Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Inclusive Design & Accessibility Are Not the Same Thing — with Derek Featherstone

Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Inclusive Design & Accessibility Are Not the Same Thing — with Derek Featherstone

Derek Featherstone
Summary:

Derek Featherstone shares his thoughts on the differences between inclusive design and accessibility. One is the journey and the other, the destination.

It was my pleasure to host one of my favourite UXperts – accessibility expert Derek Featherstone – in our Slack channel today for what will be our last session of 2018.

Today Derek was talking to us about the differences between inclusive design and accessibility. In short, one is the journey and one the destination. He has been agonising over whether it matters how we get to an accessible product if we do ultimately get there, and today was all about discussing those thoughts.

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
2018-12-11 23:30
First up, a huge welcome (back) to our Slack channel to @feather – who is one of my personal favs

hawk
2018-12-11 23:30
Thanks for your time to day Derek, we appreciate it

feather
2018-12-11 23:31
@hawk :slightly_smiling_face: excited to be here!

feather
2018-12-11 23:31
It’s me!

hawk
2018-12-11 23:31
Ha, love it.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
For anyone that hasn’t come across Derek before, here is the formal intro:

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
Derek Featherstone is an internationally known speaker and authority on accessibility and inclusive design. He has been working on the web since 1999. He migrated to the field of accessibility and quickly discovered the need to move thinking about accessibility and inclusion into the design process.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
Derek is a former high school teacher, that brings his passion for education to the web industry. Derek is the Chief eXperience Officer at Level Access, helping clients understand that accessibility is part of creating great user experiences for everyone, including people with disabilities.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
Derek lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and their 4 children. He’s also a fitness instructor and 3 time IronMan triathlon finisher.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
He has graced us with his presence a few times before and we’re grateful for this opportunity to learn from him again.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:32
@feather Tell us a bit about today’s topic and why it’s important to you (and us).

feather
2018-12-11 23:34
Thanks @hawk! There’s been a huge groundswell of interest over the years in accessibility.

feather
2018-12-11 23:34
Then around 4 yrs ago, I started seeing people writing articles saying things like “Accessibility is boring” and “Accessibility isn’t even the thing we should be talking about any more… we should be talking about inclusive design”

feather
2018-12-11 23:35
and it struck me that many people in the industry use the two terms interchangeably.

feather
2018-12-11 23:35
But in reality, they’re not… I always felt like “Oh, I’m practicing inclusive design” because I was working really hard to make things accessible.

feather
2018-12-11 23:36
So I really got to thinking “Does the difference even matter?”

feather
2018-12-11 23:37
I went through a personal roller coaster because I’m all about the practical reality of delivering things that are accessible — that’s the end goal we’re after. And does it actually matter HOW we got there, if we actually get there?

feather
2018-12-11 23:38
At times I thought — no, it doesn’t matter. And at others, I thought “Actually, HOW we get there matters MORE than whether we get all the way there or not”

feather
2018-12-11 23:38
So I dug in, and started to reconcile my own thoughts on it, and I’ve ultimately come up with this realization:

feather
2018-12-11 23:38
> Accessibility is an outcome.
>
> Inclusive design is a process.

feather
2018-12-11 23:38
That’s it, at its most fundamental.

feather
2018-12-11 23:39
Accessibility is a thing that we can, and do measure. Inclusive design is ONE process that we use to get there.

feather
2018-12-11 23:40
Now, I’m a believer that Inclusive Design is one of the VERY best ways to get there for a lot of reasons — its repeatable, sustainable, and directly involves people with disabilities in the process.

If we don’t include people with disabilities in the process and/or we don’t enable their participation in the process, we can’t call it inclusive design.

feather
2018-12-11 23:41
We may still achieve accessibility as an outcome, but that doesn’t mean we used inclusive design to get there.

feather
2018-12-11 23:42
And, by using inclusive design methods, we’re not necessarily guaranteeing that we’re creating a fully accessible “thing” — we may need to use other methods along with it. But inclusive design at its core, empowers people with disabilities as co-creators and co-designers.

feather
2018-12-11 23:42
That’s what it is important to me, and is a concept that I will always be fighting for now.

feather
2018-12-11 23:43
I don’t want to design FOR disability, or FOR people with disabilities. That’s me doing all the decision making and holding all the power.

I want to design WITH people with disabilities.

feather
2018-12-11 23:43
I hope that distinction makes sense, and is a thing that you might embrace as well

hawk
2018-12-11 23:44
It does! Would you like questions now?

feather
2018-12-11 23:44
Yes please! I’d love some :slightly_smiling_face:

hawk
2018-12-11 23:44
go ahead with your questions please!

dave
2018-12-11 23:44
How does accessibility apply to VUI, voice apps in auto, home and work?
What about for touchscreens on physical devices, watches, glasses?
Do you think govt disability laws will account for this?

feather
2018-12-11 23:45
@dave I’ll answer that in three parts :slightly_smiling_face:

feather
2018-12-11 23:51
1. How does accessibility apply to VUI, voice apps in auto, home and work?

It applies in many ways — but from a UX perspective, we need to be thinking about the ways in which people with disabilities use these technologies. The biggest opportunity is for innovation — I talked with a woman earlier this year and I asked her what assistive technologies she used and she answered “Alexa.”

She has significant mobility and pain issues, and sometimes doesn’t get out of bed in a day. She uses her Echo to: open the door for her caregiver, to turn her lights out, and to answer the telephone. It’s empowering for her, so I think there’s huge opportunity there.

At the same time, we need to be really conscious of designing and implementing things that use only one modality of input or output. The original Echo devices only allowed for voice input and audio output. How would that work for someone that has difficulty speaking, or cannot speak at all? How does the original Echo work for someone that is Deaf or hard-of-hearing? The most recent Echo — the Echo Show — also provides for screen based output so that a Deaf person can read the captions as output. So, think about this — how can a person that has difficulty speaking get commands into Alexa? We need more than one modality of input.

feather
2018-12-11 23:51
(phew, that was a long one)

feather
2018-12-11 23:53
2. What about for touchscreens on physical devices, watches, glasses?

Touchscreens can be quite accessible, but they need alternative methods for input as well. Watches? already accessible. Not sure if any glasses are already accessible or not, however… it definitely can be done.

feather
2018-12-11 23:54
3. Do you think govt disability laws will account for this?

I’d like to think so, but I think that the government is often a little behind and can’t quite keep up with the latest and greatest technology. So my short term answer is “no” but in the long-term “yes”.

feather
2018-12-11 23:54
Now then… having said all of that, @dave, I will say this one other thing:

feather
2018-12-11 23:55
The best way to figure out these answers for all of is to work directly with people with disabilities to gain all the insights we need.

We don’t figure out how people with disabilities use technologies just by thinking it through ourselves and putting ourselves in their shoes.

feather
2018-12-11 23:55
We have to involve people with disabilities in the research for all of this.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:55
Can you explain some other ways that we might end up with an outcome of accessibility without designing inclusively?

feather
2018-12-11 23:56
Sure thing!

allyraven
2018-12-11 23:56
How do we get accessibility included when teaching new developers?

feather
2018-12-11 23:57
We might end up with the outcome of accessibility in a few ways. The first, by accident:

https://twitter.com/awlilnatty/status/705375555030556672?lang=en

timmoad
2018-12-11 23:57
How do you define what disabilities are covered in your target market?

I create human centred design solutions for people with disabilities to increase independence in day to day life. I also have an online learning startup.

There are some disabilities some of my audience likely have, such as vision/hearing/speech impairments, or physical limitations. But the needs of those with intellectual disabilities is extremely varied and from my experience so far, irrelevant to my product.

This may be a big mistaken assumption on my part, and if it is please feel free to say so. I suppose the question really is, how do you know when to include people with intellectual disabilities and how do you go about including them in Inclusive Design?

feather
2018-12-11 23:57
If you take a look at that tweet you’ll see a very accessible set of oranges, pre-peeled and in plastic containers that are VERY accessible to people with mobility and dexterity challenges.

feather
2018-12-11 23:58
We might also end up achieving accessibility as an outcome by making a thing that isn’t accessible, and then going back and fixing it after. Neither of those employ inclusive design to get there, but they can both get there.

feather
2018-12-11 23:59
Another mechanism? We embrace concepts of universal design. That helps us too…

feather
2018-12-11 23:59
Universal design is its own practice, and it doesn’t necessarily require us to be inclusive.

hawk
2018-12-11 23:59
I hear ya.

feather
2018-12-12 00:01
@allyraven How do we get accessibility included when teaching new developers?

Great question… two things that i recommend:

1. Get them to do everything with a keyboard.
2. Involve people with disabilities early in the process to actually meet developers and show them how people with different disabilities use their computers. I know when I started in 1999 through 2003 some of the most transformative moments were when I saw how hard it was for people with disabilities to use the thing I had created.

RELATED:  Accessibility In UX Design: Tales From The Field

allyraven
2018-12-12 00:02
I like the discussion of accessibility vs inclusive design vs universal design in Kat Holmes’ “Mismatch”. Highly recommend.

feather
2018-12-12 00:03
@timmoad How do you define what disabilities are covered in your target market?

Also a great question! Here’s the approach that I take:

allyraven
2018-12-12 00:03
Do you think it’s worth trying to get into the education system e.g. a unit on accessibility within a computer science degree?

feather
2018-12-12 00:03
1. Include more people with disabilities than you did before. Do that work, expand your reach and understanding.
2. Go to 1, repeat.

feather
2018-12-12 00:04
We will NEVER be perfect, @timmoad — but we can always aim for better.

epham
2018-12-12 00:05
When designing for ADA compliancy, I often run into obstacles in finding “guidelines” and concrete “rules” to adhere by. What’s the best advice for this so that my company I work for doesn’t become liable if a client gets sued?

feather
2018-12-12 00:05
I will also say that understanding neurodiversity and cognitive disabilities is the most difficult part of accessibility and inclusion, historically. That’s why we need to press on those a little more intentionally, because it’s very easy to just ignore it and hope it goes away.

feather
2018-12-12 00:06
So when to include people with intellectual disabilities? When it makes sense to, and “more often then you think you need to” — if that makes sense? :slightly_smiling_face:

dan247
2018-12-12 00:06
conducting user research -> how do you effectively (and respectfully) find users to make your feedback more inclusive of those who aren’t usually brought to the table. For example, global product -> needing to test instructional copy/microcopy on users where english is their second language.

feather
2018-12-12 00:07
@epham When designing for ADA compliancy, I often run into obstacles in finding “guidelines” and concrete “rules” to adhere by. What’s the best advice for this so that my company I work for doesn’t become liable if a client gets sued?

My best advice on this is something you may NOT want to hear…

feather
2018-12-12 00:07
Ready for this?

epham
2018-12-12 00:07
Eek*

feather
2018-12-12 00:07
Compliant is a very small step away from complaint.

feather
2018-12-12 00:08
I don’t believe that designing for compliance is the way to go at all

feather
2018-12-12 00:09
The ultimate measure of success is based on two things:

1. Yes, you need technical compliance.
2. You need to test and involve people with disabilities.

feather
2018-12-12 00:09
If it is compliant but can’t be used easily by people with disabilities, the fact that its compliant doesn’t really matter, if you know what I mean.

feather
2018-12-12 00:10
Hope that isn’t too harsh, but I think you want to embrace the mindset that “we want to make things that people can use”

feather
2018-12-12 00:10
Because if you do, you’ll be in a position of protecting yourself much more than just aiming for compliance. If you aim for compliance and miss? yikes. If you aim for really easy to use by people with disabilities and miss? You should still be mostly better than compliant.

feather
2018-12-12 00:11
Feel free to follow up with me more on that if you like (and that goes for everyone, really, on any questions!)

feather
2018-12-12 00:12
@dan247 conducting user research -> how do you effectively (and respectfully) find users to make your feedback more inclusive of those who aren’t usually brought to the table. For example, global product -> needing to test instructional copy/microcopy on users where english is their second language.

Long question, but I think I can answer quickly.

charles
2018-12-12 00:12
What would you say is the most neglected or unsolved aspect of accessibility from the accessibility community of experts and advocates?

feather
2018-12-12 00:15
Most major cities/centres have local chapters of disability advocacy groups. They’re a great way to get the conversation started, and they can help you on that journey as well.

How to respectfully find people and to effectively engage? That one is best answered with one thing: humility.

Be humble. Be the student. Explain that you want to learn very valuable lessons from their experience. Work directly with people where English is their second language. I hope that makes sense — I mean, really… do the work, and be humble, and soak it all up.

dan247
2018-12-12 00:16
great! thanks

feather
2018-12-12 00:16
(@dan247 feel free to follow up with more if you like… happy to help)

feather
2018-12-12 00:17
@charles What would you say is the most neglected or unsolved aspect of accessibility from the accessibility community of experts and advocates?

Ahhhhhh, the question. This is quite possibly going to sound like a far too philosophical and squishy answer, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

allyraven
2018-12-12 00:18
How do we reduce the dependence on “expert” accessibility services and make IT teams more capable at doing their own thing? Working with PWD and using assistive tech is definitely part of it, but there’s potential for a lot of gaps with that model.

dan247
2018-12-12 00:20
…specifically in a global organisation how would you go about finding users within your organisation that have disabilities or use assistive tech to conduct interviews or usability tests with?

feather
2018-12-12 00:21
The most neglected or unsolved aspect of accessibility… This is a HUGE area to discuss, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say a few things:

I’m not sure we need to actually “solve” all the aspects of accessibility. We want to make things better for sure, and many of us have for years. But I’m not sure this is a mystery where we have to have answers for absolutely everything. I’m not saying it’s unsolvable, I think I’m saying that if we’re doing it right, I’m not sure it all needs to be solved. And that mindset to me is the part that might be missing… that we all think that this is a thing that must be solved! it must be solved with engineering! It must be solved with design! It must be solved… and I’m not sure that’s the case.

charles
2018-12-12 00:21
@dan247 I asked Kat Holmes that very question. her reply (since you can’t ask people), was “send up the Bat Signal”

feather
2018-12-12 00:22
I think in day to day terms, that breeds a mindset of “solve it all and then move on and we’re done with this stuff”

feather
2018-12-12 00:22
and I don’t think it should ever be like that

feather
2018-12-12 00:22
So i guess I’m questioning your question, which maybe isn’t fair at all :slightly_smiling_face:

charles
2018-12-12 00:23
i guess i really mean topics and considerations that simply underrepresented, like cognitive diversity and aging.

feather
2018-12-12 00:24
But ultimately — I’d say the thing that isn’t solved is the way in which we approach things.

charles
2018-12-12 00:24
attention versus solving

feather
2018-12-12 00:24
I could be taking that in a completely different direction than you intended

feather
2018-12-12 00:24
and I’m ok with that, but also very happy to talk more about it… we know where to find each other :slightly_smiling_face:

hawk
2018-12-12 00:25
We have 5 mins left in this session. Derek has one question left to answer (for Ally).

hawk
2018-12-12 00:25
If anyone else has one, now is your last chance!

feather
2018-12-12 00:27
@allyraven How do we reduce the dependence on “expert” accessibility services and make IT teams more capable at doing their own thing? Working with PWD and using assistive tech is definitely part of it, but there’s potential for a lot of gaps with that model.

How do we reduce dependence? I think you need a simple model – recognize that you can’t do it on your own *yet* but that you can over time. Engage with experts and at the start of the engagement where the experts are shouldering say 90% of the load and your teams are shouldering 10%. Over time, you learn at their side, and it moves to where you end up being comfortable — some teams end up doing 50% of the work themselves and 50% is on outside experts. For other teams it is 70% in house and 30% external. Numbers vary – but you’ll find the right balance for your team.

feather
2018-12-12 00:28
Any engagement over time with outside experts should include a plan for “here’s how we work together now, but here’s where we’d like to be in X years”

feather
2018-12-12 00:28
that lets you set a target that works for you

feather
2018-12-12 00:28
and you work alongside them so that you learn from their expertise so you can build your own.

feather
2018-12-12 00:29
(also revisiting @dan247: …specifically in a global organisation how would you go about finding users within your organisation that have disabilities or use assistive tech to conduct interviews or usability tests with?)

yes, ask within, but I’d also recommend OUTSIDE the org is just as valuable if not more

allyraven
2018-12-12 00:30
Depends if the systems being built are external or internal.,.

dan247
2018-12-12 00:30
They’re internal tools

feather
2018-12-12 00:30
and for you @charles: i guess i really mean topics and considerations that simply underrepresented, like cognitive diversity and aging.

yes, they’re the most underrepresented groups, but lets talk more about it since we’re out of time

feather
2018-12-12 00:31
@dan247: totally get that… if you don’t have the people inside, then lets look for people outside that we can bring in that use similar tools in other organizations

feather
2018-12-12 00:32
(getting a bit scattered around the end here, but hope all that makes sense — I promise I wasn’t avoiding any of those questions… happy to provide more later if any of you would like to continue elsewhere!)

hawk
2018-12-12 00:32
Ok That’s it for this session!

hawk
2018-12-12 00:32
Thanks so much for your time, energy and wisdom today @feather

hawk
2018-12-12 00:32
As always, it’s been a pleasure

feather
2018-12-12 00:32
THANK YOU all for having me

dan247
2018-12-12 00:32
Thanks @feather!
Written by
Derek Featherstone
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