Hello <<First Name>>!
Over the coming months, we will be introducing you to some members of our team at Web Key IT, and giving them the opportunity to share some of their thoughts, interests and experience in the world of website accessibility.
This month, we'd like you to meet our very own
wonderful Dr. Jan Ring.
Jan is currently working at Web Key IT as the Learning and Development Manager. Jan has over 40 years’ experience in education and information technology and has worked with online learning at tertiary and corporate levels, developing learning programmes and coaching online. Her experience includes two years in the corporate world of Singapore where she was a Director at an international eLearning company which focused on developing and delivering bespoke eLearning programmes for Fortune 500 companies. She is particularly interested in how people successfully interact with computers and the creation of accessible user environments.
The Value of Alternative Feedback
I picked up my grandson from school and he couldn’t wait to get back to my place and get on to the new maths homework program his teacher had organised for the class. He had the URL and his password and was soon set up on my laptop at the kitchen table.
I left him to it while I started to get tea, at 10 years old he was a very competent computer user.
After a while he called me over.
‘Nanna, it doesn’t tell me if I’m right or wrong.’
I came over and watched as he did the sums getting them mostly correct and occasionally one wrong. But he was right, there was no feedback. No score accumulating, no big ticks, nothing! Very odd. I searched around the page, trying to see if there was a button we were missing that would turn on feedback.
While we were puzzling over this anomaly my daughter arrived and asked what we were doing so we explained the problem to her. She sat down and had a go.
‘Oh!’ she said. ‘It makes a happy sound when you get it right and a sad sound when you get it wrong’. We looked at her blankly. ‘You guys can’t hear that can you?’ she asked.
My grandson and I are both hard of hearing and we both wear hearing aids and no, we could not hear ‘that’. With the sound up as high as it would go, I could hear it but my grandson’s hearing threshold is much lower than mine and he still couldn’t hear it all.
Grandson sighed and closed the lid of the laptop. He was not happy. This was yet another example of where his hearing set him apart from his peers and made him ‘different’ – something no child wants to be.
This situation should not have happened and it could so easily have been avoided with a sensitive and inclusive approach to the programming of an application that would be used by children. It is not acceptable or realistic to assume that children do not have disabilities that affect their sight, hearing or mobility.
Had the programmer been aware of the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Guidelines, and the laws that apply in Australia, the program would have been developed with alternative means of feedback of the kind we were looking for earlier.
The WCAG 2.0 criterion that applies in this situation is covered in 1.2.1 Audio-only and video-only (Pre-recorded) which requires that anything that is provided aurally must also be provided in an alternative method that gives the same information. For example, the maths program could provide the information visually and in a format that could be accessed via screen reader technology.
It didn’t require a great deal of extra programming, it just needed awareness.
If you haven't already, take a look at our Facebook
page for daily updates and some excellent accessibility articles and resources, there really is a lot on there. We have a Twitter
feed too, as well as LinkedIn
. Links to these social pipes are always on the right hand side of the newsletter.
Please do remember to take a moment to look at our new website
and as always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments and any feedback
you may have!
Have an excellent month everyone!