Chris Ashton

week11y issue 77

After a few days off work, your weekly frequent11y newsletter has been resumed!

How anyone can make Maps more accessible

  • Google relies on its community of Local Guides to update Google Maps information by, for example, inputting whether a restaurant has tables suitable for people who use wheelchairs. These guides share some actionable tips for crowd-sourcing information to benefit everyone, particularly people with disabilities:
    • An accessibility checklist can be useful when writing reviews. For example, having a template covering ramp access, wheelchair-accessible toilets, wheelchair-accessible parking etc, where you just have to provide ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ next to each item.
    • You can indicate accessibility features by answering questions about a business you visited, within the Google Maps app. If you’re the business owner, better yet – add these attributes yourself in your “Business Profile on Search and Maps”.
    • Create and share public lists of accessible places, e.g. accessible restaurants in your neighbourhood.

How to open a budget Accessibility Simulation Lab

  • Andreea Vlad shares how the NHS Business Service Authority built its “budget” Accessibility Simulation Lab.
    • Whilst the article was published in May 2021, it’s not clear when the lab was actually put together. By its nature, it is very “hands on”, and Andreea also recommends having a fruit & candy bowl on site to encourage participation, so it certainly hearkens back to pre-Covid times…!
  • The lab is a single Chromebook, pre-configured with personas that simulate certain disabilities, alongside a mouse, keyboard and headphones. Someone bought several sets of cheap protective glasses, and then applied masking tape, nail polish and permanent markers to try to simulate visual conditions such as glaucoma, central field loss, and low vision. Finally, there are three very old phones, though no reference is made as to how these are used.
  • Andreea suggests that it’s hard to find lab session times that suit everybody; the implication is to let people use the lab in their own time. Try to get structured feedback from people, by asking them “I think we should…”, “I think we should not…”, and “[x]… stops me from caring about accessibility”. This encourages visitors to reflact, and increases their buy-in.

7 Accessibility FAQ on the Winn-Dixie ADA Appeal Decision (2021)

  • I like to keep an eye on accessibility legislation in the USA, even when it can feel quite far removed from the UK/EU legal system. Here’s a useful write-up of one of the most important web accessibility cases in recent history:
  • In April 2021, a single U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) did not apply to the website of supermarket Winn-Dixie, because at the time of filing it did not sell anything online and the plaintiff could access physical stores. In other words, the ADA could not be used to force Winn-Dixie to make their website accessible to blind users.
  • 3 judges were on the panel, and they were split 2-1 on the ruling. The decision only applies in 3 states: Alabama, Florida and Georgia. There have been 3 formal requests for a rehearing since the ruling was made, so a rehearing is quite possible and the ruling could change.
  • Since the case was filed, Winn-Dixie does now offer online shopping, which would likely have changed the ruling, were it not for court rules stopping new facts from being added to the case on appeal.

Resident Evil Village Has An Accessibility Problem

  • I’ve had a number of bookmarks on the theme of Resident Evil Village, which has been a hot topic in a11y newsletters of late. This article berates Capcom for not providing any accessibility options in the menu of the game, meaning that:
    • The camera is stuck on a zoomed in view, which can lead to motion sickness. There are mods available to configure this.
    • Subtitles are small, and often have terrible contrast on the game background. There’s a Twitter thread with a screenshot. Subtitles don’t specify who is speaking, leaving hard of hearing players to guess. There’s also a lack of subtitles overall, as none of the ambient sounds are conveyed in text.
    • There are no controller remapping options.
    • Can I Play That wrote an accessibility-focused review of Resident Evil Village, rating it just 3/10.
  • This article makes a special call-out to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for its advanced a11y options.

Accessibility and outdoor socialising: ‘I feel unwelcome in my own city’

  • A BBC article from mid May. As the UK gradually opens up and people are able to dine outside, this must not happen at the expense of wheelchair users. Restaurants are filling pavements and roads with tables for customers, leaving very little (if any) room for wheelchair users to get past.
  • Some wheelchair users are reporting that they can’t use their old bus routes, as the roads to get to the bus stop are “covered with tables and chairs”. They now face arriving 20-30 minutes late, or many hours early.
  • The article references Katie Penick’s videos on Twitter, demonstrating how difficult it is for her to get through the available gaps in public spaces. This is despite the fact that hers is a 23-inches-wide ‘teenagers’ wheelchair, so smaller than most.
  • Holly Greader reflects: “I think the hope was that lockdown had given people an insight into what it can be like for disabled people – the isolation and everything else. I feel like now we’re coming out of the restrictions, we’re forgetting all these things that we’ve learned, and there is a lack of understanding.”

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