Thursday, 10 January 2019

Making it Accessible

One of the interesting things that I have discovered is that most of the AI products that we have today were originally developed to assist disabled people. Okay, they aren't actually AI in the Skynet sense of the word (and there has been instances where such AIs have been turned off, such as the one who went onto Twitter and suddenly became a racist, or the Facebook AIs that suddenly invented their own language to communicate - though that story is false). These are actually called assistants, and technology such as facial recognition were actually developed in that way, in a sense to allow blind people to effectively see.

So, accessibility is actually pretty important, particularly when you come to developing applications for the government (it is a legal requirement) or for major organisations. Accessibility opens the application up to much more people, and this isn't just having screen readers for blind people, and making sure that any pictures on your site have alternate text (which I am bad at putting down by the way), but also developing your website so that screen readers aren't spewing out garbage and wasting people's times. Oh, and the voice input, that is actually another accessibility option (though it sure beats using the keyboard at times).

Thus, websites are measured by how accessible they are, not just for ordinary people, but also for those with disabilities. In fact, you can be assured that at least one stage in our life each and every one of us is going to have a disability of some sort.

We all seem to assume that people with disabilities are, well, blind people, but it goes beyond that. Having subtitles on those Youtube videos, as well as a transcript, can help deaf people. Then there are those who don't know how to use a computer, or those with antiquated systems, and systems that are in remote or regional areas (where the internet is nowhere near as good). In fact it is estimated that 30% of people in remote areas have images turned off.

You probably can't get more remote than this - Dave Morgan Creative Commons.

We also need to consider people in lockdown environments where web access is restricted, or where they are in areas that are noisy or subject to glare. We need to take all of this into account. Not everybody is going to be sitting in their little office with a controlled environment and open access to the internet.

Welcome to Hell

Coming back to blind people, it isn't just the fact that they can't see images, there is also this issue with, well, the mouse and the keyboard. If they can't see, how do you think they know where the mouse pointer is? Okay, keyboards can be solved through the use of braille, but then there is also the voice activated commands which have reached a reasonably sufficient technological level. As for links, make sure that they are actually meaningful, as opposed to simply using 'here' (which, once again, I'm quite guilty of).

For people with low vision we should try to avoid using text within graphics, namely because they are more likely to increase the size of the text to be able to read it (or use some form of magnifying device). As for people with colour blindness, try not to use colours that mean that they pretty much won't be able to see anything, particularly when dealing with text and background colours.

Like this particular one

Another thing to consider are people who have mental disorders, and there are a whole range of them. Okay, my brother, who has a brain injury, seems to be able to use a computer just fine, going as far as being able to work out how to edit a Wikipedia page. However, he is the exception, particularly since he has grown up using a computer and using them is literally second nature. Hey, he is even able to use Linux. However, not everybody is in his category so we need to be able to take them into account.

In many cases, the principles that we have been exploring over this series pretty much apply here as well. Keeping things short and simple, and explaining things without too much, or any jargon. Actually, just drop the jargon - it might be difficult, but it is important, very important. Also, make sure that there are warnings and ways to back out of actions that could result in serious complications.

Oh, and on the jargon bit, maybe drop the sarcasm or the colloquialism. People from different cultures may, and most likely don't understand any of them. Actually, even people from other English speaking countries don't understand our Australian slang - particularly sarcasm.

Anyway, there is a lot of resources to look into on this issue, and this post was really just a wrap up of the User Centered Design series, and to bring your attention to these issues. In fact, taking them into account may just open your product up to many more users.
Creative Commons License

Making it Accessible by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

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