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Considering how people take in information differently can make our products better for everyone. That’s especially true in government when the information we share needs to be accessible to all the people we serve.

In this issue we highlight two examples of how we’re trying to make our work better for people who are blind or have low vision.

A person using a screen reader to hear important information from their computer.

What security codes sound like

When you reset a password or have an extra layer of security on an account, you'll typically get a recovery code. This is a crucial piece of information that's required to get into your account. 

For people who are blind or have low vision, they may rely on a screen reader to get this information. Which raises the question: What do randomized codes sound like? 

We explored this question while we worked on creating accessible recovery codes for our COVID Alert healthcare portal.

A person using screen reading technology on their phone to listen to social media content.

What social media sounds like

Governments share important information about services online. Social media has become a common tool to do this. But practices for creating social media messages, like using hashtags or putting information in images, don’t always translate well when the messages are being read by screen readers. 

In this blog post, we talk about what we’ve learned about making social media more accessible for everyone who needs the information we share on it.

Quick tips: emojis

To communicate emojis, screen readers read out the emoji’s description or name. With this in mind, here are a couple of tips to help make sure emojis aren’t barriers to people understanding your message:

  • Listening to multiple emojis is time consuming. Try to limit your emoji use to one per message.
  • Emojis break up the flow of the text. Try to keep emojis at the end of the message.
  • The descriptions of emojis aren’t always bilingual. Try to use words instead of emojis to describe things that add important context. 
  • The description of an emoji may not be what you think it is. For example: the fist emoji reads as “oncoming fist”, not a fist bump. Try to do some research beforehand to understand the description of commonly used emojis.
Avoid: I ❤️ dogs. 
(Reads as, “I red heart dogs”)

Do: I love dogs. ❤️ 
(Reads as, “I love dogs. Red heart”)

Avoid: Helping 🇨🇦ians stay safe 👊 👊👊
(Reads as, “Helping Flag: Canada ians stay safe oncoming fist oncoming fist oncoming fist”)

Do: Helping Canadians stay safe. 💪
(Reads as, “Helping Canadians stay safe. Flexed biceps)

In the community:

Being digital in Canadian public service
Apolitical and Ontario Digital Service
Online resources

Designing with data
Collaborative Learning in Usability Experiences
Video recording

Leading high-performing virtual teams
Canada School of Public Service
March 29

Sensibilisation aux clientèles de l'accessibilité numérique
March 30

Policy innovation showcase
Canada School of Public Service
March 31

Inclusive student hiring
Canada School of Public Service
April 1

Future of the GC: mindsets & behaviours
Federal Youth Network
April 6

Semaine numérique ($)
April 9

Future of the GC: technical skills
Federal Youth Network
April 13

Work with us!

We're hiring for a(n): 

  • Developer (Covid Alert SRE)

  • Developer (Full Stack)

  • Developer (Technical Support)

  • Senior / Principal Software Developer (Python)

  • Senior Developer (Front-End)

  • Senior Agile Delivery Manager (Covid Alert)

If you think this could be you, apply to join the team!

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Canadian Digital Service · Government of Canada · 219 Laurier Ave W · Ottawa, ON K1P 5J6 · Canada