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Accessibility Equals Usability


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Talk presented to the Association of Women in Technology - Austin's Tech Tuesday meeting, 29 September 2009.

Published in: Technology, Design

Accessibility Equals Usability

  1. 1. Paul Sherman, Sherman Group User Experience
  2. 2.  First,  let’s  listen  to  the  web…   [listen  to,,  and  awta   site]   2  
  3. 3.   What  is  accessibility?  Usability?       Why  is  this  all  important?     Accessibility  guidelines  and  resources     What  can  you  do?       Discussion   3  
  4. 4.  When  you  design  for  accessibility,  you’re   making  your  design  more  usable.      It’s  not  hard  or  complex.      But  it’s  better  to  plan  for  it  up  front  than   to  bolt  it  on  later.   4  
  5. 5. 5  
  6. 6.  “Disability”  is  an  impairment  that  limits  life   activities.    “Accessible”  means  “usable  by  people  with   disabilities.”   6  
  7. 7.  “Accessibility”  is  a  quality  that’s  experienced   by  the  user.  It’s  not  built  into  the  product.    Similar  to  “security”…    Security  cannot  be  claimed,  it  can  only  be   demonstrated.   7  
  8. 8. 8  
  9. 9.  Your  intended  users  can  accomplish  what   they’re  trying  to  do  on  your  site  or  with  your   product.     9  
  10. 10.  Therefore…    “Accessible”  basically  means  “usable   by  people  with  disabilities.”   10  
  11. 11. 11  
  12. 12.  In  the  US,  20%    -­‐  55  million  people  -­‐  have   some  disability.      Most  of  these  people  use  computers  and   mobile  phones.    Older  Americans  have   more  disabilities  and   are  more  affected   than  others.   12  
  13. 13.  Visual    Mobility    Hearing    Cognitive,   emotional   and  language   13  
  14. 14.  Cognitive,  emotional  and  language   impairments  affect  people’s  ability  to…   Solve  problems   Perceive  sensory  information   Remember  things    Comprehend  and  use  language   14  
  15. 15.  How  do  software  and  web  producers   accommodate  people  with  disabilities?   15  
  16. 16. 16  
  17. 17.  Hardware  or   operating  system   adaptations      Assistive   technology    Per-­‐program   adaptations   17  
  18. 18. [show]   18  
  19. 19.  Many  applications  and  web-­‐delivered  apps   don’t  “play  nice”  with  accessibility   accommodations.      But  people  with  disabilities  need  mainstream   apps…  the  same  ones  you  and  I  use!     19  
  20. 20.  Producers  aren’t  going  to  build  separate   apps  for  the  disabled.      And  even  if  they  did…”separate”  would  not   mean  “equal.”      Sound  familiar?   20  
  21. 21.  Can  you  design  a  site  that’s  equally  usable  by   people  with  and  without  disabilities?     21  
  22. 22.  Universal  design  advocates  say  “yes!”   Or  more  accurately,  “yes  you  should!”   22  
  23. 23.  Universal  design  advocates  say  that  the  best   design  is  one  that  equally  satisfies  the  needs   of  all  intended  users.      Accessibility  advocates  say  that  separate  sites   are  never  resourced  the  same,  so  people  with   disabilities  are  slighted.    So  what  do  you  think  of  this…     23  
  24. 24. [Amazon]   24  
  25. 25. Many  designs  can  optimize  for  people  with   disabilities.     But  separate  designs  always  lead  to  separate   and  unequal  treatment.   25  
  26. 26. My  take:  universal  design  is  the  way  to  go.     It  has  benefits  beyond  “just”  accessibility.   26  
  27. 27.  Universal  design  has  benefits  beyond   accommodating  the  disabled.    Ramps  and  curb   cuts  are  good  for   strollers,   shopping  carts,   and  bikes!  
  28. 28. 28  
  29. 29. Law  and  policy     1990:  ADA  says  public  accommodations  must  provide   access.     1996:  DoJ  rules  that  web  sites  are  public  accommodations.     1996:  Telecommunications  Act.     1998:  Section  508  of  the  Rehabilitation  Act.   Standards  and  guidelines     1999  -­‐  present:  World  Wide  Web  Consortium’s  Web  Access   Initiative  (W3C  WAI).     US  Access  Board’s  guidelines  for  Section  508  compliance.  
  30. 30. W3C     De  facto  standards  body  for  the  Web.     Formed  the  Web  Accessibility  Initiative,  a  multi-­‐ disciplinary  effort  to  promote  accessibility  for  the  Web.   Web  Accessibility  Initiative  (WAI)     Web  Content  Accessibility  Guidelines  (WCAG)  first   version  published  in  1999.     WCAG  2.0  published  in  2008.   All  available  at  
  31. 31.   31  
  32. 32. 32  
  33. 33. “alt”  text   “longdesc”  long  description  for  images   33  
  34. 34. [play  page  with  alt  text  for  nav]   34  
  35. 35.  <td><a  href="default.aspx"   onMouseOut="MM_swapImgRestore();"     onMouseOver="MM_swapImage ('top_nav_home','','images/ top_nav_home_over.jpg',1);"  ><img   id="ucSiteTopNav_uxHomeImg"   name="top_nav_home"  src="images/ top_nav_home_over.jpg"  style="border-­‐ width:0px;height:31px;width:52px;"   alt="Back  to  Home  page"/></a></td>   35  
  36. 36.  See?  It’s  not  hard!   36  
  37. 37.  Allow  keyboard  only  navigation.    Provide  sufficient  foreground-­‐background   contrast.    Allow  mistake  avoidance  and  correction.   And  more…   37  
  38. 38. Deploy  “alt”  text.   Ensure  keyboard-­‐only  navigation.   Assess  your  site!     Listen  to  your  site.  And  try  to  navigate  it  with   just  your  keyboard.   38  
  39. 39. Assess  and  test.   Correct  the  most  glaring  issues  first.   Then  move  on  to  the  secondary  stuff.   39  
  40. 40. 40  
  41. 41.  Validation  tools  are  programs  that  inspect  for   code-­‐based  conformance.   W3C  HTML  validator:   More  at:  
  42. 42. User  test  your  site!   Good:  you  and  your  colleagues  listen  to  it,   navigate  it  with  keyboard.   Better:  recruit  people  with  disabilities  to  use   your  site.  Watch  them  and  listen  to  what  they   have  to  say.  
  43. 43. Assess  and  test   Build  awareness  in  your  org   Address   Test  again   43  
  44. 44.  Sharron  Rush,  Knowbility    Access  U  –  accessibility  conference   44  
  45. 45.  Paul  Sherman    Sherman  Group  User  Experience    Twitter:  @pjsherman   45