A conversation between accessibility expert Denis Boudreau and learning and development specialist Patricia Regier, about online learning accessibility and digital communications. The full transcript is included below, or you can watch the whole interview, or listen to the podcast.
This is a fantastic value-packed conversation that was too good to condense. Here are the highlights of the sub-topics you will learn about:
- Accessibility demographics & statistics – why should we care
- Websites Pro Accessibility Tips
- Learning Experiences online & in-person, how to make them accessible
- How this is a smart priority for business owners
- 3 Areas of where to start
- 4 Website areas to focus
Both Denis and I are part of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Here is his contact information:
Denis Boudreau, CPWA – he/him (y’all)
Founder & Chief Inclusion Officer, Inklusiv Communication // Trainer. Coach. Speaker.
Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
PLUS REMEMBER: Don’t forget to turn on Closed Captions on any platform you are using. To learn how to set this up in Zoom, check out this tutorial: How to Activate Zoom Closed Captions
Video & Podcast
Transcript of Conversation[With sub-topics titles listed]
So, thank you everyone for joining us. My name is Patricia Regier with Regier Educational Services. And I’m so excited to be talking today with Denis Boudreau, I’m going to ask you to pronounce your last name. But I’m so pleased to be having a conversation with you today, talking about accessibility online and much more. We are going to explore this topic. Can you please tell us a little bit more about you, Denis, and how to pronounce your name correctly?
My name is Denis Boudreau. I am a trainer first and foremost, I’m an accessibility, and subject matter expert. I work in the disability space, I work in the digital space. Basically, I come from a background of development and design, building websites, that sort of stuff. And very early on discovered that the way that we were building websites, excluded people with disabilities from the very getgo. And that rang something inside of me that Mork something inside of me, and, and I’ve been focusing on that particular piece of it ever since. So it’s still like 2122 years, sometime soon, that I’ve dedicated my energy to making the digital space a more inclusive area space for everyone, regardless of their ability to do whatever or, you know, different demographics that are more easily exploited, like the elderly, or non-native speakers or any other group that struggled with the technology for one reason or another. So that led me, to do a lot of speaking over the years, a lot of training. So I mostly communicate about ways to make communication more inclusive to people with disabilities, or people that are otherwise left out of conversations. That’s typically what I do.
That’s fantastic. And you and I were interested in having this conversation for some time now. I’m passionate about making, online learning and in-person learning engaging for everyone. However, we are definitely focusing more on the virtual space at this time. And making experiences inclusive, including different learning styles, or multiple intelligences, but making sure that that space is not boring, it’s engaging and accessible. When I say accessible, I’m not touching on everything. And there’s so much more that I have to learn about that as well. So I think it’ll be a really interesting conversation that we bring are our two perspectives together. Different questions we might have for each other, and just explore and unpack this topic.
I know that websites are an important piece to a lot of people. This is just one portion of the conversation and there’ll be different pieces that we can talk about. But websites or anything that we have online in a digital space is communication is learning, even when it’s not the workshop space. And I definitely want to talk about that as well. You and I have touched on it briefly in previous conversations, people are, are purchasing a button they can press. Do you want to tell me a little bit more about your thoughts on all of that? Because I think it’s super important that people understand a little bit more and do something about this?
Demographics & Statistics
Right. So So, so many different things to say, I guess I’m going to start by talking about demographics a little bit. When when when when I typically speak about, you know, aiding or helping people with disabilities online, some of the pushback that I get is from people saying yeah, but is it really that many people like, do we really need to care all that much? I mean, I’m focused on my average clients, average users, for instance, and I can possibly believe that they would fit into that picture. And what people don’t realize is that if you take the data from Canada or the United States, for instance, in Canada, people with disabilities, account for about 22% of the population in the United States is 26%. So it’s anywhere between one out of five or one out of four people have one or more disabilities in this country in Canada, for instance. Right. So so it’s a lot of people, to begin with. And then And then, you know, on top of people who have those disabilities, you have their loved ones, you have people that are close to them that care about them, and could easily be swayed into going into a different direction a different website, if they were told that that particular one was a very poor experience for you know, their brother, their mother, there, their, their close relatives or wherever the person be. So So when we think about it from that perspective, and if we were very conservative about what we were saying, and if we, if we said, for instance, that no every person with a disability in Canada as one person who cares about them, that 22 becomes 44% of the population, right, like, right that, right? Like that. So, so very quickly that adds up. And the data from the Canadian government, Statistics Canada in this particular case, talks about that 20%, across the board 22% across the board, sorry. But it’s also 20% of the working-age population. And they defined the working population, I think, if I remember correctly, something like 25 to 64, something along those lines. So a little later than what you normally expect. Normally, it’s like 60, to 64, but their, their, their target their or their bracket is, is more like 25 to 64. And that’s 20% of the population. When you look at people that are over there over the age of 65, there are two statistics that I think are really interesting. The first one is that the elderly themselves, like the population that is 65 and older is around 17% of the population. And you probably know as well as I do, because we were much younger at some point in our lives, that as we get older, right? I mean, our sight goes a little bit, our hearing isn’t as great. So we see that the sights, the the the senses are declining over the years, deteriorating over the years. So as you get older, you experienced a lot of situations that look very much like some disabilities. So there are, you know, commonalities within the two. And when you think about people that have disabilities that are over the age of 65, that is 38% of them. So if you’re a business couple of things in there, if you’re a business and you’re interested in, you know, selling to the vast majority of the population, you cannot afford to not think about accessibility, because it’s easily 20 Some percent. And if we again agree that each one could be swayed one way or another if they had bad reviews from someone that they care about, that’s easily twice as much you add to that person that is getting older. So you had another 15% of that 20% that I was talking about for the working-age adults, you’re again at 47%. And again, if those folks had a problem with your website, and they told their friends about it, they might want to go to a competitor instead. So now we’re doubling that again. And before you know it, most people benefit from this either directly or indirectly. So so there’s a lot to be said. And I’m going to stop there because that could be the entire conversation. But there’s a lot to be said about the fact that people don’t realize how prevalent that is, yeah, for one thing. And then on top of that, of course, and I’m not going to get into it today. But add on top of that. Anyone who, who is part who is not part of the statistics, like, for instance, I’m colorblind, right? So when you look at so, you know, I struggle with a bunch of things every day, because I miscue when they’re based on colour, for instance, I like reds and greens and stuff like that, to me, it’s a pretty, pretty abstract concept, actually. And so I misinformation and you know, the population that has colorblindness is roughly 10% of male males. And when you look at the data for vision impairments, it’s only 5% of the population. So they’re clearly not including Kerala colorblindness as part of their statistics. So we know that it’s actually bigger than what they’re saying.
Yes, we need to be reaching and engaging a lot of people and not excluding people. My grandfather was colourblind, too. So you raising that and I’m looking at my website beside me on my second monitor, and I have a green button and a red button right beside each other. My website person just, you know, helped me update some things, which was great. And as soon as you said colorblind, I thought, oh, no, both those buttons are going to merge into each other because I’m familiar with what my grandfather, you know, experienced in that sense, too. So it’s little things and I think people don’t realize or don’t know, right,
It’s a bunch of small little details that make the difference. And it’s rarely like one barrier that kills the experience for someone it’s, it’s sometimes it happens and some of them are actually you know, more prevalent than others again, but oftentimes, it’s the accumulation of small little annoyances that make it at some point that makes it just too much in you just give up for one reason or another. Like I don’t remember these particular buttons on your site there. But you know, if you have two buttons one night, right, when next one another, or close to one another, I’m probably not gonna be able to tell which is which. And if you’re using a very common metaphor, for instance, tell me like the red one is like, maybe it’s fair. or decline and the green one is, you know, approval or, or you know, proceed for instance, and you only have the colour to tell me that I don’t know which is which. So you have to have something on top of that, like, for instance, you might have if you have a red button and a green button, and let’s say your green button as a white checkmark and the red button as a white X, I don’t really care about the background colour, because the x and the checkmark, actually tell me what I need to know. But you know, you’re adding something to the colour to make it meaningful for someone who can perceive the colours. That’s one of the many tips that you can come up with to work around. No, in this particular case, colour deficiency perception that people might experience,
Yes. So I’ve just used annotate in zoom to draw a black to circle around the two buttons here. And I don’t know if you can see it with the buttons being green and red on my website. (Maybe I need to change this?).
I don’t know if these two are the same colour for you? Or if they’re distinguished,
they’re not there are as distinguishable as the services and news buttons that we have next to them. Okay, good. You know, I wouldn’t be confident to tell you which one is green, which one is red?
I think that take the quizzes the green one. But yes, I’m not entirely sure. And the interesting thing in there also, because you know, it’s not a case of it’s just a colour being taken that pretty good, doesn’t have a specific colour meaning.
Yes, it doesn’t, but it can matter in some situations,
it often does. And the the bigger challenge when these colours are used next to one another like they are in your case is that at the limit between the two colours there, that part to me becomes very flashy, and hard on the eyes. So if I had a lot of content that was red and green with those colours together, like no Christmas, for a lot of things is really awful for me for that reason, because people use a lot of green and red together. And it creates this weird effect that that is really, it creates a lot of strain on the eyes and makes it very tiring. So I don’t know, I don’t if that’s the case for you know, other people, right? Normal people, if you will, but for someone like me, it makes it very uncomfortable. So I would avoid those websites, if I could, when they’re used,
if there’s a lot of that colour everywhere. And that’s the only place that I have that the red colour. But I think we need to keep having these conversations and understand everyone’s different experiences. I focus a lot on the learning experience journey before, during, and after an online workshop or anything like that. And part of that is potentially sending people resources, making sure hopefully, that PDFs are accessible, that’s something I need to learn even more about. I know on my website, and with social media, we have been making sure that we describe the visuals, and have a visual description not just in text, but you know, part of that visual itself. But and then I know a little bit that PDFs then should be able to be used. So text to audio, if that’s one of the needs and things and I think there’s just so much that people need to learn and that sometimes can feel overwhelming, just like it was for a lot of people who bring their workshops online. It’s learning a new language, it’s understanding, you know, a complex, but I think we start one step at a time. But the overwhelm or being I think sometimes people don’t bother, there are laws where people have to do a certain amount. But I really want to I hope people try and do more and do better and care to keep learning and keep improving how accessible all resources are as well. So some of that.
Well, I completely agree with what you said. I mean there are a million little details that you could be doing and no one can possibly get everything perfect. There are so many things that you could be doing. But always be on the lookout for that other little thing you could do to make it a little better. Sell puts you on a path where it becomes more useful to people who have different experiences that they don’t win that you have. And my best advice I think when it comes to something like this is just to realize that your audience is not an extension of yourself. I mean what you like what you prefer your own biases you’re expected That’s great. I mean, that works for you. But other people will have a different set of experiences or biases or needs. And if you are not really accounting for what those could be, by asking your audience what it is that works for them, you’re going to create an experience that is going to be very limited to your own little world and your own little perspective as to what people actually expect. And you’re going to create something that will be exclusionary as a result of that it’s a very straightforward equation. So so always be on the lookout for getting feedback at the gathering, gathering feedback from other people, especially people who have those disabilities. Like if you know, someone, for instance, was dyslexic, who has dyslexia. And you ask them to give you feedback about there, your website. And when they come up and tell you well, you know, it’s pretty good. I like the content. I like the fact that there’s a lot of iconographies, so I don’t have to read a lot of content, I don’t really like that particular page, because you have these big walls of text that are harder to read, your font is a little harder for me to read, because it’s like these, the letters are little thin. So I mix up the P’s and Q’s, for instance, that sort of thing. So you could learn from that and make a couple of changes that will still make your website, you know, it could be as nice and aesthetically pleasing as it is right now. But it would be a little enhanced from the perspective of someone with dyslexia. That’s right. You know, a month later you meet someone who has ADHD and you ask them, like, from your perspective, as someone who has attention deficit disorder, what it is that maybe triggers you when you’re using a website, and they might tell you something about, you know, two colours being side by side, like I was talking earlier, and they differ that person, it is an issue because it, it makes it harder for them to focus on a particular thing you learn from that you make another tweak. And before you know, it tweaks after tweak, it gets a little better.
- Closed Captions
- Describe Your Visuals
- Be Inclusive
- Transcripts versus CC
- Polls & Alternatives
- Respect & Inclusivity
- Breakout Rooms
it’s about conversations they’re caring enough to ask. And I agree with you what you were saying that people just know what they like, when I’m working with my clients about their learning experience design, I often will mention that as facilitators, we tend to facilitate in the style and, and the way we like to receive information. And it’s about layering in different elements so that we are engaging the person that, for example, you know, lights up and really engages with the content if they’re talking to people, or someone that is, you know, clicking buttons, because they’re more action-oriented and bringing those elements online. But I’m also very aware that those elements might also not work for everybody, they are drawing in some people from the learning perspective. But so I often recommend having alternatives, whether it’s the technology limitation, or, you know, and of course, educate at the beginning to show people how to use the tools online. But for example, if we’re asking people to annotate in Zoom, I also want to give the options whether they don’t have access annotations not working for them, or it’s a duck surgery, you know, someone could have arthritis or, or something we’re clicking or typing fast is hard. And so whether there’s also the invitation to come on mic, or type in chat, that it’s also giving alternatives. And not It’s not awkward that one person saying, Well, I can’t do that, that right away, upfront, please, you know, inviting people to do the activity one way, but also giving alternatives right away. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that, too.
I like your example about the annotation toolbar in Zoom because that’s the one that I deal with regularly. i The very nature of my work means that I work with people that are blind very regularly, one of my colleagues, as an instructor is a blind person, he’s been blind, pretty much since birth, so So you know that he doesn’t have a use for a mouse, he doesn’t have a monitor like there’s no point in having those things. So he relies on a keyboard, and you know, he knows this keyboard really well, and you navigate through that. So the annotation toolbar is a very visual tool. So for someone like him being able to go to a menu, select a particular tool in that menu, like the stamps, or the Type Type tool or anything like that. He doesn’t even can, he can’t even tell where they are. Right. And in that particular case, and in particular, you know, implementation of that there’s some features, it’s not particularly accessible to the screen reader that he uses to turn the text into audio. So it can’t You can’t use it to like that, right. So when we do training, we work in different ways. Like for some people, we’re going to turn you know, we’re going to turn our screen into a whiteboard, and then use the annotation toolbar for those who like to do that, but will also offer you know, chat as they fall back. So if you don’t want to, if you can’t, if for whatever reason you don’t, because you know that there are people who can’t use annotation toolbar and then there are those who are going to connect to your workshop, for instance, not through the Zoom desktop application but through Chrome, for instance, and when you do from the browser, that tool is not available, it’s not part of the features that are available. So as the as a presenter, as a speaker, as an as a, you know, instructor trainer, whatever. Being aware of those things, and always offering different alternatives to be able to participate, it’s pretty important because you don’t have to have a patient with a disability to feel excluded, you might just be training a bunch of people who actually did not have the ability to download, zoom that in for in their environment, and they’re all connecting through Chrome. And then none of them have the tool. But if you plan for that as your only way to deliver your content, you have a problem. So having these different options. I mean, I think options is always better. That’s pretty, you know, self-evident. But if you approach it from the perspective of wanting to create different opportunities for people who have different types of experiences, you are automatically creating something that will be more inclusive of everyone, because other people might just not feel like playing with that tool right now. Because they’re busy, their mind is busy with other things. That’s it, maybe they’re afraid of technology a little bit. So they don’t want to make a mistake in front of their colleagues. So they’d rather not use it. But they know how to type in chatter that they’d rather do that. And just being cognizant of this, and respecting what people’s limits or boundaries might be when it comes to that creates a more inclusive experience for them. Also, it feels better than not to have to try and struggle through something you’re not comfortable with, especially when you’re in a situation where it might make you look, you know, less than others, for one reason or another.
Transcripts & Closed Captions
Yes. And I see you just turned on the transcripts. And that’s another great example of what we could talk about the deed these transcripts, they’re they’re great. I mean, I mean, by all means, if you’re presenting in front of a group using a virtual platform, whether it’s zoom teams, or meat or anything like that, by all means, use those, but at the same time be very much aware that this is, you know, artificially artificial intelligence powered by AI-powered. So it has limits, and it’s not perfect. It’s not particularly accurate. I not It’s not turned on, I’m actually going to turn it on right now. Because it’s probably picks up part of what I say, but not everything. It’s as it’s pretty
good. But yes, it’s not perfect. It depends on accents. And it does actually different languages very well. I mean, Zoom does have the translation option, that’s a whole other thing. But I definitely would encourage as a mandatory type thing that everybody goes into their zoom or other platforms, or almost every platform has some sort of option for closed captioning. And make sure those settings are turned on, so that when someone asks for it, or automatically turn it on. And it doesn’t always have to be the whole transcript. I know for some keynote speakers, professional speakers, to have a whole transcript be able to be saved. I think from accessibility, if that’s a request, you need to do that. I know for some people for intellectual, intellectual property, they might not want the full transcript to be able to be saved from their keynote, I don’t know if that matters to people or not, but the closed captioning should be a minimum, that that’s activated, and when someone asks for it, and needs it, that you already have it ready and available. I don’t know what you’re
and well, to add to what you said again, there, you know, that full transcript is obviously you know, useful if you have a hearing impairment, if you aren’t hearing, if you aren’t hearing it helps you if you’re deaf, it definitely helps you because you know, lip reading and will only get you so far. But you know, as someone who is a non-native speaker like myself, sometimes just being able to read what is being said, is actually very helpful. I mean, even I think even if I pay attention to what you’re saying, I might miss a word or two. And then if I can go back and read it quickly, then I’m okay. But on top of that, let’s say that I’m attending one of your sessions, but I’m working from home and my kid is not at school today because the schools are closed again because of COVID. So the kid is right there and she wants something I’m distracted. Yeah, I can always take care of my kid and then go back to their full transcript and catch up on what you said really quickly. So I don’t miss everything. It’s not a question of having a disability. It’s just a question of providing an accommodation that helps people keep up
exactly the case. And if the transcript wasn’t activated, and you weren’t there, you couldn’t scroll back that close captioning when right. So I think it’s helping people understand different situations like having children at home, or sometimes someone is joining a meeting just on the phone, so they’re not seeing the PowerPoint picture. So describing the picture, and just automatically sometimes when I’m recording my YouTube videos I’m trying to keep in mind that it’s also going to be a podcast. And that I need to then describe something that I might be showing. And just layering again, so that different people in different contexts or someone could be watching a YouTube video on the bus and forgot their earbuds, I do that all the time when I’ve forgotten to put my headphones in my purse. So but I’m bored. I’m sitting in a waiting room, I want to watch something. So I turn on the Closed Captioning, so I can catch it’s hard. But I’m still pleased that there’s something right.
Describe Your Visuals
And again, you make a really good point. I mean, you said something that is exactly what my own advice would be. When it comes to describing visuals. Let’s say I’m presenting information from this stage. And no, I’m showing you a pie chart, for instance, right? I mean, you could what most people will do is say something along the lines of, as you can see here, and then they start, blah, blah, blah, whatever. I make it a point to always present information as if I was actually on a podcast. So if I visually if I verbally describe what’s on the screen? Well, for one thing, I’m no, I’m emphasizing the important data points that are on that particular screen, I’m not just relying on people to see it. So anyone who has a visual impairment, you know, it doesn’t have to be someone who’s blind. And although these people do exist, and they do attend conferences, I can tell you much. But I mean, beyond people that are actually blind, just anyone who has low vision or nice glasses, and maybe forgotten them that day, or anyone who’s sitting a little too far in that room, and they can’t quite see or, you know, having, as you said, being on a mobile device, and then everything being so small, you can’t see the information as well.
So if you make it a point to really describe the important data points, as part of your conversation, if it just naturally flows into your conversation, I don’t actually need to see it because you told me and if that is picked up with the transcript, for instance, it’s a pretty inclusive experience. The only thing I would add to that, is that going and going back to what I said at the beginning about the whole thing being AI-powered. See, that’s actually not bad, it actually picked up on AI. is not too bad. But I guess my English has gotten better over the years, but it used to be pretty, pretty bad. And that’s my point, the point is that it’s all dynamically generated through technology, so it has limits. And right now, the best captions like that are probably around 90 95% accurate, which means that every, for every 10 words, or so there’s gonna be about when that is not exactly what you said, or might be radically different than what you said. And, you know, we work around that because we get the content or the context and everything because we also hear it, and we sort of forgive our brain just forgives it naturally. But if you’re someone who has a hearing impairment, and every 10 words or so you have to step back and say, Did he really say that? Or like what is that? Like that comes back really, really quick. So when we’re not attending is 90%. Accurate, right? So until we were like at 95, maybe 98%? No, that alone is probably not all that great, which really means that if you are maybe if you’re if you if you’re a speaker, and you’re setting up your own zoom, and you’re doing that thing, maybe you won’t go down that path, but if you are in or an event organizer, for instance, planning to have an actual captioning being there. And then like a human-like human actually transcribing as people talk will give you that 100% accuracy that will really make it an inclusive experience. If you ask someone who’s deaf, what you think about life transcripts, most of them will tell you that it actually sucks because of what I just said, They want something that works better for them. And you know, rightfully so. And when you think about the cost of having a professional caption is working for you. It’s probably like 50 $60 an hour. So you know, all things considered. If you’re putting an event together, that’s just another item on your budget.
Absolutely. You have to consider all things. And then online, we can accidentally be talking over the top of each other with the slight delays and how that picks that up.
yeah, and some of that is missed when that happens. Yeah. Or see in the case of what we’re doing right now. I mean, your sentences and mine are just intertwined. And you can really tell the difference, right? So if someone hears us talking, like the understanding they can, they can differentiate our voices. But if you rely on that particular thing, the sentence might be very confusing sometimes. So it’s great, but it’s not perfect, right? And like going a little further, again, will provide a better experience from that standpoint.
Transcripts versus CC
And a transcript will do a little bit better. So right Right now I don’t have a transcript like the full transcript, I have closed captioning. And this is making me rethink to activate that, for all the reasons that you’ve mentioned, it will do a better job, the saved transcript won’t save the pictures that people have, you know, but it will pick up bad words, we’ve tested that out, too. It’s so for people to be aware of that. But another thing too, like this recording right now is not picking up the closed captioning that we’ve activated. That’s a live experience unless I was doing a screen recording. But when I upload to YouTube, I, you know, people can activate the automatic, it’s not perfect either. I, you know, could take and I probably will take the extra time to go through otter eight.ai is I think it’s one of the AI. Yeah, for transcription service to go through it and actually fix the imperfections and make sure because of what we’re talking about, and taking that time out. Yeah, you know, it’s to do that.
Polls & Thinking About Alternatives
But I wanted to mention one more thing, too. While we’re talking about this, I often recommend it when people are recording their zoom workshop, and they’ve just run a poll. Now, first of all, polls might not be super accessible. What I often do recommend to that people, first of all, read it out loud. So someone can’t see it. Also read out loud the results, because the recording is not picking up what everybody sees live. So that that recording, then people are part of that conversation. But do you have some thoughts about that, too, with polls not being super accessible, also, again, giving an alternate, then someone’s kind of outing themselves if they are putting their response in chat, which is an option? Sometimes people don’t have polls? If can’t see it, don’t access it. They’ve come in, you know, as we’ve said on it from a different method, I will give that alternate type your answer in chat, or if you picked other what does that mean? Do you have some additional thoughts?
Well, first of all, again, I do it exactly as you do. Like when I use the polls feature in Zoom, for instance, you know, we’ll create the polls ahead of time. And then we prompt that window and then people just vote and I do make it a point to visually describe what’s going on. Right, I turn I kind of turn it into a horse race, like we have these four or five different questions. Okay, so five. So a is ahead right now be is right there and sort of play with us a little fun. It creates a bit of excitement, I guess. But at the same time, it also lets people know if they can’t see your screen. They also let them know, what it looks like. And then at the very end, I’m going to go through it really quickly saying okay, so here’s what that comes, that comes up to like, P like 25% of people voted for B and then 55 people percent voted for a and then whatever for C. And so B’s the way it clearly the winner, or whatever the number was, I didn’t really pick up on what I said. I mean, one of the answers is the most popular answer. Now, the actual answer was this and we can work with that. But at the same time offering people the ability to do that through chat means that if someone doesn’t feel like working with the poll, or if they don’t really know how that works, or, or if it doesn’t really work for them from an accessibility standpoint. You know, they have that other option.
Chat is actually very accessible. For most people. It works really well. If you depend on your keyboard to navigate, it works really well. If you depend on the screen reader software, it works really well if you’re depending on voice commands to be able to control your computer and then zoom in on that particular piece and dictate something to your computer as it works well for those answers. Polls are actually pretty good. Also, if you depend on your keyboard, if you’re, you know, if you’re proficient enough with your keyboard, you’ll get there but it’s a little more complicated. So offering these options is definitely good. But again, it’s the idea of your verbally describing what’s going on so that nobody is left out of that particular piece of it. That’s huge, that’s a huge piece of advice. I mean, in a different environment, or you know, in a different time when we used to present in person more, you know, it’s coming back, but you know, yeah, say two years ago and before it to me this idea of visually presenting information that verbally presenting the information is very important.
Use The Mic (microphone)!
Visually describing is just as important as not declining the mic when someone sends it over to you. I mean, how many times have you seen that? I’m blown away when I attended an event of how many people actually declined the mic saying, Oh, no, I don’t know people will hear me know, some people will hear you, some people won’t hear you, some people might be a little distracted. Some people might need the AV system to be able to relate information in a cochlear implant. Like there are a bunch of different reasons why they might miss what you’re saying. So, you know, stuff like that, to me is like very basic considerations when you actually recognize that not everybody thinks or acts or appreciates things that we that you do, going back to what he said about that before. So, but yeah, I mean, I mean, although those things are, again, are, are rather simple ways to make things more and more accessible for people. I mean, we’re not even talking about some of the more complex things that you talked about, like, you know, describing images index, that sort of thing, that’s a little bit more, you know, advanced, we can say I guess, but in terms of just delivery, delivery mechanisms that you’d be using to share your content, making it a point of not just pointing to something or referring to something, but actually talking about it, and offering people options into different tools that you use, in case one of them doesn’t really work all that much. Right is pretty straight. I mean, pretty, pretty basic. But at the same time, so important to get people to feel like they’re welcome, and that they belong, right, that experience.
Respect & Inclusivity
That’s right, no one likes to feel left out. It’s very disrespectful. And then people aren’t getting a, you know, the advantages of learning the content and in going away and being able to apply what they’ve learned. And that’s the whole point if that’s what we’re trying to do, we to do everything that we can and layer in, and keep improving how accessible we are, whether it’s our, our communications, or our learning experiences, as well.
I’m glad you also mentioned the breakout rooms! Most of the time I have my breakout rooms set up as automatic so people aren’t having to click any buttons, unless we’re doing a specific engagement activity where people are picking which room they want to go to, but then I am also sending people to the rooms that need that assistance.
and you know, it’s pretty easy overall, just tell people, okay, so you’re going to be able to choose whatever room you want to go into. If you have difficulty actually doing that just private message me, and nobody else will know. And then you see that in chat, and then you help them out. That says, pretty, pretty easy.
Is it easy for someone to type in the chat and also pick who they’re typing it to? Is that an accessible thing to do?
It is accessible from the standpoint of the international guidelines that dictate how to build this stuff from a technical standpoint. So it works. I mean, it’s not more difficult, I would argue it’s not more difficult for someone to do it when they’re blind with that than someone who’s sighted, but doesn’t really know how that works, to begin with. I mean, there’s a learning curve to learn how to use it, of course, but if you describe that at the beginning, so here’s, we’re going to be using chap in this presentation. So let’s just do a quick overview of how that works. For those of you who are not familiar, you have that little drop-down, then you can see if you want to chat to a person, or to us, in some cases, it’s actually limited. So it’s even easier. But just mentioning that it’s there, and then you pick who you want to send it to. And then you type your message, you press enter, and then you’re done. And it actually works very well with someone who depends on a keyboard, it works really well for someone depending on a screen reader. So there aren’t obvious accessibility barriers with using it, except actually using it,
knowing how to use that. And I always recommend that to have navigation slides, but again, not just visually actually take people through an auditory way and help people, you know, ask people, okay, you know, type in chat Hello, and that sort of thing, so that you and it’s describing on the lower left of the screen, you know, all of those pieces trying to be as inclusive as possible, are the green checkmarks. And things like that often, those probably wouldn’t be accessible if we’re asking people for the reactions at the border.
Yeah, not that great. Yeah. Again, they’re very visual. So anything that relies on a visual experience? Yes, you want to have if you want to think of some kind of a fallback for that. I mean, it’s great. It’s great. Yeah, and, you know, also balance it out on your end. I mean, it might be nice to use those little emojis or reactions. But if you make it a systematic thing, it gets boring pretty quickly. Right? Right. Yeah. So yeah, so you know, it might be something as simple as, okay, so if you think this is great, give us a thumbs up in the reactions, or maybe put a plus in chat.
Exactly. A simple alternate option is so important.
Smart Priorities for Business Owners!
And when you think about it, also, I mean, I don’t know about you, but when I go in to present when we’re another, I have a goal in mind, I want to get new clients, I want to sell something like I don’t just do that because I am passionate, but I mean, that’s not the only reason why I wake up in the morning, I need to pay my mortgage to feed my kids, my kids, I mean, that money is involved one way or another, and it doesn’t really compute in my head that you would go out there, and then not pay attention to considerations that could exclude easily 20 some percent of your popular of your audience, I mean, if I’m going to go out there and spend all that time preparing that content for folks, I want to reach as close to 100% as possible, I don’t want to just start at 80 and say, I don’t think whatever works within that 80%, the other 20% I can afford not to tap into, of course, you’d like to do that. So it doesn’t really make sense from a business standpoint, either to not pay attention to those things. I mean,, from a purely financial standpoint, the data from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, commerce, was sharing that, you know, the after-tax disposable income of people with disabilities in Ontario was $55 billion. That’s 55 billion with a B there, that’s a lot of money. And if you look at, you know, the entire entirety of debt, that capital, including, you know, what we call the disability market, so that’s people with disability, but also those who care about them, as we were talking in the beginning there, it’s around $165 billion a year. So I mean, it’s a huge untapped market for anyone who communicates. And I think it’s worth people’s energy to learn about this a little bit so that they don’t, you know, alienate as many people as they otherwise might be doing without even knowing about it, right. And that happens all the time. And those folks are all like, most of those folks are just going to do what everybody else does. In the end. They’ll applaud, they’ll move out of the room, and they’ll never think about you again because you were not speaking to them at all right? Exactly. Yeah, one of them will be vocal about it. But most people are just going to go on their merry way. And when they hear about you and say, Oh yeah, I’m gonna go there, that person really doesn’t get anything about disabilities and I’m not going to pick up on what they’re saying. So it’s just unfortunate because you spend all this energy putting your content together and you know, we have great messages to share. I think it’s worth putting a lot of a little bit of time into this so that you push that message as far as you possibly can.
Three Things You Can Start With
If we were giving people a place to start and you know, there even three things that people could start with to make sure that they do and, and Elyse the pick one of them to do right away. Do you have three top areas or focuses that you can think of?
I’ve got plenty of top stories depending on the content or the topic do you are you thinking like virtually are you thinking in person? Are you thinking of training versus keynoting? You’re talking websites?
Yeah, great question because there are so many of those areas. Okay, let’s focus on online virtual facilitation, online training, what are three things that people should be doing right away to start with. So
I think I think the most important things we pretty much covered already. So I’ll give you another shot for another top three if you want. I mean, in the context of using zoom or teams, for instance, I would say, by all means:
1. Turn on the live transcript,
2. Offer alternatives, if you’re going to be using a particular feature, like annotation or anything like whiteboards, or anything like that plan for a different option. You know, if you’re going to be using Breakout Rooms, for instance, make sure that people can actually get there or offer them the ability to bring them to those rooms yourselves if they can’t activate the buttons themselves. So be be be helpful in that in that sense.
3. And then the third, the last one will be, you know, relevant, whether it’s virtual or not. And that’s just going to be like describe those visuals that you’re talking about. So that we can see them, I mean, it’s actually easier in a virtual environment, to be able to read your slides, because like I can, right there I can and to at 12 to 18 inches away from my computer, or closer if I need to be closer. So I had a really I have a front seat, front row seat to your presentation, right, it’s a little different than being in a room, right? If I’m sitting in the back of the room, then your slide might be very difficult for me to read. But when I’m looking at it this way, it’s easier. But I might not be able to pick up on the small details because maybe my vision is blurry, maybe I have cataracts, maybe I have low vision, again, the magnification, whatever that is. And being able to describe those things, again, as we said, will make a big difference.
Website Accessibility Tips
I could give you three for the websites, most people have one I guess so you know, what blows people’s minds, most of the time and in training:
- When I have asked my participants to try using their websites without their computer mouse. So that alone may be a weird concept for most people. So I’m just gonna explain what that means. You know, every mean, we don’t think about it, right? I mean, we just use the mouse and we point and click on things or you use your trackpad on your laptop, and you just point and click on stuff. So that’s great. But that’s the end of I coordination thing, if you can’t see what’s going on, pointing and clicking is pointless, right intended. So so you’re going to rely on something else, that’s something else most of the time is going to be the keyboard itself, right. So using the tab key using the spacebar, the return key, and the arrow keys, you are theoretically supposed to be able to do everything on your website, just using these combinations, or right if you can get to something or if you’re tabbing, through your different call to actions on your website, and you’re skipping over something that you can click on. That’s an accessibility problem. I mean, some of the content on your website does not work outside of the mouse. Yes. So so that’s a huge one. That’s a really, really big one, to look into. And it’s actually a very easy one to find. If you’re trying to use your own site, with just your key bar, you will notice right away what doesn’t work, right, maybe you’ll notice that you can get to your menu at all, which is a pretty big concern when you think about it. So So working outside of the mouse is a pretty big one. Mm-hmm.
- Colour contrast is a very big one also. So pay attention to the colour you use in colour combinations. You know, how strong the contrasts are that this definitely a big one. And then I would tell you to mean, if you’re either a technical person or if you work with someone who handles your website, making sure that your images are described in the text, so back to something you said.
- The alt text values of the images into source code, making sure that you have a description for each of the images, so that people can people who can’t see the screen, but will have the screen read to them will have a description of the image as opposed to the image itself because an image is worth 1000 words if you bother to actually provide them otherwise, it’s just a blank canvas otherwise, and I guess I can give you a fourth one that also works with the first set for like a non-line presentation or, or live in-person present welcoming, yes, that to in-person presentation.
- Plus add closed captions to your videos. That’s a huge one as well. You mentioned that as part of your preparation for this recording here. But yeah, either going through a vendor like rev.com (or otter.ai) For instance, we will charge you like $1 or two per minute of video content to try to caption it, or learn to do it yourself. It’s actually very easy to do I mean if you can watch a movie and be you know, just doing this while you’re watching the movie. It’s one movie or two and then you’re done. So a couple of hours and then you potentially make a big difference in your audience’s experience and you definitely make a statement as to your commitment to inclusion. And both are very valuable.
This has been a great conversation, we could definitely talk for hours about it as well. And I’ll probably have two versions, a short version because people’s attention spans aren’t super long. But get it y’all have a blog post and LinkedIn, I’ll share all of that with you as well. Denise, before that, goes out. And we’ll have the full version accessible for people to be, you know, that are interested and a podcast to like, I usually try to cover all the bases, again, for accessibility reasons as well. But I really appreciate your time, all your knowledge and insight, and for sharing that with all of us, Denise, thank you so much.
You are very welcome. That was great. Happy I could make it.
I’m so glad we finally got to talk!
And thank you to everybody who is either listening to this, watching it or reading it, that that you are checking this out that you care about the topic and thank you for picking even one thing that you’re going to do following learning about this. I appreciate that to all of you. That’s your call to action in a formal way. And I encourage everyone to try to make your experiences engaging to turn an audience into participants and make sure you’re not leaving anyone out. Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
My Final Thoughts
Thank you again to Denis! I am also a work in progress, from online learning experiences, resources and handouts, videos, tutorials, courses, and my website. We all need to start somewhere and make this a priority!! I will continue to work towards improving areas where I can be more accessible. Thank you for listening, reading or watching our conversation. Thank you for caring about this topic, and taking steps to improve accessibility in what you do.
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Patricia Regier is the founder of Regier Educational Services. Expertise in helping facilitators engage the variety of learning types in your audience. Education includes a Master of Adult Education, a BA in Psychology, and twenty years experience developing and facilitating workplace, community and collaborative training. Learning and Development Consultant, Facilitator, and Master Virtual Producer. Utilizing teaching adults best practices, and innovative multi-media resources to emphasize your message.
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