Practising the Accessibility I Preach

If I am so excited about accessibility, I need to make sure that I really think about inclusion in all situations. That’s both easy and hard. I think it is natural to be considerate of others. Knowing what can be considerate can be tricky at times.

I love MiniCards from MOO, and I recommend MOO to all my friends. My first set of cards had very tiny print, however. It was embarrassing to hand them out at the 2010 accessibility unconference in London. For my next set, I designed both sides. Instead of using their print setup for text, I wrote my contact info in large type and uploaded that as an image for the text side of the card. That seemed quite nice.

Enter Braille stickers.

I’d heard about Braille stickers a while ago from Sarah Lewthwaite’s blog. I decided to set things straight for the 2012 TCUK conference this year. I set out to order the stickers. Imagine my dismay when I discovered the place Sarah had last used had stopped making them. Google saved me.

Google led me to Pia accessible publishing solutions. They had multiple standard sizes of stickers, and they could make customized sizes, too. I found a size that fit my existing cards and filled in an online form to ask about pricing and delivery times. It turned out I had too many words for the small size stickers. For a 20 cm by 60 cm label, I could only have 9 Braille letters per line and only 2 lines. After thinking that I needed name, email address, and website on the label, I ended up with a very simple solution.

The first line reads m a r d a h l, and the second line reads . d k. In other words, mardahl.dk should be enough. It leads to my name and a contact form. Blind people are smart. They don’t need the http and the www to figure out that the label holds a web address. It felt very clever to be so minimalist.

My first contact with the company was September 4th. I placed my order Wednesday, September 5th. On Monday, September 10th, I found a notice in my mailbox telling me that they had tried to deliver my package. From Wales to Denmark in 3 days (with a weekend involved). Not bad at all. With such prompt service, I could easily order another set in time for TCUK12.

And guess what? The labels were accompanied by a letter stating that the Braille embossed on the labels comply with “BSi standard BS EN 15823:201″. It also stated that the Braille was approved for accuracy and the quality and compliance of the Braille cells and dots. Very cool and very professional. This feels very geeky. I’ll be proud to flaunt the dots and raise awareness about accessibility. I’ll also be proud – not embarrassed – the next time I meet someone who reads Braille.

My lovely new Braille labels from pia.co.uk with a bit of reflection from the sunset outside my window.

Next up: sticking stickers on my MOO cards. The clear label is unobtrusive, so it won’t alter the look of my MOO card design or text. MOO cards and Braille. Be still, my geeky heart!

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