Accessible Reading

While bookleteer works to make publishing accessible to everyone regardless of skill, software or money, Pesky People are working to make online reading accessible to everyone. For Pesky People accessibility is about highlighting and campaigning for equal access to the internet for deaf and disabled people.

Alison Smith, the founder of Pesky People spoke at Be2camp Brum 2010 last week and gave us a sense of the difficulties faced by deaf and disabled people everyday as they access the web. For example, very few online videos are subtitled making them often inaccessible to deaf people. As this was an ‘unconference’ about where the built environment meets Web 2.0 architects didn’t get off the hook either as she pointed out that fire alarm systems that rely purely on sound can easily be missed by deaf people and illustrated the difficulties that even supposedly accessible toilets raise for disabled people. She also showed this short film imagining equal access for deaf criminals..

I found this a powerful presentation and it certainly made me realise once again how much I take for granted and how easy it is for this to slip into design decisions that unintentionally marginalise deaf and disabled people. And if you’re a web designer and a warm and fuzzy feeling of being good to fellow humans isn’t enough to persuade you that we should work towards accessibility for everyone then Alison pointed out there is also a legal responsibility to make your website accessible…

Lots more information on the Pesky People website including Alison’s Top Tips for maximising the accessibility of your website.

And if you want to add subtitles to your videos then Alison suggested checking out the accessible media player provided by The Workshop.