Guerman Botten, who is Accessibility Development Manager at AbilityNet visited SAE London on 4 April to speak to Web students about the importance of accessibility.
AbilityNet is the leading UK charity for technology and disability, supported by some of the biggest names in IT. Now in their 21st year, they have a range of free and paid for services that help disabled people achieve their goals at home, at work, in education and online. They also run a number of acclaimed events, including the Tech4Good Awards, TechShare Pro and IT Volunteer Conference.
Guerman spoke to the students about the reasons why it is important to consider accessibility throughout the design and development process, including the compelling business case, moral and ethical considerations, and overlaps into usability and SEO.
They looked at the legal requirements surrounding accessibility both in the UK, and tackled the recently implemented Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 which will impact a large number of Public Sector websites, documents, and internal systems.
The students had some hands-on practice, trying to find out if a popular soft drink brand was vegetarian from their website but without using a mouse. It took about 10 minutes before someone was able to tab across to FAQs to find out the answer. Students then tested the gov.uk website and it was a lot easier. They also practiced using VoiceOver to navigate the web.
"I TOOK AWAY AN INCREASED KNOWLEDGE OF ACCESSIBILITY AND ALSO THE LAWS SURROUNDING IT; WEB DEVELOPMENT DOESN'T JUST STOP AT BUILDING A WEBSITE AND ADDING A FEW BASIC FEATURES."
- CHRIS AUBORN, WEB DEVELOPMENT STUDENT
Chris Auborn, a second year Web Development student said:
“The soft drink challenge made me realise just how important accessibility is. I realised that if someone can’t use a mouse they can’t always access information they might need. I was personally unable to use the website at all, it was quite eye-opening. The talk also made me realise that there aren't just web developer jobs available after finishing this course. There is the option to work within accessibility and actually impact people’s lives, by allowing and including people of all abilities to use the same environment. It also made me realise that including accessibility doesn't affect the design of a website, it just improves it and allows anyone to be able to use said website. I took away an increased knowledge of accessibility and also the laws surrounding it; web development doesn't just stop at building a website and adding a few basic features.”
The students learned how to use W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in conjunction with a number of Assistive Technologies, screen readers and automated tools to assess accessibility. A look at accessibility meetups and places to learn more about accessibility rounded off the session.
Guerman Botten said:
“Accessibility is rapidly gaining prominence across the industry, and by fully understanding and leveraging it in their professional careers students can not only hope to make themselves more valuable to employers, but also to make a meaningful and long-lasting impact on the digital landscape, changing people’s lives in the process.”
The students were also told about an Accessibility and Usability Consultant role currently available with AbilityNet, a position that involves working with a dedicated team focused on delivering practical accessibility and usability consultancy for a wide range of clients across the public and private sectors.
The day-to-day work of AbilityNet’s Digital Accessibility Services Team is varied and can range from providing in-depth auditing of web/mobile websites and applications to carrying out design, wireframe and specialist assistive technology reviews. Depending on level, AbilityNet’s Accessibility and Usability Consultants also attend events, conduct user testing, providing training workshops, and deliver seminars.
If you fit the above criteria then apply now!