Matthew Putland is a Senior Analyst in Digital Accessibility for Media Access Australia, based in Perth but working on projects all over the country. A lot of his work revolves around conducting accessibility audits on websites and digital media. He shares the five most common issues that he comes across in his web auditing, in an insightful and useful podcast and article.
Listen to the complete interview where Matt Putland talks with Media Access Australia’s Philip Jenkinson, about the five most common fails he finds, and what to do about them.
Since joining Media Access Australia in 2015, Matt Putland has worked closely with Dr Scott Hollier, MAA’s Director of Digital Accessibility, on a variety of projects, and autonomously on others, particularly web auditing jobs.
“I see a lot of different accessibility issues,” says Putland about his web audits. “The most common problems are not providing an alternative for non-text content, having a lack of captions and audio descriptions for multimedia, not providing enough colour contrast with foreground and background colours, having the link text on a page that isn’t very descriptive, and also having a lack of instructions on labels and forms.”
The failure to provide alternative text on images, and also where text has been embedded into an image, is a reoccurring problem he comes across often.
“Screen readers can read text on a webpage or text that has been coded into the web page but they cannot read the content of an image,” observes Putland. “So without alternate text, people with blindness cannot receive any information from the image, which may include infographics or graphs.”
While the quality and use of captioning is improving, a big issue that he finds with web and digital material is the widespread lack of Audio Description (AD). “Audio description is an area that hasn’t really taken off much at all from what I’ve seen from the audits” says Putland. “Very very rarely do I actually find AD on videos that need it and what I mean by that is, videos that have a lot of visual content without narration.”
If you are one of the people who is involved in any way with your organisation’s digital footprint, Matt Putland believes that accessibility should be a consideration right from the beginning.
“My advice is to ensure that accessibility is considered throughout the entire project,” he says. “So from right at the start, in the design phase, ensure that accessibility is considered and that will help you to improve accessibility later on down the track. Because if you design it well, then chances are it will be much more accessible once you actually complete the project.”
You can contact the Digital Accessibility Services team at Media Access Australia to arrange a web audit.