September 8 2022 GM
Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.
Date: Thursday, September 8th
Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC
Who: Nancy Reyes Flores
Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.
- Don't have an account to the IFF Mattermost? you can request one following the directions here.
Be aware of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 to be accessible for people with disabilities and all users. Who can help me to become accessible? Who can fund the accessibility services that I need if I have an open source project related to privacy or security digital rights?
Nancy Reyes Flores is a web accessibility evangelist in Latin America and a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competency. She has taken leadership in projects working to make websites and apps accessible.In 2017 founded Accessibility Lab, an organization specialized in digital accessibility and social inclusion for people with disabilities, promoting a new ecosystem: internet for all.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you began working in the space of web accessibility?
- My name is Nancy Reyes, I am Mexican, I live in Playa del Carmen México, and I started because I was doing some research as part of my work back then and I found online the accessibility guidelines and I saw the need for digital accessibility in my country. I thought, nobody is doing that.
- The first years when I started nobody, literally nobody understand what we were talking about, like 10 years ago
Can you tell us what we mean by the premise of 'web accessibility' and why it is important?
- Web accessibility is when the content is available to everyone and the functionality can be operated by anyone, including those who use assistive technology.
- Eliminate obstacles when interacting, transmitting, receiving, or understanding information.
- Accessibility is essential to create high-quality apps, websites, and other digital content — and to not exclude people from using your products and services.
- You are accessible if you meet the international Accessibility Standard: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.
- The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: government information and services, education and training, commerce, news, workplace interaction, civic participation, health care, recreation, entertainment, and more.
- In some cases, the Web is replacing traditional resources and if these web pages or apps are not accessible, we are excluding people and blocking them from using them.
Can you tell us more about these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.? How were they formed?
- They were created by the Web Accessibility Initiative, from W3C, and they keep the guidelines updated.
- The standard is structured like this:
- 4 Principles
- 13 Guidelines
- 3 levels of accessibility (from basic to complete): A, AA, AAA
- For example, the level AA is the one required for governments.
You've worked with the public and private sectors to make the internet accessible for all. What has your experience shown about how companies and organizations adapt or change their models/ tools to be more inclusive? What are some barriers to ensuring their cooperation?
- It is a process, and a learning curve. It requires awareness in all levels and all areas of the company, government or organization. It requires training for designers, developers and communication teams. After having this awareness, they get involved in positivity, but sometimes they feel overwhelmed.
- Some barriers are that they have other responsibilities and priorities that leave accessibility at the end of the list or it is seen as extra work. But they also understand the need and start to do it.
Taking one example, you produced a report focused on the web accessibility of Mexican telecommunication companies. Can you share some insights from your research? How does Mexican legislation take web accessibility into account?
- There is a Federal law of Telecommunications in Mexico and there are around 45 telecom operators in Mexico. Some of them care about accessibility and have implemented changes to improve. But sometimes there are just basic accessibility requirements like alternative texts. Sometimes websites are so big and complex, that even if they fix or make accessible some content, there is a lot more than it is not. And there are some telecom operators that do not care at all about becoming accessible.
- I normally say that Mexico is a country with a lot of laws but where the laws are less applied.
- In the legislation there is a chapter about monetary fines if they are not accessible, but there is no precedent about a person or organization suing a telecom operator for not being accessible.
- Which brings me to mention about the users demanding their rights or even knowing their rights.
How willing are the entities you have interacted with and provided this awareness, to train their staff and update their systems and processes online to be in line with the WA guidelines?
- Once we give the training, which includes awareness, they are excited to start. But previous to that, it is difficult to convince people to hire us in the first place, especially governments.
How much do users know about their rights?
- In LATAM, almost all users do not know about their rights, especially digital. They don't even know there is a standard.
- They don't know the concept about web accessibility, they just know that they can not use the app or website.
What kind of challenges have people with disabilities faced when using the internet, especially in Latin America, where you are based?
- Well, information that is generally consumed visually. If the user has a visual disability and there is no
- Content Descriptions and Accessibility Labels, they do not have alternatives.
- For instance, with Screen Readers (TalkBack/VoiceOver, NVDA) or a Braille Boards they can navigate and have access to that information.
- In the case of Physical Disabilities, the main barrier is keyboard access.
- For Cognitive Disabilities, clear labels and validations in forms, enough instructions, accessible forms.
- For hearing disabilities, multimedia content like videos, do not have closed captions and sign language interpretation.
- Internationally a lot of websites are not accessible, but in Latin America it is the worst. We have legislation but almost nobody cares, legislation is like decoration. We don’t have a market or business model like in the USA where easily you can suit a company for not being accessible.
Has anyone or any entity been sued in the past for not being web accessible?
- MIT or Harvard, for example, for not having captions
- Target, for not being able to buy online
- Also, Dominos Pizza, Bed Bath and Beyond, The Home Depot, Netflix, Fedex
Has your organization been thinking about approaching the courts with willing volunteers to actually test the laws and hopefully set precedent that is favorable to Web accessibility being a priority?
- No, we are focused on training the users
When we talk about a new ecosystem, internet for all, what does that look like? What kind of tools, or policies, or systems need to be adapted to make the internet socially inclusive?
- Ideally that all websites and apps comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1
- Each country should have a law about it and strict fines if they don’t comply.
- Sadly, they are not going to do it just for social responsibility and inclusion, because a lot of people care but a lot of people don’t. If we increase awareness internationally, they will understand that considering accessibility from the beginning it is more simple and less expensive than trying to do it until the end of a project.
- Plus, they need to understand that any digital product will not have high quality if it is not accessible, and that with accessibility they will have a wider audience. We need more accessibility experts; we need more people with disabilities getting involved in all organizations not only to promote accessibility but in any area.
How does web accessibility impact the Digital Rights field? What kind of steps/ actions/ tools can members in our TCU community take to ensure greater inclusivity in their own digital initiatives?
- About Digital Rights:
- A lot of tools and apps that are solutions for digital rights defenders, to protect their privacy and security, including open-source projects, are being created without accessibility in mind, which means discrimination and exclusion, even if it is not on purpose.
- I know for experience that teams work a lot on usability and security but accessibility is commonly ignored. It is until recent years that accessibility is having more importance, but this is after more than a decade of work to increase awareness by accessibility experts and civil society.
- Besides in all types of communities or vulnerable groups you will find people with disabilities.
- About steps, actions and tools:
- Increase awareness
- Take web accessibility training as introduction
- You can be Self-Taught or contact a specialist to help you (this will be easier and faster)
- Include accessibility in all phases of your project and continue with monitoring
- Organizations like Open Technology Fund and Internews can help us (Accessibility Lab) to help open source teams that protect privacy and security in becoming accessible without cost. We can offer them any accessibility service they need, like training, accessibility audits, technical help, coaching sessions, etc.
What is the best way to contact you so that they can get your help and benefit from your services?
How will your work continue to innovate in the digital space? Where can our members learn more about digitally inclusive initiatives as they are developed?
- We have an infinite amount of work increasing awareness and helping development teams in their learning curve. But also, with civil society and people with disabilities promoting their digital right of accessibility. We would love to have more people on board.
- And here are some interesting links:
Is there anything else you'd like to say or mention on this topic that I may not have asked you already? And, if you're willing, could you share something positive from your experience working in this field, or something that impacted you personally?
- Accessibility is not from Mars, it is easier than you may think, you just need to have knowledge of the standard and apply it within your area of expertise.
- Also that I am really happy that now more people care about it and we have more spaces in the digital rights and freedom community
- Users are also happy to be more present every day