I was recently listening back to an AXSChat Podcast with Zara Gemmell, the Accessibility Director at HeX Productions. The podcast was focused on inaccessible areas within the digital world. 

In this podcast, Zara, along with Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, and Neil Milliken, went through a scenario about me trying to buy a pair of trousers on the internet.

Some of the problems that I encountered as a blind person using a screen reader were:

  • Not knowing what products were behind graphical links. This was due to them providing no context, as they were labelled as items such as ‘product 2’.

  • Being unable to find out what deals were available on a website or the need to enter a code to be able to get a discount. This discount code was displayed as an image, giving me no way of finding out the voucher’s details, making me miss out on saving money.

  • Not knowing how much something would cost or if I had selected an item or not. If I’m not made aware that I’ve selected an item, I could end up with a big bill at the checkout after repeatedly pressing the ‘add to basket’ button, which may have been working all of the time.

  • Getting all the way to the end of the process of buying the item to find out then that the last button to be selected was mouse-dependent. Meaning that only someone who can use a mouse could buy anything from that online store.

The Flipside Comparison of This Experience if it Happened to a Sighted Shopper 

Neil gave a great illustrative comparison in this podcast surrounding my scenario:

  • If you went into a store on the high street and came across lots of boxes which were not labelled and all the same size. Would you pick one and hope for the best that the box contained the item of clothing you needed?

  • What happens if you need two items of clothing but don’t know how many items are in one box? Do you get another, just in case there is only one item in the box?

  • What would you do if, when you get to the checkout, the assistant won’t let you check on the items you have chosen and refuses to tell you how you can claim an advertised big deal that can save you lots of money?

  • Then, after all that, you have cash, but they only take cards or vice versa. All that work and worry, along with the time spent, to then have to walk out to another shop and hope the experience is not the same.

What do you think the customer feedback would be? Do you think the store would have many customers?

Eliminating Inaccessible Digital Platforms  

These are just a few comparisons that people experience in everyday life due to inaccessible features within digital platforms. However, there should really be no need for any inaccessible areas, as there are always alternative ways available. 

Think about when you could not get access to something. Whether it is in a shop or around your normal life experiences. There is no real reason why you should not be able to gain access. It is usually due to someone having made it inaccessible to you because of the design. Not thinking of your individual needs as a customer, or in a specific situation.

It’s time to make a change and be inclusive. Over the coming months, I’ll be blogging about ways that websites can be adapted to achieve accessibility.