Accessibility as Innovation - giving your potential users the chance to inspire you


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Many organisations seem to fear that making their products accessible means dumbing them down: they might then work for everyone, but they will lose a lot of their pizzazz in the process.

In this eAccess-13 presentation Jonathan Hassell presents the contrary view - that organisations that really look into the different needs of their disabled audiences often find this breaks them out of fixed positions, allowing them to take innovative leaps in product design.

Using examples from the typewriter to the iPhone classic ‘Zombies, Run!’ and his own recent projects involving the Microsoft Kinect games controller, Jonathan guides you through a way of thinking about product development which is inclusive, creative and potentially very lucrative.

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  • Working with the students to work out what they’d like…
  • Here’s a summary of what we were able to achieve in our Phase One.
  • Accessibility as Innovation - giving your potential users the chance to inspire you

    1. 1. Accessibility as Innovation – giving your potential users the chance to inspire you Prof Jonathan Hassell (@jonhassell) Director, Hassell Inclusion Visiting Professor, London Metropolitan University eAccess-13, London 31st October 2013
    2. 2. 1 Accessibility and innovation
    3. 3. “A popular myth relating to Web accessibility and user experience is that accessibility and attractive design simply do not go together…” Simon Norris
    4. 4. 2 Accessibility’s history of innovation
    5. 5. Without these innovators (and more) the lives of disabled people would be much empoverished
    6. 6. Jim Thatcher for the first Screen Reader Thanks to
    7. 7. Ray Kurzweil for the first commercial speech recognition (& much more)
    8. 8. Bill Kastner, WGBH and the BBC for the first closed captioning
    9. 9. The legislators behind Section 508 (USA) and Disability Discrimination Act Pt III (UK)
    10. 10. Rob Sinclair for making ATs easier to create with MSAA and UIA
    11. 11. Maguire & SOCOG for giving the world its first web accessibility test case
    12. 12. The WebAIM crew for getting the word out and stoking the discussion
    13. 13. Mick Curran & James Teh for making screenreaders affordable with NVDA
    14. 14. Steve Jobs for making accessibility built in as standard in Apple products
    15. 15. And all those who funded their work, used what they created, shared the news…
    16. 16. And …
    17. 17. Your face here…?
    18. 18. None of those guys were available… so you’ve got me: Jonathan Hassell • • • >10 years experience in accessibility and inclusion lead author of BS 8878 British Accessibility Standards former Head of Usability & Accessibility, BBC • • • led work to embed accessibility across BBC web, mobile and IPTV production teams won BIMA 2008 & Access-IT@Home awards for the accessibility features of BBC iPlayer Product Manager of innovative products: • • • won IMS Global Learning Impact Award 2010 for MyDisplay won „Best Usability & Accessibility‟ BIMA 2006 for My Web, My Way 3 x Bafta-nominated for breakthrough rich-media eLearning projects for disabled children
    19. 19. 3 What is innovation?
    20. 20.
    21. 21.
    22. 22.
    23. 23. Great innovations come from… User needs Great innovations Sustainable market/fundi ng Technology possibilities
    24. 24. 4 “Where do you get your ideas from…?”
    25. 25. How to source ideas… From following market trends (e.g. everything goes social…) From following technology possibilities (Freeview => Youview) From encouraging your team to come up with ideas From listening to users‟ unmet needs and finding ways to meet them
    26. 26. Ideation… From following market trends (e.g. everything goes social…) From following technology possibilities (Freeview => Youview) From encouraging your team to come up with ideas From listening to users‟ unmet needs and finding ways to meet them
    27. 27. The problem of fixation…
    28. 28. How people try to free themselves from it…
    29. 29. Why not find a challenge closer to home?
    30. 30. The beauty of constraints…
    31. 31. The potential of inclusive design: OXO Good Grips • Well-known pioneer of Inclusive Design in the USA • Sam Farber‟s wife, a keen cook, suffered from arthritis “Why do ordinary kitchen tools hurt your hands?” • First 15 products launched in 1990 • Sales growth over 35% per year from 1991 to 2002 • The line has now grown to over 500 products • Over 100 design awards received Centre for Business Innovation “Connected Communities, helping you Do more with Less” - 31 © 2011 Centre for Business Innovation Ltd Engineering Design Centre
    32. 32. Focus on users… From following market trends (e.g. everything goes social…) From following technology possibilities (Freeview => Youview) From encouraging your team to come up with ideas From listening to users‟ unmet needs and finding ways to meet them
    33. 33. Categorising options for user-led ideas generation Reliability – Dimensions: • Reliability: weak… strong • Cost: low… high • Visibility: public… private Visibility Cost
    34. 34. „wisdom of crowds‟ but not demographically reliable; cheap; public Online ideas generation/prioritisation from users
    35. 35. „ wisdom of crowds‟ through data capture & mining; free to get, costly to manage; private & public ‟ Strategic listening to all feedback channels (face-for-face, phone email, twitter, facebook…)
    36. 36. reasonably reliable (via right recruitment); costly; private Audience research – focus groups, ethnographic studies etc.
    37. 37. Keep listening through iterative user-testing Do initial audience research If more improvement justified, cycle… Develop minimal, flexible next version User test to get better audience research
    38. 38. 1st stage: The right research & thought before you start 1. Purpose 2. Target audiences 3. Audience needs 4. Preferences & restrictions 5. Relationship 6. User goals 2nd stage: Making strategic choices based on that research 7. Degree of UX 8. Inclusive cf. personalised 9. Delivery platforms 10. Target browsers, OSes, ATs 11. Create/procure, in-house/contract 12. Web technologies 3rd stage: Production, launch, update cycle 13. Web guidelines 14. Assuring accessibility 15. Launch information 16. Post-launch plans For more on the process, see BS 8878…
    39. 39. How mainstream products have arisen from innovative ‘beyond inclusion’ solutions
    40. 40. 5 Some examples from my own work
    41. 41. Example 1: uKinect Sign Recognition
    42. 42. Speech recognition is useful
    43. 43. The Funding Vision • Learners with disabilities may lack independence due to an inability to communicate by speech or due to lack of motor control • If signs and gestures can be easily learned, recognized and converted to digital data, a whole new world of opportunity opens up. TechDis, BIS, TSB SBRI „Making Waves‟ competition
    44. 44. The ideal
    45. 45. The “breakthrough” inspiration • and p
    46. 46. It takes time… – cf. Siri Speech recognition was able to understand digits in the 1950s… Siri‟s intelligence has been worked on for at least 10 years
    47. 47. The problem We had 6 months…
    48. 48. User-focused approach User needs Great innovations Sustainable funding/ma rket Technology possibilities
    49. 49. The way ahead Our breakthrough technology enabler 
    50. 50. The way ahead Looked for people who could benefit from each of our (baby) steps…
    51. 51. Our target audiences
    52. 52. Why choose Makaton? BSL Makaton Thousands of signs (> 21,000) Hundreds of signs Individual sign vocab > 5,000 Individual sign vocab < 200 Long sequences of signs Sign quality fairly uniform 1 or 2 sign sequences Sign quality very variable, plus personal (idiosyncratic) signs Very few competing teams Many competing teams
    53. 53. User-Centred Approach Engagement through a character and humour… Inspiration: Talking Tom
    54. 54. Proof of concept solution Watch it on Vimeo at:
    55. 55. Phase Two
    56. 56. Users and contexts of use Users with comms difficulties through LDs, Autism, stroke Supporters of these users: colleagues, teachers, carers, parents Signing e-Learning game Education Employment Independent Living
    57. 57. Product launching Nov-13
    58. 58. Hints of a new opportunity “Boris was so engaging that blind students were also asking to use it to learn to sign…”
    59. 59. Example 2: The Nepalese Necklace A Movement Game for Blind and VI Children
    60. 60. The Nepalese Necklace Original concept • The idea: • using audio-games & Microsoft Kinect‟s gesture recognition to encourage blind and partially-sighted children to engage more readily with their mobility training • The project: • an inexpensive, 3 month Proof of Concept to investigate the idea‟s potential in a concrete, testable way
    61. 61. The Nepalese Necklace UCD Approach • Initial user-research • found experts in the learning, and representatives of the learners • created a way of giving both an initial idea of what we were talking about, to get their attention and buy-in • asked questions to “get into their world” • then created what they needed/wanted • Iterative user-testing • we did this every couple of weeks • there‟s no substitute for it
    62. 62. The Nepalese Necklace Validation • Did final research to prove value • in all contexts of use (in homes as well as as schools) • over longer periods of testing, without expert presence (over at least a week, without you propping the PoC up) • observed and interviewed users & experts to understand how they behave and feel about the PoC • Got the results on video • nothing else quite proves your case
    63. 63. Partner of the Year Finalist: Gamelab UK
    64. 64. The Nepalese Necklace Beyond disability “The idea of the games are good, but they’re not made for us…”
    65. 65. If you remember one thing…
    66. 66. Listening to your diverse audiences needs… identifies challenges… but innovation often follows a challenge
    67. 67. Why shouldn’t this be you?
    68. 68. More info: Book available from BSI Press Q1-2014 More info, email:
    69. 69. Innovation Training & support for BS8878 Standards Strategy & research
    70. 70. e: t: @jonhassell w: