In a conference about accessibility, there are points that I don't have to make. Like how important accessibility is. Or how many people it helps. But too many of the talks will be about fixing things technically. Not that this is wrong. I am in awe of the work of people like Steve Faulkner and AccessibleJoe, grappling to make digital products born accessible. This is critical work not to be slighted in any way. Instead, I'd like to talk about something that I've been thinking about for a while, and that I'm seeing gain in currency: the idea that we need to think about accessible user experiences in an integrated way, and that we need to address the challenge of accessibility as innovation, rather than accessibility as a constraint.
I bet that every single person in this room has a favorite example of assistive technologies that have become an expected part of our environment. Here are few of my favorites:Captions on TV and videoSpeech inputPlain language labelsWheeled postal cart
Switch to social model of disability critical in so many ways, but I want to suggest one that you may not have thought of:If disability is a medical condition, then design will always be a bandaid. But if disability is the outcome of an interaction, then it can be designed. And there are thousands of people around the world who want their work to change the world, to make better interactions. It seems to me that if we can recast accessibility into an aspect of innovation, we will have changed the dynamic, and given the people who create products a way to think about their work as making the world better for even more people.
I think accessibility is a particularly wicked problem because of the challenges of contradiction: different audiences need different thingsAnd because of the changeing nature of both technology and how we use it.
For example, elections, in which I've done a lot of work have turned out to be a particularly difficule problem. WIth requirements that seem to be in total opposition. But even when we accept the ful list of requirements, the world has continued to change. There are new technologies like tablets and smart phone, that have brought revolutionary changes in interaction. But also changes in our ideas about how to run an election, in part as we try to solve the underlying problem and in part in response to social and technological changes. Early voting and voting centersBetter voting for overseas and military citizensElectronic poll booksIdeas about voting methods like ranked choice or instant runoff votingAll of them change the requirements, by adding a little bit of complexity
Another way to look at the pace of change and you can see that rapid, accellerating loopy journey of tecnology.But there's also the social impact of new technology and how it fits into our habits, attitudes and culture.Glenda W-H and that change that unobtrusive (and affordable) technology can bring to how we see the problem.
Scrolling on a computer screen vs scrolling on an ipadIn 2005, when we wrote the voting system standards, we banned scrolling. For good reasons. Scroll bars are impossibly difficult, no matter how ubiquituous they are: far from the main visual fieldsmall controlcouinterintuitive motionrequires dexterity controlrequires understanding that there can be more on the page than you can seeBut in ipads, it all changes.
A concept that has been useful for me in thinking about how we adopt changes that are both social/societal and technical is Stewart Brand's Pace LayersThe layers are (from inside of the ring to the outside – that is, from the slowest to fastest layer)NatureCultureGovernanceInfrastructureCommerceFashionBut I wanted to think specifically about the pace of change, because as much as anything I'm in the business of advocacy these days
Whether we're thinking about accessibility or voting systems or changing how we run elections... we need to understand the pace of change of the different elements of that change.I've moved technology to the outer ring, because today, technology is fashion as much as anything elseAnd when we look at how we create technology, the same list of layers (slowest to fastest)NatureStandards, Regulations, and LawsAttitudes and CulturesTeam and Work ProcessesHabitsTechnology
(Yes, I know that's not the correct translation)
Review briefly..And map UX principles to the standards.
This spreadsheet can be downloaded from the book resources page:http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/a-web-for-everyone/resources/
Important to find more ways to bring people with disabilities into the creative process. For me, this builds on an increasing emphasis on ethnographic methods of user research – seeing people in context – rather than bringing them in at the end of the process.
Open up your recruiting – people are an inspiration. Let them in
Ask a different questionThree ways we can innovate around accessibility. The first is to find more ways to bring people with disabilities into the creative process. For me, this builds on an increasing emphasis on ethnographic methods of user research – seeing people in context – rather than bringing them in at the end of the process.
Design for mobile first because... Mobile forces you to focus (November 2009)The idea of mobile first and responsive design sweeping the web design world. Like plain language, this is an opportunity for accessibility to meet forces at work in the general technology design space. It's not only a moment we can capitalize on, but one we can learn from. So when I talk about designing for extremes, I mean that the diversity of devices can also reflect the diversity of assistive technology – and of people
The 'Anywhere Ballot'Designed through iterative testing with low literacy participants
Instead of designing specialized AT, or thinking of what we do as creating tools only for people with specific disabilities, it's perhaps more interesting to think about what we can learn from extreme needs that exposes solutions for everyone.
Create better ways to collaborateNext is the value of opening up the creative process. For me, this builds on an increasing emphasis on ethnographic methods of user research – seeing people in context – rather than bringing them in at the end of the process.
Voting Van: www.openideo.com/open/votingIowa popup polling site: www.npr.org/2012/10/24/163560324/vote-while-you-shop-pop-up-poll-sites-sweep-iowa
Are you inviting people of all kinds to be an active part of the project. These workshops, part of the ITIF AVTI, funded by the EAC, brought together two groups of 32 people: election officials, voting system designers, technology folks, designers, advocates, people with disabilities. Structure
Change everyone's perspective
Accessibility as Innovation: Creating accessible user experiences
Accessibility as Innovation
Creating accessible user experiences
Center for Civic Design
@whitneyq | #aux | slideshare.net/whitneyq
I feel like technology is
finally catching up with
what I truly need.
Glenda Watson Hyatt
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Two views of scrolling
Images: Mindexchange.com, gregsramplings.com
"I want to do everything for myself"
• Graduated from high
school and working on
a college degree
• Lives in a loft with a
group of friends
• Works part-time at a
local community center
• Loves her iPad
"The right technology lets me do anything."
• Paralegal, writes case
• Wants to go to law
• Shares an apartment
with a friend
• Complete gadget geek
A Web for Everyone
Personas online at
Rosenfeld Media sites