Media Access Australia

Please tell us about how you focused on accessibility and/or how you improved the successfulness of a product, service, experience, etc., through attention to accessibility.: 

The initiative Access iQ was launched as an initiative of Media Access Australia, a small not for profit devoted to increasing access to media for people with disabilities, in May 2012. We recognized that accessibility isn’t getting the traction it needs, despite the potential of the digital world. Part of the problem was that industry and web professionals needed straightforward advice on how to create accessible digital experiences, and to understand that accessibility is just best practice.

Our vision for Access iQ is to create a web without limits. The Access iQ website (accessiq.org) is a comprehensive resource that offers web accessibility information and services that equip individuals and organisations with the information they need to ensure their websites, web applications and digital experiences are accessible. In pioneering the initiative of Access iQ, Media Access Australia designed a complex website that met the WCAG 2.0 ‘AA’ compliance level while meeting our broader aims of engaging web designers, developers and content authors in web accessibility.

Developed as a web accessibility resource hub, accessibility was central to the planning, design and development of the Access iQ website. The guiding principle of Access iQ is to demonstrate accessibility best practice and embody a leading model for accessibility to be incorporated web development. The process of developing the site involved upskilling our web developers through providing detailed briefs on WCAG 2.0 compliance requirements and delivering a training workshop.

Access iQ now delivers on a clear mandate to provide up to date guidance that is current, straightforward and practical, and developed on a role-by-role basis The site hosts space for a range of content, including comprehensive ‘Complete Guides’, for designers, developers and content authors, and also supports a member forum, an events listing service, training and Australia’s only web accessibility service directory. By demonstrating best practice in web accessibility, we have demonstrated it can be done.

As Amajjika Kumara, our business director said about her experience in building the site: “What we do as an organization has to be exemplary. We don't pretend to be perfect but we are committed. Making web accessibility principles frontline in our decision-making process has certainly been a learning curve and we continue to step up to each new challenge. Ensuring that all participants in that journey adopt web accessibility principles as part of their normal working practice will elevate your organization to a new level where web accessibility is not an afterthought, stops being a bothersome mandate and starts being part of an overall inclusive principle that forward thinking organizations openly embrace.” If we as a small not-for-profit can do it, it is definitely achievable for large organisations out there. With almost 20% of Australians having a disability, it makes good business sense.