A few months ago, I was at the Accessibility Europe conference by ITU (www.itu.int ).
I heard about design thinking, accessibility standards around the world and I met many experts who are finding ways to implement accessible technologies and ease people’s lives.
I care about accessibility because I have seen families struggling with its absence. Also, because I have seen students stressed by tasks they were intellectually able to perform but couldn’t; since following complex instructions were eating up their energy and mood. Finally, because I know we have tools to solve accessibility problems at all levels and we should use them.
Accessibility is a broad concept to me:
-Not having access to health care in a direct way, having to be referred to by social services to simply go to a child psychotherapist and losing time before treatment, as it happens in some countries, is an accessibility problem.
-Not being able to understand an administrative file, contract or website or helpline instructions because the text is too long, impregnated with legal jargon or when the device is too difficult to manipulate, is an accessibility problem.
-Not being able to watch a movie, not having access to a translator in your sign language, is an accessibility problem.
With the European accessibility act that will be translated into national legislation, we have common rules to reduce barriers in education and the labour market. https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1202
And the 10 golden rules by the European Disability Forum: http://www.edf-feph.org/edfs-electronic-resource-web-accessiblity
The accessibility act has an operating scope that is mainly focused on the Media and ICT field but other services are impacted (banking, transport, …)
As a children’s rights specialist, I care a lot about the impact of such legislation on our youngest population and on the most vulnerable ones.
Accessibility is a very broad concept and the accessibility act can have a huge impact on the lives of children and their families in many ways.
In German, the concept of accessibility translates into Barrierefreiheit (obstacle-free)
It refers to a more philosophical concept of ‘liberty’ where other languages are (for once) very pragmatically focused on access, referring to the entry point, not the consequences.
In Europe, we can use all diverse country strengths and perspectives. Accessibility as an entry point (access) and its positive consequences (freedom).
I dedicate part of my consultancy work looking for best practices and trying to help organizations with the implementation. Here are some of the free resources & tools I use in my practice as a consultant and with children peer reviewers (the idea is to have something on one page or very flexible in use!):
- The Australian factsheets by the Accessibility Oz, classified by website content with checklists for managers & developers and impact on users https://www.accessibilityoz.com/factsheets/
- Carnegie Museums and their best practices for accessible maps:
- Washington Center for Universal design with UD principles for education and communication (exhibits and conferences) https://www.washington.edu/doit/programs/center-universal-design-education/resources/universal-design-education-online-tutorial
- In Austria, Singtime media is advocating for children movies in sign language, What is your country’s latest project on accessibility for children?