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Deconstructing Ableism: Rethinking Cost and Priority in Accessibility

By DNW Contributors / 2023-04-03
Posted in

In a world where every decision is often based on financial considerations, it’s crucial to examine how these tendencies influence our attitudes toward accessibility and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. This article will delve into the ableist mindset behind evaluating accessibility through a cost-benefit lens and explore the problematic practice of treating accessibility as a secondary concern.

When we assess the merits of providing accessibility and accommodations for people with disabilities by focusing solely on costs and benefits, we unconsciously adopt an ableist perspective. This approach implies that the rights and needs of disabled individuals are subject to negotiation, which perpetuates inequality and restricts opportunities for them.

The Price We Pay for Cost-Centric Thinking

Embracing disability rights and justice means recognizing the inherent value of each person, regardless of their disability. By making cost-benefit calculations a primary factor in accessibility decisions, we unintentionally reinforce ableist attitudes and hinder progress toward true equality.

The Consequence of Neglecting Accessibility

Another issue that arises from our current approach to accessibility is the habit of treating it as a secondary concern. This mindset marginalizes individuals with disabilities and fosters an exclusion culture, further entrenching ableist beliefs.

We must move away from this reactive stance and adopt a proactive approach that integrates accessibility into every planning and development stage. This shift in focus will not only benefit those with disabilities but also create a more inclusive and diverse environment that accommodates everyone’s needs, regardless of their abilities.

The Path Towards Inclusivity

To dismantle ableist assumptions and cultivate a more inclusive society, we must reconsider how we perceive the rights and needs of people with disabilities. Accessibility should never be a matter of cost-benefit analysis or an ancillary concern.

By integrating accessibility and accommodations as core components of our societal framework, we can nurture a more inclusive, equitable environment that values everyone’s contributions. This change in perspective will not only empower individuals with disabilities but also enrich our communities, fostering greater empathy and support.

Now is the time to reassess our attitudes towards accessibility and accommodations and confront the ableist beliefs that underlie our current approach. Let’s create a world where everyone’s needs are acknowledged and accessibility is regarded as a fundamental human right, not a luxury.

Puneet Singh Singhal is the neurodivergent founder of 123ssstart


The End of Transportation Accessibility?

By DNW Contributors / 2022-07-14
Posted in

It was happening even before the pandemic struck. I couldn’t reliably get a wheelchair cab. It was hard to find an accessible restroom (one that fits my wheelchair and the door will still close). Public transit wasn’t up to snuff. My wheelchair was broken during airplane travel. Accessibility—full and real accessibility—for people with disabilities was either declining or not improving as promised.

Indeed, accessibility seems to have worsened in many real ways: with inaccessible sidewalks, pool lifts missing batteries, broken elevators on public transit. Plus, all the problems that previously existed. I keep being told to be patient, to be understanding—that everyone is having a tough time. It is true that we are all experiencing challenges, but people with disabilities have to live with more restrictions and exclusions than others. Then we’re often told we have to continue to wait for the accessibility and inclusion promised by law (and also by just good common sense and ethics).

Kelly Mack is a communications professional, specializing in health issues. In her spare time, she writes articles about living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and moderates for She has lived with RA since age two, resulting in significant physical disabilities and use of a motorized wheelchair. Kelly earned a MA in Communications from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College. You can find Kelly on Twitter @MsKellyM.

If cabs stopped picking up nondisabled people. If there were no more sidewalks. If air travel regularly resulted in broken legs for passengers (the equivalent of broken wheelchairs). There would not be a call for patience. There would be an uproar around the world about fixing these outrageous failures. Yet these are situations people with disabilities encounter on a regular basis and are instead told to wait patiently for actual accessibility to catch up with decades old promises.

The things that I pay for (or want to pay for) result in no or poor service for the sole reason that I use a wheelchair. The basic minimums that nondisabled people expect are delightful surprises for me when they actually happen.

The accessibility backslide must stop. The thinking must be turned upside down: if everything is accessible, then it works for everyone. Accessible cabs can pick up all people. Accessible airplanes will ensure the safety of all passengers and their vital property. Community spaces and services like sidewalks and public transit that are accessible work for everyone.

Accessibility is not a lofty goal to aspire to. It is not the thing to work on when everything else is done. It is not the cherry on top. It is not the last thing we should get to when building or maintaining our society.

Why is it that, 32 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities have to sue their communities for accessible sidewalks and public transit? (Many more examples can be easily found in an online news search.) We have known all these years that it is not only illegal to maintain and build an inaccessible society, but it is also unjust, wrong, and frankly unproductive for society. But it still keeps happening.

All around me I see accessibility in name only. I see sidewalks that work except for missing ramps or areas impassable due to restaurants expanding into public spaces. I see pool lifts, but depleted (or just plain missing) batteries. I see public transit, but broken elevators. The accessibility is supposed to be there, but it is broken by a missing link, a forgotten detail, or just plain negligence.

People with disabilities have been told: just ask for the improvements. Be patient. Don’t get angry. But years of asking nicely have only resulted in earlier accessibility gains being lost, being put by the wayside, being underfunded and de-prioritized. In many real tangible ways, the promise of the ADA now feels like a broken promise.

I’m tired of asking the same hotel I have visited for 10 years to make their pool lift actually work. Sometimes it does, mostly it doesn’t. I ask in advance, when I arrive, during my stay, and after for the same thing over and over again. I’m tired of asking for the things that I need, that are supported by decades of law and litigation—as if they are doing me a favor when it is just the right and legal thing to do. I’m tired of pleading for my rights and humanity to be recognized.

I’ve seen it all around me where I live. Venues that have forgotten about accessible seating (or plain old safety). Construction and restaurants that have forgotten about accessible sidewalks. Having to use my wheelchair to travel from the third train stop from my location because the closest two had broken elevators and it was my only way of reliably getting home since I can’t trust an accessible cab will show up. (And who knows how long I would have to wait for one.)

I’ve reached out to local government only to receive a delayed and lackluster response. It isn’t enough. Leaving behind people with disabilities due to forgetfulness is not OK. Every community is responsible. We are all responsible together for ensuring, maintaining, and building accessibility. It must be done and there must be no further delay because every postponement just means more work and additional expense down the road. (For an egregious example, check out the recent news that New York City reached an agreement to make 95%—not the entire system!—of the subway accessible in 33 years or 65 years after the ADA. Can it be called progress if it takes a lifetime?)

The anger is coming. The people who continue to be left behind and pushed down, excluded from their community with inaccessibility and cavalier disregard, will eventually hit their limit of patient tolerance. Plus, just look at the population growth: there are more people with disabilities entering our ranks.

All communities need to take an honest look at themselves for accessibility. Instead of reacting (or failing to react) to complaints, they need to take a proactive approach to assess accessibility barriers and create plans to remove them. It’s time to actually build the society we want and expect for everyone. It’s time to finally become accessible.


Designing Accessible Classroom Communities on Discord

By DNW Contributors / 2022-02-02
Posted in , ,

Secondary and higher education teachers have been recipe-swapping tips, strategies and postmortem classroom analyses online way before COVID gained precedence in our collective imaginary, but the pandemic has created a veritable linkstorm of teaching advice available through personal blogs, research portals and collective activism groups.

Not all of this advice was good advice.

And while surely everyone’s hearts were in the right place while authoring articles like this, the deluge of teaching advice available to crisis instruction teachers is a bit of a minefield of classism and accidental ableism: so many of these strategies assume physical abilities (the ability to sit for long hours, standard mouse manipulation), technological availabilities (cost of computing tech, availability of dongles and periphery tech) and affective resilience (the wellness to do online learning day in and day out) look mostly the same for everyone in the North American context. Notwithstanding the fact that classrooms are becoming increasingly internationalized and the assumption of single-timezone or even single-state education is likely misguided in pandemic learning, we also must pull apart the mythology that digital and physical access looks mostly the same for everyone in the room. These issues have been taken up in earnest over the past two years in the critical disability community, as well as critical digital media. What I haven’t seen too much of is critical spacemaking for madness – or psychosocial disability – students experiencing symptoms of long-term mental illness or short-term mental disability. They can’t “turn that off” for the classroom context, but in our efforts to become physically digi-accessible we might be leaving behind students whose flavour of madness (a term I use lovingly, as a mad educator myself) does not easily comply with rigid LMS systems, constantly changing syllabi or entirely asynchronous instructional methods.

I honour that mad stories and LXP (lived experiences) are very seldom shared in teaching contexts – apart from “how to deal” with people like me in the room – and I’m not partial to counterstorying with their voices unless I am directly collaborating with them. Noting this, I’ll use myself as an example to walk you through some of the vagaries of accommodating madness in a classroom setting, and then I’ll show you how I translated that into fully-online environments.

My flavour of madness is schizophrenia. Most teachers do not know what accommodations would be feasibly useful for psychosocial disabilities, and precious few are in active conversation about how to accommodate serious mental illness (often associated as illnesses with psychotic features). There is plenty of discourse on the non-relationship between violence and serious mental illness, so I’m taking for granted – in the space I’m sharing right now with you – that this isn’t your primary concern when thinking about how to best accommodate my needs.

Keeping in mind that every bodymind is necessarily different and experiences different needs and strengths (something I have liked to call “their kaleidoscopic mind” in the past), I’ll tell you how schizophrenia presents for me in the classroom:

  • I have a very hard time with audio-only interaction. When I’m hearing things, it’s like two audio tracks playing simultaneously – and often, the track in my head is quite a bit louder than the person speaking across the room from me. In an in-class environment, sometimes the FM microphone system helps, but the “blurring” of voices is not accommodated well by FM systems.
  • Somewhat similarly, this dual-track forces me to hyper-focus: when closed-captions are available to me, I find I can either read the captioning or process the speaker’s gestures, but not both. This causes me to miss information: for this reason I prefer transcripts whenever they are available (they’re usually not), while listening to the audio-track in the background. Most transcripts will indicate relevant physical actions or environmental interactions that are necessary to build context.
  • I have unpredictable productivity hours – this is very difficult to accommodate in an in-class environment. Psychotic illness often feature manic periods, followed by days of total disengagement from the world. I have a very difficult time “presenting as normative” during a disengagement period, which can worry or startle other learners or draw attention to myself in a stigmatizing way. Online learning offers an interesting hybrid solution toward people experiencing “cycling”, as this disengagement period is relatively concealed from the classroom environment. Crip time is, of course, a popular solution to this conundrum.

You’ll notice that the menu-standard accommodations offered through your school’s Accessibility Office – solutions like “time 1.5x or time 2x”, “quiet environment”, “alternate format resources”, “interpreter”, “closed-captioning” – would help very little for bodyminds like mine. This refracts itself across the spectrum of psychosocial disability, rendering the burden of accommodation back on the student themselves, not the instructor or institution. I have had to create my own build-ins and solutions to suit my studies, and this holds true for students with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum diagnosis – the list goes on.

How does Discord intercept this dynamic?

I did a twitter thread about compassionate instruction using Discord that this post is based on, and if you’re looking for the short & sweet answer, I can gladly direct you there. When the pandemic forced us online, auto-generated closed captions and flex time around assignment submission became popular accommodation mainstays: two features that Discord doesn’t offer directly, however I would argue that the wealth of features it offers for psychosocial disability make a compelling argument for its uptake in more higher education online pedagogies:

This is a screen capture of the core Discord server interface, featuring three panels: the left-hand panel denotes everything you can interact with in the server (including text channels, audio channels, and guides). The center panel is the active window, which displays channel content (based on what you’ve selected in the left-hand panel) and asynchronous interactions between all server users. The right-hand panel displays all current server members, which can be divided in many ways (into pre-defined teams, into self-assigned teams or roles, into power or ranked roles, into mini-communities, etc.). The example captures I’ll be using here are from a first year undergraduate writing course, a traditional 4-month course that teaches “academic writing” strategies and methodologies.

What’s important to notice here is that Discord greatly favours text interaction, which is perfect for a variety of disabilities (including ADHD, b/Blindness, long-term injury and TBI) but also perfect for psychosocial disabilities insofar as I have by-default opted out of highly overstimulating “video-first” interfaces like Zoom and MS Teams. Those endemically popular teaching tools greatly favour visual interaction, with prominence given to video feeds and visual content-sharing – with chatbox interaction added as more of a low-benefit afterthought, rather than a central community feature. Because of my hyperfocus and aural hallucinations, I am much more easily able to traverse platforms that favour text-first interaction (and also provides the possibility of disengaging and reengaging depending on my cycling phase – this is important! Sync video leaves out those who cannot be available consistently in abled timeframes).

These text channels are stable and asynchronous: this means that unlike Zoom or Google Meet, any text entered into any channel on the server does not delete after synchronous calls end. This provides a lot of possibilities for combining sync/asynchronous interactions (and continuing productive conversations!), as well as rendering old-tech, panoptical “discussion boards” available on Blackboard, Brightspace and Canvas relatively obsolete.

But simultaneously, I recognize that fully-non-visual teaching is probably not in our near future. Here is a screen capture of a synchronous interaction with the students during a Monday morning writing class:

You’ll see the interfacing has changed a little here, which can take a minute to get used to (I have written onboarding documents that are free to use!). The left-hand panel now displays a pop out panel (which can be dragged anywhere on your monitor) depicting myself streaming via webcam, and my screen share with my students (“showing what’s on your monitor >> to their monitors”). The center panel has remained the classroom anchor, live-updating the “chat” window as students join the server and write messages to each other to be seen both synchronously and asynchronously, while the right-hand panel remains stable as a repository of server members (and their respective roles, by default colour-coded but also delineated clearly by “role markers” rendered in plaintext).

I use the synchronous classes to run through powerpoint presentations with my students – a higher ed classroom mainstay – and sharing my own video for personality, as I’ve found the students’ morale improves if they are able to see me lecture. That said, there is no black box awkwardness (endemic to platforms like Zoom and MS Teams) when students choose not to share video. I have a policy of never requiring video because we don’t know what students’ home situations are and whether they are comfortable making their private environments public displays – I do not think we should impose public presentability on spaces meant to be private. They can “opt in” to seeing my camera and/or my slides (and it is possible to see my slides without seeing my camera feed!), and I leave that interactionism up to them.

The screen share feature is a direct copy of your monitor – so unlike Google Meet (which requires you to select 1 monitor) or Bongo (which requires you to select 1 application), I can cascade through a powerpoint presentation, a Word document, a PDF rubric and photo libraries of my cats all in the same lecture without any disorganization or recapturing. Similarly, students can choose how large your screen-share feed is (depending on their physical or technological needs, including bandwidth restrictions) and re-render your video feed transmission without your permission (if I stream at 750fps, students can choose to watch it in 250fps etc.). This is important for students who do not have easy access to more expensive technologies like a good quality laptop: these lectures are completely watchable on smartphones, tablets, even a smart fridge if you wanted to bother installing Discord as an active app on it.

Let’s take a look at a more recent server screen capture:

You’ll notice a number of channels on the left-hand server panel. I’ve created a central “#classroom-live” channel where sync/asynchronous lectures and post-lecture conversations happen, but the students have a number of other ways to interface and build community within the space of the “ENGL109 Classroom”. Some of these channels are full-server channels (meaning everyone registered can see them): #homework-help is an asynchronous Q&A that takes away the “awkwardness” of having to e-mail me questions or visit synchronous office hours to ask one two-minute question. Students can ask each other homework questions, or they can summon me directly to reply. This also acts as a ready-repository of ALL questions asked – we know that students tend to ask the same questions! So this saves you a lot of recursive e-mail answering time, or posting long “announcement” posts containing Q&A questions you’ve been fielding all on your own. As semester has progressed, students have felt more comfortable answering each other’s questions rather than always waiting for me – I see this as a big win for community building within the Discord server.

There are also 5 “secret” channels toward the center of the left-hand panel: “#rats-private”, “#tigers-private”, “#lemmings-private”, “#gators-private” and “#polar-bears-private”. These are student-selected Animal Kingdom team names, based on teams they were randomly assigned in Week 1 of this semester. There are 5 students per team (and the right-hand server user panel denotes by colour and by column which online users belong to which team), and they are given entirely private spaces to do team activities with each other and interact in classroom space. These channels are “greyed out” because I have them set to muted: this means I can see their conversation, but I do not get messages/pings about their use of their team community window unless they specifically summon me with “@sarah currie (Instructor)”. Students are told very early on that I am not monitoring that space – something we can’t emulate the same way on Brightspace or Blackboard forums – and they can synchronously or asynchronously leave messages for each other or use that window as a group chat to build camaraderie and inner community. I think we should be trusting students to more non-supervised spaces within classroom architecture, but if there is a problem reported or they need me I can be invited into their space. Being “invited” sends a much different message than “panoptically watching all team interactions via server forums”. It builds trust, and it builds team spirit as the “personalities” of each chat develop over the course of the semester.

Similarly, all teams have their own A/V channels (denoted with the “sound icon” toward the bottom of the left-panel server lists. They can use those private team channels for synchronous video-audio calls (though audio is by default prefaced on Discord, rather than visually punishing you for not wanting to use video), homework workshops, synchronous team activities, or asynchronous chatting and team interactionism. Similarly to the text channels, when we are outside of synchronous class contexts (where I sometimes use these rooms as pseudo-”breakout rooms” and will come chat with each team privately), I won’t join their A/V servers outside of synchronous classes: those are their workspaces to use however they wish, even if they’re not working on content from my course.

Continual, Dynamic Community Building

It’s important to reiterate the power of servers designed to create community first, instead of monitor interactionism as a primary premise. Online, I’ve been calling this “community-first versus policing-first” architecture: much of MS Teams, Blackboard and Brightspace design spaces to be monitored and tightly controlled via panoptical strategies of dataveillance taking, lack of private space, and attendance-based completion checking. On Discord, the paradigm is reversed: I am invited into spaces and the classroom is mostly their architecture to use how they please. Students use the “#off-topic” forum to share pictures of their pets and boost morale, while I use channels like “#announcements” to keep the course on track and send gentle reminders about upcoming work due, upcoming meetings or suggestions for teamwork elements. I frequently reinforce and remind students how to use the platform itself, and continually reinforce that this is mostly their space and I’m just a facilitator within it to make sure things don’t go haywire. Team chats are relatively active during class workweeks and easily allow for crip time (because of the text-first reliance), as all of these channels premise asynchronicity as perfectly acceptable interaction – this is opposite of Zoom or MS Teams, who clearly treat asynchronicity as more of an “afterthought” or “catch-up metric” for those who do not have the ability to be available during synchronous timeslots or when everyone else works on abled time.

The always-availability makes any work style acceptable (forums like Brightspace will “flag” students who work “very early in the morning” or “very late at night” as risk-students), and the server itself is only 80mb. This is a stark contrast to RAM-heavy platforms like Teams, which has become infamous among pandemic architecture for shutting down or freezing lower-cost computers, laptops and cell phones. Discord is free and does not require Enterprise licensing from your institution, it does not have overlays for phone interaction (overlays and retrofitting is very passe in the disability community), and it does not matter where or from what timezone you’re interacting with content. This way, students not on “normative time” aren’t afterthoughts – they have equal interactionism with course components and anytime is a good time for interfacing with the ENGL109 Classroom server.

Let’s talk more explicit accessibility while I have you here:

This screen capture displays the Accessibility Dashboard, which every server admin and server user has access to via a “gear symbol” control panel. Basing the encoding in HTML offers students dynamic text interfacing options, including bold and italicized text, server-created emojis and images, image-sharing, file-sharing, GIF-sharing and sticker sharing. This allows psychosocially disabled users to flair content, censor content (with the classic “black bar” reveal function), italicizing warning content, as well as the ability to communicate their thoughts and idea via mediums other than voice and text. Sometimes, an image (or a meme) really does communicate a thousand words better and faster, and visually-oriented students love making use of that feature. Students are also able to “@ping” specific students, specific teams, myself, or other forums (for quick linking across the server, but also linking each other to content they might like).

Discord does not natively offer auto-generated closed captioning (though the Scriptly Bot does offer autogenerated text to speech and screenwriting!), BUT it is worth knowing that autogenerated closed captioning is not actually ADA compliant as a classroom accommodation! These autogenerated CCs developed on Google Meet, Zoom and MS Teams only produce 60% accuracy, a full 20% below the minimum requirement: if a student in your class has asked for closed-captioning as an accommodation, autoCC is actually not good enough to be compliant with accessibility laws. Recording softwares like Screencast-O-Matic and Vidyard have very robust closed-captioning editing tools that you can use after lectures to fix recorded captions, to be able to post an ADA-compliant video for asynchronous viewers. I record all my live lectures using Screencast-O-Matic, it takes about an hour to edit and correct autogenerated CC content generated by the program, and then I post compliant CCed videos to my students’ LMS for anyone who missed the live lecture. This makes Discord JUST as CC-compliant as any other “canon” pandemic platform, if you are paying attention to accessibility laws.

For those of you within access community, Discord is also RIAA and WASG compliant, as well as optimized for RIAA (UK), JAWS, TTS, screenreaders ZoomText and Kurzweil. This is already more than “canon” platforms, but I can keep going. The accessibility dashboard above also denotes a number of psychosocial customizations: reduce noise, reduce motion, colour inversion, disable GIFs, and customizing saturation. This is great news for mad kin like me, who make use of saturation slide bars and text-first interfacing. This is great news for mad kin with ADHD and need motion reduction and GIF disablement; for chronic pain users who may need saturation or reverse-colourization for easement on the eyes; for Blind users who require TTS or Kurzweil interfacing; even for epileptic users who frequently make use of reduce motion and disable GIFs to improve their stabilizing experience. Most “accessibility vetting” DOES NOT take into account mental illness or psychosocial disability accommodations! This is something we are responsible for noticing, and intentionally picking programs that provide some of the current available accommodations for these students and instructors.

Many neurodiverse students rely on custom keybindings and lowtech settings to interface well with many extended hours of online learning – Discord handles that, Zoom does not. I know most pandemic instructors never asked for a crash course in online compatibility – but students didn’t ask for that crash course either. Responsibilizing them with creating and applying their own accommodations in our classroom environments is deflection of institutional responsibility to provide them safe learning environments. More so, it just makes us better, more compassionate instructors to be aware of all the problems and interface blockages in our community rooms – not just the most popular ones.

If you want to know more, I did a whole seminar on “Compassionate Pedagogy and Discord” for DHSI’s Pedagogy Special Series in 2021. I recognize and empathize with the exhaustion and the trepidation instructors have for introducing new tech to the “pandemic canon” – but the pandemic canon only took into account the most visible disablements and disabilities, which is to say not very many of them at all. We have so many students every term with psychosocial disability, mental illness or neurodiversities who were not accommodated pre-pandemic, and they continue to receive precious little accommodations 2 years into online learning, despite a wealth of solutions already available to them that we “refuse to utilize”.

Yes, pandemic instruction is hard. But we can build back better with open access servers that develop strong online community atmospheres. Psychosocial disability should be intentionally welcomed to our classrooms too, with community-first pedagogy: not policing-first.

Contributed by sarah madoka currie

29 January 2022


Plain Language

By Steve / 2021-04-14
Posted in ,

Plain language is grammatically correct and universally understood language that includes complete sentence structure and accurate word usage. Plain language is not unprofessional writing or a method of “dumbing down” or “talking down” to the reader.

“A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.” – International Plain Language Federation

Writing that is clear and to the point helps improve all communication as it takes less time to read and comprehend. Clear writing tells the reader exactly what the reader needs to know without using unnecessary words or expressions. Communicating clearly is its own reward as it saves time and money. It also improves reader response to messages. Using plain language avoids creating barriers that set us apart from the people with whom we are communicating.

Top 10 Principles for Plain Language

Plain language is clear, concise, organized, and appropriate for the intended audience.

  1. Write for your reader, not yourself.
  2. Use pronouns when you can.
  3. State your major point(s) first before going into details.
  4. Stick to your topic.
  5. Limit each paragraph to one idea and keep it short.
  6. Write in active voice. Use the passive voice only in rare cases.
  7. Use short sentences as much as possible.
  8. Use everyday words. If you must use technical terms, explain them on the first reference.
  9. Omit unneeded words.
  10. Keep the subject and verb close together.
  11. Use headings, lists, and tables to make reading easier.
  12. Proofread your work, and have a colleague proof it as well.


Plain Writing Act of 2010
Plain Language: How to Simplify Content for a Better Reader Experience
Center for Plain Language
Plain Language Association International
Plain Language Writing — An Essential Part Of Accessibility
A guide for implementing plain language in your content
ProPublica experiments with ultra-accessible plain language in stories about people with disabilities
Plain Language Principles
Plain Writing Checklist
International Plain Language Federation
Plain language around the world
What is plain language?


Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation (DARE) Country Index

By Steve / 2021-04-13
Posted in ,

Here you will find 137 individual country report cards for States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities tracking their progress in implementing digital accessibility. Each country report includes key country facts, rankings and details of the country DARE Index scores (Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index), as well as country information and resources on digital accessibility.

DARE Country Dashboard



By Steve / 2021-04-13
Posted in ,

G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA.


In our digital world, solutions shall be made available for human beings of all abilities and ages to equally benefit from information and communication technologies to learn, work, communicate, acquire information, socialize, transact, be safe and healthy and fully participate in public life as citizens. Realizing this vision means mainstreaming accessibility in all digital products, contents, environments and services – websites, e-books, television, mobile phones, electronic kiosks, smart cities – while leveraging innovation in assistive technologies and supporting end-users. For one billion persons who live with a disability worldwide, two third of which with severe disabilities, realizing this promise is essential to fully enjoy their rights.


Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Digital Age


G3ict’s objectives and global outreach are aligned with the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on the accessibility of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Assistive Technologies. G3ict’s objectives are to:

  • Promote awareness of the ICT accessibility dispositions of the CRPD and of effective public policies, private sector initiatives, and accessibility standards;
  • Support advocates and policy makers with capacity building programs, policy development tools and benchmarking;
  • Facilitate and share good practices and innovation in accessible and assistive technologies;
  • Foster harmonization and standardization to achieve lower costs and interoperability on a global scale by promoting the work of W3C, ISO, ETSI, ANSI, DAISY/EPUB3, ITU, Public Procurement standards – Section 508, EN 301-549 – and other leading Standards Development Organizations;
  • Define and promote the accessibility profession through networking, education and certification in order to enable and mainstream the creation of accessible products, content and services.

Learn more about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and how it defines and promotes the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Digital Age. Explore the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties. The Committee meets at the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.


Tax incentives for accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Steve / 2021-04-13
Posted in ,

In the US, businesses can take advantage of two  tax incentives available to help cover costs of making access improvements for customers with disabilities:

A tax credit for small businesses who remove access barriers from their facilities, provide accessible services, or take other steps to improve accessibility for customers with disabilities

A tax deduction for businesses of all sizes that remove access barriers in their facilities or vehicles

A business that annually incurs eligible expenses to bring itself into compliance with the ADA may use these tax incentives every year. The incentives may be applied to a variety of expenditures; however, they may not be applied to the costs of new construction. All barrier removal must comply with applicable Federal accessibility standards.

ADA Accessibility Tax Credit

Small businesses with 30 or fewer employees or total revenues of $1 million or less can use the Disabled Access Credit (Internal Revenue Code, Section 44). Eligible small businesses may take a credit of up to $5,000 (half of eligible expenses up to $10,250, with no credit for the first $250) to offset their costs for access, including barrier removal from their facilities (e.g., widening a doorway, installing a ramp), provision of accessibility services (e.g., sign language interpreters), provision of printed material in alternate formats (e.g., large-print, audio, Braille), and provision or modification of equipment.

ADA Accessibility Tax Deduction

Businesses of all sizes may take advantage of this tax deduction. Under Internal Revenue Code, Section 190, businesses can take a business expense deduction of up to $15,000 per year for costs of removing barriers in facilities or vehicles.

Tax Incentives in Combination

These two incentives can be used together by eligible businesses if the expenditures qualify under both Sections 44 and 190. If a small business’ expenses exceed $10,250 for the maximum $5,000 tax credit, then the deduction equals the difference between the total spent and the amount of the credit claimed.

Read more at Tax Incentives for Business and ADA Compliance Costs and Tax Incentives


Accessible Meetings

By Steve / 2021-04-01
Posted in ,

Accessible meetings are simply meetings that are accessible to people with disabilities. Issues include:

  • Site selection
  • Pre-event registration and communications
  • Meeting room layouts and considerations
  • Online communication layout and considerations
  • Audio Visual components
  • Food and Beverage Services
  • Food Allergies and Sensitivities
  • Accomodations for Deaf Individuals and those experiencing hearing loss
  • Access to Printed or Visual Materials
  • Personal Assistants and Service Animals

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

By Steve / 2021-04-01
Posted in ,

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations; but will not address every user need for people with these disabilities. These guidelines address accessibility of web content on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Following these guidelines will also often make Web content more usable to users in general.

WCAG 2.1 success criteria are written as testable statements that are not technology-specific. Guidance about satisfying the success criteria in specific technologies, as well as general information about interpreting the success criteria, is provided in separate documents. See Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview for an introduction and links to WCAG technical and educational material.

WCAG 2.1 extends Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 [WCAG20], which was published as a W3C Recommendation December 2008. Content that conforms to WCAG 2.1 also conforms to WCAG 2.0. The WG intends that for policies requiring conformance to WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1 can provide an alternate means of conformance. The publication of WCAG 2.1 does not deprecate or supersede WCAG 2.0. While WCAG 2.0 remains a W3C Recommendation, the W3C advises the use of WCAG 2.1 to maximize future applicability of accessibility efforts. The W3C also encourages use of the most current version of WCAG when developing or updating Web accessibility policies.


Voice recognition (or speech recognition)

By Steve / 2021-03-26
Posted in , ,

A software application that enables a computer to accept voice commands. This allows for little or no use of the keyboard and mouse.