Missing the mark: IBM accessibility

I’m excited to see that accessibility is becoming more of a mainstream discussion within web development communities and technology companies.

This short 2 minute video from IBM answers the question “why is accessibility important?” The production values are high and the music is upbeat and feel good. This video was created with subtitles, which makes it accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing folks.

This video, however, is not accessible to blind and many visually impaired people as it has lots of information that is only conveyed visually and there is no descriptive audio. The following facts are only presented as text on the screen:

  • 1.2 billion people in the world have a disability
  • 600 million are over the age of 60
  • 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 15 years
  • 20% of the population has language or text comprehension difficulty
  • 2.4 million children have cognitive learning difficulties

In addition to these snippets of text, the visuals of different people with different types of disabilities doing different things is not accessible to blind people. While the talking heads are accessible, a blind person doesn’t know who the person talking is. This context is important.

This is highly ironic as the video opens with a (presumably blind) person using a white cane and then cuts to a short clip of a different person walking with a service dog.

Phil Gilbert, General Manager, IBM Design and one of the talking heads in this video says:

I think we have a unique responsibility to the world, being who we are, to design for inclusion. The differentiation that we can drive into the marketplace by designing intentionally to reach every possible human being on the planet, regardless of their technical capability, I think it could possibly be one of the key differentiation of our portfolio has in the marketplace.

In addition to being full of jargon like “key differentiation of our portfolio” this video does not deliver on the promise to design for inclusion or to reach every possible human being on the planet. This video on accessibility excludes blind and visually impaired people and that sucks.

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