What is Accessibility?
Web technologies are often celebrated as being great equilizers. But to do that, they have to be usable by people with disabilities and those without disabilities but who may struggle with some web content. Accessibility encompasses the standards to make sure everyone can use the information and techologies available online.
Why It Matters
Online technologies that force users to interact or find information using a single method often exclude people with disabilities, whether visual, auditory, speech,
cognitive, neurological, or physical. Even individuals without permanent disabilities, such as aging users, people with temporary disabilities, or those limited situationally or by their devices, benefit from efforts to make web technologies as accessible as possible.
In the United States, 26% of adults are living with some form of disability (source: Centers for Disease Control). Two in five adults aged 65 and older have a disability. And more than 54 million people in the US are aged 65 or older.
Limitations to accessibility of web technology severely limits a large number of people from being able to find the information they need and interact the way the web promises. If Web technologies are equalizers, everyone must be able to access them.
“The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”– Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web
CodeBaby Technology and Accessibility
Not only are our avatar interfaces built to be WCAG compliant, but adding a CodeBaby avatar to a site can improve its accessibility standards compliance. (WCAG reference)
The following are examples of features of our avatars that not only provide accessibility within the avatar conversation experience, but the availability of the avatar can improve access of a standard website that may convey information in only one way. Providing users a choice between spoken and written word expands the usability of the site for all groups.
- Scalable Text & Characters – Adjusting the scale of a browser window will automatically scale the text characters and the avatar visuals to ensure the experience is valuable even with highly zoomed browser windows.
- Text Contrast – Our designers are mindful of color contrast to make sure all text is easily readable. Additionally, clients can control their own CSS for our avatar player, so if adjustments need to be made for a particular company’s standards, this can be easily accomplished.
- Conversation Transcripts – During a conversation, a user can click to open a transcript of the conversation to review any information that might have been missed or forgotten.
- Audio Controls – The avatar experience can be paused at any time, and the audio playthrough can be muted from the avatar player, without having to make adjustments to the device’s audio settings.
- Background Noise – When audio is created, we incorporate no background sounds to ensure the audio is as clear as possible.
- Text Alternative – As the avatar is speaking, the text of what the character is saying is displayed on the player so the avatar interaction can occur without speech or audio playback.
- Tab Inputs – The text-input box for the avatar can be accessed via tab, improving usability for reader devices and other tab-based navigation.
- Communication Choice – Because the interface allows the user to interact with speech / audio playback or with text-based chat, users can determine the best communication methods for their needs.
Research indicates that non-human characters can actually help individuals on the autism spectrum more readily identify emotions compared with human faces. “While individuals with ASD traditionally show deficits on a wide range of [Theory of Mind] tests, such as recognizing facial emotions, such ToM deficits may be ameliorated if the stimuli presented is cartoon or animal-like rather than in human form.” (source). For some users, our avatar characters can communicate on an emotional level better than can humans.
Aging computer users may encounter issues with being unfamiliar with a website’s navigation, finding it difficult to see small text or read a lot of text on a screen. Other users may struggle generally with feeling disconnected from loved ones or lacking companionship. “Devices…are very helpful and allow users to use countless voice commands that can not only make
their lives easier, but also remove them from the
social isolation they are often subjected to.” (source)
Avatars can not only make it easier for older users to interact with a site, but they can also provide a sense of companionship, increasing engagement with a site and satisfaction for the user.