Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Demystifying Disability

This Thursday is GAAD - Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which makes this book review very timely. Hopefully if you work in UX you already know that everyone is different and therefore they have different experiences.

Talking to people about their experiences can help us to understand what they have been through, but sometimes even talking to different people can be hard. We do not want to offend or upset or ask the wrong questions.

Photo of book on table
Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau

So when I saw Emily Ladau’s new book Demystifying Disability I instantly wanted to read it. I believe most issues come from people's fear of the unknown, so what better way to dispel the fear.

Although I have done some volunteering with the RNIB and I am very interested in how we can make websites more accessible and inclusive, there is still lots I do not know about the subject, so finding out how to best talk to people with disabilities is a must, especially for a researcher.

It was a really easy read and full of useful information. But do not let that fool you, it still dug deep into some really important subjects, not only explaining what you should or should not do, but also explaining why.

I have to say, some of the examples scared me a bit. If someone is right there, even if they are sitting in a wheelchair why would you not talk directly to them? If a blind person is just walking along, why would you grab them and without saying anything drag them around? (How would you even know where they are trying to go?)

It is very easy to make assumptions about other people and to pity people with disabilities, but if nothing else this book showed me that they are quite capable in their own way and just need us able bodied people to allow them to reach their full potential.

As I continue to work toward making our research practice more inclusive this was a great read to help me look at my own bias, and to start thinking about what I would need to change about how I do things now to be able to include people with disabilities in my studies.

This is not a book about doing UX research with people with disabilities, and it does not have all the answers, but it is a great look into the world of disability and would make an excellent starting point.

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