At their August 2019 meetup, the Chicago Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design group hosted a special panel discussion with Derek Featherstone and Marcy Sutton discussing accessibility and inclusive design.
Moderated by meetup group co-organizer Fen Slattery, Sutton and Featherstone had a wonderful conversation answering and discussing questions submitted by group members.
While I wasn’t near Chicago, Illinois to attend the meetup in person, I was able to attend via their livestream and follow the conversations on Twitter.
Here are my notes.
- One of the best ways to approach creating accessible and inclusive products/services is to use a service design framework. Consider every touchpoint and all the interactions of the ecosystem.
- Featherstone recommended reading service design books, but didn’t reference any specific book. (I found this curated collection of 120 service design books.)
- Alternative text (alt text) for images is often missing or not well-written. We want good alt text. Artificial intelligence offers an option, creates the initial alt text and then users can edit the alt text to improve it.
- The Auto Alt Text Chrome extension generates descriptive captions for pictures (hat tip to Jess Brown)
- Resources for learning to create accessible code: Marcy Sutton’s Egghead course, Google IO talks, WebAIM mailing list, The A11y Project. Also, look at Deque, The Paciello Group, LevelAccess. Google has a six-week course on web accessibility.
- Allowing users to configure options in their interface is the best way to handle conflicting user needs
- If you’re looking for accessibility certifications, check out International Association of Accessible Professionals and Deque University.
- The best way to grow your accessibility skills is to do the work, improve your knowledge.
- Looking for plugins to test your code? Realize the tools only go so far, manual testing is always required. A few tools to consider: aXe, WAVE, Stark.
- Having a disability doesn’t require you to be the accessibility tester; become a designer, developer, etc.
- If you participate in accessibility testing, whether it’s at your organization or another organization, make sure someone acknowledges you’re doing something outside of your job description. You should not be expected to do testing for free.
- Document your accessibility work (leave a legacy) so it doesn’t disappear when you leave your job or organization
- Biggest development challenges in the field of accessibility? You’re not set up for success unless accessibility is baked in from the start of a project.
- Accessibility is a team sport, it’s not only one person’s job on your team. Everyone needs to be involved.
- Don’t design for people with disabilities. Design with people with disabilities.
- For accessible products/services, you need all three components: technical execution, accessible content, and great design. If we don’t have that, we have nothing.
- Building for accessibility? Think beyond screen readers. Keep an open mind; everyone is different.
- For people interested in getting started in accessibility, where should they look? Everywhere! Technology and implementation constantly change, but core concepts remain the same. There’s opportunity for accessibility to grow and expand.
- Create a culture of accessibility, it’s the cornerstone of sustainability. Get everyone involved. Host lunch and learns, send out “tip of the month,” lists of resources, share the knowledge, do a retrospective to improve your process.
- For designers and developers, Sutton recommends user research and working with people with disabilities to gain insights and perspectives. Hire people with disabilities for your team.
Thanks to my friend Jeana Clark for letting me share her photo.
The livestream for the event has been published, but captions and transcript will be added later.