Websites, Video, Mobile Apps, + Games: Accessibility for All

Websites, Video, Mobile Apps, + Games: Accessibility for All

>>Good afternoon. Welcome to the National
Endowment for the Arts webinar on making “Websites, Videos, Mobile Apps + Video Games: Accessible
to All.” We are pleased you could join us for what is sure to be an informative presentation.
My name is Beth Bienvenu, the director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Office
of Accessibility. We are the advocacy and technical assistance arm of the Arts Endowment
and work to make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans,
and people in correctional and health care settings. Today, we are pleased to share with
you some approaches to making electronic media accessible to all audiences. Throughout the
presentations, we will make reference to cultural organizations, but this information
is relevant to all organizations that create or use these technologies. Organizations have long been aware of how
to make their buildings and programs accessible through wheelchair ramps, sign language interpretation,
closed and open captioning, audio description, and other modifications to physical spaces
and programs. On the screen, we have some examples, including a photo of a curbing ramp,
a person using sign language, and an exhibit sign with braille. The cultural organizations are using more
and more new technologies such as mobile applications – or apps – video games, and websites to enhance
user experiences, create art, share content, sell tickets, and create educational opportunities.
On this screen, we have a photo of a Smithsonian exhibit of video games featuring a woman looking
at a projection of a video game and a quote projected on the wall that says “games have
so much freedom, you can go anywhere you want.” And there is also a photo of a person
holding a tablet computer. So just as a flight of stairs can pose a barrier
to someone trying to enter a building or the lack of captioning can pose a barrier to someone
viewing a film, the features of a video game, mobile application or inaccessible website
can also pose a barrier to someone with hearing, vision, mobility, or cognitive disabilities.
But there are many strategies you can use to make these electronic systems accessible.
And before we get to these strategies, I’d like to point out that the key is to plan
for accessibility from the beginning as you develop your program or as you design your
technology, be sure to keep all users in mind. Our guests are here today to provide you with
some valuable information on strategies for developing your electronic media to make information
accessible for all audiences. This information provided here will be fairly
general, an overview on accessibility. To get into the technical details, would take
more than the one hour we have, so we hope this information will be useful to you as
you design your programs and technologies. I am so pleased to have with us three experts.
We have Larry Goldberg, director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for
Accessible Media at WGBH who will talk about website accessibility and video captioning.
We will also have Mark Barlet, the president and CEO of the AbleGamers Foundation, and
Johnny Richardson, the Industry outreach coordinator for the AbleGamers Foundation who will both
talk about accessibility for mobile apps and video games. Before we move on, there are a few housekeeping
notes: You are all muted and will only be able to hear us. We will give a 50-minute
presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. You submit questions or comments at any time
using the question and answer box below the PowerPoint. We will do our best to address
as many as possible during the time we have. Please, do not use the Raise Hand button.
This webinar will be archived, and we will make the links and resources that we use available
on our site when it is posted. So be sure to send in your questions, and we will go
ahead with Larry Goldberg.>>Thank you, Beth. It is great to be here
today and great to be asked to be part of this really good group. I, as Beth said, am
from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, and that’s in Boston, part of Public
Broadcasting in Boston. Officially, we are the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National
Center for Accessible Media, and we are an outgrowth of the history of accessible media
here at WGBH that began in 1972. And for those of you who might encounter this question on
“Jeopardy,” the first captioned program ever was “Julia Child’s French Chef,” and that
was open captioned and I’m showing an example of what that looked like back in 1972. A picture
of Julia saying “the first stew is dark, it was cooked in red wine”, and from that point
forward captioning has grown tremendously – it became closed captioned, and I will explain
more about that later. But our second forward movement in the field of accessible media
was in 1973 when we founded a Descriptive Video Service or DVS – this is a service for
blind and visualy-impaired people which provides added descriptions of television and movies
– 1993, that is – for TV shows where we provided an added track inbetween the dialogue in the
movie. The first program we ever described, on television, was the American Playhouse’s
“Lemon Sky,” and I think that might have actually been funded by the National Endowment for
the Arts, so it all comes full circle. I have an image of “Lemon Sky” on the screen here
starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick so we are only one degree separated from Kevin
Bacon. Most of you know what closed captioning looks
like – you’ve seen it many, many times. Maybe video description may be a bit less familiar,
but rather than trying to stream a video over this webinar, I have provided some links to
examples online. A clip from “Lion King” on our website and “Horton Hears a Hoo”. There’s
also a large collection of DVDs with descriptions on an extra audio track and that includes
entertainment videos as well as NOVA and “Front Line” and “American Experience.” You can see
that at the link also – all of those links will be available, as Beth said, after the
webinar you can download them yourslef. The third leg of what WGBH has doen in the field
of media access was the creation of the National Center for Accessible Media in 1993. And our
first R&D project in this group was the development of a system for closed captioning in movie
theaters. NCAM was founded because we realized there were a lot more media that needed accessibility
than television or even VHS tapes at the time, so we began many projects, and we created
initially Rear Window, which is a system for creating captions in movie theaters, so only
the person who wants to see the captions would. From there, we moved into online and mobile
media for captioning and video description, in-flight entertainment, electronic books
and online learning. Figuring out ways to make menus on DVD’s and televisions talk to
you. And throughout all of this we were working pon the standards and policies and laws that
promoted all of these various services that are now becoming even more and more common,
and we are really happy to see that, and we will talk about the latest a little bit later. Luckily, I think this question on the next
slide, “Why design accessible websites?” is almost becoming less and less common, it’s
almost becoming a rhetorical question. But some people are coming to this for the first
time, so I will talk about three imperatives for why designing accessible website. One
is the social imperative. Most of us on the phone today are public-serving institutions,
either nonprofits or recipients of federal grants or taxpayer funds. And our mandate
is to make everything we do accessible to the widest possible audience, and making your
website available to everyone is really primary these days. There is also a legal imperative.
There are legal requirements if you are receiving funds from the federal government through
the federal procurement rules of Section 508, there are standards to follow as well as the
W3C standards, and the Justice Department has released a notice of proposed rulemaking
which could require all websites to be accessible, and we are awaiting action probably in the
next six months. And, finally, there is an educational imperative. Those of us who are
providing information for students, whether it’s K-12, post-secondary or beyond – we have
the requirement to make sure as many students as possible are served, and when your materials,
whether on the Web or physical or in your public space are accessible, you will be helping
those students, and, in fact, some educational institutions actually require their materials
to be accessible in all venues, including online learning and digital books. So for those of you who have not experienced
how people with disabilities actually access websites and software and games you will hear
in a little bit, the generic term is assistive technologies. These are hardware and software
products that are either built in to your operating system on your computer, and that
includes Windows and OSX, iPhones iOS, iPhones and iPADs, or the Android system. There are
both built-in and add-on technologies for all of those platforms. For people who are
blind or visually impaired, there are screen readers, this is software that will read out
loud any text on the screen, and some of those products are known as JAWS, or Window Eyes,
there’s an Open Source one called NVDA, and built right into the MAC operating system
is VoiceOver. There is software that will magnify what’s onscreen, known as ZoomText,
or MAGic, or Zoom, and for people with mobility impairments there are ways of connecting a
single switch, if you can only move one limb or one finger or your even just your eyes.
There are things known as headsticks or eye-gaze software. You can use your breath to control
your computer. All of these are common assistive technologies that have been available for
many years. Many of us know about how you can dictate to your computer or your mobile
device and control it. Many of us know of Dragon Naturally Speaking from the Nuance
Corporation, which can not only take dictation but can actually control your computer and
have do things that you talk to. Though not normally known as an assistive technology,
closed captions, sign language, video description, those can be provided in technological ways
as well, on websites, and they are actually widely available on websites. The question
as to how to design an accessible website is both simple and complicated. I will not
try to get into a major tutorial on how to design an accessible website today. I will
give you some basic highlights, but for those of you who are ready to dig in or want some
of the information about that, the World wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines are in version 2.0. They are referred to as WCAG, and the link is there for you to
look more deeply into those guidelines. In addition, the U.S. Access Board is matching
those standards pretty closely with their own and you can see their guidelines on the
Section 508 website. And the new rules are due to be expanded by the end of 2013 and
they are known as a refresh of the rules and they will be updated for more modern digital
technologies. The basics of Web accessibility I can give
in a few bullets, so it does get more deep and complex, but imagine using your computer
or your device without a mouse or a monitor. That is the essence of what you need to do
to make your website or technology accessible, and it includes such things as text equivalents
or alt text for any image on screen, that you use proper headings for page navigation,
ways to skip around rapidly, skipping repetitive links. Any of your forms need to be labeled
just right so somebody who has a disability can really use that same form like anyone
else. And, of course, websites have significant multimedia these days, both video and audio,
and those can be made accessible through captioning and description online. The forcus of your
controls on on your website need to be visible and independent by devices. You have probably
heard of of the term “responsive design” – that your website works on any platform no matter
how big or small or portable or fixed and designing for device independence is key for
accessibility. And a fairly straightforward one, maybe it’s one that should even be first,
is making sure that your website has a sufficient contrast between foreground and background.
People often miss that. I have to say even the beautifully designed websites at WGBH
often miss the contrast issue. Now, to move on to video accessibility, and in particular,
we will start with closed captions or open and closed captions, sometimes these terms
are mixed up. There are a variety of ways of defining them, but pretty well accepted is
that open captions are captions that are burned into or are permanently a part of your images,
your film or your video, and closed captions are those that you can turn on and off at
user control, like on television, but that is also common on websites. People often
mix up the differences between subtitles and closed captions. In this country subtitles
are generally used to translate from one language to another. So your audio may be in English,
your subtitles would be in French or Spanish or Korean. Captions are specifically designed
for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and include non-speech information such as sound effects
and lyrics to songs and speaker IDs. So that is that we distinguish between subtitles
and captions. And there are a variety of formats, technical formats, for broadcasting, web, and
mobile environments – that information is available in a number of the links that
I am providing at the end of this presentation, and they are becoming more unified so there
is becoming a more universal standard for each of these environments and are being proliferated
widely. And that’s not just on the web, but actually in physical spaces like in theaters
and museums and visitor centers. You will find both open and closed captions throughout
those environments. For video description, you will run into similar issues. Video description
is sometimes called audio description or descriptive narration, depending on where you’re coming
from both in terms of country and in terms of when you got into the game and can be
either open or closed, which means you can record your description so everybody hears
it, whether they want to or not, or you can give the user control so they can open and
close that description for their own desires. Description can also be used on videos, television,
DVD’s, on websites, on mobile devices all well, though is much less common in those environments.
But you will also hear video description in theaters, live and movie theaters, in museums
describing art and exhibits, at visitors centers at national parks and other places like that,
and in all of those environments focus is given to both dynamic images, like video,
as well as still images, where it’s an important graphic that needs to be described, as well. Much of the change in the world of media accessibility
happened because of the passage of the 21st Century Video and Communications Accessibility
Act, or the CVAA, signed into law by President Obama in October of 2010 and, rapidly, the
regulations began rolling out by the FCC, and that has an effect on captioning on the
web, on video description, on television, on the provision of captioned description
to users, and even soon requirements about talking menus on video programming devices
as well as emergency information provided in those environments. I skipped over this
rapidly, but there is a lot more information available about the CVAA and every thing I’ve
talked about today at these links. These are links to documents, white papers, and resouces
on NCAM’s website as well as information for FCC-regulated entities at the FCC disability
rights office. The World Wide Web Consortium and the Access Board – there are links there
that have very important, valuable information. The Smithsonian has been deeply involved in
accessibility in all of their museums for many years and have tremendous resources,
as does the National Park Service. Their accessibility site from Harpers Ferry has a tremendous amount
of resources that I really recommend for all of you, as well. And here is my contact information.
You can get in tuch with me if you have specific questions, and we will see if we can help.
For those of you that need a little help right now, my email address is Larry underscore
Goldberg at, and I look forward to hearing from Mark and Johnny for the rest
of the show.>>Thanks so much Larry. I just wanted to
repeat that the web links that he posted will be available on the website when this webinar
is archived. So you do not have to worry about not being able to get those at the moment,
so thank you again. This was very important information. Websites have been around for
awhile and videos for even longer, so there’s been a lot of guidance, and some great examples
of access with both of these technologies. But video games and mobile apps are newer,
and the platforms and technologies are constantly shifting which poses an additional challenge
for accessibility. So we are pleased to have with us Mark Barlet and Johnny Richardson
from the AbleGamers Foundation to help provide some solutions. So thank you both for joining
us.>>Thank you for having us. My name is Mark
Barlet, and I just want to give you guys a quick who I am. I have been in the software
business for about 20 years. I am the president and founder of the AbleGamers Foundation.
I am the winner of the 2012 American Association for People with Disabilities Hearn Leadership[
Award, and something I am very proud of is the includification document which is
linked at the end of this presentation which has a lot of the basis for what we are
going to be talking about, Johnny and I , just won the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Da Vinci
Award last month, which is kind of a big deal because this is the first time a concept and
a document had ever been nominated, much less won. I’m joined today by one of my greatest
friends, Johnny. Johnny please tell us a little bit about who you are, as well.>>Thank you, Mark. My name Johnny Richrdson,
and I am a game and web media developer here in Boston. I have ten years of experience both
as a game developer and worked with a lot of mobile devices. I’m currently the lead user imnterface
engineer at Destructor Beam which is a social gaming company here in Boston. And I am also the
director of industry outreach for AbleGamers and I work with hundreds of developers around
the world to try to make their software more accessible. As a disabled developer and gamer
and user of applications, I consider my mission and specialty to be make games and sotware
more accessible.>>So who is the AbleGamers Foundation? We
just wanted to tell everyone a little bit about us and why we’ve come to this. We are
a charity that is based out of Harpers Ferry, which is interesting that that was just alluded
to by Larry, which was founded in 2004 because I am a person with disabilities myself. I
am a veteran that has a disability, and my best friend has multiple sclerosis, and gaming
was an important way for us to stay connected. And we had found that her disability was taking
away her ability to game. We were looking for some information how to make sure she
could game better, and this was way back in the early days of 2004, and we were not really
finding any information, so given that I had a technology background and I had a real desire
to make a change, the AbleGamers Foundation was born. We mainly work in three different
areas – like this presentation, we work with developers to educate them on how to make
their games and products more accessible. We created a community of gamers with disabilities
so that gamers could help gamers through the thoughts of crowdsourcing, and the fact that
everyone’s disability is slightly different, collectively we could come up with solutions.
And then when our financing allows, we provide AT grants for people with disabilities so
they can bring some of the assistive technology that allows them to play games into the home.
So those are really our three main focuses. So what is game accessibility? Game accessibility
really in a broad sense is making sure that everyone has access to the content that you
are providing, via games or mobile apps. But for this conversation we’re going to talk
specifically about making sure that your games are accessible to people with disabilities.
You guys are going to work really hard on projects you’re currently working hard on
a project right now – let’s make sure that everyone is able to really enjoy what you
are working on.>>We are talking about the extent to which
the disabled users’ ability to fully use your application or game. For our purposes today
we are going to cover more high-level stuff as Beth alluded to earlier on today.
We are not really going to delve into the technical aspects, because that is an whole
ball of wax that would take many, many hours to describe. Today, we will focus on native
apps. What I mean by native is that it is an app that you actually go to, say, the Apple
App Store or the Android Marketplace and download the application to your phone. An application
that exists only on the Web which is a whole different kind of [?]. This kind of ties into
what we talked about, we’re going to be talking about. But is a little outside of the scope. So why is this important? Obviously mobile
devices are ubiquitous, and everyone uses one every day, at least every day, probably
multiple times a day. You cannot assume every user at every mobile level of devices is totally
able-bodied or possess all their mental faculties. In my opinion, frankly, mobile app accessibility
and accessing the desktop or the Web is quite simple. So what is mobile accessibility? A lot of the context
we are going to talk about, you can borrow from the desktop design, but there are actually
a few fairly important differences. Namely, iOS and Android have a lot of built-in features
that can do roughly 50% to 75% of the work as long as the developers that you are working
with are capable, which I hope they are, which has never been true for the desktop. The desktop
has been such a fragmented and diverse array of technology. As I said, the fragmentation
of these devices is a little bit lighter compared with the desktop. It is obviously less true
for Android, given that it is on so many different handsets, but that is starting to
change.>>So who are our users? The first step is
really identifying who is going to be using the technology you are going to develop. They
likely live with some of the following impairments that I think we’re all familiar with: mobility,
cognitive, sight, learning disabilities. What you may not be familiar with is some of the
technology that they are using, stuff like screen readers, the need for subtitles, even
braile keyboards. And what is the age? We kind of call the age out, because one of the
really interesting statistics that’s come out of some of the big marketing firms is
that there are actually more gamers over the age of 50 than there are under the age of
18, and I know that a lot of people might find that kind of shocking, but you have a
retired population, they have got their grandkids on Facebook. Their kids are showing them how
to play Facebook games. They have iPhones or Android apps or an iPad. I just went
out and helped my neighbor who’s 74 to go buy an iPad and she is constantly telling me
about games she’s found. But the interesting thing is that as we age we all know the need
for different types of assistive technology become a little bit greater, you know, hearing
losses. Eyesight losses. So, really, a lot of the accessibility we’re going to be talking
about is not really an option anymore if you want a wider adoption of what you’re going
to be working on. It’s really a requirement.>>So one of the other first steps to look at when
you’re building an accessible app or game is what devices do you want to target? Because
when you are building something that is going to be on every major handset or mobile or
tablet device available, it is going to greatly impact how you design your application with
games, because all of the operating systems vendors have their own set of what they call
user interface guidelines. The are based on brand implications as well as how the phone
or tablet is designed and things like that. That is a lot to keep in mind. Users have
different expectations based this on the kind of device they are using, as well. And when you’re switching from desktop many
of you probably built desktop software before but this might be your first mobile application.
Touch has very little in common with mouse and keyboard input – disabled users generally
just don’t have as many input options as they traditionally had on desktop computers. And they
also desire a much more piecemeal presentation, that these applications can be necessarily
as complex, because they won’t be easy to use at all. And you also can’t assumer where
the user is using the application. Traditionally, on the desktop, it mostly at home or the office;
with the mobile device it can literally be anywhere.>>So let’s talk a little about the dos and
the donts for mobile devices. I think this is really good to kind of set the frame for
everything. Do simplify whatever makes sense. There is a tendency in the desktop environment
because of the amount real estate and everything that you have that you can, for lack of a
better word, desktop that you can, for lack of a better word, you can over complicate
things. You dont’ really have that luxury in the mobile environment. Do put yourself
in the user’s shoes. And I think this is something that a lot of us should do. There is a lot
of technology built into your mobile device for people with disabilities. Turn it on,
live with it for a day or two which leads right into our next one which is use the features
yourself. I have had friends that are fascinated that VoiceOver on the iPhone and what it can
do. And so I think It really helps you guys approach development if you use some of this
technology yourself. Do keep in mind that not to necessarily use fancy animations just
for the sake of using them. Use animations where they make a lot of sense and kind of
leave them out if you are just adding them for “wow, look what I found out my computer
can do.” And as a person who is a quality assurance engineer: Test, test, test. Now
some of the don’ts. Don’t use over-colorization. We will talk a little bit later on in the
presentation about some of the impairments that we’re going to have to help overcome.
One of the big ones, especially among males, is color blindness and things like that. Represent
any or …repress any Accessibility features. There are some people out there that actually
have flagged their application not to allow certain technologies like VoiceOver to work.
Do not do that. And turn accessibility — do not turn accessibility into a complex problem.
I have told hundreds and hundreds and thousands of developers, and Johnny would agree, if
you think about accessibility from day one, accessibility is not that hard. The first
group we’re going to talk about is the visually-impaired gamer and user. The high-level concepts of
a visually impaired gamer is a visually-impaired gamer is sighted, but corrected visual acuity
is only 20-60. They will seek and use accessibility features, especially text-resizing. Contrast
settings making things light versus dark, or dark versus light, colorblind overlays,
and sometimes voice-over technology. For the conversation we are going to have, I do want
to say that we are going to address mainly the needs of a visually-impaired gamer, which
is different than the blind gamer or the blind user. There has been a couple of examples of
visual videogames that have blind accessibility features to them, but for the most part in
my experience, to do either one of them well, the other one sometimes gets left out.>>So what are some of the concepts that can
use to make your applications or game more accessible to visually-impaired players and
users? First of all, color blindness and color impairment is a major and a frequent disability
that we come across all the time. You really have to use high contrast colors. Otherwise,
a lot of the visual accessibility of your app will not be there. Also, make sure that
you havevoice-over and text-to-speech options wherever it makes sense because as we said
at the start, these devices tend to have pretty excellent voice-over controls and text-to-speech
readers. And then do not have any overlays that are are going to make it hard for a color
blind user to see something that’s going to be behind it – beware of things like things
transparency and opacity because those can make parts of your user interface difficult
to use for somebody that’s color blind or some other kind of impairment. Also, make
sure you have alternate text and alternate colors like high contrast modes to allow screen
readers to a) call out any images that are on the screen and b) to allow somebody to be able
to alter the color of the application itself.>>Yeah, one of the biggest examples I use
for people when I talk about this is we are all familiar with red-green. Red might be
what the enemy has, and green might be what you have if you’re playing some
kind of Risk game or Stratego game, but if you are red-green colorblind, you can not
tell where your boundaries end and the other boundaries begin. So you could use something
like alternate colors, orange-blue as another option, or even symbols that go along with
the color. So that’s a real good example of what we’re talking about here. The next group we’re going to talk about is
the hearing-impaired user. They’re looking for at least closed captioning, but in order
to really enjoy a game, full captioning is needed, and Johnny will talk a little bit
more about what full captioning is. They’re looking for visual cues about progress in
a game that has been made not just an audio cue. If a game says “Quest advanced”, and
there is not something on the screen that showed them that as well, they might be missing
the fact that that quest has advanced.>>So on the topic of closed captioning, you’re
going to want to be careful not to link to or contain any videos that do not have that or any
subtitles. Also, you want to refrain from any cues or events like notifications that do not have
some kind of visual component. In fact, I always recommend having a visual and a – so in other
words, a vibration and a visual effect as well as audio. That’s really what you need
to hit. Back to the captioning really quickly because that’s a kind of pet peeve of mine.
If you have a lot of text in your application, the developer is putting that text somewhere
in the app. So, frankly, to include it as a caption somewhere really it is not that much work
because the…it’s not as if it’s not already present somewhere internally inside of the application.
And that’s honestly one of the biggest ROI
[HERE NOW ] points I know of for applications and games.>>One of the other return on investments
that captioning allows you to do is something called internationalization, because if you’re
going through the effort to put closed captioning in, then later on down the road, when you
guys are successful and you want to move your application to another country, you can replace
your the closed-captioning that you have already built in with French, and now you can move
your application into other areas of the world, and you already have the subtitle feature
built in. Which I think is kind of cool. The next one is mobily impaired gamer , which
is one that is near and dear to my heart, because I am a mobily-impaired individual.
They’re looking for options to change how the game is controlled – they may want to
change speed of the game so they can better react if their disability does not give them
a very quick reflex time and – and this is a big note – desktop mobility issues are very
different than that in the mobile space. The USB port is an open source, and there are
probably enough things to plug into the computer to fill up an 18-wheeler truck. That is not
the same in the mobility world.>>So, along these lines of mobility and physical
limitations you really want to avoid in your game especially any interface elements that
would require a lot of rapid movement. One of the pet peeves for me is the use of what
I call quick-time events in games these days where you really have to press something or
touch something in a very rapid manner in order to progress. That can really pretty
much cut the app off or the game off for any user you have. Do not do that or have options
of bypassing those kinds of events. Also, you really want to avoid using small buttons
which can be difficult on the mobile app because you’ve got a smaller screen, but people do not
mind scrolling. They do mind it, though, if they cannot touch the buttons. You tend to
want to use a consistent navigation structure which actually is not that hard if you follow
the guidelines of the device you are building for. Whenever possible, and this can sound
a little bit crazy because in marketing everybody says how great multi-touch is, but
really you really want to avoid that because, frankly, even for able- bodied people, multi-touch
can be fairly difficult. It limits your movement. It limits your ability to get the control over the
app that you want. Honestly, one button touch, one finger input, is all you need in 99% of
the situations that you’re going to find yourself facing in your design, so please keep that
in mind. So let’s say you have got a zoom gesture, where you are allowing the player
to zoom the camera into the character by using the traditional two-finger zoom gesture. What
I would actually also do is add a button to zoom in and zoom out, which allows the same
thing to happen. You can even have an option in the options menu to show or hide the buttons.
What this does is it allows both able-bodied users and not able- bodied users to have the
same ability in the app. But it also doesn’t force anyone to use one or the other. You
should also offer tilts. Most devices these days have devices inside them that allow for
tilt, and it is very easy to access those devices within code. There is really no reason
that you cannot use that, as well, and that can be very effective for somebody who does
not have a lot of fine motor, but their gross motor allows them to hold, say, an iPad and
then just tilt it back and forth.>>To that point, I actually prefer touch
because the way I use my mobile device is that I often set it flat on a desk or something
like that, so tilt is something that kind of irritates me, so offering both is a really
good way of covering and making sure everyone can enjoy it. We will move on to some of the
cognitive- and learning-impaired users. SOme of the high level concepts is – they are looking
for sandbox, consequence-free modes fora game. They really want to learn how to play the
game before they enter into any type of competitive mode. They want or need save points. They
are looking for fail safes so they can progress – this refers back to the quick-time events
that Johnny had talked about earlier – if they’re not able to get through a quick-time
event a game should be able to say “Hey, do you need to move past this?” And pausing the
game so they can plan their next steps is something that is really important.>>So, some other strategies that you can
use for these kinds of disabilities. The first one is to avoid a long list of content. Say
you’ve got an app and it’s mostly text, you’d be surprised how many apps out there will
literally just show you a gigantic list. Even for me – I have no learning disabilities,
even for me it’s very hard to navigate the app because it is easy to lose your place
where you are. So I really recommend putting that content up in the pages providing some
kind of table of contents. This is the way you should do that if you’ve got a lot of
text. You would be surprised how many people leave
out any kind of tutorial mode in their game and app. A lot of games will just drop you
into the game and assume you know what to do. You really want to spend a lot of time
at the start of your development and your design thinking about how you want to teach
the players how to play or how to use your app. These can be some very concise things:
little toolkits. Even some kind of voiceover is ideal, and it allows the person with, say,
a learning disability to really grasp what your app or your game is about and how to
use it. And I would encourage everybody here to look at the most popular apps that are
on the platform that you are targeting. The Applke App Store has a lot of games on them, but
week to week you can find two or three that are high up the charts. I look at those
because there’s a reason people like them. And I am not asking you to steal anyone’s
ideas, but what I’m saying is that if a lot of people like something alot, it tends to
be because that thing is designed very well. There are lots of common threads between those
that they hit that makes it so popular. I would really encourage people just to take
a look at what is out there and learn from those. Last but not least, when your app has
push notifications, make sure they’re descriptive but try to keep them short. A lot of apps
these days like to get the attention of the user by showing them a lot of information
about what is going on. Say it’s a news application pushing entire stories into the notifications
area, you really do not want to do that. You want to get the subject or the title, whatever
the notification is, to be pretty darn short. You should also try to look at all of these
groups of disabilities because they share a lot of commonalities that you want to try
to hit on. I always tell developers to try to minimize the need for form elements in the app
or game that require input. This is because even with voiceover and keyboard support
a lot of mobile devices still are harder than desktop has ever been to inout into text fields
for a variety of reasons. So, what you might want to do is say you need the user’s information
about their name and their email address – tie into things like the Facebook SDK, because
all that requires is that they touch Facebook Connect and suddenly you’ve got all of that
information. That is a really easy way to avoid a lot of registration forms. You should
avoid interface components that are temporary or that fade out after a period of time. So
you’ll see this in a lot of games where, you know, an enemy hits you, for example, and
you have been damaged, and that stays for three or four seconds and then that notification
disappears. You really want to avoid that because not everybody is going to be able
to realize, a, or b, read the notification within that time frame. So always provide
some kind of OK button or close button. GoIng back to what I said earlier about descriptive
text and alternate text for graphics, I would advise that that is avoided for things that
are purely decoration, so graphics that do not have any meaning to the user, they’re
there just to make it look good for the fully-sighted, you want to avoid alternate text because what
will happen is speech reader will interpret those graphics as important to the user and
it is easy to get confused. So, that is the last point there. One other point I really want
to hit on, and this is really important in my mind, is the differences in accessibility
on the different platforms. iOS does a fantastic job – they have a bevy of features. But Android
is taking some time to catch up. It is going to get there soon. Google has made an effort
to get better with what they do, but, honestly, right now, both from the users and developers
standpoint iOS is much easier. I am not dissuading anyone from using either, I am just saying
these are the things you need to think about when developing for those platforms. Continuing
on, when we look at things like BlackBerry and Windows phones, those are also quite behind
in this area. They will get better, possibly over time, but currently they lag badly in
accessibility and a lot of disabled users have actually moved on to things like Android
and iOS. So I would just, again, I do not want to discourage anyone from using a Blackberry
or Windows Phone or Android or iOS. I just want everybody here to be aware of what they
are getting into with these devices.>>Quality assurance is something that is
near and dear. When it comes to accessibility, there is simply nothing more valuable than
focusing on testing. There’s still that type that won’t go there, but that’s OK. Try using
your app with various features and, again, this is a point I cannot stress this enough.
As content makers, it’s important that you understand the capabilities of the tools in
your hand. And the best way to understand that capability is to use that capability,
even if you do not necessarily need it, because you understand exactly how it works and how
your users are going to perceive your application. You always learn more by several orders of
magnitude by observing the user actions while you’re with the app. This is, again, to testing.
Find a good beta group. Find people who will give you real and honest feedback and make
sure people disabilities are represented in that beta group so that you can get a real
good understanding of how people are going to be using your app. This means we are just
about out of time. Looking at my clock, we have about one minute left. My name is Mark
Barlet, my contact information is right here. You can tweet me, you can call me, or
you can LinkedIn me. >>Same with me – my name is Johnny Richardson,
and you are all welcome to send any questions our way or give us a call or tweet
at us. You can find the AbleGamers Twitter account and Facebook link as well as a link
to our includification guide, which is which is our 40-page full-color guide that
demonstrates for developers how accomplish many of these aspects that we talked about
today.>>You cannot have gamification without includification.
Thank you guys very much.>>Thank you so much. That was a lot of great,
valuable information. This is a an important topic. I appreciate both of you and Larry
providing all this wonderful information. I hope that you have all learned some strategies
for approaching access with these technologies and will be sure to take advantage of the
resources that are available. So we will open up to questions now, and I encourage you to
email or to send your questions to us using the Q&A box. We have about 10 minutes, so
please send your questions, and we have a few already. Let’s see. We will start with
a question for Johnny or Mark. You said to simplify “where it makes sense” when it comes
to an app or video game design. Where might it not make sense? What types of situations?>>So in my mind, there are plenty of situations
out there, in games especially. Frankly, a lot of games are so complex because of the
genre of the game or the story of the game or just the goal of the game where it is very hard
to say, OK, if I simplify the design, it will compromise the game so much that it’s almost
not worth it. What I’m not trying to say is you should not try. I’m saying that if you
can’t simplify something for some reason, if you think that’s going to compromise the
quality of the product, I would still encourage anyone out there to then look at that design
and say, OK, if I cannot simplify this, how do I explain it in a better way? Or how do
I break the design up into more digestible chunks? And I guess that is an example where
you would not be able to necessarily streamline something, but you can diversify the way it
is put out there into the user’s vocabulary, essentially.>>OK. Great. Thank you. We have another question.
This one is probably good for Larry. What tools are available to enhance accessibility
like say for captioning and description authoring, web accessibility checking, etc. What are
some tools available out there?>>That’s a good question. There are a range
of tools. Let’s start with captioning. There is everything from freeware, like a tool called
Magpie, that WGBH NCAM created a few years ago and makes available for free from our
website. There are middle range tools from, for instance, there is a company called CPC,
workstations for both MAC and PC to do your own captioning. And at the very high end, broadcasters
and television facilities will use a captioning work station called Softel Swift. Those are
the range of tools there. There’s also ways of posting your video on YouTube and havng
the speech recognition engine there do in essence a rough draft. That will not be highly
accurate, and then you can take that text that is gnerated, download it, correct it,
clean it up, and then re-upload it , and then you can have a captioned video on YouTube,
which works pretty well. Not quite as many tools available for video description, except
in fact video description is really just a script writer. You can write your script in
Word, and the real issue then is the timing. Make sure when you are watching a video you
can measure the spaces where there is time for dialogue. There are courses you can take
on video description, and you can learn a bit about to do it for your own institution,
and then you just do a mix. It is really not more complicated than going into a mix room
and mixing your audio. For Web accessibility, you start with the guidelines I pointed out
in the webinar, and then there are various evaluation tools – little plugins or links
you can put in your website on your website or Web page, and it will do a Web evaluation,
and the available web accessibility evaluation tools the are listed at the W3C’s Web Access Initiative
site on their website. You can find eval tools there.>>OK, great. Thank you. We have a question
about when the presentation will be available, be archived on our website. It will be in
the next couple of weeks. But you can go ahead and email us any of the questions that you
have If you would like to get any of those links ahead of time. So, we have another question
and I am not sure who’s best to answer this, but I will throw it out there. How accessible
are PDF files for screen readers? nd if not how can PDFs be made accessible?>>I can answer that question. Adobe actually
has a pretty good suite of accessibility tools when you’re doing a PDF creation. You know,
PDFs have to be created from something else, and it is very similar to Web design. There
are places for you to put alternate text, labeling, and the whole nine yards. I just
actually finished a project doing some PDF accessibility, and it is almost identical
to what Web accessibility looks like.>>Great. Thank you. Another question is What
are some programs that you recommend for adding audio descriptions to videos? This is probably
a good question for Larry.>>So the question is what programs, software
programs? Well, there is one from the same company that makes the captioning workstation.
Softel. They also have an audio description tool. As I mentioned, it really is just a
question of writing out a script and timing the pauses, so you can really use any scripting
tool and even, as I said, Word. We started using Hyper Card stacks way back in the old
days. We created our own it tool internally called Descriptor. `But really what it does
is time out the audio of a program and then measure the pauses. Aside from those two,
that’s the main…actually, Magpie will do audio description. It is a bit more tedious,
but it’s is free. You get what you pay for. You can find try that out at the NCAM’s website
at It’s right on the homepage there, there’s a link to Magpie.>>Great, thank you. Another question: Are
there centers or groups or listservs or anything that offer to do user testing for apps focusing
on accessibility?>>Yes, I guess there’s a follow-up question
is, Are you willing to pay for it or not? Absolutely, there are organizations that will
do all of the accessibility testing in the world if you have the budget for it. If you
are an organization like the AbleGamers Foundation and we’re looking specifically at games, we
have had and we do have a small group of gamers with disabilities who would love an opportunity,
especially if it is a really awesome title, to get into your system early and give you
feedback. Larry, would you agree?>>Yes. It is a range. As Mark mentions, there
are some free tools available, and there are organizations like my own. NCAM does
quite a bit of web accessibility work for our partners and corporate clients. We also
have a free what’s called a favelet, something you can put in your bookmarks bar. The NCAM
QA favelet. There’s also something called the Web Accessibility Evaluation tool – WAVE.
Jim Thatcher, an expert in the field, has his favelets you can put in your tool bar.
There are some pretty simple toolbar techniques, and they will get you some basic problems
that you can fix by yourself right away, and then it escalates from there. But if you need
to just do a quick check, you might try it one of those toolbars available. There is
another one – A Checker. You can Google any of those, or you can write to me, and I will
give you the list.>>I just wanted to say really quickly, as
a web developer, you can also use the World Wide Web Consortium. They have a variety of
accessibility tools that will essentially run through your web page and see what the
results are as far as a disabled user. They are also somebody to check out.>>All right. Well, thank you so much. That
is all of the time that we have. We had some really great questions. I am sorry for those
that we did not get to, but you can always email us. Myy email address is bienvenub at
arts dot gov and we will make all of this information available. So please stay in touch,
and I hope this was informative for everybody, and thank you for joining us.


  1. Post
    Harvey Whitehead

    This information is long over due. Now it is as common to discuss and implementing as a new background color for a web site or a drop down video window. Great work keep it up. 

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