Chris Ashton

week11y issue 37

Here’s your weekly a11y news:

How Alexa has change the life of a disabled person

  • Colin Hughes describes how his muscular dystrophy can make it difficult to use remote controls. He now uses Alexa to control thermostats, lights and blinds with his voice. Taking inspiration from a video showing how a garage door can be opened/closed with a cheap wireless switch, Colin retrofitted his front door to be voice-powered for £150. This contrasts with a £5000 quote he received from a company, highlighting the financial burden people with disabilities are put under. His command of ‘open sesame’ has to be regularly changed in case passers by figure out how they can enter his home.

Accessibility Best Practices for Classes Using Zoom

  • PDF from The University of Texas. Tips include: don’t require people to turn on their webcams (anxiety, physical tics etc); read screen shared contents and any chat content aloud; use Show/Hide Non-video participants to hide names and profile pictures if recording; do not force mute participant audio (required for deaf students to pin the sign language interpreters); post materials before or after class for students to review.

Accessible Font Sizing, Explained

  • The WCAG does not define a minimum font size for the web: just that fonts should be resizable and of a sufficient contrast. Contrast should be 4.5:1 for small text, 3:1 for larger text (defined as text that is a minimum of 18 point or 14 point with bold), though different screen densities and alphabets mean the pixel size will vary. Browser font sizes are accessible by default, so avoid using px and instead make your font sizes relative to the base font size (usually 16px) using rem/em. About 3% of users change their default font size in the browser settings, and some will override the font-family too (e.g. to OpenDyslexic, which increases readability for users with dyslexia).

Control your iPhone with your voice (and leave Siri out of it)

  • iOS 13 brings ‘Voice Control’, which allows you to use commands like ‘swipe left’ or ‘scroll up’, open apps or take pictures. You can also dictate text messages or notes, and delete text you’ve typed without having to touch your phone. It’s also highly customisable: you can set up shortcuts for inserting your email rather than saying it out loud, or have Voice Control perform custom gestures, e.g. touch-and-hold. This article explains how to set that all up.

Disabled Nurses Find Covid-19 Silver Lining; Hope For More Inclusive Future

  • A Forbes article about three nurses with disabilities, and the opportunities the current pandemic has afforded them. Andrea Dalzell interviewed for 76 hospital jobs and was rejected from them all once they realised she was in a wheelchair. The desperate plea for nurses since March has now meant employers look past her disability, and she’s found a job. All three nurses in the article strongly state that they work as effectively as other nurses.
  • On a semi-related note, #DisabledAndCute is trending on Twitter. I came across this image in a New York Times article, showcasing an ‘accessible party dress’ on manikin positioned in a wheelchair, amongst other manikins. It’s not something you usually see and I liked that the visibility of wheelchairs in social/fun settings is being normalised.
Fashion and Textiles Collection of the Peabody Essex Museum

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