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Sharing our accessibility challenges at Intranet Now

Back in the office and the Intranet Now conference already feels like a world away. Where to start? As Martin White has already said in his write-up, how do you sum up a day with *such* a packed agenda?

Organised by Wedge and Brian, Intranet Now is a great opportunity to share best practice, learn from others’ mistakes and meet potential new friends and intranet partners. Wedge kicked off the day calling it “the only party where everyone knows what your job is” – when I attended last year it was amazing to meet so many intranet experts in one place!

With a number of lightning talks and presentations there was a lot to take in throughout the morning – Brian pointed out, pointedly that everyone should take the opportunity to ask speakers questions during the afternoon!

User experience for the 100%

As Platinum sponsor, our Paul gave a keynote presentation, and Andrew and Billy led a workshop, as well as hosting a table on the important (and sometimes difficult to access) topic of accessibility.

During Paul’s talk, everyone in the audience was asked to put on a night-mask, so that they were able to listen to the experience a visually impaired person might have when trying to access the internet to buy a greetings card.

people wearing blindfolds at intranet now conference

The fact that most people in the room put on their masks to participate was a testimony in itself for the positive, constructive environment. The tension in the room was palpable, before the audio kicked in.

If you’ve never heard a screen reader in action or want to know more about accessibility, take some time to go through Paul’s presentation.

In Andrew and Billy’s workshop, participants learnt some top tips on how to make their intranet content more accessible, as well as learning how to use a screenreader and other tools available. There’ll be more on this to come soon! *Edit: read more on Andrew’s blog*

Continuing the conversation over coffee

The three themes that I heard coming out of the accessibility table at the World Cafe were:

Find your champions

If you’re able to get support at a senior level, it will help you prioritise making your digital workplace accessible for everyone, although getting buy-in from as many people (at all levels) as possible helps make sure accessibility gets, and stays, on the agenda. 

Engage your internal users

A question that came up a few times – how do you start? If you already know any users with accessibility issues, they may know others and already have a community. If not, use all the channels you have to ask for referrals and volunteers to help join a focus group. 

AX is good for everybody

You can make your intranet more accessible – and that makes it easier to use for everyone! 

  • Use the formatting options available to you in your web editor. 
  • Watch out for bold/using colour to emphasise text – use headers instead.
  • Be sure to use the bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Use alt text wisely.
  • Make your content easy to understand – using tools like Hemingway can help you write more clearly. 

Standing room only

It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces, and so many new ones – at several points throughout the event it was standing room only. There was a real buzz to the day – in particular (and I know I am obviously biased) after Paul’s presentation, I spoke to several people who, like me, had been aware of, and even run training on making your content more accessible, without ever actually hearing what a screen-reader sounds like!

If you have any questions, would like a demo or just catch up over coffee, drop me a line! I’m also on the Twitter @lisariemers