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How to make Maps Accessible?

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) received Royal Assent, making it law in Canada. The Accessible Canada Act is federal accessibility legislation. Its stated purpose is to achieve a barrier free Canada by 2040. The Act gives powers to the Government of Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to create new legal requirements to advance accessibility in federal employment, the built environment, transportation, procurement of goods, services and facilities, information and communication technologies, communication, and the design and delivery of programs and services.

source – https://accessibilitycanada.ca/legislation/

Digital, Web and Map Accessibility

Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those who have visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities. Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with the Web, and contribute to the Web. Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual.

But when it comes to web maps, they can be a big source of frustration for users with disabilities. Most online mapping applications do not address issues of web accessibility. For a visually impaired web user, these highly visual maps are essentially useless. According to W3.org, “Accessible Maps” aim at discussing and outlining the need for detailed guidelines and standards on how maps and geographical data should be made accessible and how maps and geographical data could provide a valuable source for assistive functionalities for people with disabilities. It discusses various techniques to make Visual maps accessible to people with visual disabilities and talks of projects that are considering making visual maps accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing people, people with cognitive disabilities or elderly people.

Is there a way to display text-based data on a map, keeping it accessible, useful and visually attractive?

When it comes to making digital maps accessible, there are various things to consider. This blog by Alan Leonard from SparkGeo, refers to the current scenario of Web Map Accessibility, and ways to make your map accessible.

  1. Explain the goal of your map and what it’s showing
  2. Provide data in an alternative and accessible format
  3. Don’t rely solely on colour to convey meaning. Use textures, icons, labels, and shapes
  4. Use colours that pass contrast minimum standards and are colourblind safe
  5. Use ARIA and proper HTML semantics
  6. Build keyboard shortcuts into your app
All elements of the Canada Lands Survey System (CLSS) Map Browser are accessible to blind or partially sighted people, including all buttons, tabbed menus, entry and drop-down boxes, and Esri’s map itself.

You want individuals who have disabilities to be able to use your website and any maps on it. At the same time, you also want them to be aware of any physical or practical services, tools, or resources you offer at any of your facilities and within your business.

How do you make complex graphics (graphs, charts and maps) accessible?

Resources

This article explains how to use Accessibility in Google Maps

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