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Websites, article, Mobile Apps, Games Accessibility for All

Websites, article, Mobile Apps, Games: Accessibility for All ampgtampgt Good afternoon. Welcome to the National Endowment for the Arts webinar on making Websites, articles, Mobile Apps article Games: Accessible to All. We are pleased you could join us for what is sure to be an informative presentation. My name is Beth Bienvenu, the director of the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Accessibility. We are the advocacy and technical assistance arm of the Arts Endowment and work to make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans, and people in correctional and health care settings.

Today, we are pleased to share with you some approaches to making electronic media accessible to all audiences. Throughout the presentations, we will make reference to cultural organizations, but this information is relevant to all organizations that create or use these technologies. Organizations have long been aware of how to make their buildings and programs accessible through wheelchair ramps, sign language interpretation, closed and open captioning, audio description, and other modifications to physical spaces and programs. On the screen, we have some examples, including a photo of a curbing ramp, a person using sign language, and an exhibit sign with braille.

The cultural organizations are using more and more new technologies such as mobile applications – or apps – article games, and websites to enhance user experiences, create art, share content, sell tickets, and create educational opportunities. On this screen, we have a photo of a Smithsonian exhibit of article games featuring a woman looking at a projection of a article game and a quote projected on the wall that says games have so much freedom, you can go anywhere you want. And there is also a photo of a person holding a tablet computer.

So just as a flight of stairs can pose a barrier to someone trying to enter a building or the lack of captioning can pose a barrier to someone viewing a film, the features of a article game, mobile application or inaccessible website can also pose a barrier to someone with hearing, vision, mobility, or cognitive disabilities. But there are many strategies you can use to make these electronic systems accessible. And before we get to these strategies, Id like to point out that the key is to plan for accessibility from the beginning as you develop your program or as you design your technology, be sure to keep all users in mind. Our guests are here today to provide you with some valuable information on strategies for developing your electronic media to make information accessible for all audiences.

This information provided here will be fairly general, an overview on accessibility. To get into the technical details, would take more than the one hour we have, so we hope this information will be useful to you as you design your programs and technologies. I am so pleased to have with us three experts. We have Larry Goldberg, director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH who will talk about website accessibility and article captioning.

We will also have Mark Barlet, the president and CEO of the AbleGamers Foundation, and Johnny Richardson, the Industry outreach coordinator for the AbleGamers Foundation who will both talk about accessibility for mobile apps and article games. Before we move on, there are a few housekeeping notes: You are all muted and will only be able to hear us. We will give a 50-minute presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. You submit questions or comments at any time using the question and answer box below the PowerPoint. We will do our best to address as many as possible during the time we have.

Please, do not use the Raise Hand button. This webinar will be archived, and we will make the links and resources that we use available on our site when it is posted. So be sure to send in your questions, and we will go ahead with Larry Goldberg. ampgtampgt Thank you, Beth.

It is great to be here today and great to be asked to be part of this really good group. I, as Beth said, am from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, and thats in Boston, part of Public Broadcasting in Boston. Officially, we are the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media, and we are an outgrowth of the history of accessible media here at WGBH that began in 1972. And for those of you who might encounter this question on Jeopardy, the first captioned program ever was Julia Childs French Chef, and that was open captioned and Im showing an example of what that looked like back in 1972.

A picture of Julia saying the first stew is dark, it was cooked in red wine, and from that point forward captioning has grown tremendously – it became closed captioned, and I will explain more about that later. But our second forward movement in the field of accessible media was in 1973 when we founded a Descriptive article Service or DVS – this is a service for blind and visualy-impaired people which provides added descriptions of television and movies – 1993, that is – for TV shows where we provided an added track inbetween the dialogue in the movie. The first program we ever described, on television, was the American Playhouses Lemon Sky, and I think that might have actually been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, so it all comes full circle.

I have an image of Lemon Sky on the screen here starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick so we are only one degree separated from Kevin Bacon. Most of you know what closed captioning looks like – youve seen it many, many times. Maybe article description may be a bit less familiar, but rather than trying to stream a article over this webinar, I have provided some links to examples online. A clip from Lion King on our website and Horton Hears a Hoo. Theres also a large collection of DVDs with descriptions on an extra audio track and that includes entertainment articles as well as NOVA and Front Line and American Experience.

You can see that at the link also – all of those links will be available, as Beth said, after the webinar you can download them yourslef. The third leg of what WGBH has doen in the field of media access was the creation of the National Center for Accessible Media in 1993. And our first RampampD project in this group was the development of a system for closed captioning in movie theaters.

NCAM was founded because we realized there were a lot more media that needed accessibility than television or even VHS tapes at the time, so we began many projects, and we created initially Rear Window, which is a system for creating captions in movie theaters, so only the person who wants to see the captions would. From there, we moved into online and mobile media for captioning and article description, in-flight entertainment, electronic books and online learning. Figuring out ways to make menus on DVDs and televisions talk to you.

And throughout all of this we were working pon the standards and policies and laws that promoted all of these various services that are now becoming even more and more common, and we are really happy to see that, and we will talk about the latest a little bit later. Luckily, I think this question on the next slide, Why design accessible websites? is almost becoming less and less common, its almost becoming a rhetorical question. But some people are coming to this for the first time, so I will talk about three imperatives for why designing accessible website.

One is the social imperative. Most of us on the phone today are public-serving institutions, either nonprofits or recipients of federal grants or taxpayer funds. And our mandate is to make everything we do accessible to the widest possible audience, and making your website available to everyone is really primary these days.

There is also a legal imperative. There are legal requirements if you are receiving funds from the federal government through the federal procurement rules of Section 508, there are standards to follow as well as the W3C standards, and the Justice Department has released a notice of proposed rulemaking which could require all websites to be accessible, and we are awaiting action probably in the next six months. And, finally, there is an educational imperative. Those of us who are providing information for students, whether its K-12, post-secondary or beyond – we have the requirement to make sure as many students as possible are served, and when your materials, whether on the Web or physical or in your public space are accessible, you will be helping those students, and, in fact, some educational institutions actually require their materials to be accessible in all venues, including online learning and digital books. So for those of you who have not experienced how people with disabilities actually access websites and software and games you will hear in a little bit, the generic term is assistive technologies.

These are hardware and software products that are either built in to your operating system on your computer, and that includes Windows and OSX, iPhones iOS, iPhones and iPADs, or the Android system. There are both built-in and add-on technologies for all of those platforms. For people who are blind or visually impaired, there are screen readers, this is software that will read out loud any text on the screen, and some of those products are known as JAWS, or Window Eyes, theres an Open Source one called NVDA, and built right into the MAC operating system is VoiceOver. There is software that will magnify whats onscreen, known as ZoomText, or MAGic, or Zoom, and for people with mobility impairments there are ways of connecting a single switch, if you can only move one limb or one finger or your even just your eyes. There are things known as headsticks or eye-gaze software.

You can use your breath to control your computer. All of these are common assistive technologies that have been available for many years. Many of us know about how you can dictate to your computer or your mobile device and control it. Many of us know of Dragon Naturally Speaking from the Nuance Corporation, which can not only take dictation but can actually control your computer and have do things that you talk to.

Though not normally known as an assistive technology, closed captions, sign language, article description, those can be provided in technological ways as well, on websites, and they are actually widely available on websites. The question as to how to design an accessible website is both simple and complicated. I will not try to get into a major tutorial on how to design an accessible website today. I will give you some basic highlights, but for those of you who are ready to dig in or want some of the information about that, the World wide Web Consortiums Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are in version 2.0.

They are referred to as WCAG, and the link is there for you to look more deeply into those guidelines. In addition, the U.S. Access Board is matching those standards pretty closely with their own and you can see their guidelines on the Section 508 website. And the new rules are due to be expanded by the end of 2013 and they are known as a refresh of the rules and they will be updated for more modern digital technologies. The basics of Web accessibility I can give in a few bullets, so it does get more deep and complex, but imagine using your computer or your device without a mouse or a monitor.

That is the essence of what you need to do to make your website or technology accessible, and it includes such things as text equivalents or alt text for any image on screen, that you use proper headings for page navigation, ways to skip around rapidly, skipping repetitive links. Any of your forms need to be labeled just right so somebody who has a disability can really use that same form like anyone else. And, of course, websites have significant multimedia these days, both article and audio, and those can be made accessible through captioning and description online. The forcus of your controls on on your website need to be visible and independent by devices. You have probably heard of of the term responsive design – that your website works on any platform no matter how big or small or portable or fixed and designing for device independence is key for accessibility.

And a fairly straightforward one, maybe its one that should even be first, is making sure that your website has a sufficient contrast between foreground and background. People often miss that. I have to say even the beautifully designed websites at WGBH often miss the contrast issue. Now, to move on to article accessibility, and in particular, we will start with closed captions or open and closed captions, sometimes these terms are mixed up. There are a variety of ways of defining them, but pretty well accepted is that open captions are captions that are burned into or are permanently a part of your images, your film or your article, and closed captions are those that you can turn on and off at user control, like on television, but that is also common on websites.

People often mix up the differences between subtitles and closed captions. In this country subtitles are generally used to translate from one language to another. So your audio may be in English, your subtitles would be in French or Spanish or Korean. Captions are specifically designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and include non-speech information such as sound effects and lyrics to songs and speaker IDs. So that is that we distinguish between subtitles and captions.

And there are a variety of formats, technical formats, for broadcasting, web, and mobile environments – that information is available in a number of the links that I am providing at the end of this presentation, and they are becoming more unified so there is becoming a more universal standard for each of these environments and are being proliferated widely. And thats not just on the web, but actually in physical spaces like in theaters and museums and visitor centers. You will find both open and closed captions throughout those environments. For article description, you will run into similar issues. article description is sometimes called audio description or descriptive narration, depending on where youre coming from both in terms of country and in terms of when you got into the game and can be either open or closed, which means you can record your description so everybody hears it, whether they want to or not, or you can give the user control so they can open and close that description for their own desires.

Description can also be used on articles, television, DVDs, on websites, on mobile devices all well, though is much less common in those environments. But you will also hear article description in theaters, live and movie theaters, in museums describing art and exhibits, at visitors centers at national parks and other places like that, and in all of those environments focus is given to both dynamic images, like article, as well as still images, where its an important graphic that needs to be described, as well. Much of the change in the world of media accessibility happened because of the passage of the 21st Century article and Communications Accessibility Act, or the CVAA, signed into law by President Obama in October of 2010 and, rapidly, the regulations began rolling out by the FCC, and that has an effect on captioning on the web, on article description, on television, on the provision of captioned description to users, and even soon requirements about talking menus on article programming devices as well as emergency information provided in those environments.

I skipped over this rapidly, but there is a lot more information available about the CVAA and every thing Ive talked about today at these links. These are links to documents, white papers, and resouces on NCAMs website as well as information for FCC-regulated entities at the FCC disability rights office. The World Wide Web Consortium and the Access Board – there are links there that have very important, valuable information. The Smithsonian has been deeply involved in accessibility in all of their museums for many years and have tremendous resources, as does the National Park Service. Their accessibility site from Harpers Ferry has a tremendous amount of resources that I really recommend for all of you, as well.

And here is my contact information. You can get in tuch with me if you have specific questions, and we will see if we can help. For those of you that need a little help right now, my email address is Larry underscore Goldberg at WGBH.org, and I look forward to hearing from Mark and Johnny for the rest of the show. ampgtampgt Thanks so much Larry.

I just wanted to repeat that the web links that he posted will be available on the website when this webinar is archived. So you do not have to worry about not being able to get those at the moment, so thank you again. This was very important information. Websites have been around for awhile and articles for even longer, so theres been a lot of guidance, and some great examples of access with both of these technologies. But article games and mobile apps are newer, and the platforms and technologies are constantly shifting which poses an additional challenge for accessibility.

So we are pleased to have with us Mark Barlet and Johnny Richardson from the AbleGamers Foundation to help provide some solutions. So thank you both for joining us. ampgtampgt Thank you for having us. My name is Mark Barlet, and I just want to give you guys a quick who I am. I have been in the software business for about 20 years.

I am the president and founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. I am the winner of the 2012 American Association for People with Disabilities Hearn Leadership Award, and something I am very proud of is the includification document which is linked at the end of this presentation which has a lot of the basis for what we are going to be talking about, Johnny and I, just won the Multiple Sclerosis Societys Da Vinci Award last month, which is kind of a big deal because this is the first time a concept and a document had ever been nominated, much less won. Im joined today by one of my greatest friends, Johnny.

Johnny please tell us a little bit about who you are, as well. ampgtampgt Thank you, Mark. My name Johnny Richrdson, and I am a game and web media developer here in Boston. I have ten years of experience both as a game developer and worked with a lot of mobile devices.

Im currently the lead user imnterface engineer at Destructor Beam which is a social gaming company here in Boston. And I am also the director of industry outreach for AbleGamers and I work with hundreds of developers around the world to try to make their software more accessible. As a disabled developer and gamer and user of applications, I consider my mission and specialty to be make games and sotware more accessible. ampgtampgt So who is the AbleGamers Foundation? We just wanted to tell everyone a little bit about us and why weve come to this.

We are a charity that is based out of Harpers Ferry, which is interesting that that was just alluded to by Larry, which was founded in 2004 because I am a person with disabilities myself. I am a veteran that has a disability, and my best friend has multiple sclerosis, and gaming was an important way for us to stay connected. And we had found that her disability was taking away her ability to game.

We were looking for some information how to make sure she could game better, and this was way back in the early days of 2004, and we were not really finding any information, so given that I had a technology background and I had a real desire to make a change, the AbleGamers Foundation was born. We mainly work in three different areas – like this presentation, we work with developers to educate them on how to make their games and products more accessible. We created a community of gamers with disabilities so that gamers could help gamers through the thoughts of crowdsourcing, and the fact that everyones disability is slightly different, collectively we could come up with solutions. And then when our financing allows, we provide AT grants for people with disabilities so they can bring some of the assistive technology that allows them to play games into the home. So those are really our three main focuses.

So what is game accessibility? Game accessibility really in a broad sense is making sure that everyone has access to the content that you are providing, via games or mobile apps. But for this conversation were going to talk specifically about making sure that your games are accessible to people with disabilities.

You guys are going to work really hard on projects youre currently working hard on a project right now – lets make sure that everyone is able to really enjoy what you are working on. ampgtampgt We are talking about the extent to which the disabled users ability to fully use your application or game. For our purposes today we are going to cover more high-level stuff as Beth alluded to earlier on today. We are not really going to delve into the technical aspects, because that is an whole ball of wax that would take many, many hours to describe. Today, we will focus on native apps.

What I mean by native is that it is an app that you actually go to, say, the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace and download the application to your phone. An application that exists only on the Web which is a whole different kind of . This kind of ties into what we talked about, were going to be talking about. But is a little outside of the scope. So why is this important?

Obviously mobile devices are ubiquitous, and everyone uses one every day, at least every day, probably multiple times a day. You cannot assume every user at every mobile level of devices is totally able-bodied or possess all their mental faculties. In my opinion, frankly, mobile app accessibility and accessing the desktop or the Web is quite simple. So what is mobile accessibility?

A lot of the context we are going to talk about, you can borrow from the desktop design, but there are actually a few fairly important differences. Namely, iOS and Android have a lot of built-in features that can do roughly 50 to 75 of the work as long as the developers that you are working with are capable, which I hope they are, which has never been true for the desktop. The desktop has been such a fragmented and diverse array of technology. As I said, the fragmentation of these devices is a little bit lighter compared with the desktop. It is obviously less true for Android, given that it is on so many different handsets, but that is starting to change. ampgtampgt So who are our users?

The first step is really identifying who is going to be using the technology you are going to develop. They likely live with some of the following impairments that I think were all familiar with: mobility, cognitive, sight, learning disabilities. What you may not be familiar with is some of the technology that they are using, stuff like screen readers, the need for subtitles, even braile keyboards.

And what is the age? We kind of call the age out, because one of the really interesting statistics thats come out of some of the big marketing firms is that there are actually more gamers over the age of 50 than there are under the age of 18, and I know that a lot of people might find that kind of shocking, but you have a retired population, they have got their grandkids on Facebook. Their kids are showing them how to play Facebook games.

They have iPhones or Android apps or an iPad. I just went out and helped my neighbor whos 74 to go buy an iPad and she is constantly telling me about games shes found. But the interesting thing is that as we age we all know the need for different types of assistive technology become a little bit greater, you know, hearing losses. Eyesight losses. So, really, a lot of the accessibility were going to be talking about is not really an option anymore if you want a wider adoption of what youre going to be working on.

Its really a requirement. ampgtampgt So one of the other first steps to look at when youre building an accessible app or game is what devices do you want to target? Because when you are building something that is going to be on every major handset or mobile or tablet device available, it is going to greatly impact how you design your application with games, because all of the operating systems vendors have their own set of what they call user interface guidelines. The are based on brand implications as well as how the phone or tablet is designed and things like that. That is a lot to keep in mind.

Users have different expectations based this on the kind of device they are using, as well. And when youre switching from desktop many of you probably built desktop software before but this might be your first mobile application. Touch has very little in common with mouse and keyboard input – disabled users generally just dont have as many input options as they traditionally had on desktop computers. And they also desire a much more piecemeal presentation, that these applications can be necessarily as complex, because they wont be easy to use at all. And you also cant assumer where the user is using the application.

Traditionally, on the desktop, it mostly at home or the office with the mobile device it can literally be anywhere. ampgtampgt So lets talk a little about the dos and the donts for mobile devices. I think this is really good to kind of set the frame for everything. Do simplify whatever makes sense. There is a tendency in the desktop environment because of the amount real estate and everything that you have that you can, for lack of a better word, desktop that you can, for lack of a better word, you can over complicate things. You dont really have that luxury in the mobile environment.

Do put yourself in the users shoes. And I think this is something that a lot of us should do. There is a lot of technology built into your mobile device for people with disabilities. Turn it on, live with it for a day or two which leads right into our next one which is use the features yourself. I have had friends that are fascinated that VoiceOver on the iPhone and what it can do.

And so I think It really helps you guys approach development if you use some of this technology yourself. Do keep in mind that not to necessarily use fancy animations just for the sake of using them. Use animations where they make a lot of sense and kind of leave them out if you are just adding them for wow, look what I found out my computer can do.

And as a person who is a quality assurance engineer: Test, test, test. Now some of the donts. Dont use over-colorization. We will talk a little bit later on in the presentation about some of the impairments that were going to have to help overcome.

One of the big ones, especially among males, is color blindness and things like that. Represent any or …repress any Accessibility features. There are some people out there that actually have flagged their application not to allow certain technologies like VoiceOver to work. Do not do that. And turn accessibility — do not turn accessibility into a complex problem.

I have told hundreds and hundreds and thousands of developers, and Johnny would agree, if you think about accessibility from day one, accessibility is not that hard. The first group were going to talk about is the visually-impaired gamer and user. The high-level concepts of a visually impaired gamer is a visually-impaired gamer is sighted, but corrected visual acuity is only 20-60. They will seek and use accessibility features, especially text-resizing.

Contrast settings making things light versus dark, or dark versus light, colorblind overlays, and sometimes voice-over technology. For the conversation we are going to have, I do want to say that we are going to address mainly the needs of a visually-impaired gamer, which is different than the blind gamer or the blind user. There has been a couple of examples of visual articlegames that have blind accessibility features to them, but for the most part in my experience, to do either one of them well, the other one sometimes gets left out. ampgtampgt So what are some of the concepts that can use to make your applications or game more accessible to visually-impaired players and users?

First of all, color blindness and color impairment is a major and a frequent disability that we come across all the time. You really have to use high contrast colors. Otherwise, a lot of the visual accessibility of your app will not be there.

Also, make sure that you havevoice-over and text-to-speech options wherever it makes sense because as we said at the start, these devices tend to have pretty excellent voice-over controls and text-to-speech readers. And then do not have any overlays that are are going to make it hard for a color blind user to see something thats going to be behind it – beware of things like things transparency and opacity because those can make parts of your user interface difficult to use for somebody thats color blind or some other kind of impairment. Also, make sure you have alternate text and alternate colors like high contrast modes to allow screen readers to a call out any images that are on the screen and b to allow somebody to be able to alter the color of the application itself. ampgtampgt Yeah, one of the biggest examples I use for people when I talk about this is we are all familiar with red-green. Red might be what the enemy has, and green might be what you have if youre playing some kind of Risk game or Stratego game, but if you are red-green colorblind, you can not tell where your boundaries end and the other boundaries begin. So you could use something like alternate colors, orange-blue as another option, or even symbols that go along with the color.

So thats a real good example of what were talking about here. The next group were going to talk about is the hearing-impaired user. Theyre looking for at least closed captioning, but in order to really enjoy a game, full captioning is needed, and Johnny will talk a little bit more about what full captioning is. Theyre looking for visual cues about progress in a game that has been made not just an audio cue.

If a game says Quest advanced, and there is not something on the screen that showed them that as well, they might be missing the fact that that quest has advanced. ampgtampgt So on the topic of closed captioning, youre going to want to be careful not to link to or contain any articles that do not have that or any subtitles. Also, you want to refrain from any cues or events like notifications that do not have some kind of visual component. In fact, I always recommend having a visual and a – so in other words, a vibration and a visual effect as well as audio.

Thats really what you need to hit. Back to the captioning really quickly because thats a kind of pet peeve of mine. If you have a lot of text in your application, the developer is putting that text somewhere in the app. So, frankly, to include it as a caption somewhere really it is not that much work because the…its not as if its not already present somewhere internally inside of the application.

And thats honestly one of the biggest ROI points I know of for applications and games. ampgtampgt One of the other return on investments that captioning allows you to do is something called internationalization, because if youre going through the effort to put closed captioning in, then later on down the road, when you guys are successful and you want to move your application to another country, you can replace your the closed-captioning that you have already built in with French, and now you can move your application into other areas of the world, and you already have the subtitle feature built in. Which I think is kind of cool. The next one is mobily impaired gamer, which is one that is near and dear to my heart, because I am a mobily-impaired individual. Theyre looking for options to change how the game is controlled – they may want to change speed of the game so they can better react if their disability does not give them a very quick reflex time and – and this is a big note – desktop mobility issues are very different than that in the mobile space.

The USB port is an open source, and there are probably enough things to plug into the computer to fill up an 18-wheeler truck. That is not the same in the mobility world. ampgtampgt So, along these lines of mobility and physical limitations you really want to avoid in your game especially any interface elements that would require a lot of rapid movement. One of the pet peeves for me is the use of what I call quick-time events in games these days where you really have to press something or touch something in a very rapid manner in order to progress. That can really pretty much cut the app off or the game off for any user you have.

Do not do that or have options of bypassing those kinds of events. Also, you really want to avoid using small buttons which can be difficult on the mobile app because youve got a smaller screen, but people do not mind scrolling. They do mind it, though, if they cannot touch the buttons.

You tend to want to use a consistent navigation structure which actually is not that hard if you follow the guidelines of the device you are building for. Whenever possible, and this can sound a little bit crazy because in marketing everybody says how great multi-touch is, but really you really want to avoid that because, frankly, even for able- bodied people, multi-touch can be fairly difficult. It limits your movement.

It limits your ability to get the control over the app that you want. Honestly, one button touch, one finger input, is all you need in 99 of the situations that youre going to find yourself facing in your design, so please keep that in mind. So lets say you have got a zoom gesture, where you are allowing the player to zoom the camera into the character by using the traditional two-finger zoom gesture.

What I would actually also do is add a button to zoom in and zoom out, which allows the same thing to happen. You can even have an option in the options menu to show or hide the buttons. What this does is it allows both able-bodied users and not able- bodied users to have the same ability in the app.

But it also doesnt force anyone to use one or the other. You should also offer tilts. Most devices these days have devices inside them that allow for tilt, and it is very easy to access those devices within code. There is really no reason that you cannot use that, as well, and that can be very effective for somebody who does not have a lot of fine motor, but their gross motor allows them to hold, say, an iPad and then just tilt it back and forth. ampgtampgt To that point, I actually prefer touch because the way I use my mobile device is that I often set it flat on a desk or something like that, so tilt is something that kind of irritates me, so offering both is a really good way of covering and making sure everyone can enjoy it. We will move on to some of the cognitive- and learning-impaired users.

SOme of the high level concepts is – they are looking for sandbox, consequence-free modes fora game. They really want to learn how to play the game before they enter into any type of competitive mode. They want or need save points.

They are looking for fail safes so they can progress – this refers back to the quick-time events that Johnny had talked about earlier – if theyre not able to get through a quick-time event a game should be able to say Hey, do you need to move past this? And pausing the game so they can plan their next steps is something that is really important. ampgtampgt So, some other strategies that you can use for these kinds of disabilities. The first one is to avoid a long list of content. Say youve got an app and its mostly text, youd be surprised how many apps out there will literally just show you a gigantic list.

Even for me – I have no learning disabilities, even for me its very hard to navigate the app because it is easy to lose your place where you are. So I really recommend putting that content up in the pages providing some kind of table of contents. This is the way you should do that if youve got a lot of text.

You would be surprised how many people leave out any kind of tutorial mode in their game and app. A lot of games will just drop you into the game and assume you know what to do. You really want to spend a lot of time at the start of your development and your design thinking about how you want to teach the players how to play or how to use your app. These can be some very concise things: little toolkits.

Even some kind of voiceover is ideal, and it allows the person with, say, a learning disability to really grasp what your app or your game is about and how to use it. And I would encourage everybody here to look at the most popular apps that are on the platform that you are targeting. The Applke App Store has a lot of games on them, but week to week you can find two or three that are high up the charts. I look at those because theres a reason people like them.

And I am not asking you to steal anyones ideas, but what Im saying is that if a lot of people like something alot, it tends to be because that thing is designed very well. There are lots of common threads between those that they hit that makes it so popular. I would really encourage people just to take a look at what is out there and learn from those. Last but not least, when your app has push notifications, make sure theyre descriptive but try to keep them short.

A lot of apps these days like to get the attention of the user by showing them a lot of information about what is going on. Say its a news application pushing entire stories into the notifications area, you really do not want to do that. You want to get the subject or the title, whatever the notification is, to be pretty darn short. You should also try to look at all of these groups of disabilities because they share a lot of commonalities that you want to try to hit on. I always tell developers to try to minimize the need for form elements in the app or game that require input.

This is because even with voiceover and keyboard support a lot of mobile devices still are harder than desktop has ever been to inout into text fields for a variety of reasons. So, what you might want to do is say you need the users information about their name and their email address – tie into things like the Facebook SDK, because all that requires is that they touch Facebook Connect and suddenly youve got all of that information. That is a really easy way to avoid a lot of registration forms. You should avoid interface components that are temporary or that fade out after a period of time.

So youll see this in a lot of games where, you know, an enemy hits you, for example, and you have been damaged, and that stays for three or four seconds and then that notification disappears. You really want to avoid that because not everybody is going to be able to realize, a, or b, read the notification within that time frame. So always provide some kind of OK button or close button. GoIng back to what I said earlier about descriptive text and alternate text for graphics, I would advise that that is avoided for things that are purely decoration, so graphics that do not have any meaning to the user, theyre there just to make it look good for the fully-sighted, you want to avoid alternate text because what will happen is speech reader will interpret those graphics as important to the user and it is easy to get confused. So, that is the last point there.

One other point I really want to hit on, and this is really important in my mind, is the differences in accessibility on the different platforms. iOS does a fantastic job – they have a bevy of features. But Android is taking some time to catch up. It is going to get there soon. Google has made an effort to get better with what they do, but, honestly, right now, both from the users and developers standpoint iOS is much easier.

I am not dissuading anyone from using either, I am just saying these are the things you need to think about when developing for those platforms. Continuing on, when we look at things like BlackBerry and Windows phones, those are also quite behind in this area. They will get better, possibly over time, but currently they lag badly in accessibility and a lot of disabled users have actually moved on to things like Android and iOS. So I would just, again, I do not want to discourage anyone from using a Blackberry or Windows Phone or Android or iOS. I just want everybody here to be aware of what they are getting into with these devices. ampgtampgt Quality assurance is something that is near and dear.

When it comes to accessibility, there is simply nothing more valuable than focusing on testing. Theres still that type that wont go there, but thats OK. Try using your app with various features and, again, this is a point I cannot stress this enough.

As content makers, its important that you understand the capabilities of the tools in your hand. And the best way to understand that capability is to use that capability, even if you do not necessarily need it, because you understand exactly how it works and how your users are going to perceive your application. You always learn more by several orders of magnitude by observing the user actions while youre with the app.

This is, again, to testing. Find a good beta group. Find people who will give you real and honest feedback and make sure people disabilities are represented in that beta group so that you can get a real good understanding of how people are going to be using your app. This means we are just about out of time. Looking at my clock, we have about one minute left.

My name is Mark Barlet, my contact information is right here. You can tweet me, you can call me, or you can LinkedIn me. ampgtampgt Same with me – my name is Johnny Richardson, and you are all welcome to send any questions our way or give us a call or tweet at us. You can find the AbleGamers Twitter account and Facebook link as well as a link to our includification guide, which is includification.com which is our 40-page full-color guide that demonstrates for developers how accomplish many of these aspects that we talked about today. ampgtampgt You cannot have gamification without includification.

Thank you guys very much. ampgtampgt Thank you so much. That was a lot of great, valuable information. This is a an important topic. I appreciate both of you and Larry providing all this wonderful information. I hope that you have all learned some strategies for approaching access with these technologies and will be sure to take advantage of the resources that are available.

So we will open up to questions now, and I encourage you to email or to send your questions to us using the QampampA box. We have about 10 minutes, so please send your questions, and we have a few already. Lets see.

We will start with a question for Johnny or Mark. You said to simplify where it makes sense when it comes to an app or article game design. Where might it not make sense?

What types of situations? ampgtampgt So in my mind, there are plenty of situations out there, in games especially. Frankly, a lot of games are so complex because of the genre of the game or the story of the game or just the goal of the game where it is very hard to say, OK, if I simplify the design, it will compromise the game so much that its almost not worth it. What Im not trying to say is you should not try. Im saying that if you cant simplify something for some reason, if you think thats going to compromise the quality of the product, I would still encourage anyone out there to then look at that design and say, OK, if I cannot simplify this, how do I explain it in a better way? Or how do I break the design up into more digestible chunks?

And I guess that is an example where you would not be able to necessarily streamline something, but you can diversify the way it is put out there into the users vocabulary, essentially. ampgtampgt OK. Great. Thank you.

We have another question. This one is probably good for Larry. What tools are available to enhance accessibility like say for captioning and description authoring, web accessibility checking, etc.

What are some tools available out there? ampgtampgt Thats a good question. There are a range of tools. Lets start with captioning. There is everything from freeware, like a tool called Magpie, that WGBH NCAM created a few years ago and makes available for free from our website. There are middle range tools from, for instance, there is a company called CPC, workstations for both MAC and PC to do your own captioning.

And at the very high end, broadcasters and television facilities will use a captioning work station called Softel Swift. Those are the range of tools there. Theres also ways of posting your article on YouTube and havng the speech recognition engine there do in essence a rough draft. That will not be highly accurate, and then you can take that text that is gnerated, download it, correct it, clean it up, and then re-upload it, and then you can have a captioned article on YouTube, which works pretty well. Not quite as many tools available for article description, except in fact article description is really just a script writer.

You can write your script in Word, and the real issue then is the timing. Make sure when you are watching a article you can measure the spaces where there is time for dialogue. There are courses you can take on article description, and you can learn a bit about to do it for your own institution, and then you just do a mix. It is really not more complicated than going into a mix room and mixing your audio. For Web accessibility, you start with the guidelines I pointed out in the webinar, and then there are various evaluation tools – little plugins or links you can put in your website on your website or Web page, and it will do a Web evaluation, and the available web accessibility evaluation tools the are listed at the W3Cs Web Access Initiative site on their website.

You can find eval tools there. ampgtampgt OK, great. Thank you. We have a question about when the presentation will be available, be archived on our website. It will be in the next couple of weeks. But you can go ahead and email us any of the questions that you have If you would like to get any of those links ahead of time.

So, we have another question and I am not sure whos best to answer this, but I will throw it out there. How accessible are PDF files for screen readers? nd if not how can PDFs be made accessible? ampgtampgt I can answer that question. Adobe actually has a pretty good suite of accessibility tools when youre doing a PDF creation. You know, PDFs have to be created from something else, and it is very similar to Web design. There are places for you to put alternate text, labeling, and the whole nine yards.

I just actually finished a project doing some PDF accessibility, and it is almost identical to what Web accessibility looks like. ampgtampgt Great. Thank you. Another question is What are some programs that you recommend for adding audio descriptions to articles? This is probably a good question for Larry. ampgtampgt So the question is what programs, software programs?

Well, there is one from the same company that makes the captioning workstation. Softel. They also have an audio description tool. As I mentioned, it really is just a question of writing out a script and timing the pauses, so you can really use any scripting tool and even, as I said, Word.

We started using Hyper Card stacks way back in the old days. We created our own it tool internally called Descriptor. But really what it does is time out the audio of a program and then measure the pauses.

Aside from those two, thats the main…actually, Magpie will do audio description. It is a bit more tedious, but its is free. You get what you pay for. You can find try that out at the NCAMs website at ncam.wgbh.org. Its right on the homepage there, theres a link to Magpie. ampgtampgt Great, thank you.

Another question: Are there centers or groups or listservs or anything that offer to do user testing for apps focusing on accessibility? ampgtampgt Yes, I guess theres a follow-up question is, Are you willing to pay for it or not? Absolutely, there are organizations that will do all of the accessibility testing in the world if you have the budget for it. If you are an organization like the AbleGamers Foundation and were looking specifically at games, we have had and we do have a small group of gamers with disabilities who would love an opportunity, especially if it is a really awesome title, to get into your system early and give you feedback. Larry, would you agree? ampgtampgt Yes.

It is a range. As Mark mentions, there are some free tools available, and there are organizations like my own. NCAM does quite a bit of web accessibility work for our partners and corporate clients. We also have a free whats called a favelet, something you can put in your bookmarks bar. The NCAM QA favelet.

Theres also something called the Web Accessibility Evaluation tool – WAVE. Jim Thatcher, an expert in the field, has his favelets you can put in your tool bar. There are some pretty simple toolbar techniques, and they will get you some basic problems that you can fix by yourself right away, and then it escalates from there.

But if you need to just do a quick check, you might try it one of those toolbars available. There is another one – A Checker. You can Google any of those, or you can write to me, and I will give you the list. ampgtampgt I just wanted to say really quickly, as a web developer, you can also use the World Wide Web Consortium. They have a variety of accessibility tools that will essentially run through your web page and see what the results are as far as a disabled user. They are also somebody to check out. ampgtampgt All right.

Well, thank you so much. That is all of the time that we have. We had some really great questions. I am sorry for those that we did not get to, but you can always email us. Myy email address is bienvenub at arts dot gov and we will make all of this information available.

So please stay in touch, and I hope this was informative for everybody, and thank you for joining us. Websites, article, Mobile Apps, Games: Accessibility for All ampgtampgt Good afternoon. Welcome to the National Endowment for the Arts webinar on making Websites, articles, Mobile Apps article Games: Accessible to All. We are pleased you could join us for what is sure to be an informative presentation.

My name is Beth Bienvenu, the director of the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Accessibility. We are the advocacy and technical assistance arm of the Arts Endowment and work to make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans, and people in correctional and health care settings. Today, we are pleased to share with you some approaches to making electronic media accessible to all audiences. Throughout the presentations, we will make reference to cultural organizations, but this information is relevant to all organizations that create or use these technologies. Organizations have long been aware of how to make their buildings and programs accessible through wheelchair ramps, sign language interpretation, closed and open captioning, audio description, and other modifications to physical spaces and programs.

On the screen, we have some examples, including a photo of a curbing ramp, a person using sign language, and an exhibit sign with braille. The cultural organizations are using more and more new technologies such as mobile applications – or apps – article games, and websites to enhance user experiences, create art, share content, sell tickets, and create educational opportunities. On this screen, we have a photo of a Smithsonian exhibit of article games featuring a woman looking at a projection of a article game and a quote projected on the wall that says games have so much freedom, you can go anywhere you want. And there is also a photo of a person holding a tablet computer.

So just as a flight of stairs can pose a barrier to someone trying to enter a building or the lack of captioning can pose a barrier to someone viewing a film, the features of a article game, mobile application or inaccessible website can also pose a barrier to someone with hearing, vision, mobility, or cognitive disabilities. But there are many strategies you can use to make these electronic systems accessible. And before we get to these strategies, Id like to point out that the key is to plan for accessibility from the beginning as you develop your program or as you design your technology, be sure to keep all users in mind.

Our guests are here today to provide you with some valuable information on strategies for developing your electronic media to make information accessible for all audiences. This information provided here will be fairly general, an overview on accessibility. To get into the technical details, would take more than the one hour we have, so we hope this information will be useful to you as you design your programs and technologies.

I am so pleased to have with us three experts. We have Larry Goldberg, director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH who will talk about website accessibility and article captioning. We will also have Mark Barlet, the president and CEO of the AbleGamers Foundation, and Johnny Richardson, the Industry outreach coordinator for the AbleGamers Foundation who will both talk about accessibility for mobile apps and article games. Before we move on, there are a few housekeeping notes: You are all muted and will only be able to hear us.

We will give a 50-minute presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. You submit questions or comments at any time using the question and answer box below the PowerPoint. We will do our best to address as many as possible during the time we have. Please, do not use the Raise Hand button.

This webinar will be archived, and we will make the links and resources that we use available on our site when it is posted. So be sure to send in your questions, and we will go ahead with Larry Goldberg. ampgtampgt Thank you, Beth. It is great to be here today and great to be asked to be part of this really good group. I, as Beth said, am from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, and thats in Boston, part of Public Broadcasting in Boston.

Officially, we are the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media, and we are an outgrowth of the history of accessible media here at WGBH that began in 1972. And for those of you who might encounter this question on Jeopardy, the first captioned program ever was Julia Childs French Chef, and that was open captioned and Im showing an example of what that looked like back in 1972. A picture of Julia saying the first stew is dark, it was cooked in red wine, and from that point forward captioning has grown tremendously – it became closed captioned, and I will explain more about that later. But our second forward movement in the field of accessible media was in 1973 when we founded a Descriptive article Service or DVS – this is a service for blind and visualy-impaired people which provides added descriptions of television and movies – 1993, that is – for TV shows where we provided an added track inbetween the dialogue in the movie. The first program we ever described, on television, was the American Playhouses Lemon Sky, and I think that might have actually been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, so it all comes full circle.

I have an image of Lemon Sky on the screen here starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick so we are only one degree separated from Kevin Bacon. Most of you know what closed captioning looks like – youve seen it many, many times. Maybe article description may be a bit less familiar, but rather than trying to stream a article over this webinar, I have provided some links to examples online. A clip from Lion King on our website and Horton Hears a Hoo. Theres also a large collection of DVDs with descriptions on an extra audio track and that includes entertainment articles as well as NOVA and Front Line and American Experience.

You can see that at the link also – all of those links will be available, as Beth said, after the webinar you can download them yourslef. The third leg of what WGBH has doen in the field of media access was the creation of the National Center for Accessible Media in 1993. And our first RampampD project in this group was the development of a system for closed captioning in movie theaters. NCAM was founded because we realized there were a lot more media that needed accessibility than television or even VHS tapes at the time, so we began many projects, and we created initially Rear Window, which is a system for creating captions in movie theaters, so only the person who wants to see the captions would.

From there, we moved into online and mobile media for captioning and article description, in-flight entertainment, electronic books and online learning. Figuring out ways to make menus on DVDs and televisions talk to you. And throughout all of this we were working pon the standards and policies and laws that promoted all of these various services that are now becoming even more and more common, and we are really happy to see that, and we will talk about the latest a little bit later. Luckily, I think this question on the next slide, Why design accessible websites? is almost becoming less and less common, its almost becoming a rhetorical question. But some people are coming to this for the first time, so I will talk about three imperatives for why designing accessible website.

One is the social imperative. Most of us on the phone today are public-serving institutions, either nonprofits or recipients of federal grants or taxpayer funds. And our mandate is to make everything we do accessible to the widest possible audience, and making your website available to everyone is really primary these days. There is also a legal imperative. There are legal requirements if you are receiving funds from the federal government through the federal procurement rules of Section 508, there are standards to follow as well as the W3C standards, and the Justice Department has released a notice of proposed rulemaking which could require all websites to be accessible, and we are awaiting action probably in the next six months.

And, finally, there is an educational imperative. Those of us who are providing information for students, whether its K-12, post-secondary or beyond – we have the requirement to make sure as many students as possible are served, and when your materials, whether on the Web or physical or in your public space are accessible, you will be helping those students, and, in fact, some educational institutions actually require their materials to be accessible in all venues, including online learning and digital books. So for those of you who have not experienced how people with disabilities actually access websites and software and games you will hear in a little bit, the generic term is assistive technologies.

These are hardware and software products that are either built in to your operating system on your computer, and that includes Windows and OSX, iPhones iOS, iPhones and iPADs, or the Android system. There are both built-in and add-on technologies for all of those platforms. For people who are blind or visually impaired, there are screen readers, this is software that will read out loud any text on the screen, and some of those products are known as JAWS, or Window Eyes, theres an Open Source one called NVDA, and built right into the MAC operating system is VoiceOver. There is software that will magnify whats onscreen, known as ZoomText, or MAGic, or Zoom, and for people with mobility impairments there are ways of connecting a single switch, if you can only move one limb or one finger or your even just your eyes. There are things known as headsticks or eye-gaze software.

You can use your breath to control your computer. All of these are common assistive technologies that have been available for many years. Many of us know about how you can dictate to your computer or your mobile device and control it. Many of us know of Dragon Naturally Speaking from the Nuance Corporation, which can not only take dictation but can actually control your computer and have do things that you talk to.

Though not normally known as an assistive technology, closed captions, sign language, article description, those can be provided in technological ways as well, on websites, and they are actually widely available on websites. The question as to how to design an accessible website is both simple and complicated. I will not try to get into a major tutorial on how to design an accessible website today. I will give you some basic highlights, but for those of you who are ready to dig in or want some of the information about that, the World wide Web Consortiums Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are in version 2.0.

They are referred to as WCAG, and the link is there for you to look more deeply into those guidelines. In addition, the U.S. Access Board is matching those standards pretty closely with their own and you can see their guidelines on the Section 508 website. And the new rules are due to be expanded by the end of 2013 and they are known as a refresh of the rules and they will be updated for more modern digital technologies. The basics of Web accessibility I can give in a few bullets, so it does get more deep and complex, but imagine using your computer or your device without a mouse or a monitor.

That is the essence of what you need to do to make your website or technology accessible, and it includes such things as text equivalents or alt text for any image on screen, that you use proper headings for page navigation, ways to skip around rapidly, skipping repetitive links. Any of your forms need to be labeled just right so somebody who has a disability can really use that same form like anyone else. And, of course, websites have significant multimedia these days, both article and audio, and those can be made accessible through captioning and description online. The forcus of your controls on on your website need to be visible and independent by devices. You have probably heard of of the term responsive design – that your website works on any platform no matter how big or small or portable or fixed and designing for device independence is key for accessibility.

And a fairly straightforward one, maybe its one that should even be first, is making sure that your website has a sufficient contrast between foreground and background. People often miss that. I have to say even the beautifully designed websites at WGBH often miss the contrast issue.

Now, to move on to article accessibility, and in particular, we will start with closed captions or open and closed captions, sometimes these terms are mixed up. There are a variety of ways of defining them, but pretty well accepted is that open captions are captions that are burned into or are permanently a part of your images, your film or your article, and closed captions are those that you can turn on and off at user control, like on television, but that is also common on websites. People often mix up the differences between subtitles and closed captions. In this country subtitles are generally used to translate from one language to another.

So your audio may be in English, your subtitles would be in French or Spanish or Korean. Captions are specifically designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and include non-speech information such as sound effects and lyrics to songs and speaker IDs. So that is that we distinguish between subtitles and captions. And there are a variety of formats, technical formats, for broadcasting, web, and mobile environments – that information is available in a number of the links that I am providing at the end of this presentation, and they are becoming more unified so there is becoming a more universal standard for each of these environments and are being proliferated widely.

And thats not just on the web, but actually in physical spaces like in theaters and museums and visitor centers. You will find both open and closed captions throughout those environments. For article description, you will run into similar issues. article description is sometimes called audio description or descriptive narration, depending on where youre coming from both in terms of country and in terms of when you got into the game and can be either open or closed, which means you can record your description so everybody hears it, whether they want to or not, or you can give the user control so they can open and close that description for their own desires.

Description can also be used on articles, television, DVDs, on websites, on mobile devices all well, though is much less common in those environments. But you will also hear article description in theaters, live and movie theaters, in museums describing art and exhibits, at visitors centers at national parks and other places like that, and in all of those environments focus is given to both dynamic images, like article, as well as still images, where its an important graphic that needs to be described, as well. Much of the change in the world of media accessibility happened because of the passage of the 21st Century article and Communications Accessibility Act, or the CVAA, signed into law by President Obama in October of 2010 and, rapidly, the regulations began rolling out by the FCC, and that has an effect on captioning on the web, on article description, on television, on the provision of captioned description to users, and even soon requirements about talking menus on article programming devices as well as emergency information provided in those environments. I skipped over this rapidly, but there is a lot more information available about the CVAA and every thing Ive talked about today at these links.

These are links to documents, white papers, and resouces on NCAMs website as well as information for FCC-regulated entities at the FCC disability rights office. The World Wide Web Consortium and the Access Board – there are links there that have very important, valuable information. The Smithsonian has been deeply involved in accessibility in all of their museums for many years and have tremendous resources, as does the National Park Service.

Their accessibility site from Harpers Ferry has a tremendous amount of resources that I really recommend for all of you, as well. And here is my contact information. You can get in tuch with me if you have specific questions, and we will see if we can help.

For those of you that need a little help right now, my email address is Larry underscore Goldberg at WGBH.org, and I look forward to hearing from Mark and Johnny for the rest of the show. ampgtampgt Thanks so much Larry. I just wanted to repeat that the web links that he posted will be available on the website when this webinar is archived. So you do not have to worry about not being able to get those at the moment, so thank you again. This was very important information.

Websites have been around for awhile and articles for even longer, so theres been a lot of guidance, and some great examples of access with both of these technologies. But article games and mobile apps are newer, and the platforms and technologies are constantly shifting which poses an additional challenge for accessibility. So we are pleased to have with us Mark Barlet and Johnny Richardson from the AbleGamers Foundation to help provide some solutions. So thank you both for joining us. ampgtampgt Thank you for having us.

My name is Mark Barlet, and I just want to give you guys a quick who I am. I have been in the software business for about 20 years. I am the president and founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. I am the winner of the 2012 American Association for People with Disabilities Hearn Leadership Award, and something I am very proud of is the includification document which is linked at the end of this presentation which has a lot of the basis for what we are going to be talking about, Johnny and I, just won the Multiple Sclerosis Societys Da Vinci Award last month, which is kind of a big deal because this is the first time a concept and a document had ever been nominated, much less won. Im joined today by one of my greatest friends, Johnny.

Johnny please tell us a little bit about who you are, as well. ampgtampgt Thank you, Mark. My name Johnny Richrdson, and I am a game and web media developer here in Boston. I have ten years of experience both as a game developer and worked with a lot of mobile devices. Im currently the lead user imnterface engineer at Destructor Beam which is a social gaming company here in Boston. And I am also the director of industry outreach for AbleGamers and I work with hundreds of developers around the world to try to make their software more accessible.

As a disabled developer and gamer and user of applications, I consider my mission and specialty to be make games and sotware more accessible. ampgtampgt So who is the AbleGamers Foundation? We just wanted to tell everyone a little bit about us and why weve come to this. We are a charity that is based out of Harpers Ferry, which is interesting that that was just alluded to by Larry, which was founded in 2004 because I am a person with disabilities myself. I am a veteran that has a disability, and my best friend has multiple sclerosis, and gaming was an important way for us to stay connected. And we had found that her disability was taking away her ability to game.

We were looking for some information how to make sure she could game better, and this was way back in the early days of 2004, and we were not really finding any information, so given that I had a technology background and I had a real desire to make a change, the AbleGamers Foundation was born. We mainly work in three different areas – like this presentation, we work with developers to educate them on how to make their games and products more accessible. We created a community of gamers with disabilities so that gamers could help gamers through the thoughts of crowdsourcing, and the fact that everyones disability is slightly different, collectively we could come up with solutions. And then when our financing allows, we provide AT grants for people with disabilities so they can bring some of the assistive technology that allows them to play games into the home.

So those are really our three main focuses. So what is game accessibility? Game accessibility really in a broad sense is making sure that everyone has access to the content that you are providing, via games or mobile apps. But for this conversation were going to talk specifically about making sure that your games are accessible to people with disabilities. You guys are going to work really hard on projects youre currently working hard on a project right now – lets make sure that everyone is able to really enjoy what you are working on. ampgtampgt We are talking about the extent to which the disabled users ability to fully use your application or game.

For our purposes today we are going to cover more high-level stuff as Beth alluded to earlier on today. We are not really going to delve into the technical aspects, because that is an whole ball of wax that would take many, many hours to describe. Today, we will focus on native apps. What I mean by native is that it is an app that you actually go to, say, the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace and download the application to your phone.

An application that exists only on the Web which is a whole different kind of . This kind of ties into what we talked about, were going to be talking about. But is a little outside of the scope. So why is this important? Obviously mobile devices are ubiquitous, and everyone uses one every day, at least every day, probably multiple times a day.

You cannot assume every user at every mobile level of devices is totally able-bodied or possess all their mental faculties. In my opinion, frankly, mobile app accessibility and accessing the desktop or the Web is quite simple. So what is mobile accessibility? A lot of the context we are going to talk about, you can borrow from the desktop design, but there are actually a few fairly important differences.

Namely, iOS and Android have a lot of built-in features that can do roughly 50 to 75 of the work as long as the developers that you are working with are capable, which I hope they are, which has never been true for the desktop. The desktop has been such a fragmented and diverse array of technology. As I said, the fragmentation of these devices is a little bit lighter compared with the desktop. It is obviously less true for Android, given that it is on so many different handsets, but that is starting to change. ampgtampgt So who are our users?

The first step is really identifying who is going to be using the technology you are going to develop. They likely live with some of the following impairments that I think were all familiar with: mobility, cognitive, sight, learning disabilities. What you may not be familiar with is some of the technology that they are using, stuff like screen readers, the need for subtitles, even braile keyboards.

And what is the age? We kind of call the age out, because one of the really interesting statistics thats come out of some of the big marketing firms is that there are actually more gamers over the age of 50 than there are under the age of 18, and I know that a lot of people might find that kind of shocking, but you have a retired population, they have got their grandkids on Facebook. Their kids are showing them how to play Facebook games. They have iPhones or Android apps or an iPad. I just went out and helped my neighbor whos 74 to go buy an iPad and she is constantly telling me about games shes found.

But the interesting thing is that as we age we all know the need for different types of assistive technology become a little bit greater, you know, hearing losses. Eyesight losses. So, really, a lot of the accessibility were going to be talking about is not really an option anymore if you want a wider adoption of what youre going to be working on.

Its really a requirement. ampgtampgt So one of the other first steps to look at when youre building an accessible app or game is what devices do you want to target? Because when you are building something that is going to be on every major handset or mobile or tablet device available, it is going to greatly impact how you design your application with games, because all of the operating systems vendors have their own set of what they call user interface guidelines. The are based on brand implications as well as how the phone or tablet is designed and things like that. That is a lot to keep in mind.

Users have different expectations based this on the kind of device they are using, as well. And when youre switching from desktop many of you probably built desktop software before but this might be your first mobile application. Touch has very little in common with mouse and keyboard input – disabled users generally just dont have as many input options as they traditionally had on desktop computers.

And they also desire a much more piecemeal presentation, that these applications can be necessarily as complex, because they wont be easy to use at all. And you also cant assumer where the user is using the application. Traditionally, on the desktop, it mostly at home or the office with the mobile device it can literally be anywhere. ampgtampgt So lets talk a little about the dos and the donts for mobile devices. I think this is really good to kind of set the frame for everything. Do simplify whatever makes sense.

There is a tendency in the desktop environment because of the amount real estate and everything that you have that you can, for lack of a better word, desktop that you can, for lack of a better word, you can over complicate things. You dont really have that luxury in the mobile environment. Do put yourself in the users shoes. And I think this is something that a lot of us should do. There is a lot of technology built into your mobile device for people with disabilities.

Turn it on, live with it for a day or two which leads right into our next one which is use the features yourself. I have had friends that are fascinated that VoiceOver on the iPhone and what it can do. And so I think It really helps you guys approach development if you use some of this technology yourself. Do keep in mind that not to necessarily use fancy animations just for the sake of using them.

Use animations where they make a lot of sense and kind of leave them out if you are just adding them for wow, look what I found out my computer can do. And as a person who is a quality assurance engineer: Test, test, test. Now some of the donts. Dont use over-colorization.

We will talk a little bit later on in the presentation about some of the impairments that were going to have to help overcome. One of the big ones, especially among males, is color blindness and things like that. Represent any or …repress any Accessibility features. There are some people out there that actually have flagged their application not to allow certain technologies like VoiceOver to work. Do not do that.

And turn accessibility — do not turn accessibility into a complex problem. I have told hundreds and hundreds and thousands of developers, and Johnny would agree, if you think about accessibility from day one, accessibility is not that hard. The first group were going to talk about is the visually-impaired gamer and user. The high-level concepts of a visually impaired gamer is a visually-impaired gamer is sighted, but corrected visual acuity is only 20-60. They will seek and use accessibility features, especially text-resizing.

Contrast settings making things light versus dark, or dark versus light, colorblind overlays, and sometimes voice-over technology. For the conversation we are going to have, I do want to say that we are going to address mainly the needs of a visually-impaired gamer, which is different than the blind gamer or the blind user. There has been a couple of examples of visual articlegames that have blind accessibility features to them, but for the most part in my experience, to do either one of them well, the other one sometimes gets left out. ampgtampgt So what are some of the concepts that can use to make your applications or game more accessible to visually-impaired players and users?

First of all, color blindness and color impairment is a major and a frequent disability that we come across all the time. You really have to use high contrast colors. Otherwise, a lot of the visual accessibility of your app will not be there.

Also, make sure that you havevoice-over and text-to-speech options wherever it makes sense because as we said at the start, these devices tend to have pretty excellent voice-over controls and text-to-speech readers. And then do not have any overlays that are are going to make it hard for a color blind user to see something thats going to be behind it – beware of things like things transparency and opacity because those can make parts of your user interface difficult to use for somebody thats color blind or some other kind of impairment. Also, make sure you have alternate text and alternate colors like high contrast modes to allow screen readers to a call out any images that are on the screen and b to allow somebody to be able to alter the color of the application itself. ampgtampgt Yeah, one of the biggest examples I use for people when I talk about this is we are all familiar with red-green. Red might be what the enemy has, and green might be what you have if youre playing some kind of Risk game or Stratego game, but if you are red-green colorblind, you can not tell where your boundaries end and the other boundaries begin.

So you could use something like alternate colors, orange-blue as another option, or even symbols that go along with the color. So thats a real good example of what were talking about here. The next group were going to talk about is the hearing-impaired user. Theyre looking for at least closed captioning, but in order to really enjoy a game, full captioning is needed, and Johnny will talk a little bit more about what full captioning is.

Theyre looking for visual cues about progress in a game that has been made not just an audio cue. If a game says Quest advanced, and there is not something on the screen that showed them that as well, they might be missing the fact that that quest has advanced. ampgtampgt So on the topic of closed captioning, youre going to want to be careful not to link to or contain any articles that do not have that or any subtitles. Also, you want to refrain from any cues or events like notifications that do not have some kind of visual component. In fact, I always recommend having a visual and a – so in other words, a vibration and a visual effect as well as audio.

Thats really what you need to hit. Back to the captioning really quickly because thats a kind of pet peeve of mine. If you have a lot of text in your application, the developer is putting that text somewhere in the app. So, frankly, to include it as a caption somewhere really it is not that much work because the…its not as if its not already present somewhere internally inside of the application.

And thats honestly one of the biggest ROI points I know of for applications and games. ampgtampgt One of the other return on investments that captioning allows you to do is something called internationalization, because if youre going through the effort to put closed captioning in, then later on down the road, when you guys are successful and you want to move your application to another country, you can replace your the closed-captioning that you have already built in with French, and now you can move your application into other areas of the world, and you already have the subtitle feature built in. Which I think is kind of cool. The next one is mobily impaired gamer, which is one that is near and dear to my heart, because I am a mobily-impaired individual. Theyre looking for options to change how the game is controlled – they may want to change speed of the game so they can better react if their disability does not give them a very quick reflex time and – and this is a big note – desktop mobility issues are very different than that in the mobile space.

The USB port is an open source, and there are probably enough things to plug into the computer to fill up an 18-wheeler truck. That is not the same in the mobility world. ampgtampgt So, along these lines of mobility and physical limitations you really want to avoid in your game especially any interface elements that would require a lot of rapid movement. One of the pet peeves for me is the use of what I call quick-time events in games these days where you really have to press something or touch something in a very rapid manner in order to progress. That can really pretty much cut the app off or the game off for any user you have. Do not do that or have options of bypassing those kinds of events.

Also, you really want to avoid using small buttons which can be difficult on the mobile app because youve got a smaller screen, but people do not mind scrolling. They do mind it, though, if they cannot touch the buttons. You tend to want to use a consistent navigation structure which actually is not that hard if you follow the guidelines of the device you are building for.

Whenever possible, and this can sound a little bit crazy because in marketing everybody says how great multi-touch is, but really you really want to avoid that because, frankly, even for able- bodied people, multi-touch can be fairly difficult. It limits your movement. It limits your ability to get the control over the app that you want. Honestly, one button touch, one finger input, is all you need in 99 of the situations that youre going to find yourself facing in your design, so please keep that in mind. So lets say you have got a zoom gesture, where you are allowing the player to zoom the camera into the character by using the traditional two-finger zoom gesture.

What I would actually also do is add a button to zoom in and zoom out, which allows the same thing to happen. You can even have an option in the options menu to show or hide the buttons. What this does is it allows both able-bodied users and not able- bodied users to have the same ability in the app.

But it also doesnt force anyone to use one or the other. You should also offer tilts. Most devices these days have devices inside them that allow for tilt, and it is very easy to access those devices within code. There is really no reason that you cannot use that, as well, and that can be very effective for somebody who does not have a lot of fine motor, but their gross motor allows them to hold, say, an iPad and then just tilt it back and forth. ampgtampgt To that point, I actually prefer touch because the way I use my mobile device is that I often set it flat on a desk or something like that, so tilt is something that kind of irritates me, so offering both is a really good way of covering and making sure everyone can enjoy it.

We will move on to some of the cognitive- and learning-impaired users. SOme of the high level concepts is – they are looking for sandbox, consequence-free modes fora game. They really want to learn how to play the game before they enter into any type of competitive mode.

They want or need save points. They are looking for fail safes so they can progress – this refers back to the quick-time events that Johnny had talked about earlier – if theyre not able to get through a quick-time event a game should be able to say Hey, do you need to move past this? And pausing the game so they can plan their next steps is something that is really important. ampgtampgt So, some other strategies that you can use for these kinds of disabilities. The first one is to avoid a long list of content. Say youve got an app and its mostly text, youd be surprised how many apps out there will literally just show you a gigantic list.

Even for me – I have no learning disabilities, even for me its very hard to navigate the app because it is easy to lose your place where you are. So I really recommend putting that content up in the pages providing some kind of table of contents. This is the way you should do that if youve got a lot of text. You would be surprised how many people leave out any kind of tutorial mode in their game and app. A lot of games will just drop you into the game and assume you know what to do.

You really want to spend a lot of time at the start of your development and your design thinking about how you want to teach the players how to play or how to use your app. These can be some very concise things: little toolkits. Even some kind of voiceover is ideal, and it allows the person with, say, a learning disability to really grasp what your app or your game is about and how to use it. And I would encourage everybody here to look at the most popular apps that are on the platform that you are targeting.

The Applke App Store has a lot of games on them, but week to week you can find two or three that are high up the charts. I look at those because theres a reason people like them. And I am not asking you to steal anyones ideas, but what Im saying is that if a lot of people like something alot, it tends to be because that thing is designed very well. There are lots of common threads between those that they hit that makes it so popular.

I would really encourage people just to take a look at what is out there and learn from those. Last but not least, when your app has push notifications, make sure theyre descriptive but try to keep them short. A lot of apps these days like to get the attention of the user by showing them a lot of information about what is going on.

Say its a news application pushing entire stories into the notifications area, you really do not want to do that. You want to get the subject or the title, whatever the notification is, to be pretty darn short. You should also try to look at all of these groups of disabilities because they share a lot of commonalities that you want to try to hit on.

I always tell developers to try to minimize the need for form elements in the app or game that require input. This is because even with voiceover and keyboard support a lot of mobile devices still are harder than desktop has ever been to inout into text fields for a variety of reasons. So, what you might want to do is say you need the users information about their name and their email address – tie into things like the Facebook SDK, because all that requires is that they touch Facebook Connect and suddenly youve got all of that information. That is a really easy way to avoid a lot of registration forms. You should avoid interface components that are temporary or that fade out after a period of time.

So youll see this in a lot of games where, you know, an enemy hits you, for example, and you have been damaged, and that stays for three or four seconds and then that notification disappears. You really want to avoid that because not everybody is going to be able to realize, a, or b, read the notification within that time frame. So always provide some kind of OK button or close button. GoIng back to what I said earlier about descriptive text and alternate text for graphics, I would advise that that is avoided for things that are purely decoration, so graphics that do not have any meaning to the user, theyre there just to make it look good for the fully-sighted, you want to avoid alternate text because what will happen is speech reader will interpret those graphics as important to the user and it is easy to get confused. So, that is the last point there.

One other point I really want to hit on, and this is really important in my mind, is the differences in accessibility on the different platforms. iOS does a fantastic job – they have a bevy of features. But Android is taking some time to catch up. It is going to get there soon. Google has made an effort to get better with what they do, but, honestly, right now, both from the users and developers standpoint iOS is much easier. I am not dissuading anyone from using either, I am just saying these are the things you need to think about when developing for those platforms.

Continuing on, when we look at things like BlackBerry and Windows phones, those are also quite behind in this area. They will get better, possibly over time, but currently they lag badly in accessibility and a lot of disabled users have actually moved on to things like Android and iOS. So I would just, again, I do not want to discourage anyone from using a Blackberry or Windows Phone or Android or iOS. I just want everybody here to be aware of what they are getting into with these devices. ampgtampgt Quality assurance is something that is near and dear. When it comes to accessibility, there is simply nothing more valuable than focusing on testing.

Theres still that type that wont go there, but thats OK. Try using your app with various features and, again, this is a point I cannot stress this enough. As content makers, its important that you understand the capabilities of the tools in your hand. And the best way to understand that capability is to use that capability, even if you do not necessarily need it, because you understand exactly how it works and how your users are going to perceive your application.

You always learn more by several orders of magnitude by observing the user actions while youre with the app. This is, again, to testing. Find a good beta group. Find people who will give you real and honest feedback and make sure people disabilities are represented in that beta group so that you can get a real good understanding of how people are going to be using your app. This means we are just about out of time.

Looking at my clock, we have about one minute left. My name is Mark Barlet, my contact information is right here. You can tweet me, you can call me, or you can LinkedIn me. ampgtampgt Same with me – my name is Johnny Richardson, and you are all welcome to send any questions our way or give us a call or tweet at us. You can find the AbleGamers Twitter account and Facebook link as well as a link to our includification guide, which is includification.com which is our 40-page full-color guide that demonstrates for developers how accomplish many of these aspects that we talked about today. ampgtampgt You cannot have gamification without includification.

Thank you guys very much. ampgtampgt Thank you so much. That was a lot of great, valuable information. This is a an important topic. I appreciate both of you and Larry providing all this wonderful information.

I hope that you have all learned some strategies for approaching access with these technologies and will be sure to take advantage of the resources that are available. So we will open up to questions now, and I encourage you to email or to send your questions to us using the QampampA box. We have about 10 minutes, so please send your questions, and we have a few already.

Lets see. We will start with a question for Johnny or Mark. You said to simplify where it makes sense when it comes to an app or article game design. Where might it not make sense? What types of situations? ampgtampgt So in my mind, there are plenty of situations out there, in games especially.

Frankly, a lot of games are so complex because of the genre of the game or the story of the game or just the goal of the game where it is very hard to say, OK, if I simplify the design, it will compromise the game so much that its almost not worth it. What Im not trying to say is you should not try. Im saying that if you cant simplify something for some reason, if you think thats going to compromise the quality of the product, I would still encourage anyone out there to then look at that design and say, OK, if I cannot simplify this, how do I explain it in a better way? Or how do I break the design up into more digestible chunks? And I guess that is an example where you would not be able to necessarily streamline something, but you can diversify the way it is put out there into the users vocabulary, essentially. ampgtampgt OK.

Great. Thank you. We have another question. This one is probably good for Larry. What tools are available to enhance accessibility like say for captioning and description authoring, web accessibility checking, etc.

What are some tools available out there? ampgtampgt Thats a good question. There are a range of tools. Lets start with captioning. There is everything from freeware, like a tool called Magpie, that WGBH NCAM created a few years ago and makes available for free from our website.

There are middle range tools from, for instance, there is a company called CPC, workstations for both MAC and PC to do your own captioning. And at the very high end, broadcasters and television facilities will use a captioning work station called Softel Swift. Those are the range of tools there. Theres also ways of posting your article on YouTube and havng the speech recognition engine there do in essence a rough draft.

That will not be highly accurate, and then you can take that text that is gnerated, download it, correct it, clean it up, and then re-upload it, and then you can have a captioned article on YouTube, which works pretty well. Not quite as many tools available for article description, except in fact article description is really just a script writer. You can write your script in Word, and the real issue then is the timing.

Make sure when you are watching a article you can measure the spaces where there is time for dialogue. There are courses you can take on article description, and you can learn a bit about to do it for your own institution, and then you just do a mix. It is really not more complicated than going into a mix room and mixing your audio. For Web accessibility, you start with the guidelines I pointed out in the webinar, and then there are various evaluation tools – little plugins or links you can put in your website on your website or Web page, and it will do a Web evaluation, and the available web accessibility evaluation tools the are listed at the W3Cs Web Access Initiative site on their website.

You can find eval tools there. ampgtampgt OK, great. Thank you. We have a question about when the presentation will be available, be archived on our website.

It will be in the next couple of weeks. But you can go ahead and email us any of the questions that you have If you would like to get any of those links ahead of time. So, we have another question and I am not sure whos best to answer this, but I will throw it out there.

How accessible are PDF files for screen readers? nd if not how can PDFs be made accessible? ampgtampgt I can answer that question. Adobe actually has a pretty good suite of accessibility tools when youre doing a PDF creation. You know, PDFs have to be created from something else, and it is very similar to Web design. There are places for you to put alternate text, labeling, and the whole nine yards. I just actually finished a project doing some PDF accessibility, and it is almost identical to what Web accessibility looks like. ampgtampgt Great.

Thank you. Another question is What are some programs that you recommend for adding audio descriptions to articles? This is probably a good question for Larry. ampgtampgt So the question is what programs, software programs? Well, there is one from the same company that makes the captioning workstation. Softel.

They also have an audio description tool. As I mentioned, it really is just a question of writing out a script and timing the pauses, so you can really use any scripting tool and even, as I said, Word. We started using Hyper Card stacks way back in the old days.

We created our own it tool internally called Descriptor. But really what it does is time out the audio of a program and then measure the pauses. Aside from those two, thats the main…actually, Magpie will do audio description. It is a bit more tedious, but its is free.

You get what you pay for. You can find try that out at the NCAMs website at ncam.wgbh.org. Its right on the homepage there, theres a link to Magpie. ampgtampgt Great, thank you.

Another question: Are there centers or groups or listservs or anything that offer to do user testing for apps focusing on accessibility? ampgtampgt Yes, I guess theres a follow-up question is, Are you willing to pay for it or not? Absolutely, there are organizations that will do all of the accessibility testing in the world if you have the budget for it. If you are an organization like the AbleGamers Foundation and were looking specifically at games, we have had and we do have a small group of gamers with disabilities who would love an opportunity, especially if it is a really awesome title, to get into your system early and give you feedback.

Larry, would you agree? ampgtampgt Yes. It is a range. As Mark mentions, there are some free tools available, and there are organizations like my own. NCAM does quite a bit of web accessibility work for our partners and corporate clients.

We also have a free whats called a favelet, something you can put in your bookmarks bar. The NCAM QA favelet. Theres also something called the Web Accessibility Evaluation tool – WAVE.

Jim Thatcher, an expert in the field, has his favelets you can put in your tool bar. There are some pretty simple toolbar techniques, and they will get you some basic problems that you can fix by yourself right away, and then it escalates from there. But if you need to just do a quick check, you might try it one of those toolbars available. There is another one – A Checker. You can Google any of those, or you can write to me, and I will give you the list. ampgtampgt I just wanted to say really quickly, as a web developer, you can also use the World Wide Web Consortium.

They have a variety of accessibility tools that will essentially run through your web page and see what the results are as far as a disabled user. They are also somebody to check out. ampgtampgt All right. Well, thank you so much.

That is all of the time that we have. We had some really great questions. I am sorry for those that we did not get to, but you can always email us.

Myy email address is bienvenub at arts dot gov and we will make all of this information available. So please stay in touch, and I hope this was informative for everybody, and thank you for joining us.

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