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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness month. While the month may be drawing to a close, the benefits an inclusive workplace has in creating a prosperous Canada are present at all times of the year. Having an accessible website is just one way you can help ensure that people with disabilities have access to jobs, services, and information in your community. At Collaborative Haus, we are committed to designing high-quality websites that are accessible to everyone.

Patrick Bouchard – Developer

National Disability Employment Awareness Month
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#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility

Since its invention, the Internet has quickly grown from being a cutting edge tool for research and education to one of shared knowledge amongst the masses. In today’s fast paced interconnected world, it has become a vital part of everyday life, becoming even more so as technology advances. As the Internet has evolved from a luxury to a convenience to a necessity, so has the need for it to become accessible to everyone.

Individuals with disabilities also rely on the Internet throughout their daily lives. As the world continues to become increasingly digital, information is rapidly transitioned to electronic formats that computers and other communication devices can access.  Take printed newspapers for example; they posed a challenge to people who were blind, as well as individuals who had trouble physically holding or turning pages. Now, they are available online and digitally using accessible devices, as long as the organization’s website has been designed in a format that meets the current Accessibility Standards. This removes the barrier that previously existed, allowing people to independently keep up with local news in a format they can use.

If websites are not accessible, individuals with disabilities lose a convenient way of independently obtaining information. Many sites use images and flashy graphics, some have online games, and others have contests that require precise mouse clicks and timed actions. It is difficult for assistive technology devices to interpret this functionality, barring the users from equal participation. A site with tutorial videos which do not feature somebody describing the on-screen action, or a video with spoken content that is not conveyed visually or in text, prevents people with hearing or vision loss from being able to fully understand the message leaving many disabled persons at a distinct disadvantage.

There are other, more severe barriers resulting from poor accessibility. Some colleges and universities use online course management software designed without accessibility in mind. The relevant material in inaccessible images, audio only formats, non-standard buttons which do not respond to keyboard presses, unreasonable time constraints during tests, and animated content cause assistive devices to struggle with page focus.  These issues can prevent students with disabilities from independently completing their courses and obtaining good grades.

Online stores with poorly designed, inaccessible websites cause grief to disabled people as they are unable to complete their purchases. Inaccessible company websites make it difficult for some employees to be as productive as possible, which can result in them unjustly viewed as liabilities. Government forms and documents that are not accessible make it difficult for some to complete, requiring them to relinquish their privacy while somebody assists them with sensitive information.

All types of information lives on the Internet. To a person with disabilities, an inaccessible Internet is a barrier. Ensuring websites are accessible is the best way to ensuring that everybody can participate in today’s information-driven world.

#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility
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6 Smartphone Photo Tips to take Your Images to the Next Level

You would be astonished at some of the amazing and captivating images that are perfect for sharing on social media taken using nothing more than your iPhone or other higher quality smartphone. We have six tips on how to make sure you’re getting the most out of that camera in your pocket.

1. Change your perspective

Try getting lower, holding your phone over the subject, or looking at your subject from a different point of view than you normally would. Step back or step forward, never use the built-in digital zoom, as this crops your image, getting rid of precious quality and pixels. Shooting straight on can work too. Experiment to see what works best for your subject.

Tools on a wood table shot from above

2. Vary Your Subject

If you work in a flower shop, don’t just take pictures of the flowers. Take pictures of the florist creating an arrangement. If you work in a construction company, show the process of the build, your employees working, and even your tools or materials that you use every day. These in action photos create dynamic imagery that won’t become stale over time.

An artist working on his next creation3. If the image is too dark or too light,   tap the screen to adjust exposure

Tapping on the screen where your subject appears will ensure the photo exposes for that portion of the photo. You can manually adjust the exposure to find the sweet spot by dragging up and down after you’ve tapped on the screen.while taking a picture of a globe tap on the screen to adjust settings

4. Use your volume button

Pro tip alert! You can use your volume button to snap the shot. If you’re holding the phone horizontally and want to increase stability, clicking the Volume Up button on the side of the phone works as a shutter button.Turn the phone sideways and use the volume buttons to shoot the picture

5. Let there be light…Not flash

Your photos will turn out better if you have more light in the image. Using natural light will give you the best results; turning on a light will certainly help with your results as well. Of course, flash is required when it is dark outside.

Plants near a window shoot well in natural light6. Don’t shoot in square mode, or with  a filter on

Shooting in square mode or with a filter already turned on limits the ways you can use your photo later. Shoot without a crop or filter on, and you will have the freedom to add those effects later while preserving the original image.

Plate of food shown half as original shot and half with applied iphone filter

– Kevin Cascagnette • Photographer + Graphic Designer

6 Smartphone Photo Tips to take Your Images to the Next Level
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#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies

The World Wide Web has become a universal part of everyday life. Whether at work, school, or home, many tasks are now difficult to complete without access to the internet. Registering for university, applying for a job, filing tax returns, or booking travel are just a few examples of tasks we complete using the Internet.

Because of the convenience and ease of accessing information, people from all walks of life are now connected. Many have varying needs and abilities and may obtain and interpret information using different senses and techniques. Consider the following examples:

#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies
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#1 – What is Online Accessibility?

You’ve probably heard the term “accessibility” at some point. But what does it actually mean?

Accessibility brings to mind different things for different people. Some picture a building with a wheelchair ramp, button-controlled doors, and elevators. Some think of Braille menus at restaurants and signs with tactile print on them in hotels. Others think of fire alarms which light up and make noise, or closed captioning on their televisions. In all of these cases, there is the common theme of making aspects of life easier, or possible, for people with disabilities, giving them the same information and level of access as everybody else.

The word “accessible” is commonly defined as “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” The majority of the definitions don’t even mention disability, or people with special needs! At its core, accessibility refers to the ability to access something, which is, not so coincidentally, exactly what the word sounds like when spoken!

For the purposes of this, and future blogs, accessibility to the web will be discussed primarily in the context of people with disabilities. In today’s ever connected world of technology, accessibility refers to the ability of all people to connect, browse, understand, and interact with a website, program or device.

#1 – What is Online Accessibility?
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Creative Design & Website Accessibility

As an Accessibility Specialist, I often hear comments from graphic and web designers that the new Ontario legislated digital accessibility guidelines limit and restrict their creativity. Many graphic designers appear to feel frustrated, angry and unaccepting of the AODA and WCAG 2.0 Level A & AA guidelines. In Ontario we’re entering a new online landscape that is throwing a different set of challenges at the digital industry.

Creative Design & Website Accessibility
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Going Above & Beyond – Providing Value Added Services to Your Customers

Want to give your customers a little something extra to ensure their experience with you is memorable? Build loyalty by improving your customer’s shopping and buying experience. Introduce small Value Added services into your regular operations to ensure you stand out from the crowd and are far superior than big box stores!
This presentation was originally given to members of the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce on February 19th, 2015 at their Business Before 9:00am speaker series.  You can find the original PowerPoint presentation or PDF file below.

Why Go Above & Beyond?

  • Gain a Competitive Advantage over:
    • Online / Worldwide Competitors
    • Big Box Stores
    • Other Small Businesses
  • Create loyalty
  • Generate new marketing opportunities
Going Above & Beyond – Providing Value Added Services to Your Customers
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Connecting the words – Content Marketing & Keyword Optimization

An Infographic for all us visual learners.

Content Marketing is gaining in popularity and those that once said, “I don’t have time”, are now weighing the time commitment against the benefits.  All for good reason, Content Marketing works, but you need to start with an organized foundation.  This brings us back to the overly discussed and often misunderstood, Search Engine Optimization, more specifically, keyword optimization.

Before you spread your valuable content all over the internet, understand that Google Search’s sole focus is to bring the best possible results to its users.  Google doesn’t comprehend your content, it simply connects the words, and all words are not created equal. If a searcher is looking for cereal, Google will bring back results that contain the word cereal, not oatmeal, cheerios, formula or Kellog’s, just cereal.

When planning and preparing your content, know your keywords and work to provide Google with a clear and concise path to your website’s content, blogs, images, videos, etc.

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

Connecting the words – Content Marketing & Keyword Optimization
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Small Businesses – Do Not Start an Externally Hosted Blog

Warning: If you have a blog address similar to blogname.blogspot.com, blogname.wordpress.com or other, you may not want to read this. This also applies to anyone that has pointed a custom domain at these services.

Small businesses usually use blogs for three reasons: gaining attention, adding keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a platform for Content Marketing.  The hope is to grow your business using these great online tools and it’s true, you should start a blog, just not an externally hosted one.

There are significant roadblocks in your path to SEO and Content Marketing success when using externally hosted blogs. These limitations so badly injure your efforts that those who have implemented different platforms to correct these problems report significant and sometimes immediate jumps in website traffic.

Here are the main problems.

Growth 

External blogs are not designed to grow with your business. All your hard work to create valuable content to build a tiny space online that is all yours and that garners you attention is limited. Your business will grow and one day you will find yourself needing a full website. A blog is not a website and it is very frustrating to try and fit your business into the limited space allocated by these external blog platforms. This is especially true if you are trying to implement Content Marketing strategies.

Purchasing your own domain name and hosting your own blog is not difficult or expensive. This choice will relieve much frustration later when your business is ready to expand online.

Flexibility

External blog platforms are often completely free and do offer some great features but there is no compromising when it comes to moving them in with you. As your business grows and you see value in creating your own website, you’ll want your content-filled blog to join forces with that new website. Since 2010 Blogger/BlogSpot and WordPress Blog removed the ability to truly do this for security reasons. This means, all that hard work and valuable content you created, never gets to do the SEO job it was really intended to do. Your blog content will never help to show Google a clear path to your website, because it will never actually be on your website.

A self-hosted blog can move freely and your growing business needs this type of flexibility.

If you are a small business with an externally hosted blog, it’s not the end of the world. The process of migrating all your content to a self-hosted blog platform is fairly straightforward. However, it’s definitely worth having someone that knows what they’re doing assist you to ensure everything is done properly to maintain your SEO rankings.

So, what’s the best way for a small business to start a blog? Here’s what we recommend:

  • Purchase a domain name.
  • Purchase hosting.
  • Install the self-hosted version of WordPress (Free) or other content management system.
  • Pick a free theme.
  • Start blogging!

Later, if your business is as successful as we hope it is, you’ll be laughing at how easy it is to expand online.

 

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

Small Businesses – Do Not Start an Externally Hosted Blog
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