I’ve moved

March 25, 2010

Just a quick post to say I’ve moved to http://hiantonia.com

Things will stay on this site for a bit but I won’t be posting anything new here.

Standards.Next

September 25, 2009

I was fortunate to present at the standards.next event on Cognition and Accessibility last Saturday.

It was really good to see so many people there. And for there to be so many questions. It was an excellent and informative afternoon.

Accessibility beyond code

I thought really hard about what to talk about and decided on Accessibility beyond code.

‘Accessibility’ is often viewed as the sole job of developers to make happen and there are reasons why this has been the case, of course. But we need to move on from just thinking about code and consider a site or application as a whole. It really is everyone’s responsibility to make sure things are accessible to everyone.

I have believed for a long time that design in its broadest sense can render a site accessible or inaccessible to people. I see this first hand, time and time again with many people with learning disabilities.

(This also goes for content, by the way.)

In order to try and address this, I made two videos for the event with Martin, to try and explain what some of these issues are. One was of him using eBay, a website he uses often. And another with Amazon, which he had never visited before.

The videos were really exploratory interviews showing Martin using the sites in real time. I wanted to capture things as they happened and I hope that this was helpful.

Unfortunately, my camera is a bit sick so I had to shoot in automatic mode. The light was changeable on the day and some sections are rather dark.

Videos

eBay

Go to the video of Martin using eBay on YouTube

Go to the video of Martin using eBay with Easy YouTube

Go to the transcript of Martin using eBay

Amazon

Go to the video of Martin using Amazon on YouTube

Go to the video of Martin using Amazon with Easy YouTube

Go to the transcript of Martin using Amazon

Slides

Go to my slides on slideshare

Jamie Knight

Jamie Knight was up next. And he was fantastic. He gave a talk with some gorgeous slides and was then interviewed by the lovely Henny Swan. He gave excellent and frank insight into what it is like for him to be on the autistic spectrum, covering some of the techniques he uses when online. It was lovely to meet him (and Lion) in person and continue discussions afterwards.

David Owens

David Owens then spoke about his experiences of user testing with people with learning disabilities or cognitive impairments. His talk was really interesting and honest in terms of how he had to redress decisions and assumptions he was making about what he was building.

Ian Pouncey

Ian Pouncey finished off the speaking with a presentation about content. He gave lots of good tips as to how we can make content more accessible. It’s easy to forget some of these things, even though some of them are seemingly obvious and he explained things in a really clear and focused way. I particularly liked his comments around providing audio and video as play on demand.

Other posts about the day

Final thoughts

I don’t think I am wrong in saying that at the end of the day, people were left thinking there were lots of things they could do to improve things they work on.

One thing I would like to add though,  is that there are lots of people with learning disabilities who are not as computer literate as many of the people we were talking about. Only consulting, user testing with, and talking about a broad range of people will really help to address this.

Thanks to Henny Swan and Bruce Lawson for organising this event and for asking me to speak. And to Martin for allowing me to film him.

IE6 – who uses it?

July 25, 2009

There is much talk about the support for IE6 being dropped at the moment.  Two I read about recently were Digg thinking about dropping support and YouTube showing a we will not support IE6 in the future message.

I think that a site as important as YouTube making this move will mean that others follow suit. In fact I dropped IE6 is a site that lists all sites to date that have dropped support.

This could mark the beginning of the end of endless workarounds by lots of us and free up more time for innovation, lunch etc.

Consider the users

But I want us to consider other users of IE6. The people themselves.  If Ben Parr is right in his article on Mashable that “15 to 20 percent of the world’s browsing still done in a browser created in the digital Stone Age” then it’s those people I would like us to think about.

I realise that many of the people who use IE6 are doing so because the company they work for is ‘sticking to it’ for whatever reason.  And that when they get home, they’ll most likely be using a more modern browser.

However, some people may still be using IE6 at home or in an environment that doesn’t have a massive IT team. Those people are most likely not using IE6 because it’s their favourite browser.

It’s more likely that they are using IE6 because they don’t know how to upgrade their browser. It was on their system when they bought the computer or someone may have set up their computer for them aeons ago and since it works ok, they haven’t even thought about changing things. They may just be scared of doing so.

This might sound odd but I know of more than one instance, personally, when someone was too scared to do anything at all to their browser.  Including changing the settings. I had to convince one person quite hard to upgrade, talking them through the whole process.   Another person had no concept of what the browser really was, that you could change settings etc.

Make it easy for users

So, if we are to tell people that the website they are on is no longer (or soon to be no longer ) supporting IE6, then we need to explain to them what this means.

We need to enable people to take action so they can still use the sites they want to. And this should be as instructive and non-scary as possible, using clear and simple (and non technical) language.  To help them.

I had a look at what YouTube has done.

“We will be phasing out support for your browser soon”

could read

“Please change how you access this website to see it properly. Find out more.” (with a link to an explanation).

Or “We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. What does this mean?” (with a link to an explanation).

These are just quick suggestions to make the point really.  And this is all fairly obvious, I know.  But it’s worth considering that some of the people who use IE6 are unlikely to just click on another browser’s logo and install it. For the very reasons I have highlighted above.

Some people don’t even know there are other browsers available.  If we are going to give people a choice, which I think we should, then we should include a range of browsers like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari.  It would be good to tell people there are different browsers and then what will happen when you click on a logo for example.  Even if this means linking to a different ‘help’ page so you don’t compromise your design.

It’s not going to be too hard to do this is it?  After all, we want people to come to our sites and have a good experience. And really, we don’t want to lock anyone else out.

Easy YouTube player – making it easier?

June 17, 2009

Wow, I can’t believe my last post was January.  I’d like to say I’ve been off on an exotic trip but I haven’t!  There have been lots of good things going on and I’ve finally started to make time to design a new blog.  More on those things soon…

I’ve been playing a bit more with how the Easy YouTube player might look.  This was to address any outstanding issues that came out of testing the player and to look at the user experience as a whole.

I was already working on it when I met Thomas Hooper at Scripting Enabled.  We spent some time together on the second day, discussing the version I was working on.  After the event,  I asked Tom to collaborate with me.   Over a few months, we each brought different things to this version and it was great to critique each other’s work, discuss what we wanted to achieve and come up a visual for something that could hopefully be an enhancement.  The picture below shows how it might look.

Visual of Easy YouTube version 3

Visual of Easy YouTube enhancement

Here’s a synopsis of changes

Things people wanted to be different

  1. Less information on the player somewhat differently organised:  although there is more information in some respects now, things have been changed to make it easier to understand.
    The copy has been simplified and more space has been given to the different areas within the player.  It will be interesting to see if this has helped.
  2. The address facility to be at the bottom of the player, not at the top: after much consideration, we thought we would leave it at the top and that this would make it seem less busy.

Things people wanted to be added

  1. Visual clues for the different screen size options:  different sized screens added.
  2. Pictures for the search results: already added by Christian.
  3. Running time/ time in to tell you how long the video is: added.
  4. An indication to tell you how many videos you will get from the search:  added at the top, although I don’t know how/if this would actually work technically.

Other things

  1. Improved contrast of colours.
  2. Address bar
    • Simplified wording.
    • New button.
    • (Different green)
  3. Search
    • Simplified wording.
    • Added visual device to enhance search concept.
    • (Different colours)
    • Wider box to type in search request.
    • Visual separation of search results.
    • New button.
    • Wording changed from ‘go’ to ‘search’.
    • A ‘next’ arrow at the bottom to indicate there is more.  If we did this, we would probably need a back arrow as well, so I’m not sure if this technically possible.
  4. Control buttons
    • New buttons.
    • Changed the order of the sound control buttons so the active ones are closer to the volume indicator showing cause and effect.
    • Added words to back up the visuals.
  5. Volume indicator
    • Brought this down to tie in with the control buttons.
    • Changed the colour of the indicator bar to tie it in with the volume control buttons.
  6. Screen size
    • New buttons to tie in to style of control buttons.
    • Added visual representation of screen sizes.
  7. Added a logo.  For fun!

Feedback is welcome!

Scripting Enabled London video available

January 6, 2009

Update: Two videos plus transcripts of the talks from September 2008’s Scripting Enabled event in London are now available!

These videos were all kindly filmed by BBC Backstage, transcribed by the Opera Development Network and are hosted by the Yahoo Developer Network.

A video of me talking about Online Content for People with Learning Disabilities is now available.  Hmm… not the slickest of presentations and every technological hitch I could have imagined but I hope the broad messages I wanted to get across still got out there.  Go to the video of me giving my talk.

Oh, and it’s ok to laugh at my technology problems, I did!

A video of Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design giving a really interesting and insightful talk about Multiple Sclerosis and inclusive design is available.  Go to the video of Denise giving her talk.

Go to the Scripting Enabled website

BS 8878: draft British accessibility standard for public comment

December 5, 2008

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is inviting all interested parties, and in particular marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible web content.

DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Building accessible experiences for disabled people – Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable web content to their customers.

Based on PAS 78: 2006, Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 informs organizations of their legal responsibilities in relation to web accessibility, calling on them to appoint a specific person or department to oversee activity.

Julie Howell, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878, commented,

“Once published, this standard will be a fantastic tool for organizations wishing to understand their responsibilities in enabling disabled people to use web content. DPC BS 8878 encourages the enhancement of the overall user experience – a much more holistic approach than we have seen previously and one that I hope will yield exciting results. Right now we want to encourage as many people as possible to read and comment on the draft standard to ensure it is as relevant as possible.”

IST/45, the BSI committee responsible for BS 8878, comprised representatives from: AbilityNet; BBC; British Computer Association of the Blind; British Dyslexia Association; Chartered Institute of Marketing; Employers Forum on Disability; Equality and Human Rights Commission; IBM; Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG); Lloyds TSB; Opera; Pinsent Masons; Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID); United Response; University of Salford; University of Southampton; Usability Professionals Association (UPA); Web Standards Project (WaSP).

Read the full media release from BSI

Comments are open until 31st January 2009.

Go to the draft and comment

Videos

October 9, 2008

Two videos I made with people with learning disabilities for the Scripting Enabled event in London are now up on YouTube.

You Tube and Easy YouTube Player

This film shows someone with a learning disability, Lizzie, using YouTube and then the Easy YouTube player.  It highlights some of the issues around players online and shows how Easy YouTube is so much better for her.

You can access Lizzie using YouTube and the Easy YouTube player with the Easy YouTube player

You can access Lizzie using YouTube and the Easy YouTube player on YouTube

Short interviews

This film shows short interviews with two people with learning disabilities, Ann and Lizzie, talking about some of the issues they face being online generally.

You can access Ann and Lizzie being interviewed with the Easy YouTube player

You can access Ann and Lizzie being interviewed on YouTube

* I am very grateful to Ann and Lizzie and that they have given permission for these films to be shared.

Context

Both videos were shown as  part of a presentation called Online Content for People with Learning Disabilities: opening doors.

Here is the original presentation:

Scripting Enabled

September 27, 2008

Some thoughts on the excellent two days that were Scripting Enabled…

Day one: Fact finding day

People busy hacking
Photo by Rain Rabbit: http://flickr.com/photos/37996583811@N01/2872316242/

This was such an informative day. I really enjoyed presenting alongside the other speakers.  Everyone was passionate and really knowledgeable:

  • Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design on Barriers faced by People with Changing Conditions
  • Kath Moonan from Abilitynet on Why I Hate the Interweb
  • Me on Online Content for People with Learning Disabilitites: opening doors
  • Artur Ortega from Yahoo! and Leonie Watson from Nomensa on Barriers for Screenreaders and how Javascript can Help
  • Jonathan Hassell from the BBC and Phil Teare from Textic did a joint presentation on Dyslexia Barriers.

All the presentations are published on the Scripting Enabled site.

I can’t single out any one presentation – they were all excellent and I learnt lots of stuff I need to take into the things I create.

I was keen to show some headlines regarding people with learning disabilities online. That:

  • many people with learning disabilities are going online
  • many people are shut out from accessing mainstream sites or applications they want to access or that might benefit them
  • there is some really good specialist stuff happening – using the example of the Easy YouTube player
  • we can make the mainstream more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

I was also keen to include some people with learning disabilities and so put together a few films for the event: one an edit of existing material about some people I have been working with recently; one of interviews with two people talking about some problems they face online; and one about using YouTube and Easy YouTube.

Lizzie, who was in the last film, responds well to being guided.  She told me once she liked to be challenged.  So this film was more observational and task focused.  She had used YouTube before and seen Easy YouTube once.  But, she hadn’t used both alone and didn’t know what I was going to ask her to do.  It was her experience and reactions I really wanted to show people and in real time.

In the question about symbols after my presentation, I mentioned Jonathan Chetwynd’s creative commons licensed symbol resource at openicon.org.  Here’s the link: http://www.openicon.org/icon-ark/mulberry/

The panel, chaired by Christian was made up of Artur, Kath, Jonathan and Ann McMeekin to take some ideas of the day further.

Day two: Hack day

I can’t believe how many people gave up a Sunny Saturday (ie our Summer, pretty much) to get together and find real solutions to problems. The atmosphere was fantastic and collaborative.

Photo by codepo8 http://flickr.com/photos/codepo8/2878546245/

I met lots of interesting and talented people. I decided to concentrate on continuing to enhance the design of the Easy YouTube player, in response to more feedback from people with learning disabilities. It was great to have Christian there to work with on this! I’d like to thank everyone who gave input, but in particular Tom Hooper from Nomensa for his creativity, solutions and thoughts. This is work in progress.

Having spoken to Jeroen Wijering, who showed some fantastic elements of the JW Player, Christian and Tom Hooper that day, I think it is easily possible to take some of the features of the Easy YouTube player into a player that can be used in the mainstream. So that rich media can be accessible for everyone, including people with learning disabilities. This is still my dream, I hope it can happen!

So many other great things happened on day two. I think it was one of the most incredible days I have had working in this field. You can keep up at the Scripting Enabled wiki.

Proof

This shows that what some might view as idealism isn’t perhaps – that we can make the web a more accessible place for everyone. What Christian did was bring people together and it worked!  We just need to pool skills, resources, professionalism, enthusiasm and of course, be inclusive.

It was inspired of Christian to organise this event. I am sure it’s just the beginning. He’s posted ‘how to host your own scripting enabled’ to help other people organise them too.

…….

In the meantime… I am working on getting permissions for the videos I showed. Once I have those, I can get them into different formats and online, ideally using a fully accessible player!

Scripting Enabled – in brief

September 22, 2008

The Scripting Enabled event happened on Friday and Saturday.  They were a brilliant two days. Big congratulations to Christian Heilmann and everyone who helped him pull it together.

Whilst I am still trying to process what happened, I can safely say that there is a great account on Henny Swan’s blog.  And of course lots about the two days on the Scripting Enabled site itself, complete with presentations and a wiki.

All well worth reading.  Get involved! More from me once the processing has happened.

Scripting Enabled event: tickets available!

July 22, 2008

Tickets are now available for the Scripting Enabled event being organised by Christian Heilmann.

The event will be held over two days on 19th and 20th of September in London.

The 19th will be a day “dedicated to getting real information about accessibility barriers of online systems and techniques to work around them.”

The 20th will be a “development event where we will try to build solutions and alternative interfaces into existing systems that work around the issues we learned about on the first day.”

I should say that I think this event will be really interesting.  I’m going to both days and hope that one or two people I know with learning disabilities will come with me on the second day and will really enjoy it too.

Go to the Scripting Enabled site to find out more and book your tickets!