Essentially, the first circle represents what we traditionally think of as ‘accessibility’, the second is what we think of as ‘usability’ and the third what we think of as ‘User Experience’. You cannot address each in isolation; they are all related. One of the problems of accessibility is that we often restrained to working in the first circle trying to make things ‘technically accessible’, without any consideration for the other factors. This means ‘accessibility’ as we know it, doesn’t always work. We might make something ‘accessible’ but it will have terrible usability. We won’t solve the problem of accessibility until we solve this. For example, what is the point in making something accessible to a screen reader if it’s not usable or useful to them.
An example is the BBC home page – research shows it would take a screen reader user 20 minutes to have all content announced to them. Luckily, because the BBC adopt a more holistic approach to accessibility, they enhance usability for screen reader users by providing ARIA landmarks, headings, well labeled links etc. so they can navigate using these elements and achieve their goals. The content is already useful to them so it fulfills the technical, operational and psychological needs
To tackle the psychological element of accessibility, we need to start to consider accessibility as personalisation. Effectively, you are personalising your experience to your needs.
Lets take a look at a basic exmaple, technology has been offering us personalisation options for a very long time, I’m sure all of you will be familiar with the Windows Login Page. The different login profiles have have different settings. These are all dependent to your individual needs. However, evolving technology is now pushing us to consider personalisation on whole other level. Here we have an example of explicit personalisation, where you have told you computer, including mobile phones what your preferences are. Where as we are moving towards is Implicit and adaptive personalisation, thanks to artificial intelligence and sensor technology. A great example of this is your smartphone’s screen’s brightness adjusting to the sunlight. This adjustment personalises your experience of using your smartphone and also addresses the issue of accessibility since you would struggle to look at your screen if the brightness of it was low. Another example is Google Now.
What I love about Google now is that it knows about you and your needs. It can tell you if you’re going to be late for the appointment in your calendar and if you’re taking a taxi, by the way there is traffic! Not only does Google now give you a leave by time and re-route options, combined with google glass, the service could become your hyperlocal news reader! For someone who has a vision or cognitive impairments, struggles with memory loss etc. the wearable tech and service is be a fantastic combination and a good example of inclusive user experience, which is useful and innovative.Play ‘Spot the accessibility issue”. It’s right there on screen. White text on a light background. Highlight the potential for better colour contrast and re-visit this in the later slide.
Although people with disabilities are not necessarily the target audience of new technology, they most certainly have reaped the benefits of newer technology like wearable technology. Smartphones, home automation and much more. For example, Nintendo’s Wii was used as Assistive Technology. It meant that some older people and those with mobility problems could take part in activities like Tennis, which they wouldn’t be able to in real life.
Other than the obvious benefits to those that visually impaired and blind. Let’s think about how the user’s experience can be enhanced through personalisation of wearable technology such as Google Glass. Imagine if Google knew that you don’t like to take the stairs. Google could personalise the navigation experience by only providing you with the subways that has step free access! Lets take that up another notch and think about how someone blind can tour a museum. Because of its advanced hardware, Google Glass knows the user’s exact location in the museum, the direction he or she is facing, and what is being viewed; as a result, it is able to provide the user audio commentary about what he or she is facing. I’m looking forward to my favourite art galleries offering Google Glass instead of audio guides. Think about the possibilities. Art and technology!
I am sure you have heard about UK airline Virgin Atlantic, who are currently trying different wearable technology gadgets – including Google Glass and Sony’s Smartwatch technology – in an attempt to personalise some of the customer touch-points during an air-passengers’ journey. The tests are currently running at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to enhance service experiences for upper class passengers. For someone with a disability what this means is that the airline attendant will know about the passenger’s impairment at a blink of an eye and can personalise the individual’s experience in an unobtrusive way. Examples? We can use the panel discussion for that…..
There are of course other wearables which are striking a chord with consumers, but not all. One of which are the wearable technology for tracking your health. In fact, I use one my self. I have the FitBit flex and it is fantastic for tracking various health data. However, how useful is this data? On the plus side, it is good to see that the FitBit mobile app itself is relatively accessible, it works with VoiceOver to provide you with your vital stats. The device itself is for your wrist and even vibrates for wake up calls and more importantly when you have reached your goals. Smart watches could help those who suffer from memory loss by providing the user with reminders using alerts or even vibrations.
Fact is, 2014 wearable tech devices are like 1990s MP3 players. Everyone makes one, but they all suck for different reasons. No one product has become remotely mainstream in the way iPod did in the MP3 war.
My own experience of Google Glass was at a SXSW Photowalk. We all had our respective cameras and among us we had a Google Glass Explorer. Everyone, naturally were fascinated and slightly freaked out with her, then new, wearable tech! Including myself. Naturally, I engaged in a conversation with the Glass Explorer and started to discover some immediate flaws with the product. Although she was happily winking away taking photos, when it came to looking through them in the sunlight, she couldn’t see the photos she had taken and nor could she see the display because of the bright light.
Furthermore, her expectation was that the display would adjust its brightness, just like her iPhone does in sunlight, to address the colour contrast issue. Considering smartphones have the light senor technology, it is surprising that this has not been encompassed in Google Glass. This was also illustrated at the keynote at HCI Day this year. Come full circle. Fantastic piece of technology. Nearly meets all 3 parts of model. Let down by slight operational problem when used in bright light.
THIS SLIDE COULD GO Andy Lin, a technology specialist aims to modify Google Glass to be more accessible for his patients, who have muscular dystrophy. Rosie has limited mobility and is in a manual wheelchair. She does not speak, and types on a touchscreen augmentative communication device which uses a synthesised voice. While she is able to use her fingers for the communication device, she does not have the motor control to use the touchpad on Glass. So, while Google Glass already has several features that will benefit people with disabilities, they are still limited. The hands-free form factor and voice-activated commands, though, establish a solid step in the right direction for an accessible device, much more work needs to be done to make this wearable technology a truly inclusive user experience.
Right now we&apos;re all essentially playing with a bunch of novelties. Soon, someone is going to release wearable tech&apos;s paradigm-shifting equivalent of the iPod! Google glass is technology which certainly has potential to fulfill all three of the technical, operational and psychological needs, however , we do have the colour contrast issue to show, however, that no matter how useful the product, or how technologically advanced, you still have to address some basic accessibility requirements. That will never change.
The Future of Inclusive User Experience
Future of Inclusive
Head of Accessibility &
@Meera404 / email@example.com
Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology at
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
“The issue is not just about wearing
technology, in a way we've been wearing
technology in our belts, or in our pockets
for many years. The issue is more about
the human connection/interface to the