Now let’s start this with a question. What do the words ‘accessibility’ and ‘usability’ mean to you? Okay, to lead this on a bit further, if you receive a gift that you’ve always wanted, but the box that it is extremely hard to open and eventually when you get inside, you find the instructions missing or the gift faulty then what do you think then?
This is extremely frustrating; especially when you had the earlier version of the gift where the box was easy to open, the instructions were there and provided in an appropriate format and the gift work. It’s a little bit like aps on a smart phone and tablet device really. Using the iPhone and iPad as an example, if you’re a user of the accessibility features, you know what a pain it can be if a new update is supplied to your favourite social networking AP and it renders the information illustrated on them as useless because you cannot access it any more.
I’ve pondered on whether to mention a particular AP as an example, but on reflection I think naming this one does serve a useful purpose. I use Echophone as my main access to Twitter; well I did up until recently anyway. I access my IPhone by using VoiceOver, the inbuilt screen reader. Anyway, up until the recent update, Echophone was an extremely accessible and usable AP in terms of reading, writing and responding to Tweets. However, all of this has changed by the merest introduction of an update to the AP. The information that I could read has now disappeared and voiceover doesn’t work with the AP any more.
Access to information via aps, websites and other online sources should not be a privilege, an add on or an afterthought. Sadly, in many instances, this is the case and what we can read is solely governed by those who don’t necessarily have a clue.
Yes, we cannot ignore good examples of accessibility and these should be celebrated, but I think we should lift the expectations and say that accessibility should be a right and not a symbol. If technology has come so far in that thinking robots are being produced and longer and more challenging space travel is being contemplated, then there must be ways to fully integrate accessibility into all online content whilst preserving the visual attractiveness that many web designers crave to get people to read their particular content.