The Importance of Applying Accessibility

An image of a smart phone with Braille across the screen.

I've written before about the importance of making material about accessibility accessible. I thought it might just apply to articles. Alas, there are accessibility applications that need the same reminder.

A few weeks ago I heard a piece on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's technology show Spark that profiled AXS Map, the website and mobile applications which allow users to rate the accessibility of venues in their local area. The number of stairs and the accessibility of washrooms can be rated, and so can a venue's noise level, lighting, and friendliness to guide dogs (though I hope this would be more generically upgraded to service animals).

It sounded fantastic on principle, but it isn't integrated with a mainstream service like 4Square or Yelp, which was disappointing. If people have to go out of their way to find the app and rate accessibility specially, that doesn't bring the accessibility cause into the open as much as one might like. The developer stated that these services hadn't returned his collaboration requests. This was further disappointing, but as I have not yet received a comment from either service, I'm not willing to make a judgment on their reasoning.

Eager to try AXS Map, I went to their site.

Only to find key elements inaccessible.

I can read the names of venues, and all links work properly, but I can't rate venues, as they are graphics of some kind. It's not obvious what ratings a venue has. And I have not heard back from a request for improvements I made through their contact form. (I have not yet tried their social media so perhaps I will have more luck there). Their iOS app is not much better.

The irony of a website to rate venues as accessible being itself unusable to anyone with a screen reader would be amusing, if it weren't a reality at the moment. While I applaud the efforts of the development team on the idea, it certainly needs some further work to become usable to a large number of its potential user base.



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