Sunday, October 7, 2012

Changing tide

The American Council of the Blind is considering using social media to push for accessibility. This is a great step for a consumer organization. Very grass roots.

I am hoping that the Washington Council of the Blind will consider using their Facebook page for engagement, especially with the state convention coming in November.

The host chapter in Vancouver has a web page online. This is a big achievement for a new chapter with limited resources. News releases have been sent to Vancouver and Portland stations.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Taking the pulse

Last week I attended the American Council of the Blind convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The PR and Membership Committees presented a workshop on websites and the room was packed. Of the affiliate websites evaluated, Guide Dog Users Inc. took first place and Missouri Council of the Blind took second.

I particularly liked Missouri's home page because of the action items and news blurbs. However, none of the websites utilize photography as content and none of the sites offer a media kit.

Many state affiliates need graphic design input, especially on the home page. We have 1-2 seconds to hook a visitor who is sighted. We need to look professional and authentic. People come to our websites looking for ways to connect and engage.

I sense there is a strong desire by leadership to make the necessary changes.

Friday, June 1, 2012

First hurdle: know your audience

Sighted people often don't realize there is a steep learning curve involved with screen reading software. Web developers need to sit down and watch a student deal with online forms. The converse is also true. A web designer who is blind needs to sit with a low vision person or sighted person to test their website.

Who is the typical screen reader user?

Here is a snippet from the WebAIM survey conducted by the Center for Persons with Disabilities and Utah State University.

"There is no typical screen reader user. JAWS is still the primary screen reader, but usage continues to decrease as usage of NVDA and VoiceOver increases. iOS device usage is significantly increasing and well above that of the standard population. Screen reader users represent a notable portion of the iOS device user market.

The items that cause the most difficulty on the web remain largely unchanged over the last 2.5 years, with inaccessible Flash content and CAPTCHA being the most problematic."

To read the complete survey:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Steep stairs, big elephant

This year I'm working with the Washington Council of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind on public relations. There is a keen interest in using social media to drive traffic to affiliate websites. Websites are the conversion point to make contact, get members, and donations.

We face a few challenges:
1. Not one social media platform is completely accessible for people using screen reading software.
2. Many affiliate websites are not user-friendly for sighted or low-vision people.
3. Many affiliate websites are being used as filing cabinets or online brochures--no actionable items and no current content.
4. Many affiliates need help with design and there are some turf fighters in the organization.

This isn't much different than working as a designer with text people in a newsroom. (Just a different elephant to push up the stairs.)