Experience Design

Lessons Learned from an Accessibility Summit

AccessU Summit
Last week I participated in AccessU Summit, a daylong online conference sponsored by Knowbility and Environments for Humans. I have ‘sketched out’ some of the key ideas I took from each session, and I’ve grouped them into sections to steer you in the direction of the material that interests you the most. In addition to these, there are 3 more sessions that I will post next week. Also, I will share recordings from the sessions when they are available. My raw notes are on the Research SharePoint site.

“Developer” Sessions…

Web Accessibility Essentials Using WAI-ARIA and HTML5

Eric Eggert, Member of W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative / slides: http://is.gd/4n299k
Eric previewed many codes samples (see slides) and then showed code working in Chrome.  As he ran this demo, Eric pointed out that people using assistive readers are used to hearing prompts such as “new menu item 1 of 3.” Eric showed several W3C tutorials, and highlighted the “why it’s important” justifications. Eric stated the obvious, it’s more effort to design to these standards, and yet it’s a standard to design to. Also, Eric uses Chromebox, as a screen-reader testing environment He said, “It’s not perfect but mostly works okay.”

Getting Ahead of the Curve: Scalable, Accessible, Enterprise-class Video on the Web  

The Digital Essentials, Part 3
The Digital Essentials, Part 3

Developing a robust digital strategy is both a challenge and an opportunity. Part 3 of the Digital Essentials series explores five of the essential technology-driven experiences customers expect, which you may be missing or not fully utilizing.

Get the Guide

John Foliot, Co-chair of W3C Accessibility of HTML5 Media Elements / slides: http://is.gd/ZAbcn1
I took from John’s talk that the future of video will be more extended dialogues (i.e., windows) with extended descriptions that a user can access by pausing and viewing the details. Also, he said that “clean audio” is coming, an option users can take to mute unnecessary background sounds. John provided some great resources for how to handle captioning. More vendors are offering this service so it’s driving down costs. There is video captioning software (DIY approach), and John recommended going with a service because using software is more laborious than a service, but less expensive. Video description software is out there and John recommended it to save time.

  • The browser is the video player, so keep that in mind.
  • HTML5 anticipates author scripted and customized controls, so many HTML5 video players (today) use Flash as a fallback.
  • Interactive controls and menus must be available, and controls must be device independent and accessible.
  • Adhere to UAAG guidance, such as alternative content must be discoverable and modifiable.

Rules of thumb:

  • API must support the ability to speed up or slow down content presentation
  • Use ARIA to build controls (to sync up w/ JavaScript)
  • Viewport: some alternative content doesn’t rely on it; so remember to put captions at the lower third of the video (good UX)
  • Content navigation and display should allow personalization
  • AAC-encoding for audio descriptions

John’s list of accessibility related conferences and conventions

“UX” Sessions…

Integrating Accessibility into UX  

Henny Swan, Inclusive Design and Accessibility Consultant for the Web  / PDF: http://is.gd/roQiiN

Her talk was focused on inclusive design vs. accessibility. This dovetails with Whitney Quesenbery’s philosophy to design for people not disabilities. I took away the notion that as product designers we should think usability first. Henny highlighted this blog post by Jared Smith to say that adding accessibility improvements to an unusable product is a waste of time. So, strive for usability (i.e., effectiveness, satisfaction, ease of use, relevance and efficiency) and most users will have a good user experience, including those with disabilities.
Henny provided several rules of thumb (see raw notes for all of them), and her take on usability testing is:

  • Build accessible prototypes (alternative text for example)
  • Include people with milder impairments very early on
  • Home based usability (diary studies for example)
  • Include users with severe impairments
    • Screen reader users
    • Screen magnification users
    • Non mouse users
    • Cognition impaired
    • Culturally deaf (plain language, colors)
    • Include desktop, laptop and mobile users

Look for my follow-up post next week and if you have any questions just let me know.

About the Author

I'm a Senior User Researcher out of the Atlanta office.

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