Fancy an accessible version of Calvin and Hobbes you can translate into almost any language or have read out by a screen reader? Find an accessible Calvin and Hobbes prototype on my student pages .
What's so good about it?
- First, the big content is neatly hidden away so art directors won't loose their hair or 'white space'.
- People using screen readers and Braille displays don't need to navigate through an ableist user interface: they almost seamlessly identify a cartoon, know what it is, and access its full contents.
- Anyone struggling to read the cartoon text content can choose to view—or listen to the accessible content.
- It's morally right and meets Human Rights legislation that directs us to do it or burn for all eternity in a cramped pizza oven.
- We can translate the accesible content into one of many languages using Google Chrome browser, etc.
That last point should prick up the ears of online cartoon publishers? This is a ground-breaking (not really, I only like the dramas of the phrase) business opportunity to open Global markets.
You enjoy your favourite cartoons and engage with political, satirical, and informative images in our blogs and on your feeds. Then your vison becomes impaired, or the cartoon gets too small to read in your browser, or you come across one in a language you can't understand. These are all permanent or temporary situations that disable us from enjoying the image content.
I may have an answer.
50 of 50 websites featuring cartoons were analysed. Not one offers an accessible version of the cartoon content. Sure, one or two pay lip service to accessibility with an alternative text attribute here and there, or a caption. Sometimes these are semantically encoded in the HTML. Generally, they are not. The commercial websites are perhaps the worst offenders. After all, why would a person who is blind want to enjoy a comic strip, learn from an infographic on how to avoid contracting a deadly disease, or extrapolate data from a graph for their thesis?
During my studies for a Masters in User Experience Design, Tina of Iowa describes her daughter who is visually impaired from many daily activities reading manga graphic novel books. Kirt of Utah and Nicole use pay-per-use services where they employ a sighted person to interpret a video stream or uploaded image. Others need to print, scan, and OCR online image contents. We are not describing great user experiences here.
For sure, the commercial drivers for these webpages and online newspapers may not figure the proportion of their users who may be—or could be disabled. Temporary disablement happens to all of us whether physical, technological, or cognitive. Vogel in Kim (2019) has analysed the potential loss of revenue to business from ignoring the user experience of people who are disabled to be $6.9 Billion! If that doesn't grab the suits by the collar..?
Moreover, did you know that accessibility is our basic Human Right; that legislation the World over is based on demonstrating working to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and that most legal actions taken over online accessibility are prompted from people who may access content and find it unhelpful in achieving their tasks as an able-bodied person might? OK, I'm swinging a carrot on the end of a stick that many publishers have taken a nibble on and will inform us that they've taken care of it. Their automated accessibility checkers say so.
Then, why are 50 out of 50 websites featuring cartoon content still inaccessible? It's the dumbest thing.