Auditorial, an experimental storytelling experience launched today, aims to make the web a more inclusive place for blind and low-vision readers. R/GA's London and Sao Paulo offices were creative partners for the project, which was set up by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, The Guardian and Google.
Launched on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Auditorial aims to enable users to tailor websites to suit their personal sensory needs and preferences. According to Auditorial’s creators, more than 300 million people have a vision impairment, but 97% of website home pages do not meet standard accessibility requirements.
Kate Baker, creative lead, Google Brand Studio in EMEA, said: “We hope this experimental project will raise awareness and spark a broader discussion about how the web in its entirety could become a more inclusive place for people with disabilities, simply by offering different modes of interaction.”
The service features customisable visual designs and audio storytelling, to help people who are blind or those who have low vision to experience stories in ways that are “as seamless and creative” as they are for sighted people. For example, if someone has photophobia, a light sensitivity, they can flip the story into dark mode, and all the animations take on a darker form.
It is hoped that the site will become an example of accessibility best practice, alongside The Auditorial Accessibility Notebook, an inclusive design guide. The project is intended to help creatives, designers, journalists and other online publishers understand features that can be included to enhance user experience, without compromising on accessibility.
David Clarke, director of services for RNIB, said: “For people who use assistive technology like a screen reader or screen magnifier, the frustration of not being able to use or navigate a website is all too common.
“Auditorial is an example of how accessible online storytelling can be rich and engaging for everyone. By using simple accessibility functions and design features, the website proves that inclusive design doesn’t have to limit creativity.”
The website’s editorial content is provided by The Guardian and gives users three options: fully customisable audio-visual narration, a written article or by reading along with closed captions.
Max Sanderson, acting editor, audio, Guardian News & Media, said: “This experimental story format shows what can be done to place accessibility at the forefront of our design and development process. We understand the importance of making our journalism accessible to more people with a wider range of abilities and backgrounds.”