Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

UXPA - Global Accessibility Celebration Day 2021!

This month we celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 20th May, so this month’s UXPA event was also focused on GAAD, although a week later (which actually worked quite well allowing people to attend more events on the subject).

We should have had three speakers, Idan Meir from RightHear, Phil Robertson and Ian Hamilton, but in the end Ian couldn’t make it.

Due to not reading the joining instructions properly I was late to join and missed the first part of Idan's talk, however even the small part I did see Idan made some great points.

RightHear have created a system to help visually impaired people navigate the physical world. Using beacons placed in significant places round a building the person's smartphone can then tell them what is in their area and how to get to the place they need to go.

It does require some thought though. For instance the audio descriptions need to give more information than just where they are or where to go. If they come to a door, what sort of door is it? An automatic sliding door is very different from a manual door.

They also had to think carefully about what measurements to use. The number of steps is different for everyone so they now use metres.

His biggest challenge is getting it into venues, but he hopes it will become law soon, as he believes we should make sure our physical spaces are accessible too.

Phil started by introducing the four areas of accessibility - Visual, Physical, Auditory and Cognitive and the fact that all of these can be permanent, temporary or situational. He then ran through a couple of case studies.

Firstly he spoke about the dreaded Captcha which sits on so many sites. While I find them pretty bad to use as an able bodied person, Phil ran through some of the accessibility issues with them. If anyone is deciding to add one of these to their site, they should watch these videos first. A really terrible experience.

Phil did make some suggestions on what to put in place instead, but my biggest take away was it is better to remove them as they do not really offer that much security in the first place.

He then went on to talk about remote control design and a project he worked on with Samsung.

As he said if even Apple have not got this right yet you know its going to be difficult!

He told us how the real game changer had been the use of 3D printing and a Raspberry Pi to test their ideas out, rather than have to wait to have everything mass produced.

But they did not just change the controller, they also worked on the menus on the TV, making them more accessible and introducing more accessible features.

Chris, President of UXPA UK, finished off the event by leaving us with the thought that we should think about what a product can do and what we can add to it to make it accessible, rather than just label things inaccessible. For instance an Echo dot might not be useful for someone with a hearing or speech impairment, until you add an iPad which gives it a visual interface.

As always a thought provoking evening and a good reminder of how important creating accessible products is.

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