Podcast Episode 4 - Accessibility in Mainstream Web Media

the IAP Your Accessibility Podcast

This week on the IAP, we discuss how stories and features on accessibility are becoming more and more mainstream.

Show Notes & Links

Transcript

Announcer: This is the IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast with Mike Guill and Mark Miller. Introducing Mike Guill and Mark Miller.

Mark Miller: Hi, I’m Mark Miller and this is Accessibility Specialist Mike Guill, and this is your Accessibility Podcast. Hey Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Guill: Great, Mark. How are you doing this week?

Mark: Good. Hey, so you sent me over this article on Mashable, of all places. It’s basically..it’s basically our world kinda exposed here on Mashable, an article that talks about accessibility primarily for blind folks but accessibility in general. Blind Community Fights for a More Accessible Web is the name of the article, and we wanted to talk about this because it’s really kinda cool, maybe a little crazy (chuckle) in our view that this article on accessibility has shown up on such a popular mainstream website as Mashable.

Mike: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, if I were looking at this article on one of the newsletters…accessibility newsletters or something like that or people who blog about accessibility, I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye on that goal, and it is not even about any kind of stellar new content. The whole article is about stuff we already know...

Mark: right...

Mike: ...people who have trouble accessing things on the Web, what their goals are with compliance and accessibility compliance, and then even touches on the ligation aspect of how some companies are finding themselves in lawsuits and in court based on inaccessible content on the Web...and the big companies, too, like Target, Netflix and all that. The amazing part to me is, yeah, it was on Mashable..um..it is essentially a front page article on a site like Mashable, and it’s getting a lot of shares, it’s getting a lot of attention. So, normally what we see is when we go to conferences or we go to..humm..meet ups or whatever, we...we accessibility people tend to be preaching to the choir.

Mark: Right, exactly, even like our twitter account and stuff like that. We tweet stuff out, it gets retweeted, and it’s just the whole accessibility community sort of tweeting to each other about stuff they already agree with and know about. So it’s interesting this sort of breakthrough the surface of mainstream that Mashable did here and then the reaction it’s getting.

Mike: Yeah, I mean we usually see a lot of social sharing with much more human interest, like stories that make you—you know-- touch your heart a little bit, something about everybody’s seen the ones about the exceptional miraculous cures with kids with cancer or people who’ve lost limbs and gotten-you know--prosthetic things remade and--you know-- high tech ways and all that, or various stories like that—those..those get share a lot. This kind of story does not get shared a lot because it’s very, very basic....

Mark: It’s straightforward. It really is a straightforward discussion. Like you said in the beginning, the accessibility issues that you and I are familiar with and that are grouped, the people that we interact all day and are familiar with... And it’s...it’s a funny situation because you brought up that they...um...you know...the article talked about a couple of different lawsuits, mainly Netflix and Target, which is a big one that everybody sort of knows about, a lot of people know about. And there’s a quote in the article by a guy named Lazar and the quote is, ‘It was really this bizarre situation where you had a company fighting people who wanted to be their customers.’ And I think as we have these discussions inside our group, that’s the feeling a lot of people have, is that who are going ‘Wait a minute, we’re trying to make it easier for people to participate in your business.’ You know, you want people to come to you and do business with you, and this opens another whole door, you know, when you become accessible. Umm..so it’s kind of an interesting quote that showed up in this article, too, that I think just highlights what you and I are amazed by, and that’s this showing up in mainstream.

Mike: Yeah, that one quote, I guess, summarizes in a lot of ways the hardest part of getting over..umm..organizations’ fears and hang ups about getting into accessibility, getting serious about accessibility. Either it’s from all the different excuses they can lay on about why they are not interested in making stuff more accessible...umm..all boiled down to, you know, a few different things, right. It’s cost or..you know...it’s...

Mark: disinterest..

Mike: Yeah..

Mark: I mean I do a little sort of shameless plug here that the last blog post that I put up on our website, the Interactive Accessibility website, is literally the ROI of accessibility and it talks about, you know, kinda look at it, kinda make the evaluation. And how corporate responsibility, which would make some people feel ‘we gotta do accessibility for the sake of corporate responsibility’, meaning it’s what we should do, doesn’t matter how much it costs. But if you look at the ROI, if you look at the numbers--which I am not gonna bore people with on this podcast but you could...we’ll post that blog in our show notes—but if you look at the numbers of people with disabilities who are trying to access the web effectively and who use your product, it does show in many...in most circumstances a decent ROI.

Mike: Well, yeah, this is...that’s....It’s just like real-world architectural accessibility, the same sort of thing. You see, there were engineers, there were architects who fought tooth and nail against making things more accessible in the real world, in the physical space because of design considerations. ‘Oh, we can’t make this ramp. It’s not gonna look pretty anymore. The building façade is going to look horrible, or ‘it’s nicer to have these particular style doors.’ But...but they’re all against that. But in the end what they found, in today’s world, there are these beautiful, beautiful buildings; these modern, high-tech, extremely accessible buildings all over.

Mark: Well, and now everybody’s participating in that business, everybody has access to that. But the thing you and I have talked about before is that people without disabilities are appreciating the accessibility features within architecture, and that also happens on the Web that accessible web design tends to be better overall design, and that a lot of people who aren’t disabled or don’t consider themselves of having a disability actually benefit from that as well, too. So just beyond that, ROI is having people with disabilities participate in your business. As you move down the line, there’s...there’s just more of ROI, more of a drive to have done it. But you got to get there to even realize that, you know.

Mike: Yeah, that’s right. That is right.

Mark: So...um...the other bit on this, Mike, that I thought was interesting is the quote in here by Ballard that you pointed out to me before we...before we just on the podcast. And he says that ‘something that’s not on people’s radar, and I don’t necessarily blame them for that, Ballard says. "But,’ he says, ‘if you're serious about your business, you should always be working at this. It's not an unsolvable problem.’ And I think this is the other...other side of it, that people are afraid to jump into it because they think they’re gonna mess up something, and then they’re afraid to jump into it because they feel it’s insurmountable, and it’s not. It’s really.....um...people are doing it every day. People are remediating their websites, making them more accessible and...and people with disabilities...And as this article point...is pointing out, the blind who rely on screen readers to consume web content...uh...can do that in an efficient, sort of logical way.

Mike: Yeah, you know, this is completely unrelated as far as the information goes, but what...what it reminded me of when I read that quote was some of the early days of the Internet itself. There were a couple issues that..that were sorta happening at one time because of this ability to exchange content very quickly across networks. One of...one of them was...one of them was software...software distribution...

Mark: Right...

Mike: There were a lot of people who were...who were very skeptical about...um...distributing their software, selling it online, because of piracy, because of—you know—rights management, that sorta thing...

Mark: Sure.

Mike: And what happened was it took a long time, but—and it’s still not perfect—but I will say that a solution, a solution is something like the iTunes Store..

Mark: uh-hm

Mike: Right, a way was figured out that allowed developers—even very small developer shops—to produce an app and sell it to millions of people for 99 cents a pop...

Mark: Right.

Mike: And that’s genius.

Mark: And it’s profitable.

Mike: It’s very profitable. It’s something like...

Mark: I mean it’s the most profitable model that Apple has right now. It’s how they make their money.

Mike: Right, and the other...the other part of that is e-commerce itself, you know. A lot of...online merchants in the early days strictly used the web as brochure stuff because they were scared about getting into e-commerce. Well, you know, ‘How much is it gonna take? How is it gonna cost? The level of effort.....We’re gonna to mess something up’..you know, ‘We’re gonna burning these bridges with our customers, with our vendors..’ All this stuff’s going on...

Mark: Yeah.

Mike: Well, in today’s world, we...we as consumers...we expect to see a lot of stuff online for sale. We expect to see stuff that’s easy to buy, easy to get shipped to our house because we don’t wanna...you know...we don’t wanna drive however long it takes to get to one of the shops

Mark: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this is Mark Miller.

Mike: This is Mike Guill

Mark: Reminding you to keep it accessible.

Announcer: The IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast brought to you by Interactive Accessibility, the accessibility experts. You can find their Access Matters Blog at Interactiveaccessibility.com/blog

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