Why is accessibilty seen as an after-thought, or at worst an expense to help a handful of disadvantaged people?
Have you ever tried using a website or app on your smartphone whilst riding a bus when the sun is streaming through the window? You probably have. How did that work out for you?
…the internet was no longer being consumed solely on a desktop, viewing through a large monitor perched on a desk whilst in a comfortable chair. The iPhone broke a barrier. The web would start – and continues – to push its way into every moment of our day, regardless of what environment (surroundings or situation) you happen to be in.
microsoft inclusive design impairments
It’s lunch time at the Accessibility Scotland Conference and I take a stroll up the road to grab a soda. I find a shop and low and behold a 10cm step. With the challenges that wheelchairs users have fresh in my mind, I looked down, shook my head and walked on in.
The 10cm step
On my way out a ramp appears! “Well that solves that”. I am then greeted by a delivery man with a trolley full of supplies for the shop. The ramp belonged to him. He finished his delivery, threw the ramp in the back of his truck and drove away. Leaving me with the 10cm step. So not only would consideration help those we would often think to require the support (those in wheelchairs, those with limited visibility or even those with prams) but it would help the main function of the shop – getting supplies in both quicker and easier – but also be less intrusive to all users.
So, what’s the digital equivalent of the 10cm step?
There’s a few. For example, the contrast between text and background. Dark colours on a light background work well for users with visual impairments but also work well for “able-bodied” users reading a phone with bright sunlight glaring off the screen.
What about the move towards ‘smart homes’ and the invisible interfaces such as Alexa and Siri? How accessible are they? Users that are mute (permanent impairment) or users with laryngitis (temporary impairment) will struggle to communicate with them. But also those, like myself, with a strong accent (situational impairment) that will struggle with these new technologies.
How do we take this forward?
The video below has lots of examples of designing inclusively in the built environment. There are two key messages: get a diverse group of people together before you start designing, and think about all the extra people you can serve or sell to when you design with everyone in mind. While there are several videos around with a similar message, it is good to see the variety of environments covered – from transport to theatre.
Rather than take an off-the-shelf ATM, Barclays Bank commissioned the design of their ATMs and came up with the idea of a niche to hang your walking stick – a key factor as if it falls to the ground, the owner may not be able to bend down to pick it up.
The video is 8 minutes but worth the watch to the end.
Britain’s disabled population has a spending power of £80bn, yet, as a frustrating shopping trip to Mayfair proved, many clothes shops are completely inaccessible
Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones have a positive understanding of practical issues affecting disabled shoppers.
From the moment I rode out on to New Bond Street, I was beset by obstacles. It started with attempting to enter a designer store with a stepped entrance, then performing a red-faced U-turn outside because sales staff couldn’t provide a ramp.
As I continued around Mayfair, I discovered boutique after boutique with stepped entrances and no access ramps. Often staff delivered this information with an expression of bewilderment as to why anyone would require one, and nearly half of the shops I visited said they didn’t have lifts to access upper floors.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Does fashion care about disabled people and the purple pound? | Global | The Guardian
Starting today, we’re calling on Local Guides, a community of people who contribute their expertise about places on Google Maps, to add more wheelchair accessibility attributes to the map. If each of our tens of millions of Local Guides answers three of these questions every day for two weeks, we can gather nearly two billion answers to help people who rely on this information every day.
More than 65 million people worldwide need wheelchairs. I became one of them after an accident eight years ago, and I discovered what it’s like to navigate the world on wheels.
As I learned, those of us with mobility issues need information about places before we arrive. Does the art museum have a stair-free entrance? What about the cafe across the street? And is there an accessible restroom at that new restaurant?
Google Maps now offers answers that allow me—and millions of others on wheels—to find accessible places. Because anyone can identify and label wheelchair-friendly locations directly on the map, it’s easy to share this knowledge around the world. But not everyone knows this tool exists, so we want to do more.
Liz is currently the release manager for Mozilla, and has worked in two eras of tech: the 1990s and the mid-2000s to the present. She learned her computer skills from tinkering with computers from a young age, and having the freedom to experiment. In addition to her work in open source software, Liz is a blogger, writer and translator, and is involved in hackerspace projects. Liz deals with mobility impairments, and chronic pain from those impairments, that have a significant effect on how she can work.
The structure of Liz’s work at Mozilla has many benefits for her because of her mobility impairments. Instead of working on a traditional hourly schedule, she has longer timeframes, like six weeks to work on a project. This means that even if she is not productive over a specific hour or even a day, she is very productive over the course of those six weeks. In addition to this, Liz often works remotely with a distributed team who are in many different time zones around the world. It is not important that everyone be working at the same time. It’s more important that communication is strong, persistent, and frequent. If she has a flare-up and is unable to leave the house she still has the possibility of getting work done. She often thinks, as she is working from bed, that this job is perfect for people with mobility issues.
In addition, the fact that her physical condition can change at a moment’s notice means that she is very good at contingency planning. And since software release, as she describes it, can be “a constant disaster,” this skill is very helpful in her workplace. In her opinion, anyone with a disability who has managed their own healthcare competently, with all the medical, insurance, and government bureaucracies, has many skills needed in software project management – tracking a complex process and coordinating work across several teams.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: There’s Always Something to be Done: Liz Henry on Being Disabled in Tech – Disability Remix Blog
While being able to dim your lights, lock your doors, and adjust the thermostat using voice commands or a simple interface on your smartphone may seem like convenient novelties to some, for disabled individuals these can be essential to maintaining a safe, healthy, enjoyable home life. For example, a quadriplegic who cannot physically open their front door could speak into their smartphone and the door would automatically open. They could also create a variety of profiles that change the lighting and turn on specific devices once they’ve entered the house, making possible what otherwise would have required a caregiver’s constant assistance.
As another example, a person with little to no vision could use appliances throughout their home with greater ease, and a deaf person could receive security alerts about disturbances they might not have noticed on their own. And while these are helpful for people who are disabled, there is no need to be completely cut off from outside assistance as these devices can also be used to alert caregivers and family members of any issues that may need their attention.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: The Potential of IoT Technologies for People with Disabilities
The priorities, which were laid out in a report and released by the federal government Monday, summarize eight months of consultations held with Canadians from coast to coast. Carla Qualtrough Qualtrough, the minister tasked with crafting laws to make Canada more accessible to people with disabilities, says employment will be a key focus of her efforts. (JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS) By MICHELLE MCQUIGGEThe Canadian Press Mon., May 29, 2017 Public consultations on Canada’s first national law for d……
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Canada’s new accessibility laws should focus on employment, inclusive buildings, transport | Toronto Star
Back in December, Google finally added accessibility details to Maps. It was a long awaited addition, but an extremely welcome one for the more than three million people in the U.S. who require wheelchair accessibility. As we noted at the time, however, the available information still left a lot to be desired. Maps has currently collected accessibility data for almost seven million places, but even with databases like Wheelmap, there were still some pretty big gaps across the country.This week, Google’s l
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Google Maps now lets users add wheelchair accessibility details for locations | TechCrunch
Virgin Australia has become the first airline in the Asia Pacific region, and the second airline in the world, to introduce an in-flight entertainment (IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision.
The new interface increases accessibility to IFE content through simplified screen layouts, larger icons and voice prompts. It will be available soon on Virgin Australia’s entire fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which feature a seatback entertainment system, and is being rolled-out on the Airbus A330 fleet in May and June 2017.
The airline’s wireless IFE system is available on its Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 fleets, and is accessible to vision impaired passengers via screen reader software available on their own devices.
Virgin Australia General Manager, In Flight Experience, Tash Tobias, said in the launch announcement on 19 April 2017 that “we are determined to ensure travel with Virgin Australia is enjoyable for all of our guests and we are delighted to introduce this new user interface for guests who are blind or have low vision.”
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Read full article at source
While advances in personal technology continue at a rapid pace, at times their designers seem to forget about the population that could perhaps benefit from it the most. Stabelfeldt says just the ability to charge a phone with a wheelchair didn’t even exist until a few years ago.
But features like Apple’s “Home” app allow Stabelfeldt to control a variety of smart accessories in his house — from door locks and window shades, to lights and his garage door. The best part for Stabelfeldt? He can command Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri to work it all.
A Game Changer
“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products are as accessible as possible for all users,” said Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger. She has worked at Apple for nearly 14 years and is their Senior Manager of accessibility policy and initiatives.
“For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity,” she told NBC News.
“HomeKit and Switch Control and Siri have given me a lot of value and a lot of opportunities to demonstrate that I’m a quality man and I’m a man of integrity,” Todd Stabelfeldt. “To get up every day and go to work: Everybody’s valuable, everybody has worth, everybody should have the opportunity to demonstrate it.”