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Web Accessibility: A Catalyst to Greatness #a11yMTL

So what we’re here to talk about today is A catalyst to greatness and accessibility. So, first of all, I want to start out with a little visual description. For those of you who can’t see I’m female and I’m wearing a shirt with Braille across the front across the chest And the translation of the Braille is If you can read this you’re too close [ laughter, ], Yeah yeah, So just a little visual description there.

So what we’re going to talk about is how you Can be great in usability user experience how you can be great in mobile design, how You can be great in innovation on the web. There’s a key to this and That key is accessibility, So we’re going to talk about how accessibility, Contributes to greatness in all these areas. Accessibility is really about user experience. It’s about adaptability, it’s about flexibility and we’re going to talk about That but, first of all a story Back in 1999, which seemed ages ago.

Now some of us started a small company And it was a usability company. We designed the website with A focus on accessibility, so it had to be highly accessible. We didn’t even think about accessing This website on a phone back, then We didn’t think about it, But then the founder of the company. She got one Of those new fangled phones that you can look at a web page on a screen, A little screen, okay, This is a big deal back then.

So, what’s the first website, she Went to look at on her new phone, Our company’s website It worked beautifully. This was before anyone knew Anything about website design, but just the fact that we had Designed it to be highly accessible and we’d, followed some basic accessibility, Principles meant that it was adaptable and flexible enough to be used on This rudimentary mobile browser, and that’s just because of accessibility, So a lot of what we do even today, For accessibility directly relates to what we need to do for mobile design, So a little bit more history.

How many of you have heard Of progressive enhancement, Okay, most Half the people, So progressive enhancement, Was coined around 2003? I — the name that pops into my head is Jeremy Keith’cause, he talked a lot about it, but I actually did some research And found it was coined before then, But progressive enhancement came around as People were designing advanced web applications to take advantage of the latest technologies.

And then were finding it wasn’t working well on older devices, older browsers, Older software et cetera, So the idea behind progressive enhancement was To start at the very basic make sure that say, your web application can be used. In older environments and then to progressively add enhancements, If the web application or the website is being used, In more advanced technology, So that was progressive enhancement of 2003.

Then in 2010 the idea of responsive Web design was coined, I think, by Ethan Marcotte in A List Apart, article And responsive web design is about Designing your website or web application so that it can respond to The device you’re using you’re looking at and on you’re using it with So whether I’m looking at a big desktop Or a small little phone that it will work and that’s responsive web design. I assume you’ve heard a lot about that Now, there’s something that Predates this by quite a bit In 1999, a similar idea came Out way before that, Anyone have any idea what that might be.

That’s the idea of transforming gracefully. So, in 1999 the web content accessibility, Guidelines talked about transforming gracefully, and that was again the idea. That we have the content that can transform no matter how it’s used So, whether it’s on a small device, whether it’s In a big device, whether it’s older technology, whether it’s newer technology, whether it’s Through a screen reader by a user who is blind, whether it’s in large magnification, however It is designed it will transform gracefully.

So the point in here is that These ideas aren’t new, We’ve been talking about those In accessibility for a long time, And when you start to think about Accessibility early, it can lead to a lot of these developments for what we’re talking. About now, for example, mobile web design, So if you want to be great, if you want To be great, get accessibility right And you may be hesitant and you Should be and I’ll tell you why It’s because you really need a Crack [ phonetic, ] accessibility.

You know that word. It means really understand. It really be one with it really understand the concept of accessibility, So that’s kind of the key to the key And I’m going to tell you a little bit about how that’s different than you May think of accessibility right now, So what I want to talk about is understanding. Accessibility differently totally differently than many people address accessibility.

A lot of people came to accessibility because They were forced to meet some standards or some regulations, so the web content Accessibility guidelines came out in 1999, although a lot of people didn’t directly Paid attention to them in the US, Then, when Section 508 came along all Of a sudden, this was a checklist. You had to pass the accessibility and there’s Been other regulations around the world where people then started approaching Accessibility as this thing, I need to do afterwards at the end of my Project I need to pass this checklist, But that’s not the right way to think About accessibility, so I’d like for you to change your mindset about accessibility, And we’ll talk a little bit about that As mentioned, I do work for the W3C the World Wide Web Consortium, and that is the organization that defines the Standards for the web, so html CSS et cetera.

We have a web accessibility initiative. That develops specific standards and guidelines for accessibility. So, given this is my employment, you Would probably assume I would say, step 1, the most important thing for accessibility, Is to know those standards and guidelines, But I don’t, even though that’s my Employment, that’s not the number one thing: If you just start out with the standards. And guidelines, it’s overwhelming You’ll be like a deer in the highlights right.

It’s too much, That’s not the place to start. Instead, the place to start is understanding. The basics of how people actually use the web: It’s not about standards. It’s about people, specifically people with Different disabilities and how they use web – That’s the number 1 thing and the Most important and the basic thing So, for example, I want to tell You about some people that some friends of mine that use the web One is Glenda.

I first got to know: Glenda Just from mailing list archive She was on a couple of similar mailing — Same mailing list that I was on, And I was just really impressed by how Articulate she was how clear how level headed when the conversation got kind. Of uncomfortable, sometimes she was always just clear and Not getting into the fray Really impressed with Glenda! Well, it wasn’t until years later that I Found out that Glenda has cerebral palsy, [ mumbling ], So that’s how she talks so Actually, interacting with Glenda face to face is much more difficult, but because Of accessible technology, she can contribute to this — the work just like anyone.

She has a blog. She is called the left thumb. Blogger, Because she also has limited motor control and she just types with one thumb. She slides her hand along the keyboard And there’s a article on there on YouTube. I think if you want to check that out, So Glenda is one of the people that we Need to focus on when we’re thinking about — thinking differently about accessibility, Another person who also has motor Impairment is a friend of mine named Carl and Carl lost use of his arms From polio from post polio, So he doesn’t use his arms at all.

He uses a mouth stick to type, So it’s just a dowel with a wooden tip at the End and his typing looks something like this [ Pause ]. He can type pretty fast. I don’t know what his words per minute are. He is also –. He can also Talk while he types as well, So we need to make sure that our Applications work for people like Carl. This is John Slatin John started losing his sight when he was middle Aged and eventually went all the way blind John was a professor English.

Professor at University of Texas, He embraced technology as a way for — in the Web –, as a way for anyone to communicate And John developed, leukemia And John needed to go to do research on Treatment options and what he found was that many of the websites That provided information on treatment for leukemia were inaccessible. He couldn’t get that information, So John is trying to make life decisions.

Life or death decisions literally, but the information is not accessible to Him and we need to make sure that all of our web applications website Is accessible to people like John He –, So people who are blind use screen readers That read aloud the information on the screen. I hope most of you have heard screen readers and Readed someone interact with screen readers. I won’t take the time to do that now.

But if you haven’t that’s top priority, Do it this really will help Change your thinking, Here’s another friend of mine, His name is John as well And John was born blind and he Started going deaf around age 8 All right, So he can’t use a screen reader. How does he interact with a computer Braille exactly? He has a dynamic Braille Display they are so cool, He has this rollup pins and it pops up and provides the Braille — The output from the computer, So that’s actually how John and I communicate.

We just have his notepad up and I’ll type on a Regular keyboard and he can read it in Braille and then he’ll type back in notepad And I can read it in notepad Because of accessible technology. John was Able to graduate top second in his class in Mathematics go on to get a master’s degree. In computer science and electrical engineering, So we need to make sure that all of our Work is accessible to people like John Now, one of the important things Is to be careful not to focus just on screen reader access and People who are blind So, for example, –, oh, you know I started out.

Talking about people with motor impairments, that was on purpose people who Have difficulty using their arms or such to interact with a computer? When we talk about visual disabilities, we Also need to be aware that a small percentage of the people with visual Disabilities are blind, A large percent are –, have low vision. So, for example, I have optic neuritis, It’s remitting, — remission — and comes and goes And a lot of times when I look at the screen, it looks something like this Which is the normal sized text? It is really too blurry to read, but The larger sized text is readable, So I usually use 120 150 percent Zoom in a browser and set up that way, But some people need more Significant screen magnification, So here’s an example of someone with Very significant screen magnification Okay, So they can only see Part of the screen at a time It has some overlap with, say, mobile design, where you can only see part Of the screen at the time, So again it’s really important when we’re Talking about even visual disabilities to realize a huge variation in user needs.

This is Tim Creagan. He is at the US. Access Board – and he is hard of hearing. This is another thing, that’s very important If you have audio on the web, whether It’s a article or a podcast or whatever, and you don’t have transcript or captions. That information is totally Inaccessible to a person who is deaf, A person who is deaf cannot get any Of that information in an audio, So if you’re not providing a text, Description, you are discriminating against those people who can’t hear Another very important thing to consider.

Another thing is this: — I’ve worked With a high school student named Sarah, who is going into a college program, Looking at her, you would not Assume she has a disability, but she actually has a fairly Significant visual processing disability. So when she reads text, she can’t understand it. So she uses a screen reader’cause when She hears text or she you know hears, she can process information, just fine.

She can see just fine, but she just can’t Process the information that she sees as well, So she uses a screen reader People with different cognitive disabilities. Are another group that we need to consider So if we think about all this, we think about People with auditory cognitive, neurological, physical speech, visual disabilities, you See how we can really open up our thinking. So if we think not about the checklist, not About the guidelines and the requirements, but who are we really designing for Who are the people? What are the issues? What are we really designing for? So this is to approach web design differently.

It’s a different approach to web design. Now, if you have a smartphone in your Pocket most of the technology developed for that smartphone came from Innovations for people with disabilities, So even the very basis of a phone — of the Phone comes from developments to accommodate and to help people with different disabilities. Elle Waters will do a presentation later. Where she’s going to talk some more about this, so I won’t go into the many many examples.

Of how something that was developed for a person, sometimes or People with disabilities is now in the mainstream technology. That you have in your pocket, But the idea is that thinking Differently leads to innovation When you’re thinking about all different people, On different situations, it really lead you to think differently and Innovate in new and unique ways, So how do you do that? How do you think differently? How do you consider all these people Any ideas You meet with them? Exactly you meet with them.

You can do very informal meetings. You can do more formal processes So, for example, a user-centered Design or user experience or usability has very specific Processes and techniques that you can use to understand how people use the web ISO has a definition of usability. Anyone know that You don’t have to repeat It but yeah yeah someone Yeah yeah, okay, So it’s the extent to which a Product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals.

Effectively, efficiently and with satisfaction in a Specialized context of use, So that’s the definition of usability in ISO Now this is achieved through A user-centered design process How many people have heard of — know Basics of user-centered design process About half About half, So here’s the summary UCD is the user interface design. Process that focuses on usability goals, user characteristics, environment, Task and workflow It follows a series of well-defined methods and Techniques for analysis, design and evaluation.

It’s an iterative process with Steps built in from the first stage of projects through implementation, So the idea is that you can Follow user-centered design to understand accessibility, Understand how people use the web Now when we look at that definition, we looked at Earlier the ISO definition of usability. Look if we pick out a few words, so It says “ Use by specific users,.” And all you have to do – is Make sure your definition of those specific users includes People with disabilities, people with a wide range of abilities And then it says, “ In a specified Context of use.

”, So that’s making sure that the context of Use is broad that it includes, for example, assistive technologies like screen readers, And screen magnification et cetera. So if you know any usability specialists Or user-experienced professionals, this should be right up their alley. Now some people are onboard and some People have yet to see the light If you’re a developer and you Want to go beyond the checklists, follow usability principles will help — and Methods and techniques will help you with that.

So if you want to learn more About this, the W3C WAI has some information called Involving users in web projects for better easier accessibility – And this is mostly geared towards developers, Designers developers not particularly Usability specialist, but just you know you said, observe people This talks about finding people and Observing them talking to them, So that’s some basic information. Now, if you know someone who is usability, Specialist or really wants to get involved with this I’ve written a book called “.

Just Ask Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design,.” And the whole thing is online free, So it’s available from uiaccess.Com/justask. So it’s uiaccess.Com/justask And that’s all about –. It’s primarily Geared towards usability professionals, but the beginning is the basics. That you can implement, even if you’re not doing full User-Centered design process, If you’re interested in getting a print copy for those who are here, we Have a discount in November! So from that website you Just enter a11ymtl.

Html and you can get a discounted Version if you want to print a copy, But the whole thing is online for free as it is So that’s another resource We’re going to look at a few Other resources that we have from the W3C WAI on designing for inclusion. We have an extensive document on how People with disabilities use the web. It has several different Sections one it talks about just like the user stories to Help bring those to life.

There is a section on the Technology that people use There’s a section on what are the accessibility, Requirements of websites and web tools, So I encourage you to take a look at How people with disabilities use the web? We have another resource called Web accessibility and older people on meeting the needs of aging web users, So we had a three-year project that Was a European Commission-funded project to look at designing for older users And what we found at the end of that Three-Year project was that indeed, it’s a one-on-one overlap with Designing for accessibility, So we already know how to Design for accessibility And what we found is it’s the same issues.

If you’re designing for older users, because older users have a range of issues, Let’s do a little exercise to that and Give you a chance to stretch your feet So I’d like everyone to stand up. [ Pause, ], Okay. So what I’d like is for you to pick One of the gray figures on the screen, So on the screen we have a representation. Of the percentage of people with disabilities, This is in the age group, 18-24 years, okay And it’s 9.

5 percent. So pick one of the gray figures We’re going to go through aging And if your figure turns Color have a seat okay, So this is 25 to 34 years 10. Percent and we lost 2 3 people there. This is 34 to 44, 14.4 percent, 45 to 54, 21.2 percent 55 to 64 at 34 percent, So more people dropping 65 to 74, it’s 42.3 percent 75 and over 64 percent Now look around the room. We have less than 64 percent, We have four people standing, So those of you who are standing Unfortunately, this isn’t the true predictor of real life, so I can’t guarantee That you’re going to make it without Thanks, you can have a seat, But the point is, most of us will live to 75 and Most of us will acquire significant disability.

Minor disability at first may be from Declining eyesight from declining dexterity from declining hearing all These — cognitive disabilities – All these are significant. This can start out small. It can get really annoying And but can be much more of an impact. On how people use your web products Designing for people, older users is becoming More and more important and more and more of a focus of both government and Industry and on profits and everyone, This is focused on meeting the User — needs of older users And, if –, in order to do that, you can look At what we already know about accessibility, So that’s the –.

We have resource on that. We have another resource on web Content, accessibility and mobile web, So I’ve mentioned some just Briefly, the overlaps, but we have a specific document on that overlap. Now this talks about how the standards And best practices overlap between the two, So I just said that word standards, Even though at the beginning I said that The standards are not the first place and not the most — the first place to go.

They do play an important role, So I still say that the first Step is to understand the basics, But maybe around step 3 is to start Looking at the standards and guidelines and then probably again, maybe at Step 7 or somewhere around there, So they do have an important role. One other reason is there’s no way you Can fully incorporate enough people and enough variety in your design process. So, even if you have a huge budget and a Huge amount of time, there’s so much variety in people in how we use the web and how People with disabilities use the web that you won’t be able to cover it all, And the standards and guidelines do that.

For you, they consider this wide-range, So I’m not going to go into detail on these. I’m just going to make sure you know. What’s There and then hopefully you can –. If there’s any questions, we can Follow up with that afterwards, So again, the W3C defines its standards. For the web and the ones we have for accessibility are an integrated set, So you may have heard of WCAG or the Web. Content Accessibility, Guidelines that applies to websites that applies to web applications.

That applies to mobile applications. Everything Then another aspect of the Guidelines is that users use browsers and other technologies to access the web, And we have guidelines for those called The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines – Another one – is the Authoring Tool: Accessibility, Guidelines and that talks about what the tools that we use to design web content Need to do to support accessibility.

These are built on the technical Specifications from the W3C, We also have some specifically for Accessibility, such as the WAI-ARIA for Accessible, Rich Internet Applications and Indie UI, which is Independent User Interface, and that talks about how to Communicate a user action to an application, no matter how the user did It so whether they scrolled with a gesture whether they used a mouse, whether They used voice input, however, Okay, so just a brief introduction.

Also A note that WCAG 2 is now an ISO standard. So if you’re working on WCAG 2, now you can Say you’re also working on an ISO standard. It’s exactly the same. The same text, It’s just adopted now as ISO/IEC 4500. Again, if you have any questions I’ll Be around at the break and afterwards, So I just want to reiterate that Accessibility is about designing your website so that more people can use it.

Effectively in more situations, It’s much more broad than just Focusing on people with disabilities, that’s the most important aspect that we Focus on but the benefits are far reaching. So if you understand accessibility differently, It’s not about a checklist to do at the end, but it’s a fundamentally different Way of thinking about your web design and your web development It’s not about the checklist, If you understand accessibility differently.

You will approach web design differently And an interesting article from A List, Apart several years ago by John Allsopp, is called The “ Dao of Web Design.”, He says “, Firstly, think about what Your pages do not what they look like Make pages that are adaptable. The journey begins with letting go Of control and becoming flexible.”. So when you change your way of thinking, You’ll understand, accessibility differently, you approach web design differently, and this is A catalyst to greatness greatness in usability and user experience for a wide range of Users, whether it’s on the mobile platform, whether it’s because they are older, it’s All these things that you want to do better at you can learn from understanding Accessibility, So I encourage you to approach Accessibility as a catalyst to greatness – and I thank you for your time – [ Applause & Music, ],


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