This is a transcript of the video Web Accessibility Matters: Why Should We Care.
(Image of a computer keyboard with a wheelchair symbol on one of the keys. David Berman appears on screen and faces the camera for the duration of this video. David is wearing a dark grey suit with a black shirt and tie. David is also wearing goggles, which he will explain during the video.)
Hi, I’m David Berman and I’m eager to share with you why accessibility matters.
You’ve picked the perfect time to learn about why online accessibility matters so much. And this is the first of a series of segments where we’re going to learn about the type a difficulties people are up against in the amazing assistive technologies that we’ve invented to overcome those difficulties.
We’re going to talk about how we can create online presences with no trade-offs at all and what’s the best way to organize ourselves to get it done.
But first, I’d like to tell you about these glasses I’m wearing. These glasses are part of a kit that’s designed by a friend of mine, George Zimmerman. He’s a doctor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
To think about disabilities we tend to think about extreme disability someone has been blind since birth. Someone who can’t hear at all. But in fact the vast majority of disabilities actually are more subtle and perhaps more temporary.
Now on my left eye I’m wearing a lens which limits my vision to about 3 degrees. On my right eye more of a… this is a 20/200 lens that kind of gives me a Trailer Park Boys Coke bottle glasses kind of experience of the world. With this kit George’s made it possible for people with more typical sight to simulate all sorts of challenges.
Here’s my tiger; she’s wearing for instance a lens on her left eye that simulates cataracts and on the right eye she’s also limiting her eyesight to more of a 10 degree view. You’ll see more of her later.
Now before we get into this though, I’d like to examine why we should care about accessibility. Surely we all think of course, you know we want to have a loving society where we don’t leave anyone behind. But in fact I see five clear reasons why there’s never been a better time for us to care about online accessibility.
The first reason is that there’s simply so many of us. On our planet today there’s perhaps seven billion people. And people make various estimates of how many people have disabilities: substantial disabilities. Some say 15 percent… 20 percent …25 percent. Even with the lowest of those numbers, with seven billion people, we’re looking at leaving perhaps a billion people out.
Now you and I are both on the Internet right now. But yet for seventy percent of humanity today the Internet remains a rumour as Nicholas Negroponte reminds us. But this is the decade where that all changes. By the end of this decade the majority of humanity will be online. We’ll all be online together. And we have the opportunity then to liberate millions upon millions of people. If we can create an Internet where we leave no one behind.
The second opportunity is…regards search engines. Because although we’re talking about billions of human beings in fact the most frequent visitors to most of our public facing websites aren’t human at all. They’re machines such as search engine robots. And whether its Google or Yahoo or Bing, the Google search engine robot has severe disabilities. It can’t see, it can’t hear. It’s got the cognitive abilities perhaps of a four-and-a-half year old and yet the majority of online searches where people are looking to buy a product begin with the search. So if we want great SEO if we want high search rankings, that also starts with creating accessible web presences.
The third reason is about human resources. It’s about our colleagues. It’s about making sure that even in our workplaces no one gets left behind. If we want to attract and retain the best people available we don’t want to lose out on perhaps 25 percent or more of the potential people that could be working in our organization. We want everyone to be able to collaborate in way that’s effective. And so we want our presence to be accessible as well.
The fourth reason: the social responsibility argument. Certainly…especially as Canadians we’re known for demonstrating how one can create a civilization where we measure our success by how we treat those who either are permanently or temporarily our weakest. And certainly then there’s a lot of the love in making sure that we leave no one behind.
But the fifth reason and perhaps this is the reason that compels us to be dwelling on this today is a regulatory reason. More and more jurisdictions around the world are passing laws and regulations saying you must make sure your website maintains a minimum level of standards about web accessibility document accessibility, PDF accessibility. Whether you’re in a region where laws have been passed, where litigation is becoming more popular, it’s good business sense to keep ahead of web accessibility.
Now here in Ontario, I’m proud to say we live in a country where at a federal level there’s a history of leadership. Our federal government has been a leader in web accessibility since the 1990s And a court decision in 2010 compelled us to up our game. And right here in Ontario, Ontario is the first place in the world where not just government but any organization — private sector, nonprofits, anyone with at least fifty employees is required by law to have a public-facing web presence which exceeds a certain minimum level of accessibility. A very well defined level.
And it’s an exciting time to be alive. And in fact if you’re if you’re here in Ontario, were finding that the tools and the techniques that are being developed here are being used around the world.
I had the privilege of working with the World Wide Web Foundation this past year on this year’s Web index.
I’m not sure if you ever check it out: webindex.org. This is an annual benchmark program, where we compare how different countries are doing in terms of various aspects of making the web a better place. And one aspect of this is web accessibility. And my job was to audit dozens of countries’ results as to how they were doing in terms of their banks, their telecommunications companies, their governments at how they’re doing with web accessibility.
I’m very proud to see that Canada year-over-year always is in the top five of dozens of countries.
But I even found legislation that was pointing back to actually naming Canadian standards as the one to follow.
So we have found the perfect time: we live in a time when we can take the skills and the techniques and this movement in our society to embrace web accessibility.
I find is similar to how ten years ago, if I suggested to you there would be a recycle bin in every room in a government office you’d say it’s crazy. Yet in 10 years time we’ve seen this whole shift towards green.
Well this is the decade we shift towards accessibility. This is the decade we do better business… we do better civilization…by all learning how to create a more accessible web.
>>NARRATOR: Appointed a high-level advisor to the UN, David Berman has traveled to over 50 countries, inspiring professionals on how we can design a better civilization. Rated number one in North America as a speaker on accessibility he’s presented at the largest design conferences on four continents. David has audited websites of 40 countries for the World Wide Web Foundation. His book “Do Good Design” is published in five languages. Expert speaker David Berman
Links to resources mentioned can be found at: www.davidberman.com/accessibility#resources
(Text on screen: Produced by David Berman Communications
Ben Armitage; Jennifer Beharry; Veronica Feihl; Simone Flanaghan, Cynthia Hoffos; Steven Kimball; Maciek Kozlowski; Khadija Safri; Justin Stratton.
Copyright 2014 David Berman Communications.
Sources and intellectual property rights available upon request.)
Reviewed May 13, 2013