A focus on accessibility
A focus on accessibility
https://asa1cadmoremedia.blob.core.windows.net/asset-c1194aaf-7c11-4f11-b130-c18d11a4d8b1/34 - A focus on accessibility-HD 1080p.mov
SUZE KUNDU: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this NISO Plus 2021 session called, A Focus on Accessibility. We're going to be hearing from three different mini panels today, after which you get to ask any questions to any of our speakers that you would like answered. We are going to be moving over to a Q&A session for that. So make sure that you keep a note of any questions that you have as we're going through the sessions. Today, we're going to be hearing about the evolution of accessibility and upgrading the experience for all users, and that's going to be run by Bruce Howell and Robert Smith.
SUZE KUNDU: We're then going to be hearing about looking for accessible, open science and overcoming barriers within the SciELO network, and that's the talk from Solange Santos. And finally, we're going to hear from three people. We're going to hear about why organizations are continuing to be blind to accessibility. And then we're going to hear from Barry Bealer, Mike Caprera, and from Michael Johnson.
SUZE KUNDU: But first off, we're going to head straight over to Bruce and Rob. Take it away.
ROBERT SMITH: All right, thank you very much. Very happy to be here. So today, we're going to have a bit of a conversation about accessibility in the context of libraries, what true accessibility requires, and some of the recent trends in the accessibility space. And we will start with an introduction. So I'm Rob Smith. I'm a platform product manager for accessibility at EBSCO. I work with all the teams at EBSCO, across all of our product lines, to ensure that we are delivering an accessible user experience.
ROBERT SMITH: Bruce?
BRUCE HOWELL: Thanks, Rob. I'm Bruce Howell. I manage the Accessibility Services business line at the Carroll Center for the Blind. Carroll Center is actually a rehabilitation agency for persons who are blind or visually impaired. As a result of working with those individuals and helping them to learn independent skills, we recognized several years ago that the other side of the equation was for people who are producing and designing that online content.
BRUCE HOWELL: What do they need to do to make it accessible? And we work with clients, such as EBSCO, to assist them in making their product lines accessible.
ROBERT SMITH: And I think we've had a relationship between EBSCO and the Carroll Center for two or three years now. And it's been a really rich relationship, where we learn a lot from the Carroll Center. All right, so Bruce, we're going to do this in sort of a question and answer format. So let's just dive right in. This is a really interesting one that comes up a lot. So based on your experience, how would you describe the difference between compliance and usability when it comes to accessibility?
BRUCE HOWELL: That's a great question, Rob, and a good one to start us off with. I personally consider accessibility to be a technical achievement where you can check off the boxes that it is possible for someone with a disability to do something in an online scenario or within a digital document. They can read it. They can move around in it. They can interact with things that need to be interacted with.
BRUCE HOWELL: But that may not be a really wonderful experience for the end user, and that's where the user experience, or usability, of online products becomes so essential. You don't want to create excessive challenges for someone with a disability to be able to get at the information they need, to do the research they need to do, to accomplish their tasks. So that usability, or user experience element, really is something to add on top of technical accessibility.
ROBERT SMITH: And so with compliance, it's entirely possible to be fully compliant and still have a poor user experience.
BRUCE HOWELL: I agree.
ROBERT SMITH: Yeah, so that's definitely something to watch out for. And so how do you think the best way to go about assessing usability? And what do you think some of the most challenging areas to get right there are?
BRUCE HOWELL: Well, I think first of all, people who are designing and building out content have to have a better understanding of who their and audience is and what the challenges of their ability to perceive that content will be. It's understanding that not everybody interacts with a computer, or a tablet, or smartphone in the same way. Although those devices are designed with people who are sighted and have no disability in mind to be able to use and interact with them, it turns out that a number of user groups-- and I represent those that are blind or visually impaired-- have special needs.
BRUCE HOWELL: We can't see things that are on the screen. So there has to be a different way for us to be able to navigate to those items and perform things to do the actions that they allow us to do. I can't use a mouse click for instance, because I can't see where I'm supposed to click. So that's just one example. And I think all designers and developers need to understand that they need to make sure that everything is keyboard accessible, as well as a number of other types of conventions that will improve the experience.
ROBERT SMITH: Great. And so on the flip side, when it comes to compliance, what do you think some of the big areas to watch out for to get right are?
BRUCE HOWELL: And this is ever changing because technologies continue to change.
ROBERT SMITH: And the standards, right?
BRUCE HOWELL: And the standards--
ROBERT SMITH: Yeah.
BRUCE HOWELL: They're being upgraded currently as we speak. Web Content Accessibility guidelines is an international set of standards that were created that provide a lot of direction and guidance in terms of what the expectations should be for an accessible experience. But for me today, if I had to say the things that are most critical, it's the semantic structure of a website. Are things used in a way that makes them logical?
BRUCE HOWELL: Are headings implemented in a hierarchical structure so that they provide additional meeting and navigation? Are menus structured in a way that allows them to be collapsed and expanded appropriately? I don't want to have to go down through 50 different menu items and all the sub-nested items, if they're of no interest to me. I like to be able to open and close those different sections to be able to navigate effectively in them.
BRUCE HOWELL: Are pictures, images, do they have something called alternative text, which is what a screen reader, someone who's blind, relies on to interact. They'll get some context and understand what those images mean in relation to where they're placed on a page, for example.
ROBERT SMITH: So if I'm a librarian, understanding some of that stuff might be pretty overwhelming. So how would you recommend approaching something like that? Understanding not only how compliant a resource is or how compliant your own website is, but understanding how users use it and what their needs are.
BRUCE HOWELL: Wow. And this is a challenge, because a lot of web accessibility is not intuitive. If you don't understand a user group and what their needs are, it's really hard to envision. Well, how would I test that? How do we even know if this complies? So a couple of quick ideas. One is, I mentioned keyboard navigation already. Consider actually putting your mouse on the other side of the room.
BRUCE HOWELL: Move it out of your reach, and see if you can go through an entire page of content using just your Tab key or your Arrow keys. And if they're actionable elements like a button to submit a search or something, can you activate that by using either the Spacebar or the Enter key? And if you can't get at anything on that page, or you can't activate anything by using that Spacebar or Enter, then you have an accessibility issue.
BRUCE HOWELL: I guarantee, there's something wrong. That someone using assistive technology would not be able to do. So that's one of the easiest tests. And the other thing I really would encourage everybody to do who's interested in putting their shoes in the place of someone with a disability is to download and attempt to use screen readers. There is a free one for Windows computer.
BRUCE HOWELL: It's called Non-Visual Desktop Access, NVDA, that you can download and play around with. If you have an Apple device, whether it's an iPad, iPhone, or, Mac computer there is one built in called VoiceOver. And using one of those to screen readers will help you to understand the challenges and rewards of someone trying to interact with your content without vision, for instance.
ROBERT SMITH: Really glad that you mentioned the rewards part of that. I think being a sighted person myself, when I was first exposed to screen readers many years ago. I was initially just extremely overwhelmed by the amount of audio information coming at me. But getting to use it more, and especially observing people using them more, has shown me that it's really something that can enrich someone's life.
BRUCE HOWELL: I agree with that, Rob. Actually, I find because I am a daily user of screen readers, it's actually a great editing tool. I can actually very rapidly, because we typically learn to use it at a much faster rate of speech than we are talking at, for instance, right now. And if I go down through a document and I'm reading it, if there's a typo in there, I can usually pick that up audibly very easily.
ROBERT SMITH: Sure, yeah, because it's just going to be nonsense.
BRUCE HOWELL: Doesn't sound right.
ROBERT SMITH: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. OK, great. Yeah, so how about other tools, like maybe an automated tool to help assess compliance issues that may come up on a website or an online tool?
BRUCE HOWELL: Yeah, excellent. Sometimes I focus too much on the user experience side, and that manual testing is a critical part to get at things. But there are certainly automated tools. There's WebAIM out of-- oh, I always get this wrong-- is it Utah State?
ROBERT SMITH: Yep.
BRUCE HOWELL: They have tools that are available for people to download and use for free. Browser extensions and things that you can do some analytical testing to find some of the most obvious issues. I mentioned alt text earlier. That it would identify any graphic where there's no alt text. It can identify where links don't have an appropriate label that would indicate their destination very clearly, and it can look at many of the HTML elements and determine whether they're appropriately utilized.
BRUCE HOWELL: And there are other tools out there. Deque University has some things. And the Deque Axe, A-X-Z-- sorry, A-X-E tool again, is free and available. There are color contrast analyzers that you can find and download that let you determine whether the contrast between foreground and background colors is adequate to meet the requirements.
BRUCE HOWELL: So yeah, using a combination of many of these readily available tools along with some of that manual testing can really enable you to do a good analytical job.
ROBERT SMITH: Yeah, I find that those types of tools are helpful to get some really fast feedback on the accessibility of something. Just as soon as you get there, run the automated tool. And that will tell you if you come back with 300 issues, then there's probably a problem. It will give you information about the issues. And so I think all of these things, the manual tools that you're describing, as well as the automated tools, are really a great thing to have in the toolbox to go along with the type of documentation that vendors provide around their accessibility.
ROBERT SMITH: So let's talk about some trends that you've observed recently in the accessibility space. It's really kind of an ever changing thing.
BRUCE HOWELL: Yeah, and I think I mentioned at the beginning that-- two things, technology is ever changing. So you've got not only the different authoring tools that are being constantly developed out there to help people design and create online content, but then you've got changes in web browsers that are continually being upgraded or introduced. And then you've got the assistive technologies themselves, which are continually upgraded and enable them to interact differently and more deeply enriched ways of getting that content.
BRUCE HOWELL: As an example, a screen magnification software that a lot of people with low vision uses, called Zoom Text. But that over the years has built in more and more screen reader capabilities with it too to become a more robust tool. But the challenge with all is any time any of those things change, whether it's the content that you've redeveloped and put out there, or the web browser, or the assistive technologies, any of those changes can have both positive and negative impact on resulting accessibility.
BRUCE HOWELL: So people have to continually be monitoring and checking. All too often, accessibility tends to follow design, rather than the other way around. And one of the things that we try to do at the Carroll Center, and that I applaud EBSCO for their efforts to do, is to build that accessibility into the entire design and QA process to make sure that before you launch anything you've done all that testing.
ROBERT SMITH: Makes a big difference. Yeah, I can say for sure. And I think you touched on something really important there. This is not something that you just evaluate once and then you can set it on the shelf. It's something that you need to continually engage with and solicit feedback from people that are actually using the product in this way. All right, how are we doing on time, Suze?
SUZE KUNDU: You have four minutes left.
ROBERT SMITH: Excellent, OK. So let's use the last bit of this to talk a little bit about accessibility personas. We already talked about tools, so personas and heuristics around accessibility. So the Carroll Center helped EBSCO develop a list of accessibility personas that we use in our product, design, and development processes. So we found that that's a really good way to capture the common use cases, and pitfalls, things like that that users would encounter.
ROBERT SMITH: And it's been really valuable in our development process. So Bruce, tell us a little bit about personas and how you might go about putting something like that together to use in really any organizations process when you're evaluating or working on accessibility.
BRUCE HOWELL: Yeah, I agree with you, Rob. I think this is a really important starting point, if you will. One of the things that I like to point out to you and your team members, as well as other clients that we work with, is that if we take, for example, a student, a college student, who is blind or visually impaired, not only is that student expected to do the academic work that all of their peers are required to do.
BRUCE HOWELL: But in addition to that, that student has to learn to use system technologies that we've been talking about, a screen reader or screen magnifier. They have to learn the navigation strategies for every different online resource that they use. So their job becomes almost doubly as much work as their non-disabled counterpart. They have to learn the academic requirements and do the work, but they also have to learn how to use the technologies, how to interact with the digital content, how to figure out workaround strategies when they can't make something work really well.
BRUCE HOWELL: If they've downloaded a PDF document and that document is not particularly accessible, how are they going to deal with that? Are there ways that their assistive technology can render it more accessible, or are they going to have to reach out to a support person to help them be able to access that information? So understanding those needs of students, and this would be true for persons with all types of disabilities.
BRUCE HOWELL: If you've got someone who's, for instance, got a mobility challenge, they're not able to use their hands or their arms. So they're not using conventional keyboard or mouse. How are they interacting, and how is their assistive technology going to interact and work with the content that they're trying to engage with? So the more you understand about what their needs are, how long it takes for them to do certain types of tasks, what other kind of support they might need in place, really enables the producer of these contests to be more agile, predictive, and build as much as they can into their product, and then understand where they may have to provide additional supports above and beyond that.
ROBERT SMITH: Sure, yeah, yeah. I think that's so critically important to when you're selecting resources or third party tools that you're going to use. I know from experience, if we're going to take like an off the shelf code library and incorporate it into our product, if you do that sort of assessment and understanding of the user needs up front, it can save you a lot of time.
ROBERT SMITH: You don't want to get to the end of a project, and then just realize that this isn't going to work. And you're to have to start over.
BRUCE HOWELL: That's exactly right, Rob. Because as we all know, it's human behavior. Once you've invested your time, effort, and belief into the way you've designed something and developed it, the last thing you want to hear somebody telling you that this isn't going to work. You need to do it differently. It's so important to try to figure that out up front. And you mentioned third party products. Always a good idea to ask them if they have a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or a VPAT, because this is their self-disclosure about where they are on the accessibility journey with their product.
BRUCE HOWELL: So if they have one, you'll learn a lot about it. If they don't have one, that's also going to tell you something about that company's products.
ROBERT SMITH: Yep, and I definitely having a lot of experience with the VPATs. At EBSCO, I encourage folks to try to have a conversation with your vendor about their VPAT. If they can answer questions, that will help you out. And if they can't, that may indicate a problem. All right, so I think we're at time here. I was going to ask you about collaboration tools, like Zoom, but I think we'll just leave that one off the table for now. So thank you very much, Bruce.
ROBERT SMITH: Looks like you got the sun shining bright behind you there. It was a great conversation, and I hope that the sparks some more questions for the Q&A section.
BRUCE HOWELL: Thank you. It is my pleasure.
ROBERT SMITH: Thanks.
SUZE KUNDU: Thank you so much, Bruce and Rob. I have to say, the sun is shining quite angelically behind you there. It's quite lovely given that it's currently snowing in London. So thank you so much, Bruce, and thank you so much, Rob. If you have any questions, please make sure that you hold onto them until we move on to the Q&A section later. And we'll make sure that we can try and get some answers to these burning questions.
SUZE KUNDU: We're now going to move on to Solange Santos, who is the production and publishing workflow manager at SciELO. Solange, it's over to you. Thank you, Suz.
SOLANGE SANTOS: Good morning or good afternoon to all, wherever you are. I'm really pleasant to be part of this panel, especially listening to the conversation between Bruce and Rob. And it's really amazing to see the input that we have. In order to provide some level of stability to my presentation, I would you like to describe myself. I am Solange Santos from SciELO and I'm Brazilian. I'm a black, light skinned woman, curly brown hair, and my hair is tied up in a ponytail.
SOLANGE SANTOS: I'm wearing a red blouse, and I'm appearing on your screen from the shoulders up and behind me just a wall. There is nothing on there. Thank you. I would like to share my screen just to share with you people some background about SciELO. Just put in the presentation mode. That's OK?
SOLANGE SANTOS: Thank you. I would like to share with you that SciELO is a program, an open access program, and we launched this program in 1998 with the objective of increase journalist visibility, accessibility, and quality. And we launched this program four years before the most important open access declaration, Budapest. And the SciELO network encompasses 17 countries.
SOLANGE SANTOS: 14 in Latin America and Caribbean, in addition to Spain, Portugal, and South Africa. Now we publish more than 1,300 journals. Just for SciELO Brazil collection, we offer one million of downloads per day. And we have as a fundamental principle the scientific knowledge is a public good. So we are really proud of the SciELO program.
SOLANGE SANTOS: SciELO program is one of the drivers in Latin America, promoting open access and open science. So we were really shocked when the recently we realized that it does not mean that scientific content is accessible for all. The scientific content that we are providing is accessible for all, and it should be considered that is a fundamental principle that the scientific knowledge that is a public good.
SOLANGE SANTOS: So especially for people with disabilities here in Brazil, disability or elderly people, especially those associated to higher education in Brazil with [INAUDIBLE] countries, and the research those related to research institutions. And for instance, we found that our content, 95% of our content, figures and tables in our scientific articles are included in HTML.
SOLANGE SANTOS: But those articles do not present essential elements for our use of assistive technologies, such as screen readers. And then we start to think about how to address this issue. So we conducted an evaluation process. We choose two different modes. One is an automatic inspection, based on the W3C markup validator.
SOLANGE SANTOS: And other type of inspection based on human inspections, based on their heuristic evaluation. And here we have some criterias. Based on these methods, we didn't find, for instance in the automatic methods, that we have found in our web page at least 37 errors. The main problems are related to images and table without alternative text-- mentioned already by Bruce-- link labels that without, they are without titles.
SOLANGE SANTOS: So the people go to a link and they don't know what it means. And incorrect positioning of headings. For instance, he didn't [INAUDIBLE] before heading one, [? end up ?] obsolete attributes. And here, we have select some examples. Errors that shows that there is no alternative test for image and our warning that found a page without the language information.
SOLANGE SANTOS: For instance, if you are reading, it's really important to know the language that you are reading for our screen readers. So it's really important to add this there. And the humans' inspection, the results shows we use-- it was conducted by 6 participants, two of them visually impaired. They were looking for problems in our Search page, search results, and Article page using by-- to do this evaluation, 16 heuristics related to accessibility.
SOLANGE SANTOS: And we found with more frequent problems are related to heuristic 1, 2, 3, and 4. For instance, alternative text, contrast, and font size control, functionality for keyboard, and ways to help users to navigate. And we also found problems related to heuristic 10, 11, 13, and 14. Spelling errors, errors message, no indication of a material type, statues of material availability.
SOLANGE SANTOS: And those areas demand urgent resolution. And here we also select two different comments related to heuristic number four. For instance, a button is missing to help the user to skip Side Navigation menu and access the article, and there is no way to skip a table. Sometimes, we have tables that go through two pages, for instance.
SOLANGE SANTOS: And an example is if I want to skip the table with a lot of many columns or cells. [INAUDIBLE] Based on this information, on this evaluation, we are trying to urge testing, or trying to develop an assessment policy, to raise the awareness of our scientific community that our content should be available for everyone.
SOLANGE SANTOS: So it should be a commitment for all of us, but we know that it will change the workflow. It will involve authors, editorial teams, vendors, and content aggregators, such as SciELO. And we have created a working group to discuss and identify needs in the impacts in adoption of standard and promote accessibility in the SciELO network, and also promote adoption of specification standards for HML, XML, PDF format based on internal and external feedback for the entire SciELO network, because we do believe that improving visibility in a digital library improves and benefits all user experience.
SOLANGE SANTOS: It will benefit all of user, not only people with disabilities. Thank you very much for this opportunity, and we know that we are just in the beginning of the road. We are just beginning to address our problems, but we are really committed to doing that. Thank you very much.
SUZE KUNDU: Thank you so much, Solange. That was incredible. And for you to be able to take us on the journey that you started to take, by no means finished yet. I think it's really encouraging. Lots of people I'm sure will watch the session and really want to do their part. And it can be difficult to know where to start. So I think through all of these sessions, we have so much that we can learn from all of you.
SUZE KUNDU: So thank you so much. We're now going to hear from our panel within a panel. And we're going to hear from Barry Bealer, who is the senior vise president of strategic alliances at codeMantra. We're going to hear from Mike Caprera, who is the chief information officer at the Viscardi Center. And finally, we're going to hear from Michael Johnson, who is the director of content partnerships at Benitec.
SUZE KUNDU: So we're going to have a bit of a panel within a panel, panel section, if you will. So take it away, Barry and the two Mikes, our favorite new boy band.
BARRY BEALER: Thanks, Suze. We are here today to talk about why our organization is continuing to be blind to accessibility. To provide some context to this panel discussion with Mike and Mike, or Michael and Mike, 13% of people in the United States have some type of visual impairment. That works out to about 42 million people. Globally, there's around 285 million people with some type of visual impairment.
BARRY BEALER: Majority of business documents today are in PDF format, and Adobe estimates just $2.5 trillion PDF that are floating around the web today. So the majority of these aren't accessible. When you look at research reports, they talk about websites not being accessible, and they believe only 1% of web pages across the internet are accessible today. And when you think about these folks who have to try to read or consume information and they can't, 91% of these people-- and you think about this-- 91% of these visually impaired people will leave a brand the first time they have an issue with a website or with a document.
BARRY BEALER: If that doesn't scream that businesses or organizations should be doing something for digital accessibility, I don't know what does. The last and not least is around lawsuits. As everybody reads about, the number of lawsuits continues to increase around accessibility. Most years, there's over 2,000 federal lawsuits against organizations that have accessibility issues on either their website or their documents.
BARRY BEALER: So with that kind of context, I wanted to bring in Mike and Michael to talk about this. So Michael, given your deep involvement around accessibility and the accessibility in this industry with Benitec, what do you think organizations can do to address website and document accessibility?
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So that's an excellent question, and thanks for that. The key thing is to get started, and you're going to hear me talk about that during the panel. Just get started, pick a time, pick a section of your publishing house, or your website, or whatever it is, and begin the process. The nice thing about accessibility is that all of these standards are out there and they're easily available.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: The two primary drivers would be from the World Wide Web Consortium. The standard is WCAG, W-C-A-G, and that's the Web Content Access Guidelines. So they're out there. Any competent engineer, web engineer, job engineer, whatever should be able to read those standards and apply it. So it's sort of a 12-step program. Admit you have a problem, pick a place to get started, and go.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So that would be the best thing to address from a technical standpoint. The other is the point you made, which is to recognize that there are an enormous amount of people to whom you should be providing services, or could be selling things to, who simply can't transact business with you or get the information you have on the offer if you don't make it accessible.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: The standard thing we talk about is there are more people with print disabilities in the world than there are people that are left-handed. So I would hope that a business wouldn't say I'm going to deliberately do something, or not do something, so that left-handed people can effectively buy my service, or read my content, or understand my documents. So that should be a big motivator for them. So recognize you have a problem, get started doing something about it, look to the standards community or experts in processing, like codeMantra, and get moving.
BARRY BEALER: All right. So Mike, we just heard from Michael with respect to what to do around accessibility. You live on the side of you're hopeful at the Viscardi Center that you're going to be receiving content that is accessible so your students can use that in a curriculum environment. So can you provide some real world experiences? How does the Viscardi Center deal with this accessibility around digital documents, and websites, and educational-type materials?
MIKE CAPRERA: Sure. Thanks, Barry, for including me on this great discussion today. So it's actually been a little frustrating to obtain content that is accessible for our students. Here at the Viscardi Center, we have 180 students with various areas of disabilities that require customization to their accessible technology, or assistive technology, and the content that is provided to them. But we also have to follow New York state guidelines of curriculum.
MIKE CAPRERA: And working with these vocational programs, there is truly not really an understanding of what accessibility is. And talking with some of those vision and hearing areas of those vocational programs, they don't have a clear understanding of what digital accessibility really is. And when we work with them directly, they talk about zooming in on copies of content.
MIKE CAPRERA: They talk about providing readers for individuals with disabilities who are visually impaired, which does not provide any sort of independent thinking or provide any sort of independence for that student. So it is a little bit of frustrating. But one thing that we have learned with the use of digital accessibility and assistive technology-- there's one story I do want to share is that one of our students would arrive to school every day via ambulance.
MIKE CAPRERA: She had no motor skills. She was bedridden. And the only-- what she had was the use of her eye, and eyebrow, and a little twitch of her finger. And what we were able to do with assistive technology using Eye Gaze and a communication device like a Dynavox, she was able to produce her own content. And what we do is we kind of unlock the box for her. And she was able to write poetry.
MIKE CAPRERA: She was able to write stories. And all because of the use of technology. But there really has to be a clear understanding of what digital accessibility really is. And when it comes down to the publishers is really offering that type of content in particular formats that can work with particular system softwares.
BARRY BEALER: That's really interesting, Mike. Thank you. We're going to shift back a little bit to talk about the accessibility industry overall. And Michael, with your background again being around accessibility and what the Benitec organization does and all, we talked about the standards a little bit. But can you talk about some of the directives that go on as well? So as we know, there's sometimes country specific standards, there's state standards, there's all kinds of standards out there and directives today.
BARRY BEALER: Can you make a little bit of sense in this time to bring some clarity to this topic?
MICHAEL JOHNSON: I will do my best to make a little bit of sense. First, I want to say, Mike, you and I should connect offline, because Benitec as a charity focused on making accessible content, especially for readers and learners, we may have some content available to you through the various programs that we run. So that's a separate thing, but let's connect on that. So to your question, Barry, about standards, so from a technical standpoint again real quick, the WCAG, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, as well as the EPUB accessibility 1.0 guidelines.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: And I say EPUB here, which is a file format for content, right? EPUB is not an accessibility format. It's just a content format, which has lots of rich accessibility data into it. Barry, earlier you mentioned the almost $3 trillion PDF documents. PDF is not an accessibility format. Adobe doesn't pretend that it is. It's a picture of a page.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: It's great. It does that, but it's not entirely accessible format. Work can be done to it, and I'm sure [? Covanter ?] does some of that work. But the base to start is a format like EPUB, which is built to have additional content elements like accessibility put in. We at Benitec also have our born accessible standards when we go through certification.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: Because we will certify a publisher, textbook publisher, trade publisher, whatever they are that says that their workflow can create fully accessible content. So that's some of the standards, right? Now, what about the rules, the regulations, the guidelines? So in the United States, obviously the American with Disabilities Act covers all this. And to my knowledge-- I'm not a lawyer-- but to my knowledge, every university or institution that's ever been sued on ADA grounds for lack of accessible content has lost.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: It's basically an on/off switch. Either your content is fully accessible, or it isn't. So don't wait to get sued, because you're going to lose. Start making the changes right now. And this could be whether your county or state doing voter information, this could be a college or university, this could be a car repair shop, whatever it is. You're on the internet, either web page-wise or downloadable content-wise.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: And you're not accessible. If you ever do get sued, you're going to lose. Now, that's the United States set of things. There are particular things that the US Department of Education runs. 508 and 504 compliance, as examples, to help us [? spelling ?] these situations. The most interesting thing that's going on right now standards is more of a global thing.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So the European Union in 2019 passed the European Accessibility Act. So in all the member countries-- and apparently the UK is going to participate anyway, even though they're no longer in the EU-- it will be-- come January 1, 2025, it will be illegal to produce or sell goods or services which are not accessible. So this isn't a question of I have to wait to get sued.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: This just a question of you'll be violating the law. The 27 member countries will, of course, have their own local adaptations. Content and software, which reads content, are in those categories where they must be compliant. So those of us who work in the industry, as far as creating or certifying content, know 2025 is like six months away from a you have to get everything in order and get started so you're ready by 2025.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So that's a quick snapshot, Barry. We could do half a month as opposed to half an hour on this. But that's some of the technical standards and some of the legal issues. I hope that's useful.
BARRY BEALER: No, very useful. And I think you're right. I think a lot of people kind of sit off to the side and think that accessibility will take care of itself. And with these directives and initiatives going on, there's a lot of legality associated with it. So people need to pay attention to this. And with respect to that, you kind of touched on these things. Accessibility means different things to different people.
BARRY BEALER: We have software accessibility. We have website accessibility and document accessibility. And Mike, with your position as CIO, you obviously need to educate your staff in all of these so they can understand what tools and technologies that are out there to help the students. So how do you go about educating the team at the Viscardi Center of what's out there, what you can use, and what have you found that actually works?
BARRY BEALER: Obviously, the story about the young lady in the wheelchair is fantastic. That's a great use of technology. But what other things have you employed that have made content accessible to your students?
MIKE CAPRERA: Well, Barry, I think it's a cultural change that has to start at the top of the organization. And so you really need to have the C-suite buy in and then trickle down to the rest of the organization. So one other story, which includes our CEO, was when a few years ago, where we had a student of our school where the parents were complaining that they had inaccessible homework, or coursework, to be able to complete at home.
MIKE CAPRERA: So we took that and said-- our CEO said, from now on, there will not be any inaccessible documents leaving our organization. And that means coming from emails, that means coming from video content, that means coming from anything that can be made accessible. So with that being said, all your internal policies and procedures, your employee handbooks, all internal documents must be made accessible for all employees.
MIKE CAPRERA: We're talking about email checking. So in terms of when you send out email blasts using marketing tools, we ensure that they run to accessibility checks before we hit the Send button or schedule it out. We provide assistive tech evaluations for students and staff that require, or have choose to disclose that they have a disability. And then we will provide the appropriate equipment based on the evaluations to them, and also accessible materials.
MIKE CAPRERA: We work with software, such as-- like I mentioned earlier-- iGig, [? Jaw, ?] NDDA, Co:writer. There's a whole slew of software that are out there that our staff, employees, users, students, they all use on a daily basis. But really, it's a cultural shift. And you have to let people know. You have to educate and make people aware within your organization that it's what the person is reading from you that needs to be made accessible.
MIKE CAPRERA: Just because you may not have the disability, but the person receiving that email may have that disability. So I think it's really coming down to just educating the staff, holding in-service about awareness, and actually PDF document, word document, PowerPoint creation that is authored in a accessible format.
BARRY BEALER: No, all very good points. Thank you. So to kind of wrap up the panel discussion here, guys. Michael, you've been again in the industry for a while around accessibility. You understand what's going on in the marketplace, how the technologies are being used, how the standards are being applied. Mike, you have been in the educational setting for 10 plus years.
BARRY BEALER: You've seen I'm sure the change in the adoption of assistive technologies. And also as a wrap up, I wanted to talk about the three tips that you guys would give to organizations that are either just starting down this path and journey or that maybe haven't even started it. So Michael, I'm going to start with you. What are those three tips that you think everybody should know about accessibility, regardless of where they're at in their journey?
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So the first thing I will echo, what Mike said, it needs to be a organization-wide thing. Whether it's a school, or a county government, or a corporation, or whatever, somebody has to put the flag in the ground and say accessibility is important to us. You don't have to say out loud why. Whether you're just afraid of being sued, or you'd like to do the appropriate social justice thing, or you'd like to do more business with this particular marketplace, or serve these readers better.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: Whatever your reason is, put the flag in the ground. Name somebody, perhaps not their full time job, but somebody has the responsibility. I'll just use the phrase chief accessibility officer, whoever that person happens to be. A lot of organizations use their CIO. A lot of publishing companies use their heads of production. Universities typically have separate disability offices. Whatever this happens to be.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So the first thing is decide you're going to do it for real, put a flag in the ground, and say, by this day, we're going to be there. Ford just came out and said by 2050, their entire production line of vehicles is going to be carbon neutral. Now, 2050 is a long time away, but Ford is a gigantic organization. And they put the flag in the ground.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So I'm not saying wait till 2050. I'm saying you should already be doing this, because it's already against the law. But the point is get started, give someone the responsibility of chief accessibility officer, and get them the resources they need, primarily in training and understanding, but then also in tools. So that's number one. Number two, pick a point moving forward.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: I heard Mike say, hey, nothing that we create at the Viscardi Center's going out. Nothing that we distribute, whether we create it or not, is going to go out until check for accessibility. That's a great place to start. If you're a publisher or an online content creator, say after this day, nothing we're going to distribute is going to be inaccessible. If you're a university, or government, or whatever you happen to be, say we will not do business with people who do not send us accessible content and accessible software.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So pick that date, stick to that date, and get moving forward. The third thing is tap into the significant network of people who think about this all the time. So I think about this all the time. I'm sure Mike, if not all the time, thinks about this most of the time. There's lots of us out here doing it. There are organizations-- I'm going to name a few, which are all nonprofits, charities, whatever.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: Benitec, certainly. We've been doing this for 20 years. We've got over almost a million accessible titles available to our members, et cetera, as well as other programs that we have to work to help people create accessible content. There's the National Federation for the blind. There's the Dasy Consortium Worldwide, accessibility consortium.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: So there's lots of organizations out there who care about this and think about this all the time. So wherever you are on the scale, you can tap in, learn from what these people have already done, take advantage on it, stand on their shoulders, shorten your time to accessibility, and end up creating content which is fully accessible. I want to close with the notion that when you create fully accessible content, it's not just for the print disabled user.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: A fully accessible EPUB file is a better reading and learning experience for all users. There's very rich data inside of there, which can be mined by Google to surface things from inside of your book, or inside of your documents, that wouldn't come up in a normal search. There's also additional details on images, charts, graphs, those kinds of things. So when you start making accessible EPUB files or content, you're making better content for anybody who's going to interact with that content.
BARRY BEALER: Excellent, thank you. And Mike, your top three tips?
SOLANGE SANTOS: Sure. If there's one thing I do want to say, it's that this is an ever-growing population of people that have vision loss and disability. So one of the latest statistics that we saw was that over 21 million adults have non-correctable vision loss. So if you're thinking about with your business case, look at that all that potential business that is out there. There's 21 million adults with non-correctable vision loss that could be purchasing your product, surfing your website, accessing videos, using audio description or closed captioning, so forth.
SOLANGE SANTOS: So again, I would definitely-- if we're have a business and we have a website that you're going through a refresh, or you have to retrofit, always include accessibility at the forefront, because it's not just a legal compliance issue that is there. But there's also a massive business case there as well. I would say that also always include accessibility statements on your websites.
SOLANGE SANTOS: I would say that putting that out, putting that flag in the ground, saying this is what our organization is doing, work with us, we provide accessible content, et cetera. And then also, I would say always provide awareness, always educate your staff. We're all willing to learn. We all want to know what works, what doesn't work. And let's correct it, and let's make sure that we can provide goods and services to anyone that accesses our site product.
BARRY BEALER: Excellent. Well, Mike and Michael, thank you very much for joining me on the panel discussion today, and really appreciate your insights and all the tips and tricks for addressing accessibility. Turn it back over to Suze.
SUZE KUNDU: Thank you so much. There's so much I think to take home from that. And I think the themes certainly of all of our three mini panels have circled around, buy in across the company, the accountability and the responsibility that we need to take, and a lot of these setting SMART goals. But I have to say, one of the biggest things has to be we're not experts in this. So we need to work with experts that are. So thank you all so much for bringing your expertise to this session.
SUZE KUNDU: We have got time now for Q&A, but we're going to switch over to a different session for that. So make sure that you hold on to all of the questions that you have for our expert panel, and make sure that you pick their brains as best you can while you have them. But I reckon we might be able to catch them later as well. [INAUDIBLE] I just want to wrap up then by saying thank you very much to Bruce Howell and Rob Smith, to Solange Santos, and to Barry Bealer, Michael Johnson, Mike Caprera.
SUZE KUNDU: I hope that we get a bit of a mention in your Grammy winning speech. Thank you all so much, and we'll see you over the Q&A. [MUSIC PLAYING]