ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin
Technology Trainings & Events
Join Us for Next Accessible Technology Webinar
The ADA National Network provides comprehensive services for up-to-date information, consultation, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for businesses, employers, governmental entities, service providers and individuals with disabilities.
The Next Session is Thursday May 19, 2016 1:00 - 2:30pm CST The Importance of Accessibility in Disability Employment with Speaker Gabby Nagel, Community Marketing Specialist at Gettinghired.comGabrielle Nagle
This session will discuss ongoing research around job seeker challenges and frustrations when applying for positions on non-accessible websites. In order to assist with the hiring of job seekers with disabilities. GettingHired has developed both technological and personal outreach programs to highlight job seekers to inclusive employers, while also advising our employer partners on best practices for successfully hiring job seekers with disabilities.
Gabrielle Nagle is the Community Marketing Specialist at GettingHired. With a nonprofit background in disability support and inclusion in the UK, Gabrielle engages both job seekers with disabilities and a nationwide network of community partners in GettingHired's services. Through outreach and resource development, she seeks to improve employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The Accessible Technology Webinar series is free, but participants must register at http://www.ada-accessibletech.org/
- July 21, 2016 Real Life Accessibility: Software versus Disability-Based UX Testing - Speaker Lynn Wehrman and Sue Ann Rodriquez
- September 15, 2016 Speaking the Same Language: Making Closed Captioning Work - Speaker Beth Lund
- November 17, 2016 Accessible IT: A Status Report on Legal Milestones - Speaker Dan Goldstein
USING NVDA to Test Your Website
NVDA stands for NonVisual Desktop Access. It is a free screen reader developed by Michael Curran and James The in 2006 through the NV Access organization they created. They are based out of South East Queensland, Australia. For blind people to use a computer, they need a screen reader, which reads the text on the screen in a synthetic voice or with a braille display. But in many cases screen reading software costs more than the computer itself. In the past, this has left computers inaccessible to millions of blind people around the world. And it's estimated there are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world. This is a critical problem, because without computers, access to education and employment is severely limited, not to mention everyday functions such as online banking, shopping and news.
The multi-award winning software has been translated by volunteers into more than 43 languages, and been used by people in more than 120 countries. NVDA is open source software, which means the code is accessible to anyone. This enables translators and developers around the world to continually contribute to its expansion and improvement. Through this work, Michael and James have fostered relationships with companies such as Mozilla, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe and Yahoo! and have contributed to the accessibility of their respective products.
Because NVDA is free and works on a USB stick or download, it can also be useful for web developers to test the accessibility of the websites they create. Using a screen reader for sighted users can be challenging because the software is complex and has a high learning curve to be proficient. However, by knowing a few basic keyboard short cuts you are able to simulate the end user experience for someone using assistive technologies.
Using a screen reader and it can often help you find mistakes that are difficult to catch visually or using the automated tools. Below are some NVDA commands that are useful in testing:
- Input help on/off (key describer): NVDA+1
- NVDA Menu: NVDA+n
- Pause speech: shift, stop control
- Quit: NVDA+q
- Pass through: NVDA+2
- Read Clipboard text: NVDA+c
- Report focus: NVDA+tab
- Read active window: NVDA+b
- Read status bar: NVDA+end
- Say all: NVDA+down arrow
- Read current line: NVDA+up arrow
- Read selected text: NVDA+shift+up arrow
- Table navigation: control+alt+arrows
- Refresh buffer: NVDA+F5
- Read graphic descriptions: NVDA+d
- Open long description: NVDA+d
New Research on Accessible Job Applications
Finding a job in today’s market almost always includes some online component, from finding the listing online to an online application process. Some companies even conduct pre-employment assessments on the Internet and remote interviews before they ever meet a job candidate in person. This new age of tech centric job searching poses particular challenges for people with disabilities using assistive technology.
Encountering a form that is not labeled; or an uncaptioned instructional video; or website that can only be navigated with a mouse cause barriers to employment before people with disabilities even start a job. Put simply, inaccessible technology prevents many qualified individuals from getting inside the digital employment door. What's more, many employers are simply unaware of this issue.
The Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT), funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, has published new report on this topic. The nationwide survey was completed by a broad range of users with a wide range of disabilities. PEAT also interviewed top Human Resource and technology companies offering these employment online tools. They conducted one-on-one interviews with over two dozen technology providers, employers, accessible technology consultants, disability advocates, and other experts in the business, disability and accessibility fields. These efforts pinpointed a number of accessibility factors affecting employers, technology providers, and job seekers with disabilities.
According to the individuals PEAT interviewed, the top accessibility issues identified were the following:
- Awareness – Those interviewed said that employers and technology providers tend to underestimate the need for accessible online job applications.
- Compliance vs. usability mindset – According to those interviewed, there is an overarching belief among many employers and technology providers that if a website complies with the Section 508 guidelines, then it meets the needs of all users. In other words, accessibility is about compliance, not usability. But just because a technology is compliant does not necessarily mean it is intuitive and user-friendly.
- Technology, logistics, and cost – Those interviewed believed that technical solutions for the most common accessibility issues already existed; however, many thought those solutions would be expensive and difficult to implement.
- Complexity – Those interviewed said that employers often fail to look at the big picture and consider accessibility challenges beyond the job application form itself, including processes related to job sourcing, pre-employment testing and digital interviews. Additionally, they may not consider how the application integrates with the overall corporate website, which may have accessibility issues.
- Customization – While an adopted, off-the-shelf technology platform may be accessible in its basic form, built-in accessibility features are sometimes lost when vendors customize and install a tailor-made application.
- Inadequate testing – Technology providers and consultants suggested that employers rarely tested their online job application software with actual users prior to launch.
Key findings from PEAT's survey to individuals with disabilities include the following:
- 82% of all respondents have applied for a job online or assisted someone with applying for a job online within the past three years.
- 46% rated their last experience applying for a job online as “difficult to impossible.” Of those, 9% were unable to complete the application and 24% required assistance from the employer maintaining the application.
- Of those applicants who required assistance from the employer, 58% were still unable to finish the application.
- 67% have been asked to complete pre-employment assessments or testing for a job opportunity. Of those, 22% were unable to complete testing and 19% required assistance.
- 50% of respondents have used social media as part of their job search process; of those, 40% experienced accessibility or usability issues, such as features they could not access at all or that were not user-friendly.
The survey asked respondents to describe the difficulties they had faced in the job application process. The top issues they reported were:
- Complex navigation;
- Timeout restrictions;
- Poor screen contrast;
- Confusing, poorly written and inconsistent instructions;
- Fields that did not state an accepted format (such as date fields) and fields that were mislabeled or not labeled at all, rendering them inaccessible;
- Applications and questionnaires that relied on color, graphics, or text embedded with graphics to convey directions or important information;
- Images that conveyed information, but did not have alternative text for individuals using screen readers;
- Applications that could not be navigated with keystrokes and required mouse input;
- Applications that had to be signed using a mouse;
- Videos or audio instructions that were not closed captioned;
- Inaccessible “CAPTCHAs“ (a type of “challenge-response” test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human) with no audio option;
- Trouble uploading the necessary documents;
- No notice about use of pop-up windows, which are blocked by most browsers in many settings, such as libraries and employment centers;
- Lack of contact information for technical support; and
- Lack of information on how to request an accommodation.
Despite the fact that respondents reported different accessibility needs, there were also some universal barriers. For example, everyone surveyed reported having trouble with applications that timed out before they were able to finish a task.
As many companies are setting goals for more diversity of talent in their employees, in accessible technology in job process should be of grave concern. Employers are missing out on potentially great candidates because of inaccessible online job applications, websites, social media job posts, mobile apps, and pre-employment testing systems and it also reflect badly on companies and their brands. They affect the ability of people with disabilities to apply for positions, and they can lead to expensive employment discrimination lawsuits.
In response to the inaccessibility of eRecruiting software, PEAT has developed TalentWorks, an online resource that helps employers and HR professionals make their eRecruiting technologies accessible to all job seekers.
TalentWorks synthesizes the information gathered from PEAT's interviews, surveys, and outreach sessions into an ever-evolving online tool. It addresses the issues discussed in this report, providing specific solutions that will help employers improve the accessibility of their talent sourcing tools, job applications, pre-employment testing apps, and more.
Complete Report on PEAT’s 2015 Research Findings - http://www.peatworks.org/sites/peatworks.org/files/uploads/attachments/node/1038/talentworks_erecruiting.pdf
- In Investigating the Accessibility and Usability of Job Application Web Sites for Blind Users https://adata.org/content/investigating-accessibility-and-usability-job-application-web-sites-blind-users
- PEAT’s TalentWorks - http://www.peatworks.org/talentworks
Did You Know Punch-In Has Videos?
Punch-in, a project of the Great Lakes ADA Center is a resource for young adults with disabilities to learn about employment accommodations and the ADA.
Punch-in has recently uploaded over 70 employment tip videos that offer advice for young adults with disabilities to find and be successful with their employment endeavors. The videos are short and succinct, 30 seconds to 1 minute, and have great information to share from experts in the field. The categories topics include: application, attitude, cover letter and resume writing, disability specific issues, interviews, networking, and work experience.
You must be a part of the Punch-In network to view the videos. Punch-In is free and you can join here: http://success-network.punch-in.org/?xgi=2G2jWsqZvtsV3D
The Great Lakes ADA Center provides expert assistance via a national toll-free information line 800-949-4232 (V/TTY) or Online via Contact Us and presents customized trainings for employers, businesses, government, and individuals with disabilities regarding accessible technology and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Disability and Human Development (MC 728)
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Room 405
Chicago, IL 60608-6904