Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018

As part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018, we challenged our Production Editors to…

  • Go Mouseless - try to continue navigating websites or products using only your keyboard's shift/arror/enter/spacebar keys.

  • Go Screenless - try navigating websites using a free screenreader such as NVDA or VoiceOver. For an extra challenge, turn off the screen completely.

  • Go Big and Bright - try the Adobe Acrobat Reader colour contrast functions (Acrobat Pro 2017 > Preferences > Accessibility > Replace Document Colours). Use Chrome’s accessibility tools to adjust colours and enlarge text online. Try enlarging it by 200 per cent and checking readability.

And we asked our Production Editor, Jess Lovett, about her experiences using a hearing aid in a busy workplace environment.

Here's what happened...

Mareike Wehner: Go Big and Bright 

I firstly opened a PDF in Adobe Reader and changed the background colour to inverted colours, and then to random bright colours. It's interesting to see the simple text-altering tools having such an impact on how well you can read text. After that, I downloaded a couple of Chrome extensions. The variety is huge, but I firstly I went for one inverting the colours. For websites I didn't know, having the inverted colours just made me think that's how they were set up, so the non-converted is the 'odd-looking' version once I turned the extension off. I also zoomed in to 200% (command and '+'). The second one I chose is for colour-blind people, which lets you adjust the contrast and given colours to make it easiest for you to see.

Some colours get completely exchanged, which is fascinating to see. This made me aware how colour-blind people must struggle with certain covers we put on our website. I also changed the theme of Chrome, which changes the tab colours on the top of the Window (now white on black for the active window and grey on black for inactive ones)….At least I think it's not usually like this. I can't check because I can't figure out how to turn it back to what it was before. Ah well, this accessibility feature will stick with me then!

Faith Newcombe: Go Mouseless

Navigating everyday sites became infinitely more frustrating and time-consuming without a mouse. The traditional keyboard isn't capable of replacing it, providing only the tab, space, enter and four restrictive arrow keys to explore sites built for the range and precision of a mouse. There’s no hierarchy of importance among the hyperlinks or any way to go back if you scroll past the one you want. If the user had vision difficulties, it would be even more arduous as, at the tap of a button, the limiting 'cursor' moves across the page with only a highlight to locate it. This is made slightly easier with keyboard shortcuts, but even they could be difficult to perform by users with limited motor function.

Naomi Curston: Go Screenless

I feel really annoyed on behalf of those who need to use this, and I hope most of them like it better than I did! I tried out VoiceOver for the first time today, and in order to try to better understand how a visually impaired user might experience it, I refrained from looking at the screen while doing so, and also avoided using the mouse. To begin with, it was unclear exactly how to activate the application, and I had to Google it in order to get started, something that immediately would be untenable for a user that needed it in order to navigate the computer. Once I got started, it was still quite slow and confusing. I couldn’t figure out how to move from the browser tab I was in, and the repetitive voice was both irritatingly slow while also skimming over some (presumably) important words unintelligibly. I had to cheat again and use the mouse to navigate to another tab in order to use my emails, and although I discovered, with some experimentation, how to scroll through both my labels and the messages themselves, there were definite flaws: it read out large signatures, and again struggled with some of the words in the messages. I would have been extremely nervous to try and reply to someone.

Although I recognize that, with practice, VoiceOver would be usable, it is not convenient or fast, and I imagine would take most users quite some time to get accustomed to.

Jess Lovett: d/Deaf in the workplace

While having a hearing aid will never restore your hearing, it can make living with hearing loss much easier. Important things to consider when wearing a hearing aid at work: background noise can be a tricky interference. If possible it’s always best to have conversations in quiet locations so it’s easier to focus on what the other person is saying. In large meetings it can be difficult to hear when multiple people are talking, particularly if you have your back to the person speaking and can't lip-read what they're saying. For this reason it is easiest if you position yourself closer to the person you are talking to so that you can see their facial expressions easily. Loud noises can be quite painful to hearing aid users as they are designed to amplify all sounds. When speaking to a hearing aid user, it's important to make sure you are facing them and speaking in a clear tone, however there is no need to shout as this only amplifies the speech rather than clarifying. There may be times when you may need to repeat, rephrase, or simplify what you are saying. If you do become frustrated, imagine how the person with hearing loss feels as they feel this every single day!

Get Involved

- Go to our FAQ page and check out our Accessibility standards.
- Go to and find out more.
- Tweet with #GAAD, follow @gbla11yday
Posted by Amy at 17:47 (0) comments
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