By Derek Featherstone

Introductions to people who have helped Derek learn about accessibility and inclusive design: Ashlee, Blake, Erica, and Dan
These 4people are peers – they’ve worked in our industry. They’ve all helped Derek as he’s learned more about inclusive design.

He’s starting to shift his thinking from accessibility to inclusive design.
Accessibility is an outcome. Inclusive design is a process. We can USE the process of Inclusive Design to get the outcome of accessibility.

The act of making things accessible doesn’t mean you’re practicing inclusive design. You can make something accessible without ever actually talking to someone with a disability!

Ideally, we’d include people with disabilities in the entire design process, all the way from ideation to production and testing.

He wants to go from inclusive design thinking to inclusive design practicing.

There are MANY lenses of inclusion.
Derek comes from a place of privilege. He didn’t really think about how that privilege might find its way into his work. He didn’t really think too much about how his privilege impacted what he might do. A few weeks ago he started creating this slide deck and came to an embarrassing realization – all 4 of the participants he worked with are white! There are many different lenses of inclusion.

He was lucky enough to have 2 real projects to work on – projects where he could learn in the context of real work and not just theoretical things.

One project was The Shop Talk Show – a podcast hosted by Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier. They took their old design and transformed it into new and fresh. Like any good redesign project they’re still working on it. They used inclusive design as the process. The other was the Superfriendly podcast site.

He interviewed his 4 participants questions about how they use and interact with podcasts, and then also had them evaluate 2 podcast websites.

Any time you’re doing design research you have to be prepared, you might just find out things you don’t want to. You might have to deliver some difficult news to the people who engaged you to collect the research.

Insight #1: Transcripts aren’t simply an alternative for audio.

Ashlee used the transcript to complement the audio (which was still her primary source of the podcast).

Blake uses a Chubon on-screen keyboard that is optimized for someone interacting with a keyboard with one digit. He said he hates typing. He also uses a product called Talon Voice for really precise text input that would be required for someone coding HTML or CSS. Blake said he likes to skim transcripts. The longer a transcript is, the smaller a piece of scroll bar he has to manipulate the page and the more difficult it is for him to grab the scroll bar to move around. He finds infinitely scrolling pages very difficult to use.

Erica has ADHD brain – she works well while multitasking because it keeps part of her brain occupied so she can be more attentive to the thing she’s working on. She views most of the internet at 125% – 150% because she can’t read well enough for her job at 100%. Transcripts are useful for going back and sharing things or saving things later. The value of a transcript to Erica is different than it is to Ashlee or Blake. Erica uses them mostly after listening to the podcast.

Insight #2: The transcript needs to be readable but also highly scannable.

How could we reflect that in a design?
* easily distinguishable speaker names
* Timestamps throughout
* Heading throughout to denote topics.

LIVE EVENTS –
How is it best to use live captions at events?

Dan said ideally he’d want the words to be as close to the presentation as possible. He’s also seen some movie captioning glasses that have a small processor on the arm that project the captions onto the inside of the lenses that let you follow along without missing the action on the screen. Processing complex info while reading captions is going to be difficult no matter what the setup, so he just has to expect that he’ll miss certain things and will have to revisit / catch up later.

Insight #3: While many caption configurations exist, for highly visual or technical subject matter you need to keep the captions as close to the action as possible or on the screen.

On screen captioning for live events is probably most effective.

Insight #4: Live captions serve a critical purpose: providing access.

They demonstrate your commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion, even for people who do not need them. This might reassure people with other disabilities that they will be heard if they have other accessibility requests.

LEARNINGS FROM THE PROCESS:

Start. You’ll be afraid to make mistakes, but if you don’t start you won’t include anyone, and that’s an even bigger mistake.

You need more time in a research session where typing is the primary form of interaction – you need about 2x more time than if you’re using video as the primary form of interaction.

In terms of recruiting, he made sure (after an experience where he didn’t’ get a response) that he was clear about that they will be paid for their time, what the project is about, and how much time he was expecting them to need. That puts these questions to rest.

Ask. Right after where he provides introductory work, when he started to discuss how they’re going to work together, he started asking the question, ‘Does that feel right?’

He also asked ‘are there other ways you’d like to contribute to this project?’

Finally, he asked ‘do you have a preference of person-first language or identity-first language? Do you have any guidance for me on that when I’m talking or writing about the things I’ve learned from you?’ Ex: I am a person that is deaf vs. I am a deaf person.

Accept Critique. He would state, ‘I am learning how to do this better, so if I offend you or ask anything in a way that isn’t respectful, please let me know so I can get better and so I can share that with others that might also want to do some research with people with different disabilities.’

The only way we can get better is if the people we are offending can let us know that so we can learn.

We need to move from accepting critique to inviting critique. This means we’re actively seeking that feedback and we want it as part of the process.

What Next?
Do the work – Start doing inclusive design.
Find the people to include, include them. Make positive mistakes. Invite critique. Learn, be better next time, and the time after that.

@feather

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