Posts Tagged ‘learning disability’

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.

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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

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!

Channel 4 news piece on people with learning disabilities online

June 30, 2008

Channel 4 News has put out a report today, talking about how people with learning disabilities are being excluded online.

It was a really good piece which showed some of the real-life problems many people with learning disabilities have accessing information online. The report gave some examples including how difficult it is to find a job or anything about voting online. (We are doing some work around this issue at United Response).

The piece ran at 12 noon and I really hope it makes it into more news programmes. You can watch the piece or read the article on their website.

The best thing about it was that the report showed people with learning disabilities either using websites themselves or talking about the difficulties they face. Rather than someone else doing the talking for them.

The report featured people using assistive technologies at The Rix Centre and there was a great spokesperson from Mencap. I know the producer worked hard with lots of people, including United Response on this piece and guess what? I think we all said the same things.

It’s excellent that this has been highlighted in this way and I hope some good things come out of it.

Easy YouTube Player V2

June 13, 2008

Christian Heilmann has released the Easy YouTube Player V2. This is an enhanced version of the original one Christian developed.

Use this screen shot to go to the player:

Easy YouTube player version 2

Possible Benefits

There are many reasons why this player could make it easier for people with learning disabilties to watch YouTube videos. Here are some:

  • The buttons are big.
  • The colours act as clues or prompts to their functionality. Red is stop, green is go and so on.
  • The bar at the top to put the URL in is big. This has obvious benefits and also for people who have secondary impairments such as visual impairment or mobility issues.
  • The instructive text helps people to know what each of the options does.
  • People can search YouTube for topics which will appear in the playlist – this helps to answer my query as to how many people would know how to copy and paste a URL into the box at the top.
  • People have three options as to the size of the video they watch. In my experience, this has been a big issue (and this is one of the things I personally find the most exciting). Video without a resize option can often be missed or meaningless and this really gives users control.
  • It’s easy to control the volume and there is an indicator to visually represent its state.

User Testing

I will be doing extensive user testing on this player next week and the following week, with a range of people with learning disabilities. So the above are mostly my thoughts and those who have tested it to date.

Some things I will be testing:

  • Does it work? Is it clear and is it easier?
  • I am not sure if the wording I have provided is right.
  • It might be too big.
  • I am not sure if there are relativity issues in terms of the design- ie we may need to tweak the relative sizes of all the options if this is overwhelming for people. This is a possibility.
  • We may need to tweak the design elements themselves.
  • I am not sure if we have got the colours right.
  • Will people use the other options available to them, such as the playlists and del.icio.us This will be interesting and the whole area of playlists and favourites is one I would like to look into more, eventually.
  • Would we need to explain copying and pasting URLs in the first place. So far I have had to do this, so I may need to think of a fix.

Of course, there are lots of people with learning disabilities (or otherwise indeed) who use websites with support from a support worker/ carer/ friend etc. Hopefully, this will make it easier for everyone, not just people with learning disabilities themselves. And it should give people more control, more easily, over what they watch and how they watch it.

Player help documentation

Christian has also provided player help documentation which is even more of a bonus in my view.

More

Please feed back your thoughts on Christian’s blog or here. It would be good to get this as right as we can.

And then maybe YouTube can add it as a viewing option. :-)

Easy YouTube Player

May 21, 2008

And then….. Christian Heilmann contacted me about his work on the YouTube API to create an Easy YouTube Player. It’s a great interface making things much more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

(I’m looking forward to testing it with people. The feedback so far is ‘it’s cool’). It’s just brilliant that Christian has done this. We presented at the Accessibility 2.0 conference recently and lots of good things have come out of that day.

But this is truly brilliant. It just shows what a difference people can make when they have open minds and skill. And the power of collaboration.

More on all of this later… Great stuff.

Inclusive New Media Design project

May 21, 2008

On Monday, I went to The Rix Centre at the University of East London to join four other people to appear on a panel as part of the Inclusive New Media Design project. The project has been working with web designers and developers to explore the best ways to encourage them to make websites which are accessible to people with intellectual disabilities.

Each person on the panel was asked to present on one practical thing the developers and designers could take away and do. My 5 mins was on Big is Beautiful, encouraging people to, well, make things big and maybe bigger than their comfort zone might want. This to help improve the user experience for people with learning disabilities and to prevent people from being locked out of information or indeed websites.

The other speakers were Jonathan Hassell, Head of Audience Experience and Usability at the BBC, freelance web accessibility consultant Ann McMeekin, Nick Weldin from Padington Arts and Simon Detheridge from Widgit Software.

It was a really good opportunity and a joy to present to the group.

Futuresonic

May 21, 2008

I intended on having crafted a shiny new good-looking accessible blog before I posted again but too many good things have been happened before I’ve had time to organise anything.

So….

A couple of weeks ago I went to Futuresonic 08 in Manchester. There were some really interesting things going on and some inspirational people.

Highlights for me included The Drake Music project who I have admired for a while. They performed at the weekend. They use technology to work with disabled and non-disabled people so they can make music together. It’s really powerful and great music.

Drake Music Project

I also really enjoyed a presentation by Future of Sound. Some very awe-inspiring innovation and talent there . A demonstration of 4-D sound was just one highlight and the approach to technology and art/ music really got my mind racing.

Martyn Ware talked about his Illustrious Company which produces really ground-breaking work. All things sensory can really benefit some people with learning disabilities or mental health needs and one thing that caught my attention was a sensory theatre they are working on to benefit children with learning disabilities in Bath.