How important is Accessibility in Digital Marketing?
Honestly, most have never thought about that question, so you may not be alone.
Kim Krause-Berg joins Matt to talk about recent developments in Accessibility. Primarily driving this discussion are the recent increase in accessibility lawsuits. Past court rulings put websites in the same class as a commercial business; they have to accommodate and provide for anyone to access their store just as much as their website.
Fortunately, accessibility is just good business practice. Why would you limit the people that would purchase or access your information? Many times, adding accessible features enhances the experience for all users.
However, for some, they choose not to invest in accessibility and take their chances. There is a sentiment that reprogramming a website for accessibility is a large expense that isn’t worth the effort. But, as Matt and Kim go through this conversation, they show that accessibility is a much larger issue than screen readers. Making a website or application accessible and easier to use is far-reaching and actually benefits more people in more ways than the intended target.
Resources on Accessibility:
WebAIM: Accessibility Resources
Are you interested to know how real people are affected by accessibility? This link is to an article I wrote a few years ago where I interviewed three internet users that were dependent upon the accessibility of websites in order to work, communicate and participate.
Matt: Initially, people see accessibility as, “Oh, I need to go back and I need to redo things and make it for this set of people.” But in reality, when you look at accessibility as a whole, it raises the ability for something to be usable for everybody.
Kim: Right. There are so many, I mean we’re just imperfect beings, every single one of us. And when faced with a computer screen, trying to get from point A to point B.
Kim: It can be very, very difficult and there’s so many things that we can do.
Narrator: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee. Have a seat. And thanks for joining.
Matt: Hey. Welcome to the endless coffee cup. And those of you that are regular listeners, you’re going to be very excited because we have Kim Kraus-Berg back with us. Kim, how are you?
Kim: I’m fine.
Matt: It’s been a while since you were last on so I’m excited to have you back.
Kim: Yeah, yeah, it was so much fun. The last time, you know, with our podcast so I’m looking forward to this.
Matt: Yeah, it’ll be a little different because you were actually in the studio last time.
Kim: Yeah, and again in your face.
Matt: There is an element to doing these podcasts face to face. It is my first preference, it’s because there’s just something about having that face to face interaction that I think just, it makes it a little, well, that much better than constantly doing a remote. But for purposes of just getting things done, there’s times you just need to get it, you just need to do remote.
Kim: Right, and I just can’t, you know drive five hours every time I want to see you either.
Matt: Well. Why not? Come on. Yeah.
Kim: I know. It isn’t too bad.
Working with Accessibility
Matt: It’s not bad at all. Yeah. Hey, so the reason why you’re on the episode here is because, well, obviously, you know we’re connected on LinkedIn and all the other services there and I noticed you’ve been putting a lot out when it comes to accessibility and some really cool stuff and it that’s an interest that we have both shared for a number of years. And it’s something that you know what I think we briefly touched on it last time you were in. But it is something that, well you know what, let’s raise the awareness of it. Unfortunately I think it’s one of those subjects that people don’t think about until it affects them either directly or through a family member, and then all of a sudden they realize just how important it is. And so, Kim, man. What do you tell people when they first, you know, that, that first hurdle is when you say accessibility. And I think, you know, if you’re like me you get those people that are like really we got to think about that. How do you present that?
Kim: Well, we all have some sort of impairment, whether it’s, I hate to say, age, but we most of us wear glasses.
Matt: Yes, that’s an impairment.
Kim: In context. And, you know, it’s, you know, so I usually start with something that we, a lot of us have in common. And being sight impaired, is something that a lot of us have no matter how old we are. But, accessibility, the more I got to know it, after you know mess around with this for like nearly 20 years is an enormous chunk of the population needs some sort of help when they do anything online, whether it’s having trouble seeing or listening or understanding, like the cognition, remembering where to go. And then I start saying well you know just imagine if you didn’t have used your hand. What would you do?
Kim: You know, and I start. You know, it’s a little bit of that you know if you could walk in somebody else’s moccasin says when you get an idea.
Matt: Right. Yeah.
Kim: Of what it’s like, and a lot…
Kim: …of the fads that have happened over the years, such as like light gray text. So many people couldn’t see it. And color contrast or were another one. But, to be perfectly honest with you, most of the people that you and I, converse with are in the search engine marketing industry. And so they wanted to know okay well how is accessibility going to benefit the work that I do.
Kim: And there’s actually a lot of correlation between the two, and this is growing, because of assistive technology and browsers and text to speech, and basically assistive tech. Tech itself has changed so much over the past couple years. And unless you have your nose in it you don’t even know what the heck is going, what is happening and why I mean, like for example Word Press. Just changed, you know to Gutenberg and initially there was a bit of pushback because Gutenberg itself like the editor wasn’t accessible yet. Word Press foundations were Word Press core is accessible. And by Gutenberg wasn’t, and they’re getting there, but the whole point of Word Press even going through everything that they’re going through and just changing everything is so that assistive technology can access it better.
Matt: Yeah, that’s one thing I’m going to jump in here that is one thing. Yeah, coming from the search marketing industry is part of that is learning how search engines work, how information retrieval works and how the bots work, and that would for me that made it very easy to understand accessibility. Because the bot needs the same thing that someone on a screen reader would need. And so I think people in that industry how search engine bots work. It just makes sense from that accessibility perspective of if I build it right, the bot can use it, which means, most of the time it’s going to be accessible. And so I think that’s what makes that community a bit more open than other communities for that.
Kim: Yeah. And to, you know historically they kind of take advantage of that a little bit like I remember when you showed what it sounded like to listen to web pages with that were keyword stuffed. That, that really opened, I mean everybody was a giggling in the audience but you made your point. You know you had everybody in the room, listen to what web pages sounded like to somebody using Jaws, and it was a robotic repetitive keyword, keyword key phrase, you know, isn’t, it was impossible.
Kim: And that, I think anybody in the room that heard that you know you made you made your point. But colorblind is another one. And like the choice of color. A lot of accessibility like the very basics of it are so related to user experience, and, you know, every time I did a usability audit, I would do color contrast testing, fonts the old attributes. But there was confusion of as to what you could put in and all, and when to put in to the old attribute. And these are like basic, basic things that you can do, early on in the process as you’re developing something and as you’re designing something. And for some reason everybody just kept throwing it at the very end and going, you know, I’ll go back and fix that later. And now with the lawsuits and the ADA stuff happening later is here.
Matt: Right, yeah. Well let’s okay so let’s start with probably the, the severity, or the importance of implementing accessibility. You’ve been reporting quite frequently, you know lawsuits that are happening because of apps or websites that are inaccessible what’s going on with that what I mean what have you seen that, that makes this, where every business needs to sit up and take notice of this.
Kim: One of the reasons is mobile apps. Once we switched over to mobile like for websites we’re sort of making some headway. As far as being accessible, and then everything got into mobile applications and they became inaccessible, especially the screen readers and, and some of the languages and scripting that we use. It was like, “Uh-oh” that doesn’t work in a screen reader. So that’s one reason, but I think what’s happening is that computer technology, and what we call assistive technology has enabled more and more and more people, and we’re talking millions and millions and billions globally, to do whatever it is, everybody else does via the internet. And every time there’s a barrier, instead of saying oh well I can’t get to what I want I can’t buy something I can’t read something and just calling it a day. They’re pushing back. And now they’ve got a little bit of muscle behind them through the in America is the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. The UK has their own accessibility law that they’re going to enforce in 2020.
Matt: Okay, well.
Kim: Exactly how they’re going to enforce it nobody knows yet.
Matt: That’s, that’s the key isn’t it.
Kim: Right. And every country has their own accessibility requirements guidelines in some cases laws. And they enforce them or don’t enforce them. I think they kind of. Everything is said to be a guideline, except in certain cases like in the United States government sites have to be section 508 compliant. And that’s at the local level, the federal level and the state level and I know you know about the state level. But what’s happening is it’s gone back beyond that WCAG2.1 is so close. Like the double A and triple A layers are so close to section 508, you might as well just say everybody’s got to be section 508. But we’re talking e commerce, healthcare, financial, hotels, all of that anything where you were the user interacts with a webpage, in any way shape or form. If there’s a barrier, they are finding lawyers who will represent them and, in, they’re going to court. Some states are more agreeable to the plaintiff like Florida, California and New York a little bit for Pennsylvania. And I think that might just grow over time. Some of the lawsuits seem unusual like there’s I think a 72 or 75. I forget how many art galleries in in New York. Why, and being sued by some a blind person, any anything to yourself okay why is a blind person filing an ADA lawsuit against art galleries, internet art galleries.
Kim: And I wish I haven’t yet I haven’t read the legal case but I from the brief information I’ve been able to find on that. It was that the sliders carousels and images weren’t, there’s nothing there. And I don’t know how far that’s going to get I’m as far as with the cases and. But they’re doing that for golf sites down in Florida too, like, you know, and we’re thinking, “Okay, wait a minute, you know, a blind person is suing golf courses in Florida.” They’re still going in because in one case they want, they can’t book a lesson or something like that. But somebody still can have to come and drive a cart for them.
Matt: Right, yeah. Well and there is. Yeah, and that’s one part of it is just because someone may be legally blind is not mean they are completely impaired. You know that there there’s levels of blindness. And you know so you’ve got all kinds of part of that but yeah you’ve got a, you know, unless they offer specific lessons or something like that. Yeah, I think in some ways you’re seeing some of these where they’re suing…
Government Services Websites
Matt: …just because they can, but other and to me that takes away from the far more legitimate cases that are out there. You know one of the things that we saw firsthand is government services.
Matt: Especially for someone that might be on disability. You don’t know what kind of disability there on, and your services site needs to work, regardless.
Kim: Right, you know, the biggest wins every year at tax time, I want to pull my hair out. Because, I mean Turbo Tax is pretty good, but I have seen some others especially like at the local level, when we file our local taxes. Oh, my God, I just want to scream at them, and others you know when I’m telling the kids I’m not doing your taxes you have to do your own, so they find some sort of you know freebies site, and they try to file their taxes and it, “Mom, I can’t understand,” you know. And if they are actually a fairly decent on computers. And I think of all the people that are trying to do something is, you know, online that they legally have to do.
Matt: Right. Right.
Kim: And, but there’s also like. There’s the case that in the shop, the stores, and for some strange reason they just went the name of the shop just went flying into my, my brain. But in Florida, the case was that the guy couldn’t order, or download a coupon. To be able to order something on, you know, like if you go to the store you can get your coupons, but he can’t get to the store, and he wanted the same coupons as everybody else and but he couldn’t get it online, and he was, you know, and they foundin his favor. You know that’s. So there’s like lots of different ways of looking at this and what they’re calling it now is inclusive design. And instead of just you know accessibility they’re looking at it, and presenting it is a universal inclusive way to design, everything that is internet based.
Accessibility’s Far Reaching Benefits
Matt: Well, that’s one of the cool things that I, you know, being an accessibility is one of the cool things that I learned is that initially, people see accessibility as, “Oh, I need to go back and I need to redo things and make it for this set of people.” But in reality, when you look at accessibility as a whole, it raises the ability for something to be usable for everybody.
Matt: And I think the great example are those the kitchen tools, I think it’s Oxo kitchen tools. They started out by a man, making kitchen utensils, with a larger grip so that his wife could use them, because she had arthritis.
Matt: Well, they now happen to be some of the best-selling kitchen tools, because not only are they good for people with arthritis, they’re good for everybody because they give you a better grip.
Matt: And, you know, it’s the same thing where you know people might see that, well, if we put a ramp outside of our store is for people with wheelchairs and we need to do that. Well, it’s also for women with or men with strollers. It’s also people, you know, carrying an oxygen tank, you know, it’s interesting how when you improve for accessibility, it improves for lots of people in lots of situations. If not, everybody, especially when you start, you know, for example the tax site. I keep thinking about you know when our daughter was doing applications online for college classes. It was ridiculous. The instructions were poor. The functions weren’t clear. You know you’re just I’m just making a list as we’re going through this like this is insane. How do you know, just to pay tuition. It was a mess. And, yeah, and I’m like, but yet, like you said, I would describe our level of computer usage and experience as very high, and we were completely frustrated with it and I can’t imagine what anyone else would have to go through.
Kim: Right. Yeah. Just imagine you know if you have cognitive issues or if you’re autistic or ADD, I mean the list goes on and on and on. You know your motor skills. There are so many I mean we’re just imperfect beings, every single one of us there’s and when faced with a computer screen, trying to get from point A to point B. Is it can be very, very difficult and there’s so many things that we can do. But there’s also like the moral reasons for this as well. And you know, I think that a lot of companies ignore huge segments of the target market. Just when, you know, morally and ethically and legally it’s like why would you do that?
Matt: Yeah, I think a lot of times it’s. Well, number one, I would say the most times I run into things, it’s designers trying to make something very cool. Designers, programmers it’s look at this new programming language, look at this. You know, and we can make it look like this and we can do all these things, and it’s not really even a thought put to it. It’s just this is a cool way of doing it. And let’s run with it. Because you know like we know accessibility is not first and foremost on anyone’s mind. When it comes to creating or building, it’s, it always seems to have to be retrofitted because everything was so exciting and cool when it when they started developing it. It just went that way. And so, you know, like you said there’s a whole list of technologies that have just not been accessible. I mean, I remember you know when, you know, especially with a search, you know, the whole issue around flash. And, yeah, I remember Adobe coming out saying okay we’ve made an access, we made flash accessible. And it was no you didn’t, you just found a workaround. That I think just created a text file for people to read everything that was in the Flash file. So just a clunky way of doing it, but then calling it accessible was, you know, one of the early ways people were getting around it.
Kim: Yeah, and there’s with semantic markup and things like that and Aria there’s so much more going on in the back end. And that is where I’ve been spending more and more time and working on getting my certification and that actually cos.
Matt: Cool. Great.
Kim: You know, I once I started to go down the rabbit hole of accessibility, I, I just, I just keep going down and I feel like Alice in Wonderland and, and the Mad Hatter’s going yeah but you didn’t think about that he didn’t know about that and oh my God, you just like oh my God and you know I have jaws now, I have you should see my, my browser, I have so many testing tools, and so many voice in a text to speech, and does, you name it, I’ve got it. And just so that I can see what the experience is like for so many people.
Matt: That’s great because there’s nothing like experiencing it. That once you experience that frustration or inability. Now you are so much more aware of that and believe there was one browser or something that tried to communicate that a couple of years ago that anyone could go see what it was like or hear what it was like. And, yeah, it’s just, it’s very difficult I think for people to have that empathy, until they actually experienced it.
Kim: Right. I think in a bobby, maybe.
Matt: That sounds like it. Yeah.
Kim: But yeah they’re the text to speech. It’s interesting. It’s not just for people with, you know, so called impairments or disabilities or things like that. We’re also multitasking. So, I listen to articles, all the time while I am doing something else. And my kids do the same thing. And I think more and more people are multitasking and using the text to speech, you know, and I love to like mouse over and do keyword and tag key everything’s just kind of see how the markup is doing. And I know, and simple things like that and it took me forever just to figure out, “Okay, I want to highlight all of my links on my web pages so that somebody who is tagging along can actually get a visual,” for you know it’s not for the blind but you know you get this, this visual feedback of, “Okay. Here I am going right now.” You don’t have a mouse you’re just tab key-in through the page. And then, now I’m in the habit of doing skip to content, jumping right over the navigation, because I didn’t realize that screen readers every time they flipped to another page, they start at the top again and go through all the navigation and work their way down it’s like “Oh my God.” How tedious is that for people.
Matt: And part of that too, I think, you know, again, you know, when we talk about accessibility. The funding, there’s not a lot of startups out there that are attacking the market with we want to create a new browser for visually impaired. You know unfortunately it suffers from a severe lack of funding and so you know you’ve got something like jaws that is relatively the same as it was 15 years ago.
Kim: Right, they just keep updating the software.
Matt: But yeah and so I don’t see a lot of innovation, unfortunately, in the, what I would call it the direct interface methods for people. You still have jaws you still have some specific browsers for site and pyramids. But even then you have different kinds of sight impairments. And that’s one thing about, you know, this whole thing that really, like you said, it’s that rabbit hole. You keep going in. Keep diving in is, you know, so let’s just look at vision. You have just playing getting old and needing readers. You know, and then you also have, I forget the, the scientific name but our vision, naturally yellows, overtime. We don’t pick up the colors. It just naturally yellows and you lose that, you know, then you can get into color blindness and the different types of color blindness. Then you can get into the varying types of blindness. I remember working once with someone who she had albinism, and I did not realize but at the fact that her eyes. And so she needed a browser, where her browser blew everything up to I want to say about a 40 point text. And it was yellow on black, because it was that combination was very easy for her to read. And I love showing that to someone saying, “Hey, this is what someone does to your website.” Just so they can read it. And she would, she would try and browse sites normally, but because the contrast wasn’t there. The impact was not there at the text, she had to revert in order to read anything on the site with that so and that’s just vision. It doesn’t take into account, like you said that great text the tiny text. And when you improve contrast, when you improve size, it improves for everybody.
Kim: Right. Now, interestingly enough, on mobile, a lot of people code it so that you can’t magnify the text. The tools are starting to catch that. And I magnify a lot because my eyesight is just getting worse and worse and worse and color contrast and things like that but yeah not being able to magnify and, or if you do allow magnification that page so has to lay out okay, I mean it happens lots of times you blow it up, and the whole page just explodes, and you don’t want that. So, you have to test why you’re developing to even know okay what happens if they use your magnifies.
Matt: That’s something. Yeah, even with the design. We’re getting old all these words are leaving our heads with responsive design. Yes, I’m like now they’re saying that you know default text size should be at the least 14. And there have been studies over and over that in, you know, showing that the larger the text size, the longer people will stay, the higher the conversion rate. I mean I’m redesigning my site right now to have less text, but higher and larger and more contrasting. Because even, you know, a few years ago we ran a test with a website where all we did was increased the text size, and the conversion rate doubled. Just from increasing the text size because it was too small and not as contrasting. And so, again, it fits everybody, but yet. Yeah, I can’t imagine why you would tie down the text size. You know, from a magnification because…
Matt: … you’re, you will be. It always amazes me how people fight against accessibility, because you’re fighting against someone being able to use your site or might buy your stuff.
Kim: Right. Speaking of which, here’s an interesting example, getting, which is another accessible thing that people don’t consider is, say you are confined to a wheelchair, and you want to buy clothing. The model eat well, first of all, a lot of the pictures are just like the static picture of like a shoe, or a shirt or something right and really inspiring. But, especially with women. What does it look like if you’re sitting in a wheelchair, what does that shirt or what you said dress, what does it look like for somebody who never stands or rarely stands. Nobody thinks about that.
Matt: Well it’s, yeah, that is, and again it’s part of that inclusivity.
Kim: Yeah, it’s, um, and I know everything that happens is, a lot of the, especially on Facebook there’s these Shopify shops clothing shops that are out of China, and their sizes are nothing like reality.
Matt: Yeah I experienced that the other day.
Kim: It’s terrible. I’m, I mean they must be like all miniature people over there.
Matt: Yes. They are.
Kim: You know, like, even if you they don’t have the proper information so that you can even accurately judge. You know the sizes or what it’s going to look like on you.
Matt: Oh no, yeah, they have a completely different system over there, I had, we’ve had a couple of students stay with us from China, and, you know, going over there and yeah, their extra-large is probably an American small or an American medium. I ordered something the other day and it showed up and it was originally intended for my wife and it ended up going to one of our younger daughters.
Cognitive Accessibility: Write Better Instructions!
Kim: Yeah, same thing happens here and I’ve been reading. I actually did some more reading up on it and finding in that people are they’re starting to catch on. And to this but, you know, a lot of us are just finding out the hard way is like wait a minute that it’s not right. It’s not right. Yeah. And, and then, you know, articles, like there’s a certain way that you will put should put an article on a, on a blog for example, shorter paragraphs, break it up with headings and sub headings for easier scanning, easier reading easier, you know, to remember what it is that you’re reading. A lot of people don’t even do that. And that’s right, we will go back to like the basic basic. And, but there’s another tie in between accessibility and SEO is the use of click here, learn more. Yes. Oh, yeah. Oh, and can you, you know, and on a screen reader click here click here click here it doesn’t, you know, it’s the same thing with the search engine you don’t know where you’re going.
Matt: That is such a pet peeve of mine is the whole click here. Yeah, it’s over done, and yeah, you wouldn’t do that in any other type of document. And we all know what blue underlying text is. So, you know, yeah. And that gets more, you know, and people don’t think about that as well. That cognitively better instructions. Better laying out of a paragraph, your clear instructions. It helps everybody. And, unfortunately, I think a lot of times people will put together their site. And maybe one or two people will go through the actual process, but they’re not testing it with a larger population, or with their target market or you know anyone who might throw a wrench into it. I’ll never forget I worked with a, an e commerce company, and the marketing was always accusing IT of, you know, the website doesn’t work. That’s why we don’t have enough sales. And I went through the sales process, and it worked fine functionally everything was great, what was missing were instructions in a clear layout of the next step.
Matt: And so, we’re all in this meeting together and I just asked the marketing team I’m like, how many of you have gone through this process how many of you bought something, and nobody did. They just blamed IT and none of them had ever gone through the process to say, you know what, this should be here, and this instruction should be here. And that’s, I looked at my sorry that’s, that’s all you. IT is to make sure functionally that it works. Your job is the look and feel. It’s, it’s the instructions. And, again, that people don’t see that as accessibility, but it surely is from a cognitive standpoint but again, when you make it for that specific cognitive application, it makes it better for everybody.
Kim: Right. Yeah, even something like one of the rules of thumb is don’t use color as an indicator of something new, you know, as the only an indicator, and especially on mobile like buttons and icons, and where you put them, and whether they, you know, should have a border, especially if there’s a series of tasks right on top of each other. They have to be logical, where you would expect them. And the big button like to buy really needs to be the main button that you can see you above and beyond all the other stuff going on right yep, and it’s really interesting because as you, you know, when you know what to look for, it’s easy to go back and, you know, test the sites, and an audit them and say, Okay, this is a miss, this is a miss, and the improvements are pretty simple and easy to do, which actually brings me to Word Press which is annoying as anything, because what we Word Press themes. We can’t get to the source code of those guys. Right. You know you can customize the front end to point, but if you need to get in there and add Aria labels two forms that aren’t there. Good luck. I have been wrestling with just updating my own themes and getting I’ve literally got now the Word Press handbook.
Kim: I just because people expect me to be able to fix their sites for them, and that’s easier said than done because in sometimes you have to go to whoever built the theme and say, “Hey, you got to change this.” And they don’t, they can’t, whatever. And then last year we had 2.0 went change to 2.1. And there’s 17 new guidelines.
Matt: Oh, yeah.
Kim: So, hello, and then section five awake at a refresh. Yep. And so, if you know with so many people using content management systems, if they were built pre like back in 2017, they’re not compliant now, unless somebody is going back and updated them which is probably not happening. And, and then forget it you know with wigs and square peg in a square box groupie has been any way that you know the whiskey wig. And they are so affordable and they’re so cheap by us know…
Matt: Their murder on the code Yeah, they’re not. Well, that’s one of them, I think with Wicks is you actually look and see what Google spiders of the site. And I know a number of people that have had to show business owners that okay this is what Google sees on your Wicks page, and it blows their mind, they’re like this is why you can’t rank well is because the code actually is hidden. And so, yeah, that’s one thing that I think a lot of business owners are slowly at a crawl learning that this doesn’t work too well.
Matt: Just because it’s cheap, cheap and easy doesn’t make it good.
Kim: Right. And software too and companies that build software tools like for education. Eye doctors…
Kim: …my eye doctor showed me what they use, and the software that the eye doctor uses to fill prescriptions handle the bill payments and stuff like that. Literally slows down the customer service, when people are in the store.
Matt: Oh wow.
Kim: And I said well you know and I was when I was in there was talking to him about accessibility and he’s like Kim don’t even. I mean, no. The software that was used, just no. Nobody’s even tested it and this is for eye doctors, Vision care and education.
Matt: Yeah, that’s…
Kim: Yeah. They’re going to be in trouble.
Matt: I’ve seen that yeah, especially in the education industry
Matt: Where things are not made for. Well, let’s just say anybody I you know if you’re not 100% perfect on, well, eye sight dexterity. You know, and cognitive but even then, where I find most websites fail, are the instructions. Making them clearly written, well, Sue has been on my show a number of times and they work in the copywriting side, and even looking at government services sites where they see the needs for instructions to be written at an eighth grade level.
Matt: That’s accessibility and the amount of times that her, she and her team have had to come in and rewrite websites to that level, so that they’re more understandable and clear to the intended audience.
Matt: Yeah, especially education. I’ve seen that mostly in education where it’s just you know this fails completely.
Kim: Right. And, well, there is a little McDade County, do this, there’s a lawsuit happening down there in Florida, a school district that has been served with a lawsuit because there’s the entire school district nine. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars that they’re facing because their software and the things that they use in this throughout the whole school district are not accessible and somebody went in and found some lawyers. And I think there’s going to be more of that. And, you know, the credit unions, anybody who does a little bit of research in some of the lawsuits, and things happening in the accessibility world will find that the credit unions are getting away with murder because they’ve got lobbyists waiting. Yeah, they have like the whole thing. So they’re fighting tooth and nail any law legal action that comes that they come up against but the rest of us don’t have like lobbying firms defending us.
Matt: No, not at all.
Kim: And you know, and then I have clients from all you know from e commerce to hotels and motels. You name it. They missed the bar for usability and they definitely miss it with the accessibility side. And, you know, something, and you and I both have tested bookings applications and things like that. I’d love to go back and do some accessibility testing on some of those ones that we played with years ago because I’m sure that they and I didn’t even think to do some of the tests that I would be doing now.
Matt: Yeah, and well especially though, you know the hotel industry, so much of it has moved to apps now, so it’s touchscreen interfaces.
Matt: And, you know, now you know unfortunate I think we might see more of these lawsuits increasing because everything is moving to that mobile touchscreen interface, which doesn’t do too well as far as providing alternatives.
Matt: At least not that I’ve seen, it’s you know it’s great if you can use it. But if you can’t, sorry.
Kim: Right. Yeah, touch screen is a whole another animal. And I always people are like oh yeah I want, I want you know when they hover over a button I wanted to do this and I’m like, well that’s fine but on a touchscreen laptop, they’re not going to see it.
Matt: And that was one thing that really, it really surprised me is so well you know you have met my father he has multiple sclerosis. And getting into the settings of the computer so that the mouse doesn’t fly off the screen if his hand spasms.
Accessibility in Physical Dexterity
Matt: Slowing things down but also what I realized is some of these fly out menus are near physically impossible to. When you make the menu so small and you have so many options and it flies off to the right and you have to track with it and follow it out to the right. And if you go off the menu one bit, it disappears. And you have to go start again. You know, obviously someone’s trying to put this amazing amount of information into their menu. But for someone with a mouse, who has the least little bit of arthritis or resistance or inability to roll their wrist, and even someone healthy might have an issue with it as well. That, again, here’s we’re taking accessibility into a whole different realm now of just the physical ability to move a mouse, a certain way, can affect the usability of your site.
Kim: Right. Yeah, and that’s the other rabbit hole that I began to go down and I do not claim to thoroughly understand most of it right now because I’m still in that rabbit hole button, but toast in a little pop up messages that are up there for a couple seconds and then should go away. If you’re lucky, but there’s actually a way to code them to meet accessibility guidelines. Who knew?
Matt: Right. Yeah. And that’s the thing the answer to everything is available it’s out there, you’re not left to figure it out on your own that that is one thing about all the guidelines and the help that’s out there, it doesn’t just leave you there are definite answers.
Kim: Like, I did a local website for my Township. There’s 300 pages of ordinances in PDF format only.
Kim: That breaks; they are not section 508, because of that.
Matt: Well, that’s the thing as soon as you start getting into government sites. That’s probably where you’re going to find the most amount of inaccessible situations. It’s also going to be the slowest moving. And that’s also where you’re going to get a number of, you know, potential lawsuits. I remember when I think healthcare.gov first came out you were one of the first ones to really kind of give it a walk through.
Matt: And bring up the issues that you know this is a healthcare site for health insurance, and God forbid, you actually need to use a screen reader or anything on it because it was just completely ignored any accessibility on it.
Kim: Right, yeah, totally failed section 508. I, not too long ago actually met somebody who had worked on it. And I don’t think the original was what he was part of I think he was part of the, I think it went through three companies and tax, you know tax payers paid millions and millions and millions before they finally got that website to be section 508 compliant.
Kim: And I kept saying to myself. It wasn’t even user friendly, I mean a little extensible I mean it was insanely poorly built. And I just that just like totally blew my mind. So, but, and there is, since then down there in Washington. Matt Cutts is actually part of that he left Google and went down there to help.
Kim: So they are slowly rebuilding all the government websites coming out of Washington to make them so section 508.
Kim: It’s a really, really long, long years, in years and years so they’re putting into this. But, it’s a great training ground because you can go down and you can intern. And unfortunately you know I love to go down there but you have to literally relocate to Washington and work on these projects. But I don’t know if healthcare.gov was the wakeup call. But is some of the ADA websites out of Washington are really bad. So, yeah, it’s going to take a long time to rebuild. So, you know, in that realm. We are none of us are alone in all this.
Transcripts and Closed Captioning
Matt: Right, well and that’s you know that’s one of the thing I kick myself is Yeah, so I have a podcast, but to get transcripts of our long programs. It’s one of those things I know I need to do. I guess until someone has said some, you know, for some I’ll do it and for others, you know, but that’s one of those things I need to have alternate versions available, I know I need to, but it just keeps getting put off. So I think yeah it’s something we all know, you know, in the back of our minds, it’s going to require more work on everyone’s part.
Kim: Right. Yeah if you follow some of the podcast by people in the accessibility industry they’ve got the transcribed version, the podcast that you know. And, yeah, and now I’ve been getting into closed captioning videos, instead of you know we would say well just transcribe your YouTube. Now, we closed captions are the next layer on top of that.
Kim: And it really comes in handy. I’m, it’s funny.
Matt: Yes. Yeah, I can think of numerous times where I could. You don’t want to listen to it but you’d rather read it and kind of have it off to the side there and it would make it so much easier to find a specific part of video where they’re talking about so.
Kim: Right, or if there’s like a language or an accent or something that you do.
Kim: And I do a lot, or watch a lot of like a macro may everything and there’s a lot of macro may, how to videos from other countries. And so if they close caption them, then I can still follow along, you know, where I can’t understand a darn thing they’re saying but if they’ve got closed caption there, it works. And, but we even use closed caption on the TV. I don’t know if it’s a sign that we’re getting old, but we just been binge watched Season one and two of Star Trek discovery with closed caption on the TV set.
Matt: Well, yeah. If I’m at the gym, and that TV better have closed captioning on, because I’ve got my headphones in, but yet if I’m on a treadmill, I want to read what they’re saying on ESPN or something. You know, or you know even restaurants or anything like that it’s a way just to kind of see what’s going on without you’re not always going to be able to hear the TV. So, yeah, again, it’s one of those where you know these accessibility options just help everybody, rather than just you know you’re trying to think of, you know, the isolated group, whereas it helps everyone as a whole.
Kim: Right. And you know it’s telling you how our house is programmed to announce when like when Eric comes home, the lights go on. Well, trumpets blare and all this other stuff i mean he’s having a lot of fun with it. But what I discovered is like I’m getting really lazy so if I’m sitting in the living room. I don’t get up to turn on the lights I just ask Google to do it. And that is something that, you know, a disabled person has probably been using for years and now it’s eating, you know, we’re starting to like get used to this.
Kim: So I think some of the, the technology, the AI, machine learning, text to voice, you know voice commands and all that, that have helped a lot of people we’re becoming dependent on that too. It’s like helping us, too. And even with cars in cameras. I mean, you can go absolutely crazy with it, but like I said I went down the rabbit hole.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah, cars, I think we could do an entire show on what’s going with that and getting people to stop and look at their phone. Sit in the car I think is anything we could do there is going to be better. Wow. Hey, Kim this has been an eye opening hour here, I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly but this is such an expansive topic, and like I said it’s one that people don’t really think about unless it affects them but yet it seems like when you, when you do make things more accessible. It does make it better for everybody. And that is something I think business owners site managers need to take into account much more. Hey, thank you for raising our awareness on this and some of the things that you’re seeing.
Kim: Thank you for asking.
Accessibility Testing Resources
Matt: Oh, absolutely. I think we’ll definitely have to do a follow up here and maybe dive into some very specifics of what people can do, or some tests that they can get into. I’m definitely going to link to your, your article and some of the resources that you’ve talked about here. Is there anything else that a business owner, they that they can look into right away, to kind of get a sense for you know does my site, meet accessibility guidelines, is there something that’s understandable and practical for a business owner to use.
Kim: Well there’s wave. That’s like the number one. Chrome extension from WAIM, they have an automated tool. But just so that they’re aware that automation, only does about between 20 and 50%. Everything else has to be manually tested, but those automated tools will give you a heads up.
Matt: That is a great point to yeah that you just can’t you just can’t rely on an automated tool to tell you if you’re accessible or not, I think it’s the same way of the when Google was telling people that their site was a mobile compliant. And they walked away thinking, everything was cool. But in reality, no it’s not usable, it might be mobile compliant, but it’s not useful.
Kim: I used to say, okay, there’s four criteria that Google’s you know four, come on. You think you know you’re having a party because she passed the four criteria you have so much more to go.
Matt: But that is a great point. Give yourself some, some of the, and a lot of these things are free use some of these automated methods to do some initial tests, but then yeah, definitely going to have to call in some support, and start looking closely at our sites.
Kim: And hopefully that article, I can send you the link is or Search Engine Journal 36 resources. I, most of them are free, and the people are free and the podcasts are free. There’s a lot of information out there.
Matt: That is very cool. Kim, hey so awesome to talk with you. Thanks for coming on again.
Kim: Thank you for having me.
Matt: And that’ll do it listener for another episode of Endless Coffee Cup. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you get the chance, please go read Kim’s article and linked to a couple other articles she has posted as well because this is a vitally important subject, and one that you don’t want to be caught blind or unaware. If someone accuses you of having an inaccessible website, so it’s always good to find out ahead of time, and get prepared. Kim. Thanks a lot, and look forward to having you back on again.