A Wheelie Good App

Three manual wheelchair users with their phonesGetting around a university campus is not always the easiest task for new visitors or students. For wheelchair users the task is all the more difficult usually due to uneven topography – steep slopes and lots of steps or long ramps. The University of Wollongong is piloting an App to help navigate the campus, which can then be applied to other places. Using UOW’s Wollongong campus as a pilot study, Briometrix will translate wheelchair-user-generated data into navigation routes on its Navability App, which will show the best routes for wheelchair users based on their relative ability to propel a wheelchair. Each time a user logs-on and makes a journey, the collected data will update the app ensure it reflects any changes in the built environment. Combining the location-based technology used in Google Maps and exercise monitors with new information specific to a wheelchair experience, the project has the potential to create a new understanding of life on campus and the wider world. It will be interesting to see how this evolves. 

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Before and after treatment

A light brown teddy bear has a bandaged leg and two band aids in a cross on its headAnother great post from Axess lab with excellent examples of before and after treatments for web page content. The simple layout and way the examples are presented are a good example in themselves. It covers the usual things such as text contrast, screen reader access, and colour coding. The main message of the article is to provide users with choice. To input using a keyboard or using touch screen. To read text or watch a video. Show the colour choices with the name of the colour. As Axess lab says in their article, “The point is that it’s not rocket science. Also, making your site or app accessible does not mean you have to make it boring and remove all colors, images and videos.” Axess lab is based in Sweden – you can sign up to their newsletter.

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Digital predictions for 2018

Front cover of report. Dark blue with white tect.What will the digital world have for us in 2018? How much should we worry about artificial intelligence (AI), fake news, and new devices and social media services? Nick Newman sought out the views of various tech people and provides insights and ideas for 2018. Some might cause concern, but there is also some good mainstream tech stuff that can assist almost anyone. For example, hearables: Amazon Glasses with bone-conducting audio that links to Alexa and a smartphone. What about ear buds that offer instant translations from other languages? How will we know our news feeds are real news and not fake? Perhaps instant fact-checkers will help us decide. For a fascinating overview of what we can expect in journalism, social media and technology, see Nick Newman’s report.

Editor’s note: While some technology will be great for everyone (universal) and create more independence and inclusion, we still have to watch out for designs that exclude.

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WAG for people who haven’t read them

A young woman sits at a desk with her laptop open. She has her face covered by her hands and is indicating distressWCAG and W3C might be familiar acronyms, but do you know what they mean? And what, if anything, you should be doing about it? WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, can a bit off-putting at first because this is an international document that doesn’t translate well in all languages. The guidelines are also very long. Alan Dalton has taken away the legalese and provided a simpler and more user-friendly explanation of these guidelines. He covers text, operating the website, understanding content, ensuring the site works on all devices. The W3C – World Wide Web Consortium, is about the release the next version, WCAG 2.1.

The article has links to more complex documents such as Understanding WCAG 2.0, and the Techniques for WCAG 2.0  – together they become 1,200 printed pages.  And there are links to other useful resources, such as Why Bother with Accessibility?

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Blind man catches out his dog

Man wearing a yellow t shirt sits in an arm chair and has is black guide dog sitting between his legsThe advances in digital technology are opening up all kinds of opportunities and conveniences for everyone. Keeping up with advances is now the challenge, not what it can do. In the Rica video, three people discuss three mainstream connected products: Apple Watch, Amazon Echo and some Hive home automation products. They explain how it works for them and how it has improved their everyday living. That includes finding out what your guide dog is up to when you are asleep! Note that in the UK, they prefer the term “disabled people” rather than person with disability. 

Rica is the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs focused on consumer research for older people and people with disability. They have a resource-rich website. Read more user experience with the Apple Watch. 

 

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Design principles to live and die by

A text box with a grey background and white text with the heading: 8 Design Principles to Live and Die By, According to Facebook, IBM, Pentagram and MoreThe Fastcodesign website has another interesting article about design. Every designer has the principles they work by.  So they asked eight prominent designers who were either judges of or honored in the 2017 Innovation By Design Awards: “What is the one principle you never compromise on?” The answers are consistent with universal design principles: Good design is both invisible and obvious; Ignore trends; Ban mediocrity, Design to elicit emotion; Articulate your purpose, honestly and explicitly; Users are people not statistics; Design thinking isn’t for designers and; Design for the big idea. See the article for the designers’ explanations.

An abstract pattern of muted blue and orange squares of different sizes.

 

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eBay cashes in on accessibility

logo of ebay - red e, blue b, yellow a, and green y.eBay is another big brand that is embracing digital accessibility. “Digital accessibility is a way to improve your bottom line and avoid litigation, but more importantly it is a way for a brand to become an even better version of itself”, says Mark Lapole. He claims that neglecting to incorporate feedback from people with disability is potentially ignoring 15% of all people who could be interacting with the brand, and therefore participating and contributing to the economy. Mark’s article, Creating a Company Culture that Promotes Accessibility, lists five key points and is published on the Applause blog site. It is a company that specialises in accessibility assessments and user feedback. You can tell he’s taken their advice – the font size on the webpage is large and clear. 

For more local advice see Media Access Australia. They have lots of resources to help make the digital world accessible to all.

Editor’s note: Products, buildings, policies, can all become “better versions” of themselves if they do some thinking around inclusion. It doesn’t just apply to websites.

 

 

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