10 reasons to make your website more accessible

10 reasons to make your website more accessible

I’m old enough to remember when a “click through” was what you did at the turnstile to get into the Royal Easter Show or cricket at the SCG. Yes, I grew up in Sydney. But now it has an entirely different meaning.

One of your main aims as a marketer for your website is “click through”. I see a weblink on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, think that is interesting, and click the link.

But then I encounter the things that make me leave your website as fast as I arrived.

Here’s my top 10

  1. Having my screen reader say “Image” to me at least 10 times before I hear anything else. The Sydney Morning Herald website is a classic example.
  2. Having the “Skip to main content” weblink take you to exactly where you were when you clicked it. It’s like the train that never left the station or, worse, one that leaves the station but travels in a loop bringing you back to where you started. A complete waste of my time.
  3. Asking me if I will accept cookies. I’d prefer biscuits, but the crumbs just clog up my Braille display. I understand why you use cookies but set the default at essential, so that you don’t spam me, and I don’t have to go and turn off 15 different options I’m not interested in.
  4. Making me sign in before I get any real content. If I can’t walk into your shop and browse, I don’t want to buy there.
  5. Spamming me with emails when I have given you my email address as part of the purchase. You could ask me if I want to go on your mailing list. I just report the spam and do not go back to your website.
  6. Making me watch adverts or have to flick away other pop ups before I get to where I want to be. I’m gone before they finish.
  7. Only allowing edit boxes to be opened by a mouse click, when I want to use a keyboard command. This is basic user experience and if your website developer doesn’t know UX and accessible design, then I’d be worried.
  8. And Captcha’s! Don’t start me on Captcha’s! Keep out the bots, but don’t exclude screen reader users at the same time. My money is helping you pay that website designer of yours who perhaps needs to do a course on accessible design.
  9. Not using correct formatting to create paragraphs. Most people hit the “Enter” key in Word to get a space between paragraphs. That can lead to screen readers announcing “blank line, blank line, blank line” – for as many paragraph marks that are on the page. For my sake, please learn how to space your paragraphs using correct formatting (add a space before or after a paragraph, is a good place to start).
  10. And before you reach for your keyboard to type “OK Boomer”, remember, I’m one of the people you’re trying to sell to. And I didn’t even walk in not wearing a mask and demanding my human rights. Sausage Sizzle anyone?

First published on TCC International, this blog is republished with permission https://tcc.international

My Choice My Future

One of my favourite child-hood memories is the family visit to the Royal Easter Show. It was proceeded by weeks of anticipation, the animals, the exhibition halls, the rides and the fireworks. And we were all allowed to choose our three favourite show-bags.

Whether you grew up in Melbourne and it was the show in September, or if your child-hood was in Brisbane and it was the Ekka in August, it was always a time of excitement.

The world has moved on from such events. This change was occurring before Covid, but the virus has just accelerated that change. We now go to virtual events, where the uncomfortable wooden seat in the arena is replaced by our favourite armchair, the long wait in the ticket queue is replaced by a simple clickthrough, and that wonderful smell of hot chips and fresh popcorn is replaced by the pandemic baking smells coming from our own kitchens. It’s a different world.

But we still see possibilities which may shape our future, and we still make our choices – not showbags now but products and services.

I’m going to one of these expo’s this weekend, and I thought you might join me. It’s the Virtual Disability Expo, which used to take place in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Nepean, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. But now it’s coming to a screen near you.

Do you want to know about the four key foods which can give you more energy? Learn more about your disability service provider and possible alternatives. Here from some great speakers and view some excellent about ways in which you could use your NDIS plan. These are just some of the things you can do if you register at www.virtualdisabilityexpo.com.au It’s happening this Friday and Saturday.

As an added bonus, I am interviewed on the virtual stage on Friday at 1 PM and you can ask me anything in the virtual chat.

There’s no traffic jam in the parking lot or ticket queues. There’s no tired crying children on the way home. Just sit in your favourite armchair and click the link.

Seeya there 😀

Deep Dive

Have you heard my radio show Deep Dive on Mushroom FM? I’m on every tuesday at 6am AEST and if you’re not an early bird it’s replayed 8pm wednesdays.

Deep Dive features the artists we remember and how they played a part in our lives. The approach is one artist, one focus for one hour. We go to air on Mondays at 4pm Eastern, and replay on Wednesdays at 6am Eastern. In Australia that is 6am Tuesdays replaying at 8pm Wednesdays.

Your favourite artists and memories can feature in the show. Just email graeme@mushroomfm.com and share your favourite artists and why you remember them, and name your favourite songs. Or you could attach a sound recording and feature in the show. I love to have friends along!

I’ve also got a regular blog alongside the show, you can check out my previous Deep Dive posts here or take look through the feed below.

ABA appoints Graeme Innes to review banking standards

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Graeme Innes AM, has been appointed by the Australian Bankers’ Association to head up a review of existing electronic accessibility standards.

The review is vital in ensuring that all Australians are able to access banking including ATMs, Eftpos, online banking and banking apps, and that bank staff receive appropriate training.

The ABA’s Deputy CEO, Diane Tate, said the future of banking is rapidly changing.

“Technology is a huge enabler for many people but not everybody. We need to make sure that banking is as accessible and easy as possible.

“We need to ensure that standards today enable all Australians to enjoy equal access to banking, which is a vital part of modern life. We look forward to Graeme’s insights into what the industry can do to achieve this,” Ms Tate said.

Dr Innes said he is very pleased to be involved in the review.

“Banks led the way on voluntary industry standards in the ‘90s. I’m happy to be involved to be working with them again to make those standards relevant for today,” Dr Innes said.

“Dr Innes and TCC Strategic Consulting will engage with a wide range of stakeholders including, the disability sector, banks, government agencies and the technology sector as part of the overarching review.

“As a former Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission I am passionate about equality and access to services. Technology has moved so quickly that we need to ensure that products are not just fit for today, but also for the future.

“I applaud the ABA for seeking to consult broadly with a range of organisations in the banking and disability sectors and myself and TCC strategic are looking forward to being involved in this review,” Dr Innes said.

The review will look at existing standards, accessible authentication principles, existing bank accessibility plans, and domestic and international best practices.

Contacts:

Graeme Innes 0412 369 963; TCC Strategic Consulting: Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 ABA: Kelly Stevens 0497 577 133 Nathalie Samia 0410 348 531

What’s in a (doggy) name?

What’s in a (doggy) name?

Or why Qantas doesn’t need to know my handle

Hey peeps.

As you know, the Old Dude flies a lot. And of course, I tag along (we’re in Perth at the moment).

It’s cool. I wriggle in under the seat next to him, and there are always crumbs to clean up. I also get lots of admiration from the other passengers and airline staff, which of course I try not to notice. After all, I’m working and it’s not good for me to be distracted.

I wish they wouldn’t try to pat me and talk to me though. I’m trying to work dudes. Take a chill pill and let me do my job.

So, Qantas have introduced a new policy for assistance animals. And they want to know stuff which is — well — pretty in your face. Not the sort of stuff a young female dog likes to reveal.

First, they want to know where I was trained. I wonder if they ask the other passengers what school they went to. So, I tell them Guide Dogs NSW. And the Old Dude puts it in his Frequent Flyer profile — don’t want to have to answer this stuff every time we book. We have lives, you know.

Next they want my length. When you flew last, did they ask you how tall you are? No way. But 60cm goes in the profile — not including my beautiful tail of course.

Next they want my weight. Now come on. Personal as. And I’m a Labrador — you know we enjoy the odd snack or 30. And I see some pretty heavy dudes getting on those planes — not to mention the ones who are carrying a few extra kilos. Do they ask you your weight, or weigh your luggage? Come on Qantas, get a grip. Yet again we’ve chosen not to rock the boat — so we’ve put 30kg in the profile. Well that’s close enough, right. And it’s usually on the mark — unless I go for a big chew-out.

But then their last question for me crosses a line. They want to know my name. And I know what will happen if I tell them. They will put it in the flight manifest, and every flight attendant will think it’s ok to talk to me and distract me.

I’m trying to work dudes!

Well it’s not ok. I have a job to do. And if I don’t do it properly then the Old Dude is not safe. So, distraction, and using my name, is seriously uncool. I bet Qantas didn’t consult any dog handlers before they introduced this question.

But again, the Old Dude has come to the rescue with another one of his bright ideas. He has them occasionally, although don’t tell him that or it will go to his head.

We put his name, Graeme, down as mine. So, when those sneaky distractors think they’re talking to me they’ll just be talking to the hand. And he’ll answer them, which is the way it should be. Humans should talk to him, not to me. I’ve got work to do.

Job done. And I’ll just get on with my work. And the occasional crumb on the floor of course.

Tricked you, Qantas.

See ya peeps.

New dog tests Graeme with old tricks

IMG_0376So, hi peeps. I’m the new dog in town, and I thought it was time I dragged myself off the dog bed and got to the old dude’s keyboard. Especially after I trended in Australia on twitter last week. That’s way cool on my first attempt. But more of that later.

Let me tell you about myself for those who have not met me. I’ve been around with the old dude for about a year so many of you may have.

I’m a golden lab — almost white really — and I’m super cute. Out of harness I’m pretty upbeat, but when the old dude picks up the harness and lead I’m pretty chilled. Not that I don’t want to work as a guide dog. I just don’t want him to think he’s totally in control. He’s a control freak you know.

I grew up with this great family of puppy-raisers — three boys and a girl who love me to bits. I’m a bit of a chewer, but quite selective as I only go for left shoes. I over indulged on one and had to have my stomach pumped. I chew much less now, just gnawing through the occasional leather lead when the Old Dude is giving a particularly boring speech. He does go on!

I go back to visit my puppy-raising family occasionally and have so much fun. They are awesome.

I started work with the Old Dude in January last year. It was hard at first and I got stressed as. But I’m finding it easier now that I’m a little more experienced. If I have had a tough day I still make the occasional raid on a rubbish bin at home. Whatevs!

Last week the Old Dude and Mrs Old Dude were moving stuff between our current house and the new house in Sydney. They are quite close, and the stuff was wheeled on trolleys. I just cruised along off-lead, you know, hanging out.

It struck me that they weren’t paying me nearly enough attention, so I thought, let’s give them a wakeup call. I just wondered off for a bit of a cruise on my own.

I was always going to come back — in my own sweet time — but you know what humans are like. They panicked. They rang up Guide Dogs NSW, who sent out an instructor to help look for me. And then the Old Dude had one of his brighter ideas, and told Twitter I was missing.

Well, that viralled of course. Trended in Sydney and Australia. Got mentioned by the ABC and a shed load of other tweeps. It was being re-tweeted for a week afterwards. Not bad for my first social media appearance — I could have told him tweets about me would have far more reach than tweets about him.

I rocked up outside the front door about two hours later, after a sniff-a-thon and a bit of a mooch around. I was always coming back — free board and food, a bath once a fortnight, and regular visits from Rachel. Sweet deal for a millennial dog like me. They were so excited when I returned — I just said: “Yeah right”, and went to my bed for a sleep.

Then Mrs Old Dude had one of her bright ideas. They have attached a Tile to my collar, and use @TheTileApp to keep track of me on the internet. They can locate me with their smartphones. They think I won’t like it, but I think “Way cool dudes, I have a permanent online presence”. What more could a 21st century dog ask for? Fully sick. And Arrow, thought she was so switched on blogging.

Arrow says I should blog like this regularly but hey, commitment is so last century. So, I think this will be an occasional series — you know, when I can drag myself off the dog bed.

See ya peeps.

Something’s happening here

Something’s happening here

Something strange happened last Friday. I sat at drinks whilst a friend leafed through the pages of my book, chuckling at some parts and asking questions about others. It’s not often that one experiences that sort of assessment of your major piece of writing.

I had mixed feelings. I was a little scared that a friend, whose opinion I value, was critiquing what I had written. But overlaying this feeling was an overwhelming level of excitement that my labours have come to fruition.

My book Finding A Way will be in the book stores from 22 June, and will be launched on 13 July. Just 3 weeks to go. And like Big Kev of advertising fame: “I’m Excited”.

I touched an advance copy for the first time last Friday, and the front cover, with its representation of Braille (the script I have used all of my life) is just amazing. I rifled the pages, smelled the printer’s ink, and held the actual printed words to my heart — my life so far in words on paper.

You will be able to share my excitement very soon. You can register on this site and be sent the first copies when Finding A Way is available. Or click the link to buy an eBook. All of the links are on the site. And if you order a signed print book, I will sign it for you before it is sent out.

You can also choose to come and join me at an event to publicise the book. They are starting to appear on my calendar — also on this site — and are currently planned for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle. Others are still in the planning stages.

If you want me to come to an event near you I am happy to do that. Just get in touch through the link on my site, let me know the place and what arrangements you can make and we will work with you to make it happen. Events may be at bookshops, or arranged by community organisations, either as part of a bigger conference or on their own. I will try to fit in as many as possible.

My life so far has been a fantastic experience, not without its challenges. But I have always managed to Find A Way. Join me to share that experience.

Graeme

Parting is such sweet sorrow; my final Dog Blog

Parting is such sweet sorrow; my final Dog Blog

Hi Friends and goodbye

Arrow lying on her back
I’m kicking back!

By the time you read this I’ll be living in Brisbane. The boss is taking me up there so this is my last chance to get on his computer and write.

He doesn’t think I know. It’s amazing how humans under-rate our sense about these things. If I hadn’t understood him talking to other people about it, I would have picked it up from the extra cuddles and pats he has been giving me for the past few months since the decision was made. I can read him like a book.

I’m sad about going

I really enjoy working as a guide dog. I love working with the boss. I get to be a superior dog, going to lots of places where other dogs are just not allowed to go. I get to travel to new places all around Australia. And most importantly I get to meet all of you, and give you a quick sniff (and even the occasional lick when the boss is not paying attention).

Arrow's taxi to the airport
Only the best taxi to the airport

But I am finding it tougher these days. I’m 10.5 years old now, that’s 75 in human years. The arthritis is painful when I’m in cold places, and my wheat allergy means that my ears are sore much of the time. I think I should take it a little bit easier.

Where I’m going will be great. It’s Brisbane so it’s warm. I will be with people who I have visited for Christmas for the last five or six years. There are two other dogs there who I really like. And humans who visit call it dog heaven — it’s a totally dog-friendly house, we get to go for walks every day, and it’s close to parks and the beach.

I visited there with Maureen and the boss last year, and really enjoyed the weekend. I’m going to be pretty happy there, and I’m sure that the boss will come to visit me regularly.

I’ve met the dog whose taking over my job

I tried to pass on some of the things I have learned. But she’s a typical teenager, and it seemed to me that much of it went over her puppy head. We’ll see how much she took in during the years to come, I guess.

She’s a golden Labrador, and she has been training with the boss for about four weeks. It’s hard work for both of them at present, but in time I think she’ll be almost as good a guide dog as I have been.

I don’t think her writing skills will match mine, but you wouldn’t be surprised by that. I did explain to her how she could access the boss’s computer at night when he wasn’t paying attention, but she just looked at me dismissively. She told me that computers were very “old school” and all the hip pooches are using “smart” devices. She tells me not to bother myself about techno stuff; she’s cool with all of that. We’ll see.

Think of me kicking back in Brissie

Arrow the guide dog get some well-earned rest on a bed wrapped in Rachel's baby blanket
Here I am in Brisbane. My bed is made with Rachel’s old baby blanket

I’m sorry I won’t see you at the book launches. But just remember that he didn’t write it all — you have my permission to quietly remind him of that if he gets above himself.

So, to quote the great dog of the universe: “May the sun shine warmly where you lie, may the breeze bring you pleasant smells, and may you catch all those rabbits that you chase in your dreams.”

Arrow, the retiring guide dog

P.S. You are seeing some of my pictures from Facebook. I will try and update my old mate Jordie’s FB page (she was MY predecessor, may she rest in peace), so you can see what I’m up to.

Image credit: Top and centre, Tracey Markos. Bottom: Julie Tait. Featured image: Kim Welinski.