People with disabilities and especially children are often excluded from online media, content and services altogether and are not offered the opportunity to use them freely and self-determined for information, education, entertainment, communication as well as participation within society.
Therefore, the network of POSCON aims at raising awareness for accessibility for all users. Most importantly we want to offer guidelines and concrete tips to developers and providers of online content and services for children in on how to make their products as accessible as possible. Our suggestions are based on two principles:
Ambition of “Design for All”: Use effective methods to provide content to serve ALL users.
Accessibility features are not expensive per se, but most of them can be implemented cheap and easily especially right at the beginning of the production process.
From the start: Keep people with disabilities in mind right from the beginning of the planning, development and production process.
Include all people involved in the production process: Accessibility aspects concern strategists, editors, programmers, designers…
Understand who your users are and what capabilities they have: Don’t think of a “standard” user, instead imagine individuals with very different physical and mental capabilities, have various forms of disabilities in mind.
Testing: When testing with the target group, consider to also invite children with disabilities. Simulations can help to understand the needs of people with ablepsia, colour-blindness, deafness, single-armed, ADHD, autism and so on. Evaluate your content/service with available tools, web analysers or by expert analysis. >> see knowledge database for resources
Ensure compatibility not only with various browsers, operating systems etc. but also with assistive technologies such as braille machines.
Further specific guidelines focus on the aspects of (excerpts):
Structure: Make sure the user doesn’t get lost so try to structure your online content and services: provide headlines, subheadings, lists, etc. A well-developed and consistent structure makes it easier to navigate through content and services especially with the help of assistive technologies.
Alternative texts: Keep in mind that all content could be read by a screen reader or could be verbalized by a user who makes use of a voice recognition system to navigate. Images, graphics as well as dynamic animations which are linked to or carry information - provide information on images which are needed to understand meaning (not every image transports important information).
Language and speech: Use simple and easy-to-understand language. For audio/video content provide audio commentary (subtitles and captions) for spoken language and atmosphere/background noise.
Audio and video: Allow audio/sound, video and volume control. Adjustable and adequate volume of sound or speech is important for communicating across different environments that involve different levels of background noise. Provide subtitles/captions and or audio transcriptions that can be turned off and on for audio/video content. Consider the use of Makaton or sign language to AV content.
Colour and sizes: Colour should not be the only carrier of information. Use high contrasts and colours easy to distinguish. Allow changeable font sizes / customizable fonts.
Mobility: Think about how to use your website/game/app with only one hand or not using a keyboard at all. Mobility disabilities are about physical limits, for example to reach keys or pushing buttons over and over when you fatigue easily.
Furthermore we want to encourage everyone involved in producing and promoting positive online content for children to learn more about accessibility through the work of relevant initiatives and organizations as well as already existing international standards and guidelines!
We have started a collection of link tips and online tools on the topic of accessibility and special needs of people with disabilities, which is meant to promote existing initiatives, standards and recommendations all over the world.