One of Hable’s core values is to ’Show Empathy’ – empathy defined variously as understanding and being aware of and sensitive to other’s feelings but perhaps most importantly, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is less about feelings and more about actions. In Hable, as we set out to change how people feel about technology, it is vital that we show empathy.  Nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in ensuring that we put accessibility at the heart of everything we do.

In our awareness raising sessions about Accessibility, we remind people that we are all at times ’disabled’ -whether through age, situation, injury or permanent disability. We may have been born with some physical limitations, we may have broken our arm, or we may be looking after a child that is impacting our ability to get things done! – but all these things can exclude us.

Permanent, Temporary and Situational Exclusion

Permanent, Temporary and Situational Exclusion

Disability: A mismatched human interaction

The World Health Organisation defines disability as a mismatched human interaction [1] And sometimes, all that is required is to know what tools are available to fix that mismatch and remove unnecessary barriers to participation and inclusion. For example, in all the above scenarios, sticky keys could assist. Sticky Keys is a Microsoft Windows accessibility feature that causes modifier keys to remain active, even after they have been pressed and released, making it easier to do keyboard shortcuts. For example, instead of having to press Ctrl+Alt+Del all at once, a user could press Ctrl, then Alt, and then Del to perform the same function. Just press the shift key five times to open this option and see for yourself!
And once you start thinking in this way, you can’t help yourself. Happily, the inbuilt tools in Microsoft technologies support empathy! Put yourself in the shoes of all the people who may read your documents by ensuring that you always use the Accessibility Checker – now built in and easily visible on the review tab in Microsoft Office. From here you can see a list of any errors and not only will it tell you how to fix it, but also explain why it’s important and necessary.

For instance, when preparing this blog, the accessibility checker highlighted that I’d left a few blank spaces, so this was quickly remedied and now I understand not to do this in the future! I also forgot to add a descriptor to one of my images, essential for people using screen readers which will read this aloud so I fixed that too – took me no more than a couple of minutes to do both. The available tools have enabled me to be empathetic and ensure my document is accessible to everyone.

A screenshot of advice from the accessibility Checker

A screenshot of advice from the accessibility Checker

Thank you for your time in reading this ! Please follow this blog where we will continue to share what we are learning about Accessibility. Next Blog, coming soon – Learning from a blind user working at the heart of Government 

[1] https://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/chapter1.pdf