Accessibility - enhancing the Customer Experience for all

With last Thursday 18 May being Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), it had me reflecting on my last 20 years working on customer facing services; including kiosks, websites, online interfaces and mobile applications. 

Accessibility in the early days was not well understood.  Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 were released in 1999 and, realistically were often addressed as an afterthought on projects. With the review and release of WCAG 2.0 in 2008, the Australian Council of Commonwealth, State, and Territory communications ministers adopted these standards in November 2009; this act mandated all Australian government websites to reach Level A WCAG 2.0 compliance by 2012.

If we add to these standards the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that 136 countries are a party to, in particular article 9 (Accessibility); there is no denying how the relevance, priority and need to do more is globally accepted.

When I consider how far technology has come in that 20 years, I find myself noting how features, functions and tools originally developed to make things more accessibly are present in our everyday lives now:

  • Devices having the ability to read text to users that could not read it for themselves.
  • Users who could not use keyboards being able to talk to their devices.
  • The ability to magnify content so it could be read by the sight impaired. 

This is just a few examples of features that were developed for specific users that almost all of us use on a regular basis these days.  Pinching motions to resize content on our screens & voice services such as Siri and Alexa are excellent examples of extensions to accessibility features being re-defined for convenience. 

The continued evolution of technology has led me to the latest developments I am involved with: 

The creation of a human like Virtual Assistant (avatar) named Nadia that has been co-designed by the disability community to meet their needs with interacting with the National Disability Insurance Agency.

 

Whilst this has been done for those with a disability, I think we will have people with disabilities to thank soon for another capability built for them that we all benefit from. 

Find out more about the Nadia project here:  www.faceme.com/nadia

“If it works for Us (people with disabilities), it will work for all”. 
— Sean Fitzgerald, a member of the NDIA Digital Innovation Reference Group

About the Author

jeffdavies

Jeff Davies heads up Government Services for FaceMe with a direct focus on public services implementations of digital human solutions.

Jeff brings with him 21 years experience working in the Australian Public sector, specialising in introducing new capabilities into Government.  

Jeff is passionate about technology solutions and the opportunity technology creates to deliver amazing customer experiences,