Sunday, January 27, 2019


Extra Credits, a fantastic YouTube channel, created an informative video about the importance of considering accessibility early in the design process. They illustrate plenty of examples where design features originally intended for the sensory impaired actually benefits the non-handicapped in various scenarios.

I think the positive externalities of designing with accessibility in mind is a great value proposition for companies and individuals. Even though accessibility is now dogma for anyone who studies human-computer interaction, there exists plenty of interfaces that lack accessible functionality, particularly in cinematic settings.

Man of Steel, 2013

In most situations, I believe that creating broadcast-quality and beautiful content should not supersede the effort to create content for multiple modalities.* After all, 1.3B people globally live with some sort of vision impairment [WHO], 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 12 have detectable hearing loss in both ears [NIH], and that's not even counting processing or motor disorders.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 demands the following technical descriptors of web products: operable, understandable, and robust. They include ideas ranging from maximizing legibility with sufficient contrast to ensuring the programmatic discoverability of elements to assistive technologies.

I believe that when the day comes that a majority of web products comply with most, if not all, of the  WCAG, assistive technologies can be more easily standardized and improved. Going forward, I think it's wise to set a standard of personal responsibility for my design projects.

I'm always open to learning more about designing for disabilities, and if there are any resources or stories that would be helpful, please do share with me.

Recommended reading: Shinohara, K., Bennett, C. L., Pratt, W., & Wobbrock J.O. (2018). Tenets for Social Accessibility: Towards Humanizing Disabled People in Design. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing (TACCESS) - Special Issue of Papers from ASSETS 2016, 11(1), 6:1-6:31.

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