Improving accessibility of online content for disabled

Some of the representatives from the government and private sectors who took part in the seminar organised by the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia. — Photos: SS KANESAN/The Star

The Covid-19 pandemic has made digitalisation more pervasive.

In line with this, the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) organised a one-day seminar at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur to improve the accessibility of online content for the visually impaired.

About 60 representatives from the public and private sectors were invited to take part and provide feedback from their experience to their organisations.

The seminar was supported by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The objective was to get these agencies to make their websites and apps more inclusive.

NCBM executive director Wong Yoon Loong said it had trained 23 disabled persons under the Digital Access Training (DAT) programme earlier to conduct an audit on government agency webpages to see if they were suitable for the visually impaired.

“The survey found that most of the content in the webpages is harder for differently-abled persons to understand.

“Website accessibility should be kept in mind when designing a webpage,” he said.

DAT trainer Hafiyyan Lali said there was a lack of importance given to close captioning options and most of the websites created in Malaysia were not based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1

He explained that the WCAG was one of the digital accessibility frameworks by W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) that highlighted mobile and web accessibility standards or guidelines for developers to make them friendly to the blind.

Hafiyyan suggested that elements such as alternative texts, heading styles, tables and close captioning be given more focus to improve website accessibility for anyone, regardless of their disabilities.

The seminar organisers also hoped for government legislation that would act as a guide for content creators and web designers to create more inclusive materials online.

Also present at the launch were NCBM former executive director Moses Choo and president Datuk Rosalind Chew.

Chew said information accessibility was everyone’s right, including those with disabilities.

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