Speaker 0 00:00:04 Hey, and welcome to freewill. And with carton podcast, I'm your host carton, white cloth wheelchair warrior and disability advocate. On this podcast, we share stories and people with disabilities talk inclusive principles and practices in order to help break down barriers for people with disabilities. Today, I have tied Maury on here from audio I, which is a web accessibility company, and he is focused on the importance of making digital content more accessible and usable for vehicle. He is a leader in the accessibility space and a vocal advocate for digital inclusivity. Ty specializes in managing the seamless integration of audio eye into third party platforms and possesses an in depth understanding of the legal and technical demands of ADA related digital accessibility requirements. He participates on the member committee of the international association of accessibility professionals and is involved with the mentoring program or the rising leaders of the U S business leaders network.
Speaker 0 00:01:05 In this episode, we talk about what is digital and web accessibility, why it's important tie story on how he got interested in digital and live accessibility. And then we give tangible action items for the various content users from novice, all the way to advance in order to make your digital experience more accessible for all. If you haven't already downloaded the app, I access life. It's a mobile app that rates places on accessibility in the built environment. You can find it on the Google play and Apple app store. I access light and use the referral code card in my name. Let me know what you think. After listening to this podcast, please rate and review, subscribe, follow, and share it with a friend. You can DM me on Instagram at Freewheelin with carton, enjoying the episode. Hey, how's it going? Hi,
Speaker 1 00:02:05 Thank you so much for having me Carden. It's a nice, nice to be on and in. Great to be chatting today.
Speaker 0 00:02:10 Definitely. I am excited to have you on here today because we are going to talk all about digital web accessibility and it is a topic that a lot of people probably don't know about. They don't know that websites and everything on the digital world needs to be compliant so that individuals with people with disabilities can access the digital world. And so talk to me about that.
Speaker 1 00:02:41 Absolutely. No, that's a great start because I always tell, I always tell a funny story. I was, I was really young when I joined into the digital accessibility world. I was actually 19 years old. And when we got started with audio, why, and I told, I told my family that I was going to be working in making in digital accessibility. And for like the first two weeks of my job, they thought that my job was trying to get access to wifi. And that I was like, really just trying to like focus on how to making access to wifi. So I thought, you know, not that many people knew about digital accessibility back then. And you know, that's still something that not that many people know about today, but really digital accessibility is, is making sure that people with disabilities, as you stated, have access to the digital world, because it's truly an amazing opportunity to have access to the digital world and to be able to do certain tasks or do certain, you know, uh, different, different types of, of, of, of technologies that you can actually access.
Speaker 1 00:03:41 And one is the, those, those technologies are accessible. It creates independence and it creates opportunities for people with disabilities that may have never been there. So, you know, I, I like to think of it as really the, the ability for all different types of disabilities from, uh, dyslexia, colorblindness visual impairment, to ADHD and, you know, epilepsy, all these different types of, of, of disabilities or, or, or different techniques that maybe I can help someone on the web access that content. And that's really what we focus on is making sure that digital accessibility is available to all. We have a lot of work, but 20, 20 we've, we've definitely, definitely seen a lot more awareness and we're really excited to talk today.
Speaker 0 00:04:25 That's awesome. And just thinking about it really to break it down when, when I hear the term lab accessibility, I know what that means, but I know number of people you say web accessibility and you mean like what, what do you mean by web accessibility? I think the easiest thing that I can phrase it to someone is let's take the built environment, for example. So physical structures, you know, bars, restaurants, apartment complexes, what have you, there are things like wheelchair ramps. There are elevators, there are pushed open doors. Those are all things that help individuals with disabilities access, the built environment. And so with the web and with digital accessibility, talk to me about what are those kind of like equivalent to the built environment for WebEx?
Speaker 1 00:05:17 Absolutely. So, you know, one of the first things is web accessibility is the digital ramps, right? Two, two, two websites. So little things that that will help. Well, maybe I'll take a step back and talk about how people with visual impairments in these different assistive technologies that individuals use. So if I'm a, if I'm visually impaired and I'm blind, I would use a technology called the jaws or voiceover or NBDA. These are very common known assistive technologies that are out there. And this assistive technology lets me navigate my entire computer from doing my email, to doing my calendar, to managing and doing my Microsoft word and its voice to our, you know, text to speech and, and voice to text there's different types of, of, of ways that you can utilize it. But when I get into a website, that technology that I bring my assistive technology, if that website is not coded properly, then my assistive technology is not going to work.
Speaker 1 00:06:15 Think of it as if I had a wheelchair and I went to a building or a restaurant and they didn't have a ramp for me to, to go into, as you stated, I wouldn't be able to access that, that restaurant, same thing with a website is if that website, is it coded properly, then I can't access that website. So there's different things. There's a there's different techniques in the criteria that we follow called the web content, accessibility guidelines, the acronym WCG, or people will say way CAG is a set of criteria that we follow when coding and developing websites. And it has, you know, different techniques. There's about 70 to 80 different success criteria that we follow. But some of the, some of the ones to better understand is things like all techs. So when you're, when you're posting a photo on your website to describe what is in that photo, because if my assistive technology goes over that photo, I don't want it to read to me JPEG one, 466 that you uploaded it on.
Speaker 1 00:07:12 I want to know, Hey, this is a woman underneath a tree with a dog on a summer day. And then I can get that description and understand what that photo is. Or even things like forms. If I label my form correctly, then I know when I'm going to log in and give my contact information for, you know, uh, reach back out. I know that, you know, enter texts, first name, enter text, last name. I know what it is that I'm supposed to be entering. So that's a few things, other things that we look at and the WCG criteria and that we focus on for digital accessibility would be something like color contrast, make sure that when you're developing a website, you're not putting the different, EXFO the hex colors that are going to be inaccessible for maybe someone that has colorblindness. And we look at all these different success criteria to make sure that people with disabilities have access and even two different things that we look at, like having flashing content on a website for what that flashing content. Cause maybe, you know, that that flashing content, if I have epilepsy could, could, could affect me. So, you know, the entire way K guidelines are written so that every single person with a disability can have access to the web. It's not just visual impairments, it's across the board. And those are just a few things that we look at inside of the WCG criteria.
Speaker 0 00:08:29 Thank you for highlighting so many aspects of that. A wikag with all texts and descriptive texts and form inputs, color, contrast, and even flashing content. Um, I, I want to re reiterate to those that are listening that and what Ty, you said so perfectly was that you're not just benefiting people disabilities or those that are visually impaired or are, are whined or have epilepsy. When you code a website with accessibility in mind, you're designing for everyone because you're making the experience a universally designed in a beautiful way. Can you speak more to,
Speaker 1 00:09:13 Yeah, absolutely. So I always, this is like one of my favorite questions to, or things to talk about because 15% of the population has some form of a disability. And I think that it's actually a lot greater because of self identification and actually with the web, there's a lot of different things with the, with the aging population and so forth. But w when, when we think about those things that, that we're looking at in the different types of disabilities, I mean, we're, we're talking across the board and, and if you can, if you can maybe just give me a little bit, I can go into the technical side of it or do we want to stick more high level
Speaker 0 00:09:53 More high level?
Speaker 1 00:09:54 Absolutely. Yeah. So when you, when you design with WCG in mind, and when you code your website, it's not only going to help the experience. And one of the things that I like to explain from a technology perspective for this is, are you familiar at all with the Comcast, you know, talking to your controller, a feature where you can say, you know, Hey, I want to watch the tennis match or so forth on, on, on your, on your controller. If you're, if you're familiar with that, that's a huge accessibility feature right in that feature is, is extremely strong, uh, for multiple individuals with disabilities. But it's also a feature that we use every single day when we go in. And we, and we, you know, I'm watching TV, I grabbed the, I grabbed the controller and I clicked the button. And I said, you know, put on, put on the news or put on the tennis match and I'm able to just navigate.
Speaker 1 00:10:46 So during that design process, you know, going in and thinking about people with disabilities and understanding that this feature on this controller is going to help people with disabilities, but it's also going to help the entire population. Same thing with a website design, right, is when we design for all. And for everybody, there's so many other individuals out there that are going to get a benefit. Our founder here at audio, Y struggles from, from getting migraines. And one of the technologies that that audio Y uh, brings is that we have the ability to take a background and make it into a black background and strip out the text. And what he's noticed is that that type of interface for him when we're navigating a website, actually helps with his migraines. So our ability to make sure that that site is accessible for people with colorblindness now had an effect on someone that never knew that feature was going to help them, you know, be able to consume the content. So when we design universally for everybody, it's not only going to be benefits for individuals with disabilities, but we're going to get a better user experience overall, because that user experience is going to give people, the ability to customize is going to give people the ability to, to navigate maybe in a different way that they never knew was available. And we're going to see what they're doing with the technology and be able to take that feedback and make the web a better place in a more usable place for everybody.
Speaker 0 00:12:10 I think it's interesting what you said about the changing the background to a dark kind of like a dark mode. And if I'm not mistaken, I believe that the changing of the different backgrounds, the in the text colorings was came out of digital accessibility. And now you see it across the board everywhere. Everyone is in every app. Now almost every app has a dark mode feature to it, which I personally much prefer because I very much agree with the sentiments of what your founder he gets migraines. I just find myself being able to better focus when it's a darker UI experience, rather than just looking at a white screen all day long.
Speaker 1 00:12:52 I agree with you so much. And there's so many different features within all the different types of assistive technology that I've I've, I've came across that have just been, you know, just Bennett convenience. And when you look at it from, you know, accessibility and you look at situational disability as well, and we've done a lot of research, uh, on our research team around this is that when we're put in different situations, then it alters the way that I have to have to experience. So for example, if I'm holding a baby at that point, I don't, I can't utilize my right arm from holding the baby on the, uh, on my right arm or both of my, both of my hands. Right. Is there just voice navigation that builds out of accessibility? Does that now help me access? And, you know, and just like you mentioned, what the color contrast, all the things that we've ever looked at for accessibility on color contrast.
Speaker 1 00:13:46 Now we're having an effect on so many people and just making it easier to consume, you know, the blue light or easier to consume, but the hours that we spend on our computers nowadays so much better. So I think even not only for, for, you know, your personal all the time preferences, but then those different situational preferences that, that, that you're going to be put in with just everyday life, when you're utilizing accessibility features, it starts to become something that everyone is starting to use, that, that maybe you never thought you would, but now you're looking at it and wow, that's such a convenience for them.
Speaker 0 00:14:20 I love the example of holding the baby and, and you only have them one arm and that's a situational experience. And reminds me of being back in the office. And I fought for about two years to get pushed, to open doors. Cause I used a wheelchair, so pushed open doors throughout my office and they did come. And, you know, they, they thought a lot about, you know, who, how many people are out. Like, what is the analysis here? Like, okay, we're only giving this technically to one person in this massive office, but they ended up putting it in any way, which is awesome. But then when she get off the elevator and watch the number of people that utilize the push to open door, they've got there, they're talking to some customer on the, on their cell phone and then they're holding their laptop and they're trying to balance their cup of coffee. And all these different things were just hitting the push to open door is a lot easier than having to finagle, having to like swipe your badge and then try and get that door open. And then you also see all of the delivery, people in the cleaning, people that have their big giant carts and all of their stocking equipment and their trucks that they're unloading and push to open door is much helpful. It creates that experience similar to kind of like web accessibility.
Speaker 1 00:15:48 Absolutely. Yeah. And, and, and as you look at that on the web, I think that we're finding more and more use cases that we've never seen before that we're giving people the opportunity, just like the push to open door. Right. All of a sudden you saw that experience in your office where we'll look at all these people that are utilizing it. I think that there's so much that we haven't discovered with digital accessibility of what kind of tools and what type of techniques and as code is switching, and we're writing a new languages and we're presenting code in different, um, different experiences, right? Like I feel like it's like every five years code. And, uh, the way that we design is like fashion, right? It's it, it changes and it's always evolving and getting faster. And as we, as we do that, we have to keep up with accessibility and we have to adjust and make sure that the WCG criteria are at the most current state.
Speaker 1 00:16:38 And as we continue to get better and better, what other things can we integrate? I know that, you know, on the new WCG guidelines that are coming out, simple language is becoming something that we're talking about. And I, as a, as, as a student growing up, I had a, a severe IEP with reading and writing in, in understanding and comprehending when I was going, going through school. And I look at the way that, that, that the web is being built now and in the way that they're recommending to present content in a simple language, which for, for me as a student, when I had that IEP and I, and I was really struggling, but utilizing simple language would have been a huge advantage for me. Uh, so I'm just so excited about the new doors and that we're actually thinking about these things. We know, as, as the web continues to evolve and develop here, and we were still in this digital transformation, I'm just so I'm so, so excited about it.
Speaker 1 00:17:32 And I also just miss, you know, the, the time at conferences or hearing from our customers about the different ways that they're utilizing our technology so that we can go back and make it better for them. Um, you know, whether it's, whether it's color contrast or, you know, we just, we just rolled out a dyslexic font where you can, you know, utilize a different type of font that helps people with dyslexia. So I think that there's endless possibilities that we haven't even seen yet or haven't experienced yet, but, you know, as we continue to get more and more feedback, we're going to see different use cases that are going to just help people access content better, faster, and easier.
Speaker 0 00:18:08 The point that you made about how the web accessibility guidelines are constantly changing. It's so true that accessibility in general is so fluid. It's never a checklist. You can't just be like, okay, checked off all the boxes we're compliant, good to go. But when you're constantly changing features and building new things and updating code, and then something breaks and it creates something else. And you're always having to think about is accessibility being that. And so what are some of those recommendations that you would make to those to kind of get out of that mindset that they're just looking for a checklist?
Speaker 1 00:18:47 Absolutely. One, the biggest thing that I can think of is test and talk with, with the users, right? Uh, I think that's in anything in tech or anything in design, but with, with accessibility on the web is actually testing with people with disabilities and utilizing and listening. So it starts early on in the process. And, you know, w where, where I work in the, in, in, in the company here in, in, uh, audio wise, we, we always are usually working in a retroactive state with our customers where, you know, they built their technology out. Now they're trying to make it accessible, which is totally fine. And, and I love that they're making their sites accessible, but with some of our bigger clients that were in more in, in deeper relationships with, we make them start thinking about it in the design process, right. So if I'm building a website, start to think about how I'm going to incorporate these guidelines from the beginning of the design, don't let it be an afterthought, or, you know, what are, what are different things that I can challenge the vendors that I'm working with to, to become accessible?
Speaker 1 00:19:49 Uh, so I think, you know, actually testing with users is extremely important or getting that type of feedback. And then the other thing is just, you know, care like really, really take ownership of this and, and, and care because it's not only the right thing to do. Like, you know, so many times when I'm giving a presentation or I'm talking to folks around it, they don't know even, you know, they're, they're, they're just starting to educate themselves. They're just starting to learn and then they really care. And then when they apply that they make huge change. And I think that that's one of the biggest things with digital accessibility is to just really care about, you know, your experience, uh, that for people with disabilities and, you know, and then when you do that, you're going to open up your web presence to 15% more of the population. And this is a population that's going to support businesses that support that. So, you know, those are, those are the two things that I would definitely say is, is, is really test with users with disabilities, get their feedback. I'm sure that there's a local community that would be happy to test, or, you know, there's tons of companies that do that out there. And then also just really, really care about that city experience that you're delivering.
Speaker 0 00:20:58 Yeah. Starting to think about it as proactive, rather than a reactive mindset is so crucial and additionally challenging your other vendors that you're utilizing and not really like challenging them, but just asking them is your component. That's on my website. Is it accessible? And if it's not, what are the steps that you're going to do to make that accessible? Because I know so many platforms nowadays, aren't fully designed with that single company. They, they used one widget here from one company, one widget from another, and then they have like the main platform. So when you start to think about digital accessibility, asking and, and choosing components that are compliant so that you then have a compliant experience.
Speaker 1 00:21:54 Absolutely. And that's extremely important. And you know, the other digital accessibility, it's, it's, it's, it's tough. It's kinda like it's kinda like physical accessibility, right? If, if we were to go into the, to the local restaurant and say, Hey, we need you to build this ramp. We need you to do, you know, all these things for accessibility. We can't expect them to change overnight, but we, what we can expect them to do is to listen and to create a plan, to make sure that that's going to be accessible, not in the future, but in the very near future. Right. And the same thing with digital accessibility is when you're working with a vendor, sometimes you're going to have to choose a vendor that doesn't even have accessibility built in yet, but you can help them get a plan. You can help them think about it.
Speaker 1 00:22:38 You can help them start to, to progress in designing. And that's how we create what I call the K factor and the K factor for, for those of you that are worked in, in like the B2C app world is how many users can refer another user. And it becomes as this compounding factor of users. And I think in the accessibility world, from like looking and challenging vendors to become accessible is, is really where we start to see this, um, explode where, where a lot of environments are starting to become accessible is because if I'm plugging in five different technologies into my website, all five of those vendors want my business. Right. And if they all want my business and I, and I challenge every single one of them to, to create a six month or 12 month plan to become accessible, they're going to become accessible over that six to 12 months because that's what their clients need. That's what their clients are asking for. So that's a really big thing that we do here at Ottawa when we're working with larger organizations, or most of our organizations is we, we say, Hey, you know, start not only thinking about the properties of digital properties you own, but what about all your, all your vendors that you're plugging in? Let's talk to them, let's get a plan put in place. So that over time, you know, those environments start to become accessible as well.
Speaker 0 00:23:51 That's awesome to know that you have that platform that you're taking into consideration, not only the customer's website, but also the other components and vendors that they're leveraging on their website, um, kind of want to dive into more. So I know we've really hard. We've really focused on why behind digital accessibility and the importance of it. And so let's kind of shift the conversation to action. You know, what are some ways for, let's just say a simple, a user who has no coding experience whatsoever just regularly posts on Twitter and Instagram. And then let's kind of dive deeper into the experience of, let's say you have a digital marketer that sends out emails to is in charge of marketing at their company. And then kind of like that coding level engineer experience. If you kind of do like those three levels, what are some action items that you could recommend?
Speaker 1 00:24:50 Absolutely. So we'll start off with just like your everyday content producer on Twitter, Instagram so forth is you can start doing little things like adding all tags to your Instagram photos. There's a under, under the WCG guidelines, there's a certain way and in a technique and what you should tag a photo. And it's, it's, it's a very, um, it's, it's, it's a guideline that can be followed very easily if you start to apply it. But that's one thing that every single one of us, not just businesses, but every single one of us can do is when we, when we upload a new photo to Instagram, add that all tag Instagram did a fantastic job of giving us the capability to do that and adding that accessibility feature. And if they, you know, if it's there, we should definitely use it. So adding those all tags is extremely important.
Speaker 1 00:25:36 I think even with our LinkedIn posts, there's different accessibility techniques that you can use when you're adding a LinkedIn post, um, in LinkedIn actually has them in their accessibility. Flitter on, on LinkedIn that you can help, uh, users with with assistive technologies when you post to LinkedIn so that they can actually consume that content. So that's, you know, two of the things that every single one of us listening in can do from a digital marketing standpoint in talking about sending emails or creating landing pages and so forth. It's, there's a lot of softwares out there, especially for landing pages that you can run an automated scan on, on that environment. And these are free technologies. Some of them out there wave, you know, audio wide, just open source, or just, just, just released our free product that gives users the ability to scan their, their, their websites and their landing pages.
Speaker 1 00:26:26 And when you scan it, the ability to then see where your problems are and fix them. That's one of our big, big missions here is to simplify down accessibility at Ottawa. So everyone can do it like a content producer or web pro will be able to make the remediations. So being able to run it through, uh, those accessibility checkers, and then identifying where the problems are and writing those remediations. So I know it might seem a little tedious and it might seem a little bit time consuming at first, but then what happens is by the fifth or the sixth time of doing it, you don't make the mistake in the beginning and you start to just fix it, you know, before you even release it out there. And it starts to get better and better and better. So utilizing some of those technologies that are out there and those free scanning services, and then all the way from, you know, your developers that are better developing big projects and in doing portals or developing a new app, start to incorporate inclusive design in the beginning of that process.
Speaker 1 00:27:23 And when you incorporate inclusive design in the beginning of the process, look at, you know, one of the, one of the easiest things to do is look at the color palette that, that, that you're going to be utilizing, or all of those, those color combinations and in is that entire branding guideline is that accessible. Are those accessible colors that you're using because then as you're building the entire environment, if you, if you start at the beginning, thinking of that on your, on your, on your branding guidelines, in your color palette that you're gonna use for the website and your combinations, then when you apply that and you build the app, you don't really have to worry so much. It, it, it was a, it was a first thought before you even started to build. So those are three different techniques. We are putting a lot of investment into simplifying down accessibility for content creators, because we feel like we want to give everyone the ability to identify their problems and fix their problems quickly. So a lot more to come out there. I think the accessibility world is developing some amazing technology, not just audio, why there's companies like DQ and level access that are doing fantastic work of scanners out there as well. And you can utilize their technology when you're, when, when you're actually building your websites, which is awesome.
Speaker 0 00:28:34 Thank you so much for explaining some actionable items for the kind of like three levels of users. I also wanted to add some more, just a little bit more description on the alt tags or specifically for Instagram and Twitter, because I use those pretty heavily. So when you add an image on Twitter at the bottom, right of the image, it has a plus a L T on it. So that is all tag. And so you click on that and then you write your description of the image. And then on Instagram, I know specifically you have to get all the way to the very end, right before you post. And there's this section where it says, you know, do you want to add it on your Facebook story? Do you want to add it on your other accounts that are linked? And then there's this something that says advanced settings and under advanced settings is where it shows the Altecs. And that's where you can add it there. LinkedIn, I, I know Microsoft is really heavy on accessibility. I I'll have to look further into that because what I always do on my LinkedIn posts is just describe the images. Cause I don't see 'em an all tag. I, I know,
Speaker 1 00:29:42 I think they're getting, I know that they're getting better. They have a, they have a good accessibility team over there. And I think, um, no, I think that they're adding some features in, in, into LinkedIn, but I'm not familiar exactly. Like I can't point the user exactly how to do it on LinkedIn. You know, I'm sure our marketing team could. Um, and I'm not the most active LinkedIn user, but I do know the team over there is, is, uh, is led by one of the industry experts in accessibility. And, um, you know, I know, I know they're making great advancements, but I, I don't have it off the top of my head of where to where to add it. So
Speaker 0 00:30:19 All good. All good. Yeah. The, the color palette was something that we recently did at our company and because our marketing color palette was not digitally compliant and it was, it was not too far off, but it, it wasn't compliant. And so that was an issue for our customers and our employees as well. And so I know, um, our engineering team recently redid that entire thing and opened up a conversation with the marketing team. So something like the color palette, you're not really thinking about with the contrast, the high contrast in colors and two resources that I used really heavily to check if your colors are contrast compliant. There's I just usually just Google like color contrast checker on the internet and this contrast trucker pulls up and you can actually add the hex codes in the foreground versus the background. And it will tell you, is that AA compliant?
Speaker 0 00:31:25 Is it AAA compliant? And then is it compliant only if you have a certain font size? Like if it was above 16, Vonner above 20 font, then it would be okay. And it has like a sliding scale that allows you to just tweak it, just to get the right hex code, to make it, to like change it into like the compliant version I like using that feature all the time. And I use that heavily when I'm posting content. And then the other thing is, let's say you have a static image or you have a website that you're looking at that you don't know if the, and you want to just take a screenshot. There's another tool that I use that you can simply Google color contrast from image uploader. And I think it'll pull up, this is one of the first options and, um, you can upload the image and then pick the colors on that image. And it will again tell you if it's successful or not. So things they w your marketing users and your content creators really want to be focused on, at least for the start is those call to action items like the requests demo now, or, you know, call us now or something you want to make sure that you have high contrast and in large font.
Speaker 0 00:32:39 Absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:32:40 And, you know, there's, there's a lot of, a lot of that, those resources also on WCG on the, on the, uh, success criteria with the W3C. So I always encourage, I always encourage, you know, designers or developers to go read the WCG guidelines. They do a fantastic job of, of trying to simplify them down and trying to present them. And then, you know, have tools along the way of what tools you can utilize for four different techniques that you're doing. If you want to make sure that you're all tag is, is, is correct, and you're describing it correctly, they give you a really good job of, of, you know, what to do a lot of the softwares out there. You know, I can speak from personal experience with, with the company that I work with, uh, work at is, is audio why we give a lot of instruction, uh, when you scan your site on, in, in a lot of, um, educational resources on what you can do, and in point to those educational resources. And then also, like I said, that the W3C is, it does a fantastic job in, in the guidelines of kind of calling out some of those technologies that you can use.
Speaker 0 00:33:43 That's great. And I think I've also heard personally started to talk to what you were saying about, you know, go and read the guidelines. Even if you're not a coder, you can still understand some of it, especially with the color contrast and all tags. Those are some basics that anyone can start out with just to start understanding kind of like dip your toe into the water of web accessibility. If you're not a coder, that's where I started. And then, and then what I started doing is I'm really an ally for digital accessibility. And in my local government, I noticed my local government was posting marketing material. That was all image, bad color contrast, and no all tags, no descriptive tags. And on every post, I would say, you know, please provide the text information or please refrain from posting images only with important contact, um, content, because even, even normal visually or sighted users, there's usually images that people will post the webinar information on. And it's like a link to the zoom or a link to register, and you can't click an image to register or sign up. So
Speaker 1 00:35:01 I, I, I totally know what you're talking about because I've had multiple conversations, even with our own team. You know, we're an accessibility company that focuses only on accessibility and we still make some mistakes every once in a while. But I totally understand, especially with that, with that information, even like PDFs are a huge thing for accessibility, right. And, you know, got to make sure that all your PDF information that you're giving out there is accessible to everyone. The other thing about the w three C and the WCG guidelines is that, you know, it, it, it just gives you a good sense of all the different types of disabilities in the ways that technology can help and the way that doing these certain things, like everyone focuses in at all tags and everyone focuses in on closed captioning, but there's so many little things that we can also do, like putting a pause button on your, on your, on your videos, right? That's a huge feature for accessibility. Uh, you know, don't just have these videos that are always just running and automatically running. It's a good, cool user experience for a lot of users, but it doesn't work for everybody. So having, you know, those little things, when you read the guidelines, you, you start to make and connect dots that are like, Oh, wow, that's a, that's a really good use case for XYZ situation.
Speaker 0 00:36:16 It's interesting that you talk about putting them Hawes on, on the video. And I think, I don't know, and I'm not bashing any company whatsoever or any person I'm just sharing my, my lived experiences. And recently I noticed on Netflix and I rarely watch TV or Netflix, but I got on it recently and to watch Crip camp, which is an amazing documentary for people with disabilities. But I noticed on the website immediately as you open it up, they start playing a video or like a highlight reel of, of clips of TV shows to watch. And in the initial phase, I don't believe that there was like a mute button and there was no way to pause that. And so I was like, how do I get out of this horrible experience? Like, I don't want to be listening to, to whatever this video is that they're trying to sell me to watch.
Speaker 1 00:37:08 Absolutely. I know what you mean there. And, and also just there, we, there, we start talking about accessibility features that become usability features, right. And as we look at that, and you're like, Oh man, that was a bad experience. Like, I want to get out of this. What if, what if you had a disability where, you know, maybe it's a cognitive disability where you couldn't figure it out and, you know, so, so there's, there's, that's, what's so cool. And that's what I think it's like, it's like, it's like the deep ocean with some of the features and everything that we're working on and why I get so excited to come to work every single day is, you know, what's going to be the next day that we unlocked, you know, some type of technology or some type of feature that now has huge independence and huge usability for, for not only people with disabilities, but for everyone.
Speaker 1 00:37:55 And one of the projects that I talked about that I was able to experience and able to, to work alongside was, was the Uber experience. And, you know, Uber has had their challenges for accessibility and they still are getting better and better, you know, and I know that they're working on it, but one of the coolest things was that they invested in making their app accessible for assistive technologies and thinking of different feature sets to put in to make it easier for an assistive technology of blind user to order an Uber. And when they ordered that Uber and in created that experience, I remember some of our employees that are visually impaired and blind saying, wow, that independence of not having to rely on, on, on, on local transportation or rely on my cousin to come pick me up or someone to come pick me up was huge.
Speaker 1 00:38:44 Now I can just request a, Nuber just like everyone else in, in, and I'm able to, to get my ride and, and go to work and create that independence for myself. So that was a really cool, cool experience that we got to see and got to experience. And, and then Uber did something that I thought was very cool is that they, they started, they put a feature inside of the app where the, the rider for a driver that was deaf, the rider would get, uh, notifications on different sign language techniques to utilize with the driver. So as a rider, I'm sitting in the backseat and I'm going through. And if my driver was deaf, I was able to look at these features and be able to sign and learn, you know, maybe 10 different features of sign language, but I never knew, I thought that that was something really cool because it engaged the user and help them understand. And I thought that that was just something really, really cool that we got to work alongside and experience that, that, that had kind of a impact, not only for the driver, but also for the writer as well, that, that, you know, was it wasn't deaf, but got to experience that, that connection,
Speaker 0 00:39:54 Since you have such super powers with Uber, can you, uh, bring accessible ride, share to Atlanta for me please? Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:40:02 I know that that is, um, you know, I, I wish I wish I could flip a switch and, and do that. It would be, it'd be amazing, accessible lot rideshare, something that, uh, you know, I'm, I'm sure. And I hope that that, that rideshare companies can figure out because I know that would be huge. One of our, one of our strategic advisers here at audio Y is, is a, is a wheelchair user. And, uh, he, he is, um, always, always talking about, you know, how amazing that would be, cause it's just not there yet.
Speaker 0 00:40:33 Yeah. Accessible Roger is a whole nother conversation, but how amazing that you were able to work on a project of a powerful company that so many millions of users, barely billions of users use all over the world and to be able to implement and create an accessible experience for all, not only just the driver, but the rider and through that, you really are just amplifying and breaking down those barriers for so many people. And then having it be an educational piece for a number of users that didn't even realize that it was all baked into the app itself. So really huge kudos to you. And thank you so much for, for working on that.
Speaker 1 00:41:21 No problem at all. I mean, I got to give all credit tuber. Um, I was just kind of a bystander of a, of a few calls, but, um, you know, it was, it was awesome. And I think that there's a lot of companies out there, one of, one of my favorite companies now to watch from accessibility and I'll give them a plug, uh, cause cause he's a good buddy of mine is Comcast and Comcast is doing some amazing things for accessibility. When you think about everything that Comcast touches right from universal studios to infinity everything that that company touches, they have a huge emphasis on accessibility. And Tom McCalsky is, is, um, you know, is, is the VP of accessibility over at, at Comcast. And Tom has just continues to, to make strides in, in pushing the envelope on accessibility and, you know, things like the, the, uh, talking set box, which was a feature I think in 2017 that they released.
Speaker 1 00:42:19 And in all these different technologies, I'm probably butchering some of the names of them, but they're, it's just amazing to see those big corporations, those fortune 50 companies, you know, Microsoft is, is amazing. You mentioned that card in about know the work that they're doing. And Jenny LaFleur is the, uh, the head of accessibility over there. And, and, and, you know, they're, they're, they're incorporating it into their culture. They're incorporating it into their HR and into their hiring and employment, which I think is, is, is, is awesome because then they're able to really test and be able to get feedback from those, those everyday users of the technology.
Speaker 0 00:42:57 I was actually listening to, uh, Jen, uh, TA uh, talk with Jenny and French the other day. And I, uh, she's amazing, right? She's such a powerhouse. I could talk endlessly about what she's doing to help push Microsoft in amazing directions. And then just accessibility in general. She's an, I walked her talk all the time, but one of the things that she mentioned, which was really fascinating to learn about was in their user testing experiences for accessibility, they actually outsource individuals to help test that and those individuals can have disabilities or not. And so I think that's also really cool because they're, they're creating a hiring, uh, creating jobs through just through testing accessibility. And you're also employing people with disabilities through that testing experience. So something to think about as well.
Speaker 1 00:44:00 Absolutely. There's, you know, bender consulting has been a long time partner of audio, Y and bender consulting is one of the, you know, one of the biggest companies out there to help people with disabilities in employment. And they're, they're an amazing resource if you're looking for disability employment and for testing and so forth. And there's also another company that I just found out about it's called naked fable. It's F a, B L E, make it fable out of Canada, and they are doing crowdsource testing for websites on accessibility. And, you know, we've, we've talked with them a little bit. They are, uh, doing fantastic work, big, big fan of what they're doing. So you're getting all these organizations that are coming out and saying, Hey, we have, we have these users, we have these, these individuals that can be here to, to be great feedback and user experience feedback for you.
Speaker 1 00:44:54 And not only is that helping create better products and create better technology in the world for people with disabilities. But as you just stated, it's helping a job, you know, helping people with disabilities, get jobs, and with such a such a high unemployment rate for people with disabilities in, in, in this, you know, we're going digital by creating your technology accessible. You're, you're going to create jobs for individuals with disabilities, not, not only from, from the standpoint of, you know, individuals with disabilities being, being able to navigate and use the systems that we need to use to execute on our jobs, but also from, from a standpoint of when incorporating them into the design and into the, to the UX work, it creates those job opportunities for them. So I think it's, it's awesome. Uh, we're just at the, the start of, of, of, of, of the education. I'm still shocked every single time I talk to people and it's the first time they're hearing about digital access accessibility. Um, but it's a lot better now though, than it was five years ago. And my hope is that every year we just compound on more and more and more people knowing
Speaker 0 00:46:06 How do you think that the pandemic has changed people's view on digital accessibility, if any?
Speaker 1 00:46:15 I think that, you know, I think as, as we're going more digital, right, like everything is going more digital, that, that organizations are starting to think about it more because there's more situations that were being put in, you know, so I definitely think that the pandemic is having an impact on digital accessibility because a lot of corporations and businesses are going digital, you know, in, in, in, in, I don't think we've been, I don't think we've seen the effect of it yet. I definitely know, you know, just being in the industry that we're growing like crazy right now. And there's a lot of, a lot of traction coming to us. I don't know if that's just the, the current environment of accessibility or if that would happen with, or without the pandemic. But my hope is that it's, it's helping companies do two things. One is that, that is helping companies go digital, uh, in, in, you know, I think that there was a lot of organizations out there that still work digital, and they're now having to make that leap.
Speaker 1 00:47:10 And then, you know, with that, that these companies are going to start thinking about accessibility. And I always, I always kind of use the analogy of banks and, you know, we used to always go into the bank to check our checking account and to transfer money and wire money, and that we did everything at the bank. So at that point, it was so important that that bait, that bank was accessible, right? It had, you know, it had accessible, uh, ramps and rails. It had all the feature sets of an accessible brick and mortar bank. But now what we're seeing is that these banks are going online with that bank, going online, is giving the easier access to come and wire my money and transfer my money and do everything that I need to do. And if, if that bank now has opportunity to make that digital environment accessible as well, it's going to create so much more usability and so much more freedom for the end user.
Speaker 1 00:48:03 And for that, for the individual, with the disability, because now I don't have to, if I'm visually impaired, I don't have to, you know, get a ride to the bank and then have someone with me to overlook, you know, to, to talk to me about my statement or have someone talk to me about information that maybe I don't, I don't want to communicate that they're at the bank, but now I can just log onto my bank website. If it's accessible, I can check my banking account. I can check my statement into me, like I always use, and I probably overuse the word independence, but technology gives, gives individuals with disabilities independence and gives everyone independence. And to me that that's like, so cool. I geek out about it. If you can't tell
Speaker 0 00:48:43 Your passion is awesome. And yeah, it's, it really shows just in the way that you're talking about these questions. It's just, it's really fascinating to listen to. Um, you're so true in that technology helps people with disabilities tremendously. I have a friend who is severely or has severe low vision, and he, his iPhone is his tool set for everything to be able to do that, to be able to zoom in, to be able to take a picture of a menu and then zoom in, or like make it brighter or lighter or change the background or whatever the case may be. And for me, my cell phone is a cell phone. That's so funny. I always say cell phone, um, my phone, my iPhone, I'm like, this is such a nineties kid of cell phone, uh, with the iPhone being, it's really that sense of, I use Siri all the time and voice texting and Texas speech. And those are accessibility features that even though I I'm not, uh, I don't have any issues with seeing or hearing I have lower dexterity. And so being able to use the voice talks or, and then also just having it in my, and being able to have it just like in my pocket, I have access to the world. So it's, it's awesome. The tools that companies are creating for accessibility in mind.
Speaker 1 00:50:17 Yeah, absolutely. That the iPhone is, is a perfect example. And the team at Apple does an amazing job. You know, I think one of, one of the feature sets, I that there was a feature set that rolled out in the Apple watch for a wheelchair users that did for, for your activity. Did you ever see, have you, have you ever seen that feature? It's like, uh, it's, it's, it's so cool to, to know like that. Now that to me is like, that's, that's called like an accessibility at the core of your organization, right. When you're thinking of all those different things, that's just so cool to see. And, you know, there's, there's other organizations that either even, um, I was on the phone too today, uh, with, with Sean Horne, who is a Forbes contributing individual that, that, that talks about disabilities and so forth. And, and she herself as an individual with a disability and, you know, adaptive clothing is one of the things too, like Tommy Hilfiger rolled out this amazing adaptive clothing line. I mean, you're seeing all this all, you know, all these organizations starting to build it into their core, which to me, I look at it from, from two to two standpoints is it's, it's, it's awesome to see. And it's awesome to, to, to hear about these different things that these businesses are doing and in taking advantage of, but what about the business impact too, as well? Like, you know, there there's, there's 15% of the population, that's a huge, huge economic impact that it could have to your business and to your organization.
Speaker 0 00:51:46 Yeah. Christina Mellon also is really huge leading adaptive fashion, um, in her organization. I hear her speak a lot. Yeah. Tommy Hill could figure, um, target. Actually. I just saw an ad recently with target. They, they opened up a Halloween costume line for children and, and, uh, well originally started out as just children costumes that use wheelchairs or have crutches or canes or whatever. And this year they extended their line to include adults who use wheelchairs as well, and other medical devices to empower individuals with disabilities. So they can also participate and get Halloween costumes that are easy to, easy to wear. And Nike X-Box, I mean, there's just like so many companies now that are thinking with the X-Box controller being accessible. There's so many companies are thinking about accessibility and coming up with commerce, uh, individuals can now buy and experience that independence as everyone else.
Speaker 1 00:52:53 Absolutely. Yeah. There's, it's, it's going to be fun as, as, as we start to become more aware and we start to listen, it's, it's always, it's always the thing to like, no one that I ever talked to when I come in and talk to them about making their site accessible or using our software, no one ever says, I don't want to do this. Like, and that that's, that's something that's really cool is, is, is no one, no one comes to us says, Oh yeah, that's not a good idea. Like, I don't want to do that. Everyone's like, wow, that's a fantastic idea. I want to do that. I'm all that. And it's just, you know, then prioritizing and figuring out how we do it. So being in a, in, in, in an industry and understanding that this is, this is the right thing to do, it's a human right to, to have access that it, that the businesses look at this and say, it's something we want to do.
Speaker 1 00:53:43 We just figure, we got to figure out how to do it. And I think that, you know, at a goal here at audio, why, and, and what we're doing is we want to be able to give the same type of opportunity that target and Apple and these major corporations Comcast have, because they have the money to spend on accessibility and that they have the capital to invest in accessible projects. We want to bring that to everyone. We want to bring that to the world, you know, your local restaurant that just build a website, how do we make sure that that's accessible? Because they don't have the budget? You know, how do we make it accessible for them, or how do we make it so that, you know, a blog posts can be accessible. So, you know, we're, we're, we're looking at it from a scalability, you know, problem, and saying, how can we scale? So that accessibility is available because that's what true accessibility will, will be. As it's gotta be available for everyone, it's gotta be affordable for every single person that is going on onto the web.
Speaker 0 00:54:38 For me, I do have audio. I, and I, I made the decision to purchase it when I redid my website. And because I switched providers and, you know, I totally scraped it and redid it. And I wanted to make sure that going forward, my website would be digitally compliant from the start in my like refresh. And I really liked how you were talking about how an audio, I you're trying to scale it at all different price ranges. And you have such a basic level that I think there was like a free 90 day trial, which I used, which was awesome. And then I realized like, I don't want to do their remediation on my own.
Speaker 1 00:55:16 Yes. Typically works right. Is people are like, Oh, that's a lot of work. And another cool thing we, we decided to, uh, we decided as a, as a business premium models,
Speaker 0 00:55:31 But even like the next level tier is so affordable for just, you know, me as a fellow podcaster and disability activist. I have a website where I host all my, my stuff on it, and I just want to make sure that it's accessible to all, and it's affordable to do it. And some people think like it's going to cost millions and millions and millions of dollars to make your website accessible. And like, it really isn't. But also I was also so shocked by how, with the knowledge that I have with digital accessibility and compliance. Like, I tried very hard to have really large fun and like make it face to all like being sure I had a sand Serra font and had certain my contrast colors. And then, but when I looked at the audio I report, I was like, Oh my gosh, my website compliance is like 65%, which I will say, I was like, I was very proud of myself. I got 65% of the way there. Um, cause if you were to look at my old website, it probably was like zero compliant. Um, but yeah. Talk about the different levels of audio
Speaker 1 00:56:37 Or like when, or when people come to us and they're like, my website's only 82% accessible. It's terrible. I'm like, actually, no, you're doing a good job. Like it's, it's accessibility is a journey. It's not a destination. Like it, it takes, it takes a long time in there's a lot that we need to do. And it never stops because there's new technologies coming out. I always have to explain that to, to, to teams and understanding like, you're never going to be perfect like your site. I bet you, you could come on to audio.com and you could find like some accessibility issues. You can come to any site in the world and probably find accessibility issues. But, you know, th the thing is, is that, that you're making that journey, that you're making that, that, that, um, you know, that, that strive to, to make a more inclusive websites, which is, you know, so having a 65 score is, is, is pretty darn good.
Speaker 1 00:57:30 And, um, I'm sure it'll, it'll get better. And, you know, we, we did just release all of our tools to become free our audio wide pro pro tools. So we used to do a 90 day trial. We made a decision as a business to do release that for free to, to everyone. So, uh, that was, that was really cool. I was really proud of our entire team for making that, you know, making, making that choice because our, our, our mission here is to remove every single digital accessibility barrier in the world, whether you're on, you know, Samsung, whether you're on, you know, tying cartons, a bakery shop, right. It doesn't matter. We're starting to make them, we're trying to make them accessible across the board. So, um, hopefully, hopefully it helps somebody and hopefully it gets out there and educates as well.
Speaker 0 00:58:16 Well, Ty, thank you so much for explaining. So we start out my gosh, it's already been an hour, but we started out by just talking about the importance of digital accessibility and talk about the, what behind it. You know, what is digital accessibility and creating small action items for different users to make those first steps. And then just talking about how different companies have done accessibility, just in their products and their websites and how it can be just scalable and thinking about usability, independence, and freedom for all, all individuals, not just people disabilities, even though that's who it was initially designed for.
Speaker 1 00:59:00 Absolutely. And, you know, if, if one takeaway too, uh, is, is, you know, educate yourself by listening to this podcast, I say, thank you, thank you so much because you're educating yourself and taking the time eCard. And thank you so much for what you do and spending the time doing this, because it's so important that we educate ourselves and, and understand that, you know, what, what we're doing and what we're doing on the web. If we're a designer for you, you're our content publisher so that it can make a difference if we think about accessibility. So I just want to say thank you to the listeners and concurrent, thank you so much for having, having my cell phone and, and talking and doing this podcast. I hope you have a great night awesome card. And thank you so much as well. Have a great one. Bye.
Speaker 2 00:59:49 Thank you, friends for listening. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions tune in next week for another disability topic.