When Elle Waters kicked off this week’s Accessibility Summit conference with her Accessibility for UX talk, she captured everyone’s attention with her stories of challenging user experiences, explanation of why UX professionals don’t include accessibility in their work, and her UX professional’s accessibility coloring book.
Here are a few key takeaways from her presentation, along with some social media discussion:
Three Reasons Why UX Professionals Don’t Incorporate Accessibility in Their Work
- Accessibility is intimidating. There are 203 general techniques for testing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), 94 HTML and XHTML techniques, 3 server-side scripting techniques, 3 plain text techniques, 19 Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) techniques, 35 Flash techniques, 23 PDF techniques, and many more. And a multitude of devices. Accessibility seems like a mountain of info you need to master.
- Accessibility is hard. Waters described her challenges with trying to add her sister to her Amazon Prime account. Some account management options were only available on mobile, others only on the web. As a power user, Waters took five to seven minutes to get through the process. Imagine adding disabilities to the process, someone with cognitive disabilities, and the usability issue becomes an accessibility issue. Accessibility is hard, because good design is hard.
- Accessibility is not my job. If accessibility isn’t your job, whose job is it?
I don’t have a direct need to learn more about accessibility.According to Waters, the difference between usability and accessibility is semantics and a matter of degrees.
A UX Professional’s Accessibility Coloring Book
- Obvious wins.
The hamburger icon looks more like a stack of pancakes than a navigational structure.What really works: the word “Menu.” With your design patterns, obvious wins.
- Make it simple. Make it easy. Simplicity is the secret sauce to make sure your organization creates more usable content, and brings in more engagement from customers.
- Make it consistent. Make it predictable.A design pattern library is critical for accessibility success. Standardize on how you do things. Iterate and continuously improve your patterns. If it’s standardized, it locks everything for accessibility. For example, developers don’t have to guess how to create an accessible model dialog. They’ll look to the design pattern library.
- Change your perspective. Assume nothing. People are drawn to design because they probe, ask questions. Designers need to design for people who have completely different mental models than their own.
- Go see. Gemba. See how users are using your product or service. No amount of testing will show you more than seeing how users use your product.
Accessibility makes good designers great, and bad designers…obvious.
Social Media Discussion
— Dave Gillhespy (@yodasw16) September 9, 2014
— Deborah Edwards-Onoro (@redcrew) September 9, 2014
— P. F. Anderson (@pfanderson) September 9, 2014
— Maria Gosur (@mariagosur) September 9, 2014
— Mike Wojan (@mtwojan) September 9, 2014
— Glenda Sims (@goodwitch) September 9, 2014