May 16, 2024

Through my son's eyes: Creating accessible content for all

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is May 16 and this year’s theme is “Ensuring Technology Accessibility for All.” It’s an important theme and one that particularly hits home.

May 16 is also my son’s birthday. As he rapidly approaches his elementary school graduation, it’s an ideal time to reflect on his accomplishments. I’m proud to report that he earns As and Bs despite bouts of self doubt and shaky motivation. We recognize that he did not achieve this success alone. The dedication of trusted educators and an unwavering support system helped him get there.

He has also faced adversities most of his peers and their parents have not had to worry about. An early color blindness diagnosis created an unexpected learning barrier. As he develops and matures, this disability will surely shape some aspects of his life. My son will need to adapt every time he works through an art project in school or deciphers traffic light colors when he eventually gets behind the wheel (gasp!). Improvements have been made to technology outside of the classroom as well. For instance, watching my son go through the settings of Minecraft to adjust his screen based on his specific type of color blindness gave me hope.

By the time he reaches college, educational technology will likely look much different than it does today. As Anthology leads the way in building solutions for the higher education market, accessibility must continue to be at the heart of advances infused into the digital platforms of the future. Succeeding in higher education can be a struggle. Navigating the socio-emotional landscape of campus life and adapting to increased academic rigor can be daunting. Factoring in accessibility challenges on top of everything else adds to that difficulty.

Since my son’s diagnosis, we’ve had to help him navigate life with a visual impairment. Differentiating colors in the red/green spectrum is especially tricky. We’ve incorporated recommendations from school counselors and teachers.

Some of those recommendations have included:

  • Limiting drawing crayons/markers to colors that he’s able to differentiate
  • Identifying worksheets and crayons/markers with labels in writing
  • Ensuring proper lighting is available so he can distinguish colors better
  • Advising teachers to use black text on white background when using white boards

As we’ve adjusted to our new normal, the work I do at Anthology has taken on even more meaning. I‘m proud to work for Anthology, a company that does not just strive to improve usability and accessibility to stay in compliance; rather, we build our products with all users in mind because it’s the right thing to do. Learning should be a level playing field for all who use digital technology to further their education.

As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I thank the teachers, administrators, and product developers who promote accessibility in tangible ways.

Maybe you’re helping someone in your life navigate through an accessibility obstacle. Maybe not. Something we can all start doing is using accessibility tools built into products we use every day. Taking a few extra seconds to hit that accessibility checker can mean the difference between including everybody in what you’ve created or inadvertently alienating some of your audience. Bring these suggestions back to your peers at the office or to your families at home. As Anthology continues to do its part in creating a product catalog that follows accessibility best practices, you can do your part in small, meaningful ways which make the world a better and more equitable place.

Randy Harris Headshot

Randy Harris

CRM Service Delivery Manager

As a CRM Service Delivery Manager, Randy Harris is responsible for delivering functional consultancy and Administrator Application services. Prior to Anthology, Randy was responsible for CRM strategy at public and private universities as well as at a career college. He has more than 17 years in higher education, serving in various roles such as academic advisor, business analyst, and student services director. He has more than 13 years of experience as an end user and administrator for Anthology CRM and four years assisting schools in their implementations of Anthology Apply, Reach, and Succeed.