Bram Duvigneau's Keynote on Accessibility at Drupal Dev Days
Thursday, Day 4 of Drupal Dev Days was another packed day with sessions on Decoupled in Practice, Working in the Drupal Issue Queue and many more. But there was this one session that people tweeted about a lot! Bram Duvigneau's talk on accessibility!
Bram Duvigneau is the co-founder of Firm Ground, a digital accessibility agency in The Netherlands. His presentation covered
- What is accessibility?
- When is a CMS accessible?
- Is Drupal an accessible CMS?
- Explanation and demo of some of Drupal's accessibility features
Bram started by asking when do you say a website is usable? Is it when it’s a pleasure to use the website or the thing you have built accessibility is kind of the bare minimum of useability. Or is it when it can be used by a certain specific set of people with certain characteristics. So who is the user? And for whose benefits do you make things accessible?
When we talk about accessibility, we think of people with disabilities or people with special needs. But we have smartphone users, not that smartphone users have a disability, but the smartphone is the root cause of some difficult situations where you have small screens. You have to optimize for maybe slow connection speeds, and bad lighting.
Bram reminded the audience that maybe half or even more of the user base might be on smartphones in developing countries. It’s often even more than that from recent statistics, he said. If you are in the United States, 48% of users will be mobile. Usually, it depends on the website and how it is built of course. You build your websites for people who sit in the office and have a dual big screen monitor setup. Then there is this other problem, where people really overwrite their digital skills.
What do you mean by digital skills? He referred to the book “Digital Skills” by Jan van Dijk and Alexander van Deursen two Dutch academic researchers and that book very interestingly point out that the younger generation that has grown up with the internet does not necessarily have good digital skills. Why? Because they don’t usually really know how things work under the hood. So we expect users to be much more capable than they might be and some have called this digital inequality. So there is a big range of digital skills and when you are building something for a group, Bram advised his listeners not to set expectations of digital skills.
So when designing for accessibility there are different scenarios you have to take into consideration, people with motor disabilities- it is important to optimize for keyboard navigation for this group of people. Bram had a refreshable Braille Display that he held up for the audience to see that helped him navigate along with a screen reader that helped him navigate through his presentation.
Bram pointed out the different scenarios where accessibility had to be addressed such as low vision, ability to see from only a part of your eye, or ability to focus on only one certain spot- these users will need to zoom, or those with color blindness or need contrast filters, or where sign language is your primary language and not necessarily English or your native tongue.
To watch the full presentation, click on the link below. Bram’s presentation starts at 3 hrs 50 minutes into the video.
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