Ever had trouble finding employment?
Wondered how you could explore your options in various other industries - we all tend to fall back to searching the internet, something most can take for granted!
We are always after more resources and more information, with our App Store ever growing with the various communities expanding more and more enabling people to connect more easily.
Be it social networking or dating sites, so much choice, however, for business most will turn to LinkedIn, for me personally it’s Twitter The LinkedIn motto on their desktop website “Be great at what you do” - I so wish that applied to inclusive accessibility!
As many of you know my personal experience on LinkedIn is not as inclusive as it could be. My ability to show my LinkedIn connections really is a true challenge.
I have to admit it was my Dad that recommended I went on LinkedIn, with him being a business leader in the financial industry himself, I felt it was worth a try. He had raved about connecting with many friends and business colleagues, being able to link his friends with other contacts and help others find their way within their own career paths.
It was not long before I set myself up on it (almost 3 years ago ) that I discovered I was not going to have the same enjoyable experience as my Dad!
For as long as I have owned a smart phone it has always been IOS, and the three tools I use daily to access my emails along with various apps are: Large text, Zoom and Speak Screen. Since a few software updates ago I have also been able to add a “Colour Tint” to my screen to enable further accessibility, this has made an amazing difference as often the main culprit of my eye strain (like others) are the white screens on so many apps and websites, this harsh brightness often causes headaches, so being able to alter the colours has made a huge difference when using all social networking apps - Twitter is great.
It amazes me that still so many apps are still not ‘dynamic type’ enabled meaning that those who rely on Large Text on IOS devices have their text automatically amended to the appropriate accessible size. Makes sense right?
Well it took Facebook long enough to enable this, and to be fair they have since created some pretty inclusive features ie) shorter sentences are larger text, and captioned videos, these features all being included on a fairly recent update - these things considered “Accessibility,” however because they merged the features in for everyone to enjoy - whatever your IOS Accessibility tools are, these features are mainstreamed and enjoyed by most.
Facebook did ask me to go into their London HQ and speak however this fell through after I asked for a speaker fee but I was very thrilled to see that as a result of my making my opinion known on social media, typically Twitter they built in some reasonable adjustments creating a more inclusive experience, however, there is still room for improvement but they’ve made a start.
As a result of my constant comments about the lack of accessibility I was invited to speak at LinkedIn HQ in Silicon Valley to talk in more detail about the many challenges faced by many. The lack of compatibility with IOS Accessibility features as well as general inclusive design for not just myself but many other users.
I was flattered and excited to be heading back to San Fran to speak with the Accessibility team at LinkedIn, because as their motto suggests - ‘Why can’t the world see what I do best?’
Let’s start with you LinkedIn.
The talk went pretty well and I demonstrated many of the things failing within the app, many took notes and asked questions. It became apparent that they hadn’t considered those VoiceOver users who perhaps were not familiar with where their “dock,” might be because unless you know where you scan your finger as a blind person, your luck navigating through the bottom icons (newsfeed, network, messages, notifications and “search jobs”) was pretty slim. You simply cannot rely on users “knowing” where to find these things, especially where a blind/ Visually Impaired person is concerned - quite a few assumptions suggesting to me some sort of checklist was used - how I dislike checklists, but thats another blog!
As someone who doesn’t use VoiceOver despite being registered blind as explained previously I use three other tools: Zoom, Large Text and Speak Screen.
My first impressions of LinkedIn were how tiny the text was, also the grey and white colouring didn’t work well with my lack of light perception. At first I resorted to my IOS Zoom however it became very challenging finding the dock, recognising the symbols and where I could go to interact with my new connections - it was a real challenge without being about to fully access the text and icons/ symbols found everywhere.
When Zoom doesn’t work or if my eyes are particularly tired - having 5 degrees in one eye is pretty exhausting, I would resort to Speak Screen.
When I showed the room of LinkedIn’s Accessibility team what happened when I used Speak Screen, there were gasps followed by embarrassment, it was very clear their assumption was “Blind = voiceover = box ticked - ‘Assumption = #fail!
Speak Screen is an easy tool for someone who would prefer content to be read in a chronological order - top to bottom of the screen, this tool is different to VoiceOver as VoiceOver is more of a navigational tool for those who have no vision it would say whats on screen and everything else such as - orientation of the screen, how many headings are found on one page.
However I find VoiceOver a tad too intrusive so I would prefer to use Large Text and Zoom to navigate where I need to be and thereafter use Speak Screen to read the heavier content.
When I enabled Speak Screen on the LinkedIn app it told me (told the room) “No content can be found on the screen.” This was clearly an error in design as there was clearly lots of (inaccessible) content on screen!
This has since been addressed however it saddens me to report it is not much better. When I open the app and enabled Speak Screen all it says is: “Write a post.”
Interestingly once I found myself in messages, notifications and network, when enabling Speak Screen it does successfully read everything on screen. So I can access these however I cannot access the newsfeed where I would find the ultimate resources when exploring the app such as: connection’s activities, posts local events, conferences etc.
I find myself resorting to Twitter where simplicity works best. I much prefer to use “Night Mode” so I rarely have to worry about all the “whiteness” like all the other apps and I have my text set to large - both in IOS and within the app.
Any built in accessibility features are always encouraging for me, it’s almost a designer’s way of welcoming those of us with accessibility needs and assuring us we are welcome to use the app as much as everybody else - use it! Get business! Make friends and connections! Network! Spread awareness!
All of those things can be achieved on various other social networking apps.
So do I feel like I’ve lost out not being able to fully access LinkedIn, truthfully? Yes I am sad, frustrated and disappointed to think I am missing out on opportunities, particularly when the mighty LinkedIn could do so much better, however, I am grateful for other fully inclusive alternates.