Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Accessible Design: which everyone do you mean? — with Derek Featherstone

Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Accessible Design: which everyone do you mean? — with Derek Featherstone

Derek Featherstone
Summary:

Our theme for April is accessibility and inclusive design, and we kicked things off in style with a great session in our Slack channel with accessibility expert Derek Featherstone.

Read on to find out what went down.

Our theme for April is accessibility and inclusive design and we kicked it off in style with an amazing session in our Ask the UXperts Slack channel with Derek Featherstone.

Derek is founder of Simply Accessible and he is both an accessibility expert and a really nice guy. I thoroughly enjoyed the session, in which we discussed practical approaches to designing for more than just screen-readers. We talked about ways of widening the net when it comes to who we design for – because if we’re really honest, most of the time we design for people ‘just like us’.

If you didn’t make the session because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions.

If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript

hawk
2017-03-30 21:01
First up, a huge thanks for @feather for his time today. He’s a crazily busy man and I’m honoured to have him join us.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:01
He’s a man that needs little introduction, but here goes anyway:

hawk
2017-03-30 21:02
Derek Featherstone has been working as a web professional since 1999 and is an internationally known speaker and authority on accessibility and web design. He leads the team at Simply Accessible, based in Ottawa, Canada.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:02
Derek always puts the user first and strives to make the web a better place by designing experiences that are easy to use for everyone, including people with disabilities. Derek’s ideal accessible experience combines engaging and rich content with brilliant design and technical development excellence. That user-centred focus sets the course for Simply Accessible, and—more importantly—their clients.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:03
I’ve been lucky enough to see Derek speak, and I’m looking forward to learning from him today

hawk
2017-03-30 21:03
@feather The floor is yours

feather
2017-03-30 21:03
Fantastic, thank you @hawk :slightly_smiling_face: Very happy to be here, and very happy to use this medium, as it has a lot of advantages

feather
2017-03-30 21:04
One of the advantages is it allows us to engage in a very different way than we might at a live event.

feather
2017-03-30 21:05
We use Slack for pretty much everything at work, and one of the things that we’ve been doing a bit more of recently is inviting clients in as single channel guests to participate with us there.

feather
2017-03-30 21:05
AND one of the benefits of that? We have been able to have real time conversations with clients that are Deaf.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:06
Awesome

feather
2017-03-30 21:06
It was one of those moments where we as a team smacked ourselves in the head and kind of said “Oh, of course!”

feather
2017-03-30 21:06
And it helped us ask a really important question — related to today’s topic

feather
2017-03-30 21:07
When we say we work with everyone, what does “everyone” actually mean?

feather
2017-03-30 21:07
One of the foundations of the work we do is inclusion, and we need to ask regularly, what are we doing that is exclusive?

feather
2017-03-30 21:08
For many many years, we’ve seen solutions to accessibility problems that are focused on “how things work in a screen reader”

feather
2017-03-30 21:08
That’s okay — its pretty natural to want to work on those types of accessibility issues

feather
2017-03-30 21:09
But we’ve seen situations before where a focus on “how this thing works with a screen reader” really turned into “lets make this work with JAWS 14″

feather
2017-03-30 21:10
and we’ve seen other situations where it turned into “Lets make this work with a screen reader, regardless of what happened with other assistive technolgies”

feather
2017-03-30 21:10
And these were VERY well-meaning people that had a tremendous history of inclusion and accessibility

feather
2017-03-30 21:10
They had created an interface that worked extremely well for a screen reader

feather
2017-03-30 21:10
BUT

feather
2017-03-30 21:11
when someone using voice recognition (Dragon Naturally Speaking, for example) tried to use the exact same interface, it didn’t work properly

feather
2017-03-30 21:11
Another forms based interface worked perfectly with a screenreader. It performed exceptionally well in the usability testing we did.

feather
2017-03-30 21:12
For people that used a screenreader.

feather
2017-03-30 21:12
When we tested the same interface with people that had low vision — they were using a magnifier — it didn’t perform well at all. And the client said “But… but… it’s accessible! It passes all the checkpoints!”

feather
2017-03-30 21:13
And yet, it couldn’t be used.

feather
2017-03-30 21:13
When we talk about “Designing for Everyone” we very often mean “We are designing for the people that we can envision right now”

feather
2017-03-30 21:13
or “We are designing for people that are just like us”

feather
2017-03-30 21:14
or “We are designing for a fictitious ideal user”

feather
2017-03-30 21:14
That’s not everyone, but we’ve tricked ourselves into believing it is.

feather
2017-03-30 21:15
So we have to open the net a little bit wider… when we talk about diversity and inclusion, what is that conversation about?

feather
2017-03-30 21:15
When we’re talking about making sites and apps accessible, we can cast a lot wider than we have been.

feather
2017-03-30 21:16
We had an intern that was working with us, and their comment after about 3 hours was “You don’t have anyone working here that is under 30, or over 50”

feather
2017-03-30 21:16
We were mad. Because they pointed out what had already been staring us in the face.

feather
2017-03-30 21:17
Diversity and inclusion means a lot of things

feather
2017-03-30 21:18
Age, gender, nationality, culture, ethnicity, philosophy, experience…

feather
2017-03-30 21:18
and ability

feather
2017-03-30 21:18
and… and… and… likely a lot more than any of us can easily consider in a single sentence.

feather
2017-03-30 21:18
But all of that is where the question comes from. Which everyone do you mean?

feather
2017-03-30 21:19
If we truly mean everyone, we *need* to go wider, deeper, farther.

feather
2017-03-30 21:19
So, from a practical perspective, we need to make sure that things “work” for people that use any type of assistive technology.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:20
Ok – who has questions?

feather
2017-03-30 21:20
Screen readers, voice recognition, magnifier, braile displays, switches…. and more

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:20
What are the top 3 mistakes that are made when it comes to accessibility?

feather
2017-03-30 21:21
@jacqui_dow5 Great question :slightly_smiling_face:

feather
2017-03-30 21:22
I’m going to answer it in two ways… first philosophically:

r_saviano
2017-03-30 21:22
Are you suggesting that we test our sites against EVERY assistive technology? That can prove to be cost prohibitive for the smaller developer.

feather
2017-03-30 21:23
1. Thinking that you’re done. You never are. You’re always iterating and always getting better. Or at least should be :slightly_smiling_face:

irith
2017-03-30 21:23
As a lover of data-grounded personas I’m wondering how design tensions between different assistive technologies are tackled?

feather
2017-03-30 21:24
And now practically…

2. Forms. Difficult designs that don’t get translated well to code.
3. Focus. Making things that can’t be focused naturally is a big issue.

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:24
Can you expand on 3 please? Not sure I understand?

feather
2017-03-30 21:25
2. Cont’d: 1:1 relationships between a label and form field are easy. But when you get one label that maps to 3 form fields it gets tricky.

allyraven
2017-03-30 21:25
If we work in a11y, how can we know about all abilities and assistive tech types, to know that we’ve made the most inclusive experience? User research is great, if you’ve got oodles of users and cash and time, but some clients just want a compliance audit.

feather
2017-03-30 21:25
2. Cont’d: think of a phone number with 3 fields, but only one label

feather
2017-03-30 21:26
3. Cont’d: I say focus often now, because focus is something that impacts both traditional desktop AND touch screen devices

aleonardpalmer
2017-03-30 21:26
Do you feel like reducing the goals to WCAG 2.0, level AA or AAA accomplishes the concept of “everyone” or do you feel like there is room for improvement there?

feather
2017-03-30 21:26
3. cont’d: instead of saying “Keyboard” — it’s really more than that

feather
2017-03-30 21:27
its about how things work on a touch devices as well… and those are both often problems of Focus. In other words, actionable things need to be Focusable

jellybean
2017-03-30 21:27
What do you mean by focusable?

feather
2017-03-30 21:28
@r_saviano:

> Are you suggesting that we test our sites against EVERY assistive technology? That can prove to be cost prohibitive for the smaller developer.

No, definitely not against EVERY assistive technology. But, widening the net is important. We often don’t recommend you test with a screenreader anyway and work towards the standards and best practices. As an example, you don’t need a screen reader to tell you about heading structure.

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:28
Thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

feather
2017-03-30 21:29
@r_saviano I DO however, recommend that at some point you try something else outside of a screen reader. You then catch principles that you need to understand quickly and incorporate that into your work

feather
2017-03-30 21:29
@r_saviano So NOT overkill on testing everything to the max. But thinking about other scenarios, yes.

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:30
I work on a web application, and want to do an accessibility review, but am unsure where to start. I’ve ran it through WAVE, but don’t really know what to do next. Do you have any tips for this?

hawk
2017-03-30 21:31
Hold fire on your questions for a few minutes all. We have quite a queue building up.

feather
2017-03-30 21:31
@dean:

> When we talk about Accessibility, it is primarily developers that are talking about the technical challenges, automatic testing, ARIA, and inclusive code snippets… aside from the basics (eg. color contrast / font size / responsiveness), where do you see designers / UXers role fitting into this?

That’s a BIG question. To me the designers most import role is making sure that accessibility and inclusion is incorporated in the vision of the [thing that you’re creating] from the beginning, and then making sure that lives on through the process.

feather
2017-03-30 21:31
@dean: there’s a LOT that designers/UXers can do to ensure that accessibility lives in the process, not just in code.

vernon
2017-03-30 21:32
A :question: for you @feather – we had a WCAG content audit recently and are working on the fixes. How might teams better go about inclusive design up-front (and throughout) project life-cycle rather than have the bigger job of repair work in hindsight?

vernon
2017-03-30 21:33
Sorry, just saw this

feather
2017-03-30 21:34
@irith:

RELATED:  Accessibility In UX Design: Tales From The Field

> As a lover of data-grounded personas I’m wondering how design tensions between different assistive technologies are tackled?

I’d love for you to tell me more about that… I’ll start with this though, on the assumption (perhaps faulty) that you mean designing something that is good for one group, but not another. We tend to ensure two things that help:

1. We include different accessibility needs in personas from the start so that the needs are expressed from the beginning.
2. We do usability testing with people that have different types of disabilities. That helps us provide the data we need to be able to make the best decisions. We let performance decide what our next iteration is, and which direction we ultimately take next.

feather
2017-03-30 21:36
@allyraven:

> If we work in a11y, how can we know about all abilities and assistive tech types, to know that we’ve made the most inclusive experience? User research is great, if you’ve got oodles of users and cash and time, but some clients just want a compliance audit.

Part of the solution, I think, is expectation setting up front — making it clear that the ultimate decision maker about whether or not something is accessible is whether or not people can use it, not if it is “compliant”

feather
2017-03-30 21:37
@allyraven: Another part of the solution is finding ways that don’t require oodles of users and cash and time :slightly_smiling_face:

allyraven
2017-03-30 21:38
True, but without much usability testing, are you expecting me to be an expert in screen reader, dragon, switch devices, eye tracking software, blow devices, etc?

feather
2017-03-30 21:38
@allyraven: Of course — oodles is a relative term, so we tend to try and find out what the resources are and then use that to include something more than we would have otherwise. There’s always a way to sneak in a little more that helps you grow such that you’ll have that better understanding

feather
2017-03-30 21:40
@allyraven: So what I’d expect is that you’re not an expert in all of them. But I’d expect you to challenge yourself a little, and incorporate just a little bit more. If you don’t know much about voice recognition, set a goal that in the next 3 months, you’re going to spend a bit of time using Dragon to get at least a little more familiar. Iterations FTW. Hope that makes sense?

allyraven
2017-03-30 21:40
Oodles – my favourite unit of measurement.

shuvy
2017-03-30 21:41
Potentially stupid question: where could I find a list of all these standards, and perhaps compare them?

hawk
2017-03-30 21:41
No questions are stupid :slightly_smiling_face:

irith
2017-03-30 21:42
@feather: I guess I was thinking of how qual data can produce a number of personas, but we often only select a small number of ‘design personas’ to design for. I guess I was assuming there might be strong competing requirements between different assistive needs… and how you prioritise across those. (Just me guessing…)

feather
2017-03-30 21:43
@aleonardpalmer

> Do you feel like reducing the goals to WCAG 2.0, level AA or AAA accomplishes the concept of “everyone” or do you feel like there is room for improvement there?

It’s a great start – WCAG is built on years of other people’s experiences. They’re a fantastic starting point. But what I would love to happen is a bit more testing with real people. Even lightweight stuff with real people will help… its amazing the insights that you can get from a 1 hour session with someone using assistive technology, all for the cost of somewhere between “cup of coffee” and “a decent meal”

feather
2017-03-30 21:45
@jacqui_dow5:

> I work on a web application, and want to do an accessibility review, but am unsure where to start. I’ve ran it through WAVE, but don’t really know what to do next. Do you have any tips for this?

Web apps are potentially tricky… is it a single page app with lots of ajaxy things, or is it more traditional server-refreshy? Either way, one great way to start… run through with someone with a disability trying to complete typical tasks on that app. See how the results stack up to what you found through WAVE. Compare. Contrast. Then prioritize the things you found and start to address them.

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:46
It’s a huge web app!

feather
2017-03-30 21:46
@jacqui_dow5: it sounds like it might be more complex than that, but feel free to reach out if you want to talk more about “what next”

lizd
2017-03-30 21:46
@feather I’m about to start a graduate program for HCI – Human Computer Interaction – I want to focus on accessibility- Do you feel there is a big market for accessibility experts? If not, how can we show people how important this is?

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:46
we have a few people lined up for usability testing as we have our own lab, they contacted us as they were struggling with some parts and were using assistive technologies

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:48
The other side to it is, we use Bootstrap and I wonder how much this is affecting the accessibility of the application?

feather
2017-03-30 21:49
@vernon:

> we had a WCAG content audit recently and are working on the fixes. How might teams better go about inclusive design up-front (and throughout) project life-cycle rather than have the bigger job of repair work in hindsight?

It’s all about early and often, right? We need to ensure inclusion from the start. That means a lot of things, but the biggest difference maker to me is getting designers to think differently. Getting them to understand what kinds of challenges people with disabilities might face is key. That is best accomplished by them working with people with disabilities from the beginning of their design process.

feather
2017-03-30 21:49
@vernon Even just talking with people with different disabilities will help. Remember – it’d be more than they were doing before :slightly_smiling_face:

feather
2017-03-30 21:50
@vernon: so the plan needs to be testing assumptions, building things, learning how they work, and then iterating.

feather
2017-03-30 21:50
@vernon: let me know if that helps and feel free to ping me… we have some resources that may help!

allyraven
2017-03-30 21:51
How/where do you recruit users for testing? Particularly those with less visible or obvious abilities?

feather
2017-03-30 21:51
@shuvy:

> Potentially stupid question: where could I find a list of all these standards, and perhaps compare them?

WCAG 2.0: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

Start there :slightly_smiling_face:

feather
2017-03-30 21:51
its very dense, but if you’re looking for the standard, that’s where it is

feather
2017-03-30 21:53
@lizd:

> I’m about to start a graduate program for HCI – Human Computer Interaction – I want to focus on disability – Do you feel there is a big market for accessibility experts? If not, how can we show people how important this is?

YES I do feel there is a big market. Of course, that depends on how we both define big, but, yes, we see no sign of things going away, and there is a continuing growth interest. So I’d say yes, definitely a big market.

feather
2017-03-30 21:53
@lizd There are very few people that specialize in this area, so I think its a great idea!

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:53
Do you have any tips/tricks for implementing accessibility into Angular applications? (question from our dev team)

lizd
2017-03-30 21:54
Great to know! I am physically disabled, and hope to bring a new perspective to it as well.

josh3cs
2017-03-30 21:54
My question is about the balance between usability and compliance. So as a UX designer my goal is to design the most usable design I can but sometimes compliance means I have to sacrifice usability for our users with disabilities because of WCAG or 508. For example I was forced to add a skip nav but the page was simple enough that the skip nav added more steps than would have been there without it. I work for a government agency so compliance is not a choice. But I felt I could have given our disabled users a better experience than what compliance was forcing me to do.

josh3cs
2017-03-30 21:54
Sorry that was long.

hawk
2017-03-30 21:55
Thanks guys – no more qs now please. We have enough to fill the last 5 mins!

feather
2017-03-30 21:55
@allyraven:

> How/where do you recruit users for testing? Particularly those with less visible or obvious abilities?

We work with a lot of different organizations… international, national, and local advocacy groups. We’ve built up a panel of several hundred people that we get involved in our usability testing for client work. Many are recruited through twitter, but also our relationships with those advocacy groups. Local colleges and universities are also GREAT sources.

feather
2017-03-30 21:56
@jacqui_dow5:

> Do you have any tips/tricks for implementing accessibility into Angular applications? (question from our dev team)

Definitely. We’ve got a big writeup at http://sateach.es/spangular and have some more updates coming soon!

jacqui_dow5
2017-03-30 21:57
awesome, thanks, I’ll send that over to them!

feather
2017-03-30 21:58
@josh3cs:

> My question is about the balance between usability and compliance. So as a UX designer my goal is to design the most usable design I can but sometimes compliance means I have to sacrifice usability for our users with disabilities because of WCAG or 508. For example I was forced to add a skip nav but the page was simple enough that the skip nav added more steps than would have been there without it. I work for a government agency so compliance is not a choice. But I felt I could have given our disabled users a better experience than what compliance was forcing me to do.

Oh, that.

I’ll generally choose actual results with real people over “compliance” when it comes to conflict like that.

josh3cs
2017-03-30 21:59
I don’t think I can do that

feather
2017-03-30 22:00
@josh3cs: it always depends on context, so there’s lots I can’t necessarily answer here without seeing the situation. However… things like conforming with WCAG and doing things the way the organization says it has to be are different

feather
2017-03-30 22:00
And I’m fairly sure you could argue the “no skip link” version of it is still compliant.

feather
2017-03-30 22:02
Feel free to ping me if you want to dig in a little more… you have to remember to ask though. If you’re going to get in a debate about accessibility, do you want to spend your political currency on that particular issue?

hawk
2017-03-30 22:02
And on that note, it’s the end of the hour…!

hawk
2017-03-30 22:02
Massive thanks again to Derek for both his time, and his knowledge.

hawk
2017-03-30 22:02
Nice work on keeping up with the questions too!

hawk
2017-03-30 22:03
And of course, thanks to the rest of you for joining us today

Sarah Hawk
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Sarah Hawk
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