers Can Help
  • U.S. Firms Slowly Getting Better At Disability Inclusion
  • Progress Builds Tools For The Accessible Web
  • 5 Ways You Can Help Shoppers With Disabilities This Season
  • Winery Websites Must Comply With The Americans With Disability Act, But How?
  • 4 Ways To Respect The Needs Of Employees With Disabilities
  • How Design Students From Around The World Are Trying To Solve Problems You Didn’t Know Existed
  • Closing The Disability Inclusion Gap At Work: These 5 Research-Proven Ways Will Help You Start Today
  • What People With Disabilities Want More Store Employees To Know
  • Is Your Job Application Process Accessible And Inclusive?
  • Disability Accommodation On Campus: Some Unintended Consequences
  • Four Things You Should Do Before Even Thinking About Building A New Website
  • Is That Website Ethical? A Four-Part Test You Can Use
  • This New Controller Is One Of The Most Important Pieces Of Hardware Xbox Has Ever Made
  • People With Disabilities Want Paychecks Not Pity: Here’s How Businesses Are Helping
  • Marketing Has A Role In Achieving Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace
  • An Online Store For Style-Conscious Shoppers With Disabilities
  • How Do We Design Workplaces For Inclusivity And Diversity
  • An ‘Onslaught’ Of Lawsuits From The Blind Is Happening; Blame Obama’s and Trump’s DOJ
  • How Disability-Friendly Is Your Workplace? 4 Ways To Put Your Business To The Test
  • Enablement, Empowerment And Accessibility Using Education Technology
  • Want To Provide A Better Website Experience? Fix These 11 Overlooked Pain Points
  • This Latina Is Using Her Own Experience With Blindness To Bring About Change In The Workforce
  • How This Woman Is Taking On Diversity In Tech
  • Stephen Hawking Overcame Challenges. Two Meteorologists With Disabilities Have Too
  • Five Ways To Create Positive Digital Experiences For Your Customers
  • Are You Solving Your Customers’ Real Problems? Here’s How To Find Out
  • Serial Suer Targets Broadway Theaters
  • Eight Ways To Make Sure Your Website Attracts — And Keeps — Your Ideal Client

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This post was written by Clerise Phillip Samuel

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