Are you being indirectly discriminative?

The Equality Act 2010 says that indirect discrimination is:
“A practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but has a worse effect on some people more than others.”

Without realising it, we are indirectly discriminating…

How am I indirectly discriminating you may ask?

I will get into that very shortly but first I will give a brief explanation of what the Equality Act is.
The Equality Act 2010 was proposed as a way to combine previous legislation together to make a better stronghold on discrimination and support those who may potentially be discriminated against in the future.

There are 9 protective characteristics:
*Age
*Disability
*Gender Reassignment
*Marriage or Civil Partnership in employment only
*Pregnancy and maternity
*Race
*Religion or belief
*Sex
*sexual orientation
But for today we are focusing on disability.

Disability and Access to Websites.

The Equality Act at Section 21 includes the adoption of a single concept of the provision of a service which covers ; goods, services and facilities among other things.

While the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t expressly refer to websites the consensus has been that the reference to the provision of service does apply to commercial web.
You can find more information on the Statutory Code of Practice.
“Websites provide access to services and goods and may in themselves constitute a service; for example, where they are delivering information or entertainment.”

*****

Websites can be a double edged sword for those with disabilities. People with sensory impairments such as blindness may choose to shop online, but much in the same way shops/ buildings can create physical barriers, a website can present the same barriers.

Screen readers are software programs giving blind and visually impaired people a way to navigate computers, tablets and phones through audio feedback.
Problems arise when user interfaces such as buttons are not labeled correctly, tables are not configured properly and images have no alternative text. Also known as Alt text attributes.

Why is this important?

Imagine the frustration of browsing the internet and being denied crucial information, such as buttons with the Twitter logo only saying link, tables reading non stop from left to right and photographs only saying the word image.

So going back to the earlier question: how am I being indirectly discriminating?

By not labelling these interfaces/ attributes correctly, you are denying visually impaired people access to your website. Whether it is intentional or not.

So what can you do?

By adding Alt text! Adding Alt text is simple; when you upload/ edit a picture on your website, you should give a clear description of the image.
Example:
Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance

The Alt text reads “alt=”Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Likewise, if you are adding a text based image to your website, you need to include the original text of the image as screen readers cannot distinguish the writing/text.

Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you!"

The Alt text reads “alt=”Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Blogging and SEO.

so you’re a blogger and you bake a delicious cake, you’ve been told to include Chocolate Cake Recipe , in every image of your tasty treat. In order for SEO to give you better rankings you need to include the Title for every image caption, right?

WRONG!!

The caption/ tag area is for Alt Text descriptions. Blind and visually impaired users need to know what the image is about, and SEO will also penalise you for not doing this.
SEO sees this as spam. In order for you to get good SEO rankings as well as being lawfully abiding, your images/ photos should have a brief description.

Most blogs are being indirectly discriminative, and not just to visually impaired people. People with other sensory impairments, motor skill problems and cognitive issues may also be indirectly discriminated against.

If you are unsure whether or not your website or blog is indirectly discriminating, you can use these free tools below to check.
Please think about your potential audience before you hit publish.
Make sure your user interfaces are labelled correctly, images have Alt text and videos have a written translation of what your video contains, especially if it is a slideshow of images.

http://wave.webaim.org/
https://tenon.io/
https://www.squizlabs.com/general/html-codesniffer




 

References
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/employment-statutory-code-practice
http://www.firstcovers.com/userquotes/111218/smile,+and+the+world.html
https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/helping-people-to-use-your-service/making-your-service-accessible-an-introduction
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
https://www.w3.org/WAI/




60 comments on “Are You Indirectly Discriminating?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this – I have to confess I never thought about how images would cause problems with screen readers before you alerted me to it. I’ve been trying to include descriptions although they’re not always very detailed so sounds like there is room for improvement. Will have to remember to add them to videos too and to go over some of the images in older posts as well. #sharingthebloglove

  2. Firstly I am sorry I haven’t been over to your blog for ages, I am rubbish!! This is a great post, really informative. I have been trying to do alt text since you flagged it up before but I think I could be more detailed with it. Thanks for highlighting the issues!

  3. I have just moved Over to self hosted this week so hopefully my website is now more accessible. Although moving from blogger to word press means I’ve lost most of my alt tags so got those to sort out now! I will also check out those links. Xx

  4. Thanks for sharing this – I’ve just checked my site on one of the accessibility checkers and it seems there is lots of room for improvement. Lots of link buttons that aren’t descriptive, which is part of my purchased theme, so may take a lot of time to hack a fix for, but the Alt Text descriptions I can work on right now. I’ve always thought I was being descriptive with these, but your examples have made me realise that I’m nowhere near descriptive enough. Sometimes it takes someone giving an example to spell it out to you. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  5. Thanks for sharing this – I’ve just checked my site on one of the accessibility checkers and it seems there is lots of room for improvement. Lots of link buttons that aren’t descriptive, which is part of my purchased theme, so may take a lot of time to hack a fix for, but the Alt Text descriptions I can work on right now. I’ve always thought I was being descriptive with these, but your examples have made me realise that I’m nowhere near descriptive enough. Sometimes it takes someone giving an example to spell it out to you. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  6. Super post Sassy. I am pretty sure my site isn’t very friendly to those with impaired vision, I think that is the theme i am on and I’m going to make a real effort to make sure i caption photos etc properly.
    Great work as always.xxx

  7. Your posts are always so interesting – I have learned so much from your blog! As you know, because of you I always try to put as best a description as I can of my doodles in the alt text.

    I am hoping to go self-hosted soon so I will have to make sure I go through and ensure that my new site is as accessible as possible.

    #puddinglove

  8. Thank you sharing this with us. This has been really valuable, my alt text descriptions are no where near good enough after reading this and I will work on them. I never really thought about screen readers before. Thank you for joining us for #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x

  9. Great post! I never new what the ALT text was for. I think this info can be useful to every blogger since images are like the most important part of our blogs as well as SEO.

  10. This is definitely something I haven’t thought about before and this is great information. I’ll keep this in mind definitely.

  11. Hi Sassy, Ever since (virtually) meeting you and reading your last post on this matter I have used alt text descriptions, sometimes it’s brief and other times I’ve written out a whole poem! I do this for you! I did not know about video translation though! I have started doing mini videos so I’ll have to work out how to add in the descriptions for this too! THanks #PuddingLove

  12. I have spoken to my OH/tame house geek and he is on the alt tags and is going to show me how to do it, thank you for highlighting this as it wasn’t something I was even aware of

    #triballove

  13. Well done for raising the issue to a wide audience Sassy! 🙂 you must be so proud xx I keep adding my alt text ( I hope I am doing it properly) so I will check with the tools when on the computer next.
    #bigpinklink #triballove

  14. I had no idea about any of this. Thank you so much for pointing it out to us! I will be sure to work on this. A really informative article. #Sharingthebloglove #puddinglove

  15. I know you’ve touched on this before Sassy, but thanks for going into such fantastic detail. I know I’m still guilty of this, and I’ll have to go and work out exactly where the alt text is because I am technically rubbish and I’m not too sure where it is!! But once I’ve found it, I’ll be providing detailed descriptions of my pictures! And I’ve changed my Twitter settings to include descriptions too, from when you mentioned that before!! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  16. Brilliant post Sassy, so interesting. As you know I’ve not been the best at this, but since BML I have turned over a new leaf and started making sure I have Alt Text attributes to all my images. It really does only take a few minutes more and has such an impact on SEO so win win for me! To be honest I hadn’t thought about what it meant by leaving this info blank or very generic and I’m so glad you are spreading the word about this. Thank you for linking up with #dreamteam Hope to see you next week lovely xx

  17. Sassy, Yay! You said you might write a post about this after BML live when we both attended the SEO talk. I originally used to describe the pictures in my ALt Text, because that’s what my WordPress Manual told me to do…Although it didn’t make it explicit that it was to help those with visual impairment, for example. Then I was told by someone to remember to make it descriptive as possible and use keywords to make the image more pinnable for Pinterest. I found out I was wrong at the BML talk and have started to use it for the right reasons.

    I’m so glad you wrote this post because there’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about ALt Text and I am sure folks will find this very useful.

    Thanks for sharing. #DreamTeam

  18. Great post! I have to admit I’m extremely discriminative on my blog and I never realized it. I feel horrible right now, I mean I have an (internet) friend who’s blind and she always points out that I’m using too many emoticons and images in my text that she can’t “read”. I did fix that problem in texts, but now I have to fix it everywhere else…

    #BloggerClubUK

  19. Another amazing post Sassy! I’ve always heard about / read about Alt text but didn’t really understand what I was supposed to do with it (like most blog tech in my case!) This has given me a kick up the bum and I promise to now use an alt text description with every image. Thanks so much for explaining it so well. Dawn x
    #ablogginggoodtime

  20. Thanks for sharing this – its so important and since talking to you I have tried so hard to make my site more accessible. You are doing a great job of raising awareness x #Puddinglove

  21. This is a great post and to be honest I only started adding alt text to my photos because of you so thank you. I have to go back and do the whole blog but I have been putting it off because it is quite a job… Now I feel a bit more motivated to do it pronto. #stayclassymama

  22. Hey lovely, I admit to have been confused to what alt text was for so this really clears it up and how to describe exactly what is in the images! I am glad I know I can go back through my blog and do it xx #stayclassymama

  23. This is really, really helpful. I have been checking my alt text (due to our tribal group chat) but I think I need to be more descriptive about the pictures. I think it generally says what it is but that’s not fair to you because if it were me I’d want to know every detail about the photo! Thank you so much for the advice and sharing with #StayClassyMama!

  24. Thank you for writing this post. I use alt tags anyway but I am so pleased to hear that it can help those with impairments be able to read blogs and other websites. It is such a shame that so many websites still do not cater to those with disabilities and it is shocking!! x

  25. I never thought of the alt text that way thank you so much for bringing this to our attention I’m going to definitely approach my alt text differently in future!

  26. I’ve only recently realised the importance of alt text and doing my best to be as descriptive as possible. Still a lot of posts to go back to and improve.

  27. A very important point to raise. Despite knowing this already, I keep forgetting to add in my alt tags. Really need to work harder to make it part of my blogging routine!

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