Pushing the boundaries for equal access: transcript of digital inclusion segment on AMI-Audio, 2020/09/21
About three weeks ago (how time flies!), I wrote about starting a brand new, monthly digital inclusion segment on AMI-Audio’s morning show, Now with Dave Brown. Thanks again to the host, Dave Brown and his team for the wonderful opportunity!
It was a delightful experience, and next Monday, October 19th, will be my second contribution to the show. More on that in another post.
But in the meantime, if you didn’t get a chance to catch the first episode live, you can still catch it on the following platforms:
Some of you have been asking for the segment, so there you go. And of course, because it wouldn't make sense to share an audio file without a transcript, here it is, in all of its glory, thanks to the wonderful people at Rev.
Dave Brown (00:08):
Welcome back. It’s NOW with Dave Brown on AMI-audio and AMI-tv. As we’ve done a couple of times over the course of the last few weeks, we’re introducing you to a brand new segment. This one is all about digital accessibility, and we are beyond delighted to welcome into the show digital accessibility specialist Denis Boudreau, who joins us today from Montreal. Hey, good morning, Denis. Great to speak with you once again.
Denis Boudreau (00:30):
Good morning. Absolutely. Happy to be here.
Dave Brown (00:33):
So Denis, we’re going to sort of introduce you a little bit in this segment, give folks a chance to learn about you and some of the work you’ve done. Let’s start with a very, very broad question, maybe a question so broad that it’s almost unfair. But what is the key question that digital accessibility specialists are trying to address?
Denis Boudreau (00:51):
It’s a fair question. I mean, most of us who are in this field, we know, we’ve met people that have disabilities and we’ve seen how they often times struggle with just being able to do what the rest of us take for granted, whether it’s banking online or anything else like that. So our goal is, really, to bridge the gap as much as possible so that people with disabilities can have equal access to information and be able to just use the web as the rest of us do.
[…] our goal is, really, to bridge the gap as much as possible so that people with disabilities can have equal access to information and be able to just use the web as the rest of us do.
Dave Brown (01:19):
Now, technology evolves quickly, and certainly in the last six months, we’ve learned that the needs for people when it comes to technology are very, very important. But how are best practices formed and framed by specialists like yourself?
Denis Boudreau (01:33):
So I guess the first thing we need to acknowledge is that technology moves fast but standards don’t move as quickly as technology does. So a lot of us in this field, we are involved with developing these international standards that pave the way for more inclusion in digital technology. And we play catch-up all the time.
Denis Boudreau (01:56):
So like 10 years ago, for instance, when the latest version of … well, second to last version of the Accessibility Standards came out internationally, there wasn’t such a thing as a concern for using the web on a mobile device or other considerations along those same lines.
Denis Boudreau (02:14):
So as the technology has come in, we are developing standards that allow developers and designers, for instance, to understand how they can create the content in a way that is more inclusive. So it’s always a matter of trying to figure out what to do next so that they can be well-supported, and as a result of that, then they create content that actually works better for those with disabilities.
Denis Boudreau (02:38):
So that’s where most of that goal is is trying to pave that way so that people can understand how to build these things in a more inclusive way.
Dave Brown (02:45):
And Denis, this actually serves as a great reminder for the folks out there in the audience, whether you’re watching on AMI-tv, listening on AMI-audio or listening to the podcast as well in your favorite podcast-ing format, you really want to encourage people to write in and talk about their experiences with technology. So I’ll share the points of contact in just a second, but maybe just give folks that little nudge to let them know what kind of questions you’re willing to address as people share their personal experiences?
Denis Boudreau (03:08):
Absolutely. Great. Thanks for asking for that. I mean, yeah, the idea in these segments would really be to connect with the listeners and the kind of challenge that they run into so that we can better understand why it is that they’re running those challenges and what they can do about it. Often times, people run into these problems where something doesn’t work and obviously part of it is due to the fact that the developers of the site maybe didn’t do everything that they could’ve done to make it accessible, but there are also technologies and ways to help the users actually work around those things. So maybe we can help them with that a little bit. Or maybe just help them understand why it is that things aren’t working, and then give them ideas as to how they can maybe get in touch with the organization so that the organizations can maybe fix things a little bit for them.
Dave Brown (04:00):
Yeah. It’s a great reminder that we know sometimes, especially when it comes to technological accessibility, digital accessibility, issues can be very unique. For example, myself being legally blind, dealing or wanting to deal with larger fonts or zooming in, there are very particular issues that I face, but that might be totally different for somebody else in the audience. So we really want to make sure that people are getting that ability to call in. So you can always leave us a voicemail, 1–866–509–4545. 1–866–509–4545. Now if you want to give us permission to put that voicemail on the air so Denis can kind of respond to it in real time, we can do that. Or you can just leave the voicemail and I can read a text or reframe the question. But we’d love to hear your voice on the air as you do that.
Dave Brown (04:40):
You could also send us an email, email@example.com. Feedback@ami.ca. Or you could always join us on social media as well, @AMIaudio on Twitter is where you can send us a tweet. So that’s always a great way for you to reach out to the show and be a part of this segment, because we really want to make it … pardon the poor, redundant terminology, but we want to make it inclusive. We want to make this a very inclusive segment.
Dave Brown (05:03):
So Denis, let’s give folks a bit of a sense of who you are. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into this field?
Denis Boudreau (05:09):
So I’ve been involved with web accessibility as a whole and inclusive design and inclusive communications in general for about 20 years now. I came to it as a developer, being asked to create a website that blind people could use. And I remember back then being completely baffled by the idea. Like, it had never occurred to me. And it just stuck with me. I like a good challenge, I guess.
Denis Boudreau (05:34):
So 20 years ago, when they asked me for a site that blind people could use, I was like, “Okay, let me figure something out.” And quickly found standards online and just got really passionate about this, about making a difference and doing meaningful work. And quickly through the years, I met people with disabilities. I didn’t really know any before then, or that never really occurred to me that way. And meeting those folks and becoming friends with those people really opened my eyes to a completely different world that I had no idea existed, or the challenges that existed. So it’s been a journey since then to just push the boundaries as much as possible so that we all have equal access.
[…] meeting those folks and becoming friends with those people really opened my eyes to a completely different world that I had no idea existed, or the challenges that existed. So it’s been a journey since then to just push the boundaries as much as possible so that we all have equal access.
Denis Boudreau (06:19):
I love the web. I love technology. And I think it’s unfair that we don’t all get to use it the way that I can use it, and therefore I want to make a difference about that. That’s kind of it.
Dave Brown (06:30):
And Denis, I know we kind of revealed maybe just a little, teensy, tiny bit about this earlier, but as we look ahead, what are some stories that you have in mind that you want to cover for us over the course of the next few months?
Denis Boudreau (06:42):
I think it goes in two different ways at the very least. The first one is, of course, I want to help make technology and understanding web content, or how we use web content, more accessible to people. So if people have questions about that, like we said earlier, have that discussion so that we can help them better understand what that is.
Denis Boudreau (07:03):
But I also want to use this platform so that we can raise awareness among the developer and designer community so that they also understand the role that they have to play in creating a more digital, equal world, basically. So sharing some tips and tricks about how to either use the web or design the web in a way that is more inclusive. Or cover things like the business case. A lot of organizations are going to say, “Yeah, but we can’t really afford to do that. It’s complicated. It’s expensive,” and it really doesn’t have to be.
Denis Boudreau (07:38):
So really just help them understand that business case, or see where we’re headed with technology, how we’re headed with international standards. That sort of, again, paved the way for more inclusive content. Maybe get to know the listeners and the kind of challenges that they run into so that we can work through that. And then just looking at this whole idea of designing for the extremes, which is something very common in my field. As opposed to designing for your average, middle, typical user, designing for people that have disabilities. Designing for people that are older, for instance.
Denis Boudreau (08:12):
Because we know that when we design for those extremes or those stress cases, the middle of bell curve takes care of itself, right? So if you design a website so that the colors are better contrasted, for instance, someone like me who’s colorblind benefits from that, but also someone who’s not, who’s just looking at their phone when there’s a lot of sun glare. Or if you’re designing a site so that it works better for, say, assistive technologies like screen readers, for your listeners who do rely on screen readers, a tool like Google indexing the website also benefits from that and ranks you higher as a result of that.
Denis Boudreau (08:47):
So it’s kind of the analogy of the curb cut where it was designed for wheelchair users but ultimately most people benefit from that, whether you’re pushing a stroller or you’re riding a bike or anything like … we all benefit from those things. So getting people to understand how building the web for people with disabilities first and foremost creates a better experience for the rest of us as well so that we’re all in this together.
[…] getting people to understand how building the web for people with disabilities first and foremost creates a better experience for the rest of us as well so that we’re all in this together.
Dave Brown (09:10):
Denis, you and I once had a very long conversation back when I was hosting The Pulse. It’s so great to be back with you on the air here, for you to be a part of this show. We’re elated and thrilled to introduce this segment to the show. Thank you for making time for us today and we’ll talk to you again next month.
Denis Boudreau (09:24):
Yeah, thank you. I’m very honored to be here. Will talk to you next month. Yeah, thank you.