Advances in design for inclusion – book

Front cover of the book: yellow background with dark blue text.This book is practice-orientated and covers many fields of design.The overview of this publication states, “This book focuses on a range of topics in design, such as universal design, design for all, digital inclusion, universal usability, and accessibility of technologies independently of people’s age, economic situation, education, geographic location, culture and language. … Based on the AHFE 2016 International Conference on Design for Inclusion, held on July 27-31, 2016, in Walt Disney World®, Florida, USA, this book discusses new design technologies, highlighting various requirements of individuals within a community. Thanks to its multidisciplinary approach, the book represents a useful resource for readers with different kinds of backgrounds and provides them with a timely, practice-oriented guide to design for inclusion.” You can download the promotional flyer or go to the link allows you to download the Table of Contents.

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What is audio description?

logo for Audio Descriptions. black bacround with white upper case letters AD and three curved lines indicating soundIf you’ve ever wondered what audio description is, then the Microsoft video below is a good example. Audio descriptions tell people who are blind the visual information on the screen during natural breaks in dialogue. In the Microsoft example, the speech of the audio describer is a bit fast in places, but it shows the type of describing they do. The video was developed as a staff training video on disability awareness and the first three and a half minutes are dedicated to basic information. The video descriptions start at 3 mins 27 seconds into the video. They use different case studies to show where audio descriptions work well in enabling people to be productive in the workplace.

You can find out more about audio describing from Media Access Australia, and an article on a trial of audio describing with ABC iView.

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85% of Facebook video is watched without sound

Black and white photo of Charlie Chaplin from silent movie daysIt seems silent movies have made a come-back. According to the Digiday website, as much as 85 percent of video views for some publishers on Facebook happen with the sound off.  That is, if they can view them that way. And that means having closed captions to interpret speech, or text over vision without narration. Apparently this is the new way to catch the immediate attention of Facebook viewers. It might also be a reason for Facebook to upgrade its auto-captioning because this doesn’t work well (sometimes known as “craptioning”). Once again, taking an inclusive approach to videos to include people who are deaf or hard of hearing with captions has proved popular with many others.  Read more about the changing habits of Facebook users in the Digiday article. 

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Telco to tech-co

A diagram of a two storey house with indications of the different types of technology that can be used and operated with a mobile phoneAn Australian Financial Review article tells how Telstra is moving into the tel-tech market. The article gives an insight into what kind of technology we might be using in our homes in the future. It explains how infinite control of household appliances can save on electricity as well. Many of the ideas come from the inventions created for people with disability – another example of design crossover where something designed to aid people with disability becomes an item everyone wants and then it becomes universal design, and is no longer specialised design. The wheelchair access ramp is the classic example of creating something specifically for disability access, but then finding it is good for everyone. Read the article for more on Telstra’s market move and that of other tech companies.

The community aged care market sees advantages for installing technology in the homes of their clients. But how will the client like the idea of someone monitoring thier every move? People at home alone can be monitored for getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, and opening the fridge to get their next meal, for example. Will older people receiving care at home agree to be monitored – will they get the opportunity to have a say, or refuse this technology? There are some ethical issues arising, as always, when technology moves faster than policy and regulations.

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Improved captioning for Facebook

Man in a dark blue t shirt leans against a red brick wall near a doorway. He is wearing glasses and looking at his smartphoneAccording to Hearing Like Me website, automatic closed captions are coming to Facebook live videos. Facebook claims these automated captions will be an improvement on the mostly incomprehensible auto captions we see on YouTube – hence the term “craptions”. In the words of one deaf user, “Auto-generated captions are often wrong, providing confusing transcripts, which is frustrating for those of us who rely on written word or lip-reading to fully understand speech.” Of course, captions are also good for anyone who is in a situation where they they don’t have ear plugs and need their phone on silent.

Show a keyboard an two hands with red nail polishDeaf YouTuber Rikki Poynter has been advocating for accurate captions on social videos. As a profoundly deaf teenager, Rikki wanted to access videos in the same way as her peers. But the captions are auto-generated and often result in nonsense. So Rikki started her campaign with her  #NoMoreCraptions awareness project.

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Apple leading innovation in usability

Jordyn Castor, blind engineer at AppleA leader in standardarising accessibility functions over specialised accessibility is Apple. Their products are recognised as being easy to use with intuitive functionality. With organisational values such as “inclusion inspires innovation”, the experience of engineers like Jordyn Castor provides a personal perspective when designing for usability. Born 15 weeks early, Jorydn beat the odds and being blind from birth doesn’t stop her from some masterful coding. 

In the Mashable Australia article, Castor says her own success – and her career – hinges on two things: technology and Braille. That may sound strange to many people, even to some who are blind and visually impaired. Braille and new tech are often depicted as at odds with one another, with Braille literacy rates decreasing as the presence of tech increases.

But many activists argue that Braille literacy is the key to employment and stable livelihood for blind individuals. With more than 70% of blind people lacking employment, the majority of those who are employed — an estimated 80% — have something in common: They read Braille. For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement. “I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”

This blind Apple engineer is transforming the tech world at only 22

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Digital Access and Usability

Layers in designing a website compared to a M&M with HTML at its core, CSS, Javascript and packages for accessibilityThe Interaction Design Foundation understands that accessible design is not just for people with disability, but about how all users engage with design. Aside from recognising that World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C-WAI) should be considered at the start of the design process, they also offer other helpful tips in making your website user-friendly in their article, Accessibility: Usability for all. Here are some examples of their tips and advice: 

  • If you use a CMS, choose one that supports accessibility standards. Drupal and WordPress, for example, support these. If you’re going to amend a template rather than create one for the theme, make certain that the theme was designed with accessibility in mind. It can save time, effort and money.
  • Use header tags to create headings in your text; ideally, ensure that you use CSS to make this consistent throughout the site. Try not to skip from one heading level to the next (e.g., H1 to H4, rather H1 to H2); this can confuse screen reader software. Users with more severe vision impairments may access your site using a refreshable Braille display or terminal, which depends on screen readers.
  • Use alt text on your images; if you use images to enhance content, then a screen reader will need to explain them— that’s what the alt text is for. However, if your image is purely for decoration and adds no other value (other than looking good), you should skip the alt text to avoid confusing someone having the site content read to him/her.
  • Have a link strategy. Screen readers sometimes stutter over links and stop on the first letter. That means it’s important not to have “click here” links scattered through the text. The best link descriptions have a text description before the link and then a unique name for the link. (E.g., “Read more about the Interaction Design Foundation, at their website.) Consider offering a visual cue (such as a PDF icon) by links to make it clear what the link will deliver. Use underlines on links (they help color blind people distinguish links from text). Highlight menu links on mouseover to assist with locating the cursor.
  • Choose colors carefully; if in doubt, test your color schemes with some color-blind people. Color blindness is an incredibly common disability, and the wrong palette can make it difficult for a color-blind person to read your text or navigate your site. You also need to ensure that you provide high levels of contrast between text and background; older people, for example, can find it hard to see text unless the contrast is high.
  • Don’t refer just to the color of something when giving instructions; “click the red button” isn’t helpful to a color-blind person. …

Read the full list on the Foundation’s websiteScroll down for the section on website design. There is also good information on other design ideas.   

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