Accessibility – Let’s Change the World
By Indranil Roy Choudhury, Accessibility Practice Head, LearningMate Solutions
We are continuously working together on global warming, gender equality, animal rights, and other issues to make the world a better place to live in. Likewise, we are working towards empowering people with special needs in some way or the other. We are so sensitive that we even think before using the term disability, as it might hurt the sentiments of people. Let’s also be sensitive and think about them in every aspect of what we develop and deliver in the digital world. We strongly believe that these special people are not at all disable, but they are more abled as they fight against all odds and challenges. We are confident that they can even excel in their respective fields with little help. We should focus on how to make their life more comfortable and help them achieve a better tomorrow.
Myth vs. Reality
Well, people would say that they don’t believe in myths, such as “Accessibility is time-consuming,” “It is a costly affair,” or “Why would you care for only a small fraction of the total population?” However, that’s not always true. Accessibility can be time-consuming and costly if the application is complex and needs to be redesigned or redeveloped to make it accessible. But in most cases, it can be tweaked to beat time. If we can keep accessibility in mind from the design phase itself, it will be much simpler with no additional cost. And the ratio? Currently, 20% of the US and 15% of the world’s population need special help for disability.
What’s the Impact of Non-Compliance?
The ADA Title III Lawsuit numbers are increasing by more than 33% from 2017 (see the bar graph), which was alarming. If you need to rethink, redesign, and redevelop your online courses or applications, you should do it now. If y//ou need to check where you stand, you need to do a VPAT or an audit immediately. Wondering who can help you? LearningMate can, in so many ways.
LearningMate has been in the elearning industry for over 15 years and a pioneer in accessibility since the Macromedia Flash era. We have enhanced our accessibility skills from web to native technologies, ranging from HTML5/Angular/React-based front-end UI to complex accessibility implementation on highly interactive mathematical algorithms, extending it further to PHP/Node-based back-end platforms for Rapid Authoring Environment. Single Page or Progressive Web Applications to Games, be it a drag & drop activity or a highly interactive lab simulation, an adaptive bitrate streaming interactive video player to WebGL-based 3D rendering, LearningMate has done it all.
Content and Document Accessibility
LearningMate emphasizes quality, hence all of its content writers are trained and certified on accessibility. The content writers are extremely careful while writing instructions, alt text, equations, descriptions/audio descriptions, closed captions, among others. Though the industry seems to ignore documents, considering them to be additional reference materials, we treat them with utmost importance. So, our accessibility experts can audit and fix documents, such as PDF, PPT, Microsoft® Word and Excel.
LearningMate is one of the leaders in this segment, successfully auditing and implementing accessibility on more than 200 projects or products. All of our developers, designers, content writers, and testers are trained and certified and have between 10-15 years of experience.
At LearningMate, we provide a different type of solution, which distinguishes us from our competitors:
- Consulting – Our expert accessibility consultants are ready to help you with cost-effective solutions.
- Audit and Verification – Our experts use VPATs and custom reports to perform audits and provide remediations.
- Implementation – Our experts are well versed with all the latest technologies, checklists, and guidelines, preferably WCAG 2.1, to ensure 100% accessible products.
- Real User Testing – Real-life, visually impaired people test our products.
- Empowering Awareness – LearningMate has driven accessibility awareness sessions for all its employees.
Apart from these, LearningMate believes in automation for speed and accuracy.
LearningMate has developed an in-house testing suite:
- FireFox and Chrome Extensions help QA and developers test each page against the WCAG guidelines.
- Web API: LearningMate has developed an automated API-based tool, which helps you understand whether the web content complies with the accessibility guidelines. APIs are integrated with automation test suites, such as selenium and protractor, and reduce the manual testing effort by approximately 50%. A simplified dashboard renders all kinds of detailed reports to assess the status.
Audit Report and VPAT
LearningMate has expertise in providing a detailed audit report or VPAT based on the requirement. The audit report would have all the details, including issue, description, category/classification, remediation as how to fix an issue and what’s wrong, additional comments if any, screenshots for better clarity, mapping against guidelines, assistive technologies used, and the device + browser + OS specifications. The VPAT can be 2.1 or the latest 2.2, including only Section 508 or WCAG 2.1 or both.