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Accessibility – A reality for the many millions of users of London Transport Plus a guide for tech entrepreneurs to getting it right

Two really interesting news items crossed my UKAAF desk these past few weeks, starting with a really encouraging precis of accessibility progress that’s being made for Londoners, which I found out about in a nice piece entitled 5 Ways London’s Transport Is Being Made More Accessible on Londonist.

There, the writer, Harry Rosehill, details how travellers and visitors with sight impairment issues are at last being helped with things like apps that do as good a job as Citymapper for this community, as well as better signage on Jubilee Line seats to indicate where disabled passengers should have seating priority, to cycling for blind people and even driverless ‘pods’ (cars) that could be a real boon to anyone trying to get round on four wheels safely.

It’s a lovely read, go check it out.

Just as good is my next pick, which starts with maybe the best summation of the UKAAF mission from a non-member I’ve ever read:

“Every founder wants an eye-catching website or app, but it’s easy to overlook a basic fact: not all your potential visitors will experience your content with their eyes… [while] failing to accommodate people with disabilities not only limits your market (blind people buy concert tickets and merchandise too), it can also bring legal and reputational consequences.”

That’s probably not a strange idea to anyone interested in making the digital world more accessible – but it’s still refreshing to hear it stated so directly, and on such a mainstream tech business site as TechCrunch.

There, expert in digital accessibility, WCAG and Section 508 compliance Beth Franssen last month published a really useful guide for tech entrepreneurs on how to get this stuff right.

“As tempting as it might be to prioritise a stunning visual and mobile experience over an accessible design, accessibility is a legal requirement—not an option—for many businesses,” she reminds us – referring back immediately to poor old Beyoncé’s January accessibility legal kerfuffle, where it’s being claimed that her site’s lack of visual alternatives makes it inaccessible to blind users and therefore illegal.

“Understanding how accessibility is defined will broaden your understanding of the overall user experience, so you can create better content for all users,” she goes on, before her article goes behind a bit of a paywall where some crunchier guidance will be lying for those interested.

Hope you enjoy catching up on both of these great stories.  Now I’ll get back to thinking about this year’s UKAAF annual conference in London in June. Our focus this year is the European Accessibility Directive so expect more on that soon….

Carina Birt, UKAAF PRO and founder of Sarum

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