Posts Tagged ‘design’

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.

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

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!