ABCs of accessibility

"Accessibility" is a very broad term. We present you with a list of many common names, expressions, related to accessibility, explained in Polish Sign Language.

“A” like audiodescription

This is an audible description of images, graphics or what is seen in a film, e.g., so that blind people know what is in the picture or get information about the characters, space or actions of the characters in the film.

Below are examples of the audiodescription used at the beginning and end of the above video.

Audiodescription before the video:

On a light blue background appears a white inscription in capital letters “abc of accessibility”. The inscription gradually increases in size. At the bottom of the screen, subtitles with audiodescription text are displayed. There is a Polish Sign Language interpreter in the lower right corner. Translating into sign language and displaying audiodescription text is not the usual practice. In this film, exceptionally, we used such a solution to illustrate to deaf and hard-of-hearing people what audiodescription is all about. The subtitle disappears. A sign language interpreter appears on the left side of the screen. The interpreter is a young woman, wearing a black long-sleeved blouse. From a blue and white background emerge grayish squares with blue iconogrphics symbolizing people with special needs, including: a person in a wheelchair, a person with a broken arm, a person with a guide dog. Halfway up the image is a white rectangle displayed the full length of the screen. On the right side, subtitles with the letter currently being discussed and the title of the issue are displayed. In the upper right is a black outline logo of the Deaf World Foundation. The logotype depicts two signs: the first symbolizes “world” – horizontally placed hands, facing each other with their insides, are arranged in the shape of a sphere. The second sign symbolizes the word “deaf” – joined index finger and middle finger touch the ear. On the right side of the graphic is the inscription “world of the deaf,” written in small letters in a simple typeface, aligned to the left, with the word “Foundation” written in capital letters below it.

Audiodescription for the final boards:

The video has ended. A Polish Sign Language interpreter appears in the lower right-hand corner, and audiodescription text is displayed at the bottom of the screen on a black background in yellow contrasting font. A final board appears on the screen encouraging people to visit the Deaf World Foundation’s social media. From left: Tik Tok, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and the website. The animation fades out. The screen displays a board with information about the grant. On a white background in the central part, in a black font with a simple typeface, there is the centered text “Funded by the National Institute of Freedom – Center for Civil Society Development, with funds from the Civic Initiative Fund NEW CIF Program, for 2021-2030.” On the left is the logotype of the National Institute of Freedom – it is the flag of Poland with the signature of NIW. The typeface resembles handwriting. On the right side is the New CIF logotype. The logotype consists of a purple icon symbolizing a light bulb and the words “NEW CIF” written in capital letters in a simple black font. The board fades out. The logo of the Deaf World Foundation appears on a white background in the center of the screen. The logotype fades out. After a while, it appears in the upper left corner of the screen, under it in black font is written The video has ended.

“B” for Braille

The Braille alphabet is a six-point based convex letter writing system. A special device must be used to write it down, and the text is read by touching it with the fingertips.

“C” for screen reader (from the Polish phrase “czytnik ekranu” – screen reader)

A computer program that recognizes and interprets information displayed on a computer monitor and then presents it to the user in voice form.

“D” as accessibility statement (from the Polish phrase “deklaracja dostępności”)

Accessibility statement – is a description of the accessibility of a public entity for people with disabilities. It informs these people about the solutions, but also about the problems they will encounter on the website, mobile application and buildings of the public entity in question.

“E” for ETR (easy to read)

This is a text that is easy to read and understand. ETR text is mainly a response to the need for people with intellectual disabilities to access information. When creating such a text, information is given in simple language, care is taken to provide a clear layout, and pictograms or drawings may also be included to promote understanding of the text.

“F” for FM (FM system)

This is a system that supports hearing, and consists of two components: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter, a microphone, is worn by the speaker. The receiver is used by the hearing-impaired person. The receiver can be headphones, or one can receive sound with their hearing aids, or implants. The person hears the amplified sound transmitted directly from the microphone. This makes understanding much better.

“G” for tactile graphics (from the Polish phrase “grafika dotykowa”)

Otherwise known as tiflography, or convex graphics, it is a spatially prepared graphic that is learned through the sense of touch, contains convex elements, different structures. In addition, it can be made using sharp, contrasting colors, which helps the perception of visually impaired people.

“H” for noise and other distractors (from the Polish word for “hałas” – noise)

“H” for noise, but let’s add to it all the distractors that hinder good communication. In addition to noise, it can be harsh glaring light or, conversely, poor lighting. All of these can make understanding difficult and distracting. It is worth taking care of good conditions for conversation. While taking care of accessibility, let’s also keep in mind people on the autism spectrum or with sensory integration disorders, people in mental health crisis.

“I” like inclusion

Behavior that welcomes and embraces diversity. The opposite of discrimination.

“J” for language (simple language; from the Polish word “język” – language)

Is a style of writing texts, especially official and corporate texts, that allows the content to be easily understood. We write in a way that is clear, graphically legible and without so-called official language.

“K” for contrast (from the Polish word “kontrast” – contrast)

High contrast is the mode of operation of electronic device displays, which is characterized by a dark background and a light font embedded on it. This makes text easier to read for the visually impaired.

“L” for Lorm.

The Lorm alphabet is a system of dots, lines and tactile marks that are placed on the hand. It can be the inner or outer surface of the right or left hand. It is a method used by deaf-blind people.

“M” for sign language (polish word “migowy” = sign language)

Sign language is a visuospatial language. It is worth noting that sign languages are not a reproduction of phonemic languages! They are independent languages, created naturally by deaf communities.

“N” for subtitles (polish word “napisy” = subtitles)

A very important part of the accessibility of films for the deaf and hard of hearing.

“O” for person with a disability (from the Polish word “osoba” – person)

We recommend using the phrase “person WITH A DISABILITY” rather than “disabled person.” Disability is one of the characteristics of a person, it should not blind us to his other characteristics.

“P” for induction loop (from the Polish expression “pętla indukcyjna” – induction loop)

This is one way of assistive listening for people who use hearing aids or implants. The induction loop collects and transmits sound directly to the hearing aid or implant. The loop generates a magnetic field that interacts with the hearing aid and eliminates any murmurs or noise from the environment. It is equipped with a special amplifier that receives the signal transmitted to it from a source (e.g., a microphone) and then processes, amplifies and transmits it using the phenomenon of magnetic induction.

“R” for technological solutions (technological solutions = “rozwiązania trchnologiczne).

Providing accessibility would not be possible without a variety of technological solutions. Thanks to the development of technology, we can use devices and systems that support hearing, audio programs, advanced mobility devices, create digitally accessible content, use a variety of applications and devices to facilitate daily functions.

“S” as special needs.

We often mistakenly think that accessibility applies only to people with disabilities. And the law talks about people with special needs, this group will include not only people with disabilities, but also the elderly, people with a temporary problem in moving or receiving content (for example, a person with a sprained ankle or ear inflammation that makes it difficult to hear), as well as people in wheelchairs or with heavy luggage. In a word, special needs are the need for various accessibility solutions.

“T” for alternative text (from the Polish expression “tekst alternatywny” – alternative text)

This is the textual equivalent of an image, e.g. we put a photo on our site – for a visually impaired or blind person this content is inaccessible, so we add a description of this photo, which is picked up by the audio program.

“U” for universal design 

This is such planning and design of both products and spaces that aims at universal accessibility. Such design is most easily seen in smartphones – manufacturers offer a range of accessibility services and additional applications such as soundbites, font magnification, high contrast mode, speech-to-text transcription option and sound alerts.

“W” as WCAG

A set of documents containing recommendations for creating accessible websites and digital content.

“Z” for ensuring accessibility (“zapewnienie dostępności” – ensuring accessibility)

Ensuring accessibility is not a matter of goodwill – it is a legal obligation. As a person with special needs, you have the right to demand respect for the Accessibility Act and other applicable laws.

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