If you want your stories to reach as many readers as possible, they should be accessible to those potential readers. This week, we talk about how you can be sure you’re making Content for Everyone.
With over a billion people living with some form of disability worldwide, it’s more important than ever to make sure your content is accessible. Today we speak with Jeff Adams and Michele Lucchini, authors of Content for Everyone: A Practical Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs to Produce Accessible and Usable Web Content.
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Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:02]:
You just tuned into the hippiest way to start and grow your indie author career. Learn the ins, the outs, and all the all arounds of self-publishing with the team from D2D and their industry influencing guests. You’re listening to self-publishing insiders with Draft2Digital.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:00:19]:
Hello, and welcome to self-publishing insiders with Draft2Digital. My name is Mark and I am the Director of Business Development, and I am your host for today’s episode. And I am so honored to have with me Jeff and Mikayla in the studio to talk about content for everyone. Welcome, gentlemen.
Jeff Adams [00:00:37]:
Thank you, Mark. Thanks for having us here.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:00:39]:
Now, just before we went live, you guys basically were saying that you were just recently at a conference related to accessibility. Do you want to kick off and talk a little bit about that? Because we were just about to talk about it. I went, oh, no, look, we have to go live.
Jeff Adams [00:00:54]:
We’ll just bring the conversation to everybody.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:00:56]:
That’s right, we’ll bring the content for everyone. That’s very on par.
Jeff Adams [00:00:59]:
That was on brand, right?
Michele Lucchini [00:01:00]:
Jeff Adams [00:01:01]:
We both had the opportunity as part of our day job with a company called Usablenet, to go to the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, which was in its 38th year. CSUN is Cal State University Northridge, and that particular branch of California State University has a large program around accessibility and accessible technology.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:01:21]:
Jeff Adams [00:01:22]:
And it was great to be really immersed in this even more than we usually are for five days of five whole days, four and a half, depending on when you got there. But yeah, it was a week-long conference with ten sessions an hour, I think it was, so you could split up among so many different aspects of accessibility. And it really looks at everything from not just digital accessibility that we focus on in the book, but accessibility in physical space, things like that. And I actually said in two sessions around EPUB three, which of course is coming for authors very soon, if they’re not already generating those.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:02:03]:
Jeff Adams [00:02:03]:
And also as it fits in with the new accessibility laws in Europe, where even ebooks must be accessible by 2025 to be sold in stores. So, interesting stuff to hear on all fronts.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:02:17]:
How is that affecting the US? I know Europe has very stringent laws about privacy and obviously some great new laws about EPUB, but how’s that affecting us on this side of the pond for authors?
Jeff Adams [00:02:30]:
And I’m not an attorney and not giving legal advice in this moment, okay? It’s such a wild, wild west here in the US. Because there aren’t a lot of laws around this. There’s a lot of things that they try to leverage the Ada, for example, the American with Disabilities Act to create lawsuits around accessibility. We talk a little bit about this in the book, too, but because generally authors and creatives don’t have a store that they run themselves and don’t do those things. It really is a lot on ecommerce. So the risk is low. Currently. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the US. Move in some of the ways that Europe has you’re in Europe, you might have a little more perspective on some of the European laws as well.
Michele Lucchini [00:03:20]:
Yeah, I think that the European laws are clear, are very clear. As clear as, for example, the American load has been I mean, the American mandate has been defined by the Department of Transportation that is regulating the accessibility level of all the websites for airlines traveling to the United States. So the good of the European side is that the rules are clear. I think there is also a clear effort of all the government to make accessibility not just a legal aspect, so not just around the legal risk, but a lot is invested into the ethical value. And I think that that was also interesting to find a Decision Conference where if in the past we were hearing a lot of sessions around the importance of conformance, the importance of compliance, the importance of mitigating the legal risks. This year there has been a lot of focus on sensitizing people to do something, you know what you have to do, you know what you have to do in order to protect yourself against legal risks. But actually, there are real people there that needs to access your website. You want to call it as a business opportunity. You want to call it as the right thing to do. You want to call it as common sense. So there was this improvement in the message and in the size of the number of angles accessibility was considered, which I think was positive. I mean, I like the sort of maturity of the companies, actually, that are embracing accessibility and are divulgating the concepts on accessibility to find a better way to have everyone understanding what they have to do, what they have to do, and which are the opportunities associated to this topic.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:05:29]:
Okay. All right, thank you. I want to go to specifically you guys, just recently in the last month released a book, and obviously I want to pop that up, and it’ll hide me for a second, but I think it’s important for people to see content for everyone. So you guys coauthored this book, but I want to get back into your backstory about how you two met, because I believe that the day job has a lot to do with why you put this book together. Right?
Jeff Adams [00:05:57]:
It does. I never thought of a world where my day job would connect to my creative side as much as this one has over the past few years.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:06:07]:
Jeff Adams [00:06:08]:
I met Michele when I joined Usablenet back in 2010. So I’ve been with this company for a while now, and Michele has been there even longer than I have. But in our job, we talk about accessibility all day long because we’re helping companies around the world with their accessibility programs. At the same time, I worked on the sites that I have for my podcast, for my writing, for those efforts, because it would be hypocritical for me to tell people about accessibility and not make my web properties the most accessible that I can, which is some of where this started to take root. Because I’m not technical, I could tell you about accessibility all day long and what you need to do. I can’t necessarily do all of it. So I’m using the same tools a lot of indie authors are. My websites are in WordPress, I use Mailerlite for my email marketing, and I’m on the various social platforms. There are things I can do that can help make those more accessible than they might be if I just on a whim designed and threw stuff up there any way that I want. And so I’m like, one day I was like, I’m going to write a book about this, because I see my colleagues creating this content in a way that is not accessible for a number of reasons and they don’t know any better. Nobody sets out to create content that someone’s going to feel not included in because they can’t either see it or hear it or perceive it in the way that they need to. And I mentioned this to Michele one day I was going to do this thing and very quickly it became a coauthoring project for us. You could give your story on why you jumped on it. It’s also your first book.
Michele Lucchini [00:07:58]:
Yeah, very much so. My story has a lot of intersections with yours, not surprisingly, I would say. Yeah, I think that as part of Jeff and my job, we invest a lot of time educating our customer, our clients, not necessarily only on technical aspects, on how to remediate, how to resolve, how to test accessibility, but a lot of our focus is on processes. So how to educate a company to modify and amend their processes, their ways of working in order to make accessibility sustainable. So we are constantly exposed to this need of teaching people on why they need to do accessibility, how they can make it in a way that is not always a final test that you do after you complete your work. So I think that this project related to the book is very much in line with this education concept. So it might not be the ultimate goal in terms of accessibility, but educating people to play their role. Do they part on accessibility is simply increasing the size of the population that knows that this needs to be done and will make the messages spreading around and consequently it will be easier for everyone. Just make accessibility as part of the way they work.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:09:39]:
I want to dig into that a little bit. So it almost feels like when you’re thinking about accessibility, it’s not an after the fact, oh, now that we’ve done all this, let’s make it accessible. But it’s part and parcel of the process. Right. When you’re thinking about it from the beginning, how did that impact the way that you guys wrote this book together and planned out the release strategy, et cetera?
Jeff Adams [00:10:08]:
That’s a complex question.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:10:10]:
I know. I’m sorry. I should have broken it down because I want authors to be thinking about that early on. Like when you’re thinking about a lot of things before you write the book. Yeah.
Jeff Adams [00:10:21]:
I think the way we try to approach it, because it’s definitely one of the things we have to talk about with our clients, too. We may give our client a list of more than 1000 things to fix, and you’ve got to break it down into smaller pieces. And the consistent theme, I think, through the book is it’d be great if you went backwards and fixed stuff and we tell you how to look at your existing, especially your website, to find the things that might be wrong. But it’s also about, okay, now I understand how to create good alternative text for a picture when I’m posting it. I know now how to create things with good color contrast. And it’s doing it going forward. There’s this idea of progress over perfection. We’re not ever really going to hit perfection. We’re going to forget to do something. We’re going to not make a correct choice in a moment, or whatever that thing is. It’s about starting to do something and going forward. So you may only start with good alternative text across your social posts.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:11:25]:
Jeff Adams [00:11:25]:
Move that to your website and then try to take on the idea of good color contrast and try to move in that direction with things so it’s not, oh, my God, I have all of these new things to do as I’m writing my book and doing my marketing and all these things. It’s about learning what you can do and figuring out how to fit that into your process to ultimately be able to include more of your audience and potential audience at all the things you’re doing.
Michele Lucchini [00:11:53]:
Yeah, if I can add one thing, I guess that the common theme across the book is the question, have you also considered what have you also considered if your color palette makes sense for somebody that cannot distinguish the colors as you can do? Have you considered that a color scheme that you like might not be perceived by other people? Have you considered that if you upload a video and the audio in that video is fundamental to understand the message? Have you considered somebody might not be able to hear that sound?
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:12:35]:
Michele Lucchini [00:12:36]:
So these are all the kind of questions that we would like to ask and recommend people to ask themselves. If we, let’s say, perceive the book as, like Jeff was saying, just a final check, and then I have to go back as we said before, that becomes like a tough topic. So the idea is to educate, to bring accessibility as early as possible. We always recommend to practice your ability to perceive whether something is accessible or not. Next time you open a door, do you feel the end or is accessible? Is designed in a way that allows you to open the door in the quickest way possible? If you have, I don’t know, a bag in your you hold a bag with your main hand. If you are in a rush, ask yourself those questions.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:13:37]:
Okay, so you reminded me of something that I think is important, and I know you’ve got some great resources in the book, but you also have a website. When you talk about the color palette, it’s a simple thing that the average person okay, so Alyssa, who works on our team, understands design, color palettes, all that stuff, right? She designs all our graphics and everything, so she has a good handle on that. But the rest of us, I think that looks good. But you guys have some resources in the book, but also on your website. Is that correct for finding these?
Jeff Adams [00:14:08]:
Correct. We’re doing at least weekly blog posts on various things around accessibility and for people who have the book, there’s also a number of times from the book we send you into the website to see expanded examples of things. Things that would be very hard to be able to put together properly in either a paperback or an ebook or whatever it is, because you kind of want to see it in the web environment. Also to kind of understand how some of these concepts work.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:14:41]:
Jeff Adams [00:14:42]:
So, yeah, we have that. And then also point the way to some resources as well. There’s a great color contrast checker, for example, so that you can always take the hex codes for your background and your text and put them into the checker. And does it pass minimum contrast requirements so that people have at least a fighting chance of being able to read it if they’re engaging visually?
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:15:06]:
Oh, I love that. And so the book is available now, right? It’s available in print, I’m assuming large print as well.
Jeff Adams [00:15:14]:
Apps available, print, large print, ebook, audiobook still to come.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:15:18]:
Audiobook is en route, and that sort of leads to something that I had an AHA moment not that long before this book came out, and I became aware of the book and started to read. It was one of my nonfiction books for writers. I had this thought of, okay, I’m going to do the audio myself because it’s a nonfiction book for writers and I have a podcast, et cetera, et cetera. And I thought, well, that’s going to be 80 hours of work and I don’t have time to do it. Normally, I would hire a professional for all my fiction, and I had somebody reach out who said, I’d love to read your book is it available on audiobook? And then I’m like, oh, I missed on that because I haven’t made it a priority. And that’s when I was able to leverage Google Play AI and within a few hours had an audiobook that was satisfactory. And the author was very, very pleased. But I remember and this was one of the last times we had chatted, Michele was very kind in saying, yeah, that’s good that you did that, but why should that person have to ask? Because it made me think, what about all the people who don’t ask? Right? And I know you guys have an audiobook in the works and trust me on this, sometimes if you’re doing it yourself, you still have to schedule it into your schedule or even to get one of my narrators she’s going to get to it soon, but you have that in, it works. But it felt like, yeah, I was thinking about it after the fact, like, oh, it’s an additional thing, it’s not part of the actual product. Right. And that really helped me open my eyes up. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Sort of starting with basics?
Michele Lucchini [00:16:54]:
Yeah, I think that the analogy I used, Mark, was would you buy a car that doesn’t have the wheels? The answer is no. Right, because we perceive a car as something that has the wheels on. Yeah, I think that we could write another book probably on accessibility budget. I think it’s overall the concept that there is an obsolete way to perceive accessibility as an accessory. So accessibility used to be an often unfortunately, it is still the case. It is something more that you do. It’s like a present, like an optional yeah, there is the legal industry that forces you to do it, but really that’s not part of your process to build design, to implement that software, that digital property to write that book. I think that this is a very old concept, so we should make an effort to consider accessibility as just fully integrated in what we do. It is also, I think, a transition in the concept of budget to dedicate to accessibility. Budget should not be money, but should be time. So simply as you’re considering accessibility, it will take you more time to work on that project. Not that will cost you more, that is the way the project needs to be done. So it will take that time. That includes also the audio, the audio transcription and whatever you need to do in order to make your project fully accessible to people with different abilities.
Jeff Adams [00:18:48]:
One of the things that ties right into that, and it’s something I discussed at the talk that I gave at CSUN was from a LinkedIn post that I’d seen from somebody in the accessibility community that I follow. And they were talking about an interaction that they had with a company where there was something on the site that they could not do. And the response from the company was, we’re working on accessibility. We’ll get there. Please be patient. And the idea that if somebody who isn’t disabled came to a site and was trying to buy something and they couldn’t click checkout with their mouse and they told the company that the company would probably immediately go pull people in and make that work. But yet, if somebody said, I can’t click that button as I’m going with my screen reader, I can’t click it with the controls that I have available to me. To get that answer back, we have to move to the idea that that’s not acceptable. The bugs are kind of of equal importance. So as we learn these things and start to wrap them in, we’re able to be less in that reactive position and more in the proactive position of just making it that way. Because once you start to make it that way, it becomes less time to do it because it’s almost muscle memory in a lot of ways.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:20:12]:
Yeah, it’s part of the process as opposed to an add on. It’s part of building the car, not the things that actually make it work for some people and not for others. Hey, I’m in the car just for the radio, right? I want to actually go from point A to point B. I want to pop up some comments from folks, actually from our team. So Alexey, who does our social media, says, the more I work with visual media, the more I try taking into account understanding clear color choices for better visibility. And I’m sure Lexi is also taking advantage of the alt text option when sharing images on our Twitter feed and stuff like that. And our graphic designer expert Lesa says, I use the contrast checker checker all the time at webam.org. Resourcecontrastchecker. Is that one of the ones you.
Jeff Adams [00:21:01]:
Recommend or that is our favorite one.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:21:03]:
Oh, excellent. Perfect. See? Thanks, Elyssa, for popping up the link and making it easy for people to click over on YouTube where you left that comment. That’s fantastic. And this kind of reminds me so we have automated tools at Draft2Digital, and print is now open for everyone. It was in beta for a while while we were streamlining it. And we’re just at the beginning of all the options for print because we have limited to standard trade paperback, the most common sizes. But I know that in the future queue it’s clickety, click. Barbara Trick, you have a large print book, right? And the great thing about that is the COVID design that we’ll do for you, because we do that for print. If you have a nice front cover well, if you have a front cover, we’re assuming it’s nice because you’re a professional author. But if you have a front cover, we’ll do the COVID wrap for you and make sure it’s machine perfect. And you can still customize that, but then actually having a tool. If we can build more tools like that to make it more accessible, then that can help authors make their books more accessible. Because, again, hey, we’ll give you a free high spin. You don’t have to pay for it. You can just click a button and instantly have a large print book available. Because all ebooks are large print, right. But we know that the majority of readers still read print, correct?
Jeff Adams [00:22:22]:
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s been interesting in the early days of this book because it’s been out just about a month now. The print sales have been of a pace with the ebooks, which you’re not.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:22:38]:
Used to that as a fiction author, are you?
Jeff Adams [00:22:39]:
As a fiction author, you’re right. I’m not used to that. And I’m like, wow, okay, I’m glad we got this. Non and large print is less than regular print, but it’s still of a pace that I’m like, okay, it was good that that was part of the package going out the door. And it’s a great example going back to the car that this kind of book I would have never put out without the large print going same time as the paperback.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:23:05]:
Yeah, of course. And the audio in the works, knowing that that’s going to be available relatively soon. So I want to get into the I know it’s not related to the topic of the book, but I do want to get into the content because you work together, so you already have a working relationship, and you know that that works out well. But Jeff, fiction has been your primary revenue source as an author, so this is a different kind of project. Mikayla, the writing you’ve done for work has been corporate advice and stuff like that to clients and things like that. I’m just curious how you took you obviously have some differences in the way that you approach writing. How did you step out, how you were going to do this book together? I’m kind of curious to dig into that a little bit.
Michele Lucchini [00:23:56]:
I can probably start jeff sure, yeah. Of course, being Italian, I was not the checker for Jeff, of course. But beside that, the way I approach it, which is kind of an often attitude for me, is to challenge myself, challenge the way I explain things and try to understand the audience, try to try to be in their shoes in terms of reception of the message I was trying to convey. And that probably has been the biggest revenue for me because I feel that I learn a lot. And I don’t know how many hours Jeff and I spent on just sharing thoughts on how we should communicate this. There were pieces, but I’m talking about sentences that probably we spent weeks on just to determine how we can craft this message in a way that it doesn’t sound techy, it doesn’t sound nerdy. It is just as it is and communicates honestly what we are trying to do.
Jeff Adams [00:25:18]:
Yeah, it was an interesting shift from fiction, and it was looking at other nonfiction books, especially around writing, because those are the ones, obviously, that I take in the most. So it was looking at Joanna Penn and Sasha Black and your books and how those nonfiction books are structured.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:25:43]:
Jeff Adams [00:25:44]:
And then thinking about this topic and trying to give it a little bit of a narrative of, here’s why this is important, here’s some of the history on it. Here’s things it’s good for you to know so you understand why you’re doing these things. Here are the things you need to do. And then here’s a little bit of a conclusion on the other side of it so that it a little bit of a story that can kind of form together with it. And then also, I think we redrafted. Major redrafts, like, twice, because we knew we weren’t presenting the material in a way that was going to be good for this audience. Because it’s a little different how we talk to our usable net clients who have a lot of technical support around them. Designers who’ve gone to school for design, so they’ll understand certain things. Developers, obviously, who have learned their craft around development and the people who are not technical at all. And I started putting things through the idea of, I need to present this in a way that if I was explaining it to Will, he’s my husband and creative business partner as well. He needs to be able to understand what’s in this book and feel he could take and do the actions that are in it. And if that’s the case, then we have something that should be available to any creative to be able to take the action on.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:27:14]:
Jeff Adams [00:27:15]:
So the revision work was interesting because we had the bones of it fairly quickly, and then it was like just striking the right tone and information balance.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:27:26]:
Because it feels like, I mean, you guys know this world really well. You live it. You work with clients, you help them see these things because that’s you live and breathe it. Just like Alyssa lives and breathes design and aesthetics and stuff like that. But then I think you probably had to make it more accessible for people like your husband Will or me or whatever. So that was probably taking that tech understanding that you guys have. And then did you have readers such as Will to actually help and say, as an author myself, kind of thing, I can go and go, oh, I understand what I need to do in these steps? Because that’s a whole other layer of accessibility, isn’t it?
Jeff Adams [00:28:10]:
Yeah, we went out and I cherry picked some people. So like Sasha Black read for us.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:28:16]:
Jeff Adams [00:28:17]:
I had another podcast or blogger who works in the romance space look at it, because she’s run her website for more than a decade now, and had her podcast for nearly as long in that space. I had an author services person look at it. So somebody who has a service where they edit and they help authors create social media blasts and package arc materials and stuff, because she helps create those kinds of materials for people and has newsletters for her own business. So she was a great person. Like, do you understand what I’ve put in this book for you? And luckily, by the time it went to them, the resounding answer was, yes, this makes sense. We got some good feedback, but nobody was like, I don’t understand what you’re doing.
Michele Lucchini [00:29:09]:
I think that the very final step was also having a highly technical person reading it, making sure we were not trivializing the message.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:29:22]:
Yeah, not losing out on that too, right?
Michele Lucchini [00:29:24]:
Yeah. I think that the overall massive exercise we went through that was I think was a learning process, was realizing that accessibility speaks many languages and accessibility speaks the language of your audience. You can talk about accessibility to a developer. You should talk to a developer in a different way. You talk about accessibility to an author or a designer or a content manager, but at all levels, your message needs to make sense. At all levels, they have to perceive that that’s not just what they have to do for accessibility, is what they can do. I mean, it’s their part, but there’s more in general that potentially can be done. So this is why in the book you will find references to this is something maybe your developers should do, or if you don’t have let’s ignore it for a moment. But it is important to make sure that persons understand the size of the topic. Both Jeff and I have a constant battle against who tries to simplify too much and hide the rest of the topic.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:30:44]:
Jeff Adams [00:30:44]:
And in an interesting full circle moment, the way that we wrote this book and some of the ways we talk about accessibility in the book is looping back into the trainings we have for content people that we give at usablenet, like, oh, it’s really interesting how we positioned it here. What if we did something similar but tweaked it a little bit for that. So now that this book is out, since I work on our training program, I’m now revising the content training with some of this new way to think about talking about things. It’s interesting how it all just kind of feeds back on itself.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:31:24]:
Cool. So I want to go to authors who are still feeling a little bit intimidated. And I know I think you mentioned earlier in this conversation it’s progressive steps rather than all or none perfection, that kind of thing. So any little thing you can do can help. But where are some of the places that an author, let’s see, an author who’s already published has some books out. What are the things they could. Look at what are the things that they can do and maybe what some of those small steps they can start taking to help make their content, existing content, whether it’s the books they’ve published, their website, their social media, any of those things that are meant to be consumed, how they can make that a little bit more accessible. What are some of the steps you usually recommend? Where they start?
Jeff Adams [00:32:10]:
I think there’s two that I would give off the top that I think pay attention to your colors. We’ve talked about color contrast a couple of times. Really pay attention to the colors that you’re using anywhere. What is the color palette of your website? What is the background versus the text? What is the color contrast for the images that you’re putting out? Does it meet the requirements so that for people who are engaging visually that they can understand what’s there? Because for people, for example, who are Dyslexic sharp, color contrast makes it easier to parse the words for them. And there are other cognitive disabilities that would play into that as well. But also low vision people. The sharper the color contrast, the better shot that they’re going to have to engage with it, whether it’s on the screen or in an image or somewhere else. Because I see too many authors and creatives like, this looks really cool, but you can’t read it. So if you can’t read it, there’s not really a point to it, right? And the other one I would say is really mind alternative text. I think one of the larger sections in the book is about alternative text.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:33:27]:
Okay, can you explain what that is a little bit? Just for people who don’t know what that is?
Jeff Adams [00:33:31]:
Thank you for making me explain it more. So alternative text is what you use anytime you put an image online. You need to think about what somebody who can’t perceive the image visually needs to know from it. Very often we just use them decoratively and you would leave the alternative text empty, if you can. On WordPress, for example, there’s a little checkbox that says this image is decorative. It doesn’t need alternative text or something to that effect. Other times you’re going to want it to explain what somebody would need to know. But often, like with book covers and stuff, it’d just be empty. Read the book for all about alternative text. Because I could do like an hour on alternative text. But to expand on where I’m headed with this is especially in a newsletter. For example, if the image is key to the message in the newsletter, you’ve got to put some alternative text in it so that the user who can’t see it can understand it. Or you have to make sure the information from that image is live text in the newsletter, maybe one way or the other to be able to present it. Social media. This is super important because Facebook and Instagram will generate alternative text for you.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:34:52]:
Yeah, I’ve seen that, I think.
Michele Lucchini [00:34:54]:
Jeff Adams [00:34:54]:
And it’s never what you want it to be.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:34:59]:
It may actually not be the message you want to get across. Right?
Jeff Adams [00:35:02]:
I assure you that it’s not. For example, when I was at CSUN, I posted a picture that somebody had taken of my talk. It was me standing next to the screen. The title slide was up. You could see in front of the photographer a couple of people sitting in front of them. So back of the heads, Facebook generated something like, maybe image of three people, one standing.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:35:28]:
Jeff Adams [00:35:29]:
No context. Not where the event was.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:35:33]:
Jeff Adams [00:35:34]:
You have to put something there, even if you said everything in the post. So starting to think about those things and how to do it, because you’re always wanting to create meaningful alt text to go with the image, to help people who can’t see it understand it. One more thing I’ll throw out there, too. Last one. And then I’ll let Mikayla give some images of text. So when you bake the text into the image, which the popular thing to do these days for authors is the book in the middle of a square and then all these little arrows pointing to it with different plot points around it.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:36:09]:
Jeff Adams [00:36:11]:
All of that text that you put in that block needs to be in your post. Because if they can’t see that text in the block, for whatever reason, color contrast issues, font usage, whatever, just restate it differently in the post so they’re complementary to each other so people don’t miss out. Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I’ll let Mikayla get on one.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:36:35]:
I want to help authors understand why. Because if you’re visually impaired, there are programs that read screens, correct?
Jeff Adams [00:36:46]:
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:36:46]:
They look for the alt text HTML tags. I’m not a tech guy, but they read those when they’re reading the screen. So you’re like, oh, I get it. The image is this. Therefore it’s a joke. Therefore it matches the text. Even if it’s not in the text, the alt text helps them understand. Oh, it was a meme about the cat and the ladies yelling. The one you always see all the time. Like, maybe something like that. It’s funny because now I can appreciate it, too. Right?
Jeff Adams [00:37:14]:
Exactly. And you have to think about, with the images of text, the other layers that go into it. So an alternative text won’t solve for all of that. Because somebody who’s of low vision may not use a screen reader. They may try to understand. And maybe the color contrast is blocking them from understanding it. Or the font use is understanding is blocking their understanding because maybe it’s too curly and fancy. Or they may have dyslexia or some other cognitive impairments where they don’t perceive what’s in an image as well as they would just plain text on the screen. That they can manipulate more. So all of that has to kind of be thought about, because we give in the book for each of the things we tell you to do. We tell you the impairments that have an improvement because of what you’ve done. And for many of them, there’s something that solves for a visual impairment, a cognitive impairment, and a motor impairment all with the same fix, because all of it kind of stacks up together. Everything kind of connects to all the impairment groups very often. So it all fits together nicely. Which is why you could solve for so many people by doing one thing.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:38:35]:
That seems way more efficient.
Jeff Adams [00:38:37]:
Oh, yeah, for sure.
Michele Lucchini [00:38:43]:
Yeah. I think that Jeff covered a lot. So I’m going to just touch one practical point, and then I’ll be the philosophical guy here. So there is a practical point. The foam family you choose. So, for example, consider if you use a phone family where the letter L is different than the capital I and the number one, that will help a lot, people that have dyslexia or other kind of cognitive disabilities. It is an easy thing to do. It’s just changing a phone family, nothing more than that. But it will help a lot. And here it comes, my philosophical and hopefully not useless comment. Jeff and I have been spending the, I would say, a big portion of our life focusing on accessibility. We still learn every single day, so don’t feel overwhelmed. We truly believe in our message, progress over perfection. When you do something, it can be very little, but do it right. Do not rely on wizards that says we’ll make your site accessible with one click. Or use artificial intelligence for the alternative text, for all your images. That will take that off your table.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:40:14]:
Michele Lucchini [00:40:15]:
Do what you can and try to do it in the right way that will improve necessarily your product.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:40:27]:
I’m curious about some of the AI that may suggest for instagram or whatever. So I’m going to use Jeff’s example. The AI suggested two men. There are two people, maybe one male standing or whatever the thing was as a start. And it’s a tool. And you go, oh, okay, I’m going to describe two people sitting in chairs, one person on stage screen. You kind of have someplace to start because I wonder if people who’ve never played with it know what they’re expected to put in. Like, do I describe every intricate detail or how do you focus on what’s important? Maybe that helps you get started.
Michele Lucchini [00:41:05]:
Yeah, I’m not saying that artificial intelligence doesn’t work. It works in many areas. The problem with artificial intelligence associated to images, alternative text, is that in your process to determine what is the best way to describe the image, you cannot ignore the context where the image sits. So if the image is in the page, your goal is not just describe the image, but describe the function of the image within the context of the page. What is the function of the image in that page? It is conveying additional message. So, yes, you have to describe with the alternative text that message is the image just decorative, as Jeff mentioned before? Well, you don’t need to describe it. You just set an alternative text which is empty, so the screen reader will ignore it and there won’t be any redundant information.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:42:04]:
Michele Lucchini [00:42:05]:
Consider the importance of consider the effort that, for example, a blind user using a screen reader needs to put in place in order to process an entire page. So why adding information that is not relevant if we can see, it is a matter of microseconds to process.
Jeff Adams [00:42:28]:
Michele Lucchini [00:42:28]:
Let’s say classify important information versus decorative information. A blind person doesn’t have this luxury, so it needs to listen and then determine, but without knowing what will come after what the screen reader has just read. So it is kind of a matter of being responsible in the way we are conveying our messages through all the media we might use.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:42:57]:
I love that I have to pop this up because it’s sort of related. As Elyssa said, it doesn’t matter how cool your design is, it’s not cool if a person can’t take it in. Right.
Jeff Adams [00:43:09]:
I saw that go by in the comments. I’m like, I hope he puts that up there.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:43:12]:
Yeah, so true. There were so many other comments not related to our conversation at all. Thank you, Alyssa and Lexi, for answering them. And Jim. But the other thing I remember this struck me, Michele, the last time we spoke as well, is you had mentioned there’s an economic value for a content creator in considering accessibility. Right. It’s not just being nice and open and ensuring other people can, but there’s a really important economic value for the content creator. Right, just by having that stuff available.
Michele Lucchini [00:43:48]:
Yeah, I mean, there is just doing some approximation. Consider 20% of the population as a sort of disability. And this 20% doesn’t include people that might have a temporary disability, somebody that broke her glasses, or consider the disabilities that are induced by the context of use. So I have my screen that is hit by the sun, and if the color contract is not optimal, I might not be able to perceive in the right way the information on the website. And consider just all the aspects related of people simply getting older. In particular, if you think about the age of the web population is getting every year older and older, and the pandemic that we have all gone through exposed a lot more the web to people of any age. And their expectation is to be able to keep doing what they are doing now in ten years, but their function probably will be a little bit degradated. So there is definitely a business case around accessibility. If it is not enough, just let’s say the ethical impact of the fact that it just makes sense.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:45:17]:
Awesome. And I guess we’re getting really close to the end. I want to thank you gentlemen so much for coming on. Remind people in audio, please, where they can find out more about your awesome new book that authors should be checking out.
Jeff Adams [00:45:32]:
Absolutely. You can find it at contentforeveryone.info.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:45:36]:
Jeff Adams [00:45:37]:
You’ll be able to find our blog there. You’ll be able to find all the places where the book is available, which, of course, is really everywhere that you can get an ebook or a paperback. And yeah, we’ll keep it updated with other places where we’re talking about other podcasts and programs that we’re on. If people want to follow us around as we keep talking about it because we kind of want to start a revolution here with creatives to really get on board and start making their content more accessible. But also for the creatives who start doing it as they see things out in the world with their colleagues gently approach them and say, hey, I noticed you did this thing. If you think about doing it this way, it’ll be more accessible for more of your audience, because nobody’s really talking about this in this space. All the buzz is with large companies making the ecommerce sites or the restaurant sites or the healthcare sites more accessible, and it definitely needs to be had there, too. But really, everyone who’s posting on the Web has, I would say, a responsibility to make it as accessible as they can while they’re doing it.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:46:49]:
Awesome. Well, thank you again, gentlemen, for taking the time to share with our audience. And thank you, audience, for participating. Be sure to bookmark Dddlives.com so you don’t miss out on awesome guests like Jeff and Mikayla and their book content for everyone. Gentlemen, thanks again for hanging out with me today. Yeah.
Jeff Adams [00:47:11]:
Thank you, Mark. Thanks, everybody. To Draft2Digital.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:47:14]:
Have a great day, everyone.
Michele Lucchini [00:47:15]:
Mark Leslie Lefebvre [00:47:16]:
Michele Lucchini [00:47:16]:
Kevin Tumlinson [00:47:22]:
That’s it for this week’s self-publishing insiders with Draft2Digital. Be sure to subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts and share, share the show with your will be author friends and start, build and grow your own self-publishing career right now at draft2digital.com.