When deciding which platform or technology you will be using to communicate your message or provide your service, the accessibility and usability of the platform needs to be considered. This is a consideration that covers whether the platform can be used by both content creators, and the audience engaging with the content provided. We have equity issues when the platforms we use rule out certain staff from using them because of their design. Likewise, there's little benefit to having a perfectly formatted communication if a user is unable to get to the communication in the first place.
Some questions to consider when looking at using a platform:
- Is the platform compatible with Assistive Technology?
- Does the interface meet minimum accessibility standards?
- Does the platform provide its own accessibility features to allow alternate means of engaging with content?
- Can you create content that meets web content accessibility standards using the tool?
- Is the technology available across multiple platforms so it can be used on different computers, with different web browsers, and tablet or mobile devices?
Conducting a google search on the accessibility of your platform is a good start to understanding how the platform is situated in this area. It can also reveal support materials to assist you with creating accessible content using your chosen tool. Nothing surpasses the experience of actual users though, so it's always best to seek feedback from and listen to users.
Platform Accessibility Guidelines
Like the guidelines for creating accessible web content, there is a set of globally recognised voluntary consensus standards that guide the accessibility of content authoring tools (e.g. Blackboard, Squiz Matrix and social media platforms) and user agents (e.g. standalone apps, media players, web browsers and browser extensions).
These guidelines are aimed at developers:
- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) (opens in a new window)
ATAG documents explain how to make the authoring tools themselves accessible, so that people with disabilities can create web content, and helps authors create web content that conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) (opens in a new window)
UAAG documents explain how to make user agents accessible to people with disabilities. Meeting UAAG guidelines often improves the way the tool communicates with other programs and can improve usability for all users, not just those with a disability.