Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!
The past 15 months has seen highs and lows in terms of accessibility; from spikes in remote working opportunities and golden tickets to attending events online, to digital exclusion and accessibility barriers in shops and city centres. With all of this in mind, GAAD 2021 feels more significant than ever.
One of Global Accessibility Day’s founders, Jennison Asuncion, claims that the concept behind its inception revolved around the idea of having a specific day purely dedicated to think about, learn about and experience digital accessibility.
Whilst digital accessibility will be a focus in this blog post, we’re going one step further and considering accessibility in all corners of life; from digital to the outdoors, employment and more.
It’s vital that disabled people’s voices are heard in the conversation about accessibility. So, in order to cover all of the above, we took to social media to ask our members and followers what changes they’d like to see for the future. Their responses are mixed in with our own suggestions as we aim to celebrate and champion accessibility in all its glory.
Accessibility in the world: What needs to change?
A call from one of our members:
“For business to actually put alt text on images and to be screen-reader friendly.”
We published a blog post last year detailing what you can do to make your content and information accessible to disabled people. In case you missed it, here are just a few simple tips on how you can make your website and social media accessible from here on out:
- Capitalise the first letter of each word in a hashtag
- Label all links and buttons
- Use clear fonts and good colour contrast
- Add subtitles / closed captions to your videos
- Add audio description to any videos that aren’t audio-led
- Use headings to ensure your content is easy to navigate
- Provide your information in Easy Read versions. It’s important to have a plain text version alongside this for those who cannot access PDFs which Easy Read tends to be.
- Limit the amount of popups on your site
- Limit the amount of emojis you use on social media. Screen-readers read out every emoji so less is always more!
Out and about
What changes our members want to see:
“More disabled parking spaces. I can never park anywhere and can’t use a normal space as I can’t get my wheelchair out.”
“I love socialising with friends, everyone has the right to have fun, so I would like to see better access in as many of our hospitality and venues as possible.”
“I would like to be treated equally when trying to access NHS services. Hospital, doctors, dentists… Treating people less favourably because of a hidden impairment/condition is wrong but is happening everyday all because of face covering exemption and government guidance is being ignored.”
“I would like all tannoys banned in public places so that my Autistic son can go everywhere!”
“The UK Equality laws enforced. For example, so many venues in the hospitality sector are breaking some, but nothing is done at all.”
“More should be done” to ensure equal access to train travel said another of our members. Desired and rightful changes include:
- Step-free access
- Reliable passenger assistance
- The opportunity for spontaneity when booking passenger assistance (no need to book 24 hours in advance)
- Working lifts
- Disability Equality Training for staff members
Employment and education
A few changes our members want to see:
“For councils using the guaranteed interview scheme not to reject applications from those who tick the “disabled box” on the grounds of not having the skills, but give interviews to the exact same applicants who don’t tick the box.”
“Equal access to jobs! The current guarantee interview scheme […] is a tick box exercise.” This person also called for consideration of reasonable adjustments and accessible alternatives such as “file/box trolleys, organisation & time management” as well as the need for more ‘help for unemployed disabled people over 25yrs old, with degrees.”
“Access to education where it’s a right not a fight.”
What our members want:
“The same accessibility non-disabled people have been given during covid. Working from home, online/telephone GP appointments, online parents’ evenings.”
“Being given the opportunity to participate in Zoom classes, such as art, craft, wheelchair yoga etc during lockdown was fantastic for my well-being, as I’m mostly housebound. Those will disappear now things are returning to normal, and the ill and lonely will be forgotten.”
Whilst the pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also provided opportunities to create a more accessible world, it’s vital that everyone takes the lessons learned during lockdown an apply them in a wider context. As Wales opens up again, so should opportunities for accessibility and inclusivity.
How about on Global Accessibility Awareness Day…
“Wales’ politicians, as well as those working in planning, commit to spending the day using only drop curbs, ramps, & spaces wide enough for wheelchairs. They could learn a lot about getting around & using businesses in their area.”
Try to navigate your website using a screen-reader. Vision impaired screen-reader users navigate the web using only their keyboard, why not give it a try to see how accessible your website and social media content is?
Many of these suggestions echo what was said in our manifesto, Bring Us Our Rights: Disabled People’s Manifesto, which was published last December. This illustrates the importance of implementing accessibility and inclusivity in all corners of life. Accessibility is a right, championing it removes many of the societal barriers that disable us.
There is so much more that could have been said here, so if you have any ideas/suggestions of your own to add, please do feel free to get in touch with us. You can tag us on Twitter and Facebook @DisabilityWales – we’d love to hear from you! Let’s pay the way for a more accessible future for disabled people.