We know what you are thinking: “Why would a mining company require an accessible website? Yes, we are a mining company and no, we don’t have many deaf or blind employees, nor do we specifically sell our products directly to persons with hearing or seeing impairments. We, at Canyon Coal, are simply aware of the need in our society to care about persons with disabilities. As Canyon Coal we feel that disabled persons should be treated as equal citizens. If we want disabled persons to be integrated into society, we should first integrate ourselves to their world and then, adapt our world and the systems in which we operate to their needs and realities. For Deaf persons, South African Sign Language is their mother tongue and, in the absence of a special education, they cannot understand either verbal or written forms of communication. For the most part, they live in an isolated world of their own, with distinctive language and their own norms and cultures. In effect, their disability may become more than the impairment of hearing, it may become a unique “communication disability” which obliges them to live as if they are a “minority nation” within wider society.
The Deaf have been struggling for some time to make South African Sign Language the 12th official language of the country. As Canyon Coal, we hear their voices and want to help shoulder the responsibility by diminishing the barriers they may face where we can. Our website is also accessible to the blind, partially-blind and to colour-blind persons. Like deafness, blindness can also be a “communication disability”. The absence of sound enabled sites for the blind or of visual adaptation tools for partly-blind and colour-blind persons can result in a further communication barrier. In order to overcome this, we have adapted our website to the “screen reader” system for blind users, so that they can easily listen to the whole website. In addition, by implementing specific design techniques, we have adapted our website into a format which is capable of meeting the needs of partially-blind and colour-blind persons.
Making our website accessible to the Deaf Community was as easy as preparing and loading our content in South African Sign Language as videos to the website. Likewise, making our website accessible to the blind was as simple as using certain blind-friendly web-design methods. We feel that these are steps which can be taken by any company or institution at an affordable cost and with little effort. These small steps can, however, have a big impact on persons with special needs. As Canyon Coal, a socially responsible corporate citizen, we are aware that taking these small steps should not be seen as generosity on our part but rather as part of our obligation to South Africans with special needs and to society as a whole. As for being the first South African mining company having a “disabled-friendly website”, we hope to spark increased sensitivity and responsibility towards disabled persons in South Africa.
ENSURING OUR WEBSITE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
The South African National Council for the Blind’s website is designed to be accessible to all visitors, regardless of disability or type of Internet browsing software.
Images that convey important information have alternative text. Where an image is used for a decorative purpose the alternative text is left blank. Page structure is conveyed using header elements. A style sheet is used on our website and relative font sizes on all text with the exception of graphical text. Text can be increased or decreased in size by using the “view” option in your browser. No information is exclusively conveyed using colour. Our site has been tested in Internet Explorer 6,7 and 8, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera; on PC and Mac.