Minimising brain drain

graphic of a side-on view of a head with a mosaic of brightly coloured triangles filling the spaceReducing cognitive load means reducing the mental effort required to do something. With so many messages coming to us on our devices and even as we walk around, we can all do with some help to sift and process the important messages. Jon Yablonski has developed seven design principles for reducing cognitive load in relation to user interfaces in the digital world. However, some of these principles can be applied to other areas of design. The seven principles make a lot of sense and are explained simply. You can go to Jon Yablonski’s website where he explains further the concept of cognitive load.  The principles are:

  1. Avoid unnecessary elements
  2. Leverage common design patterns
  3. Eliminate unnecessary tasks
  4. Minimize choices
  5. Display choices as a group
  6. Strive for readability
  7. Use iconography with caution
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Colour contrast checkers for web

The colours of the rainbow arranged as a wheelCourtesy of the Axess Lab website, here are seven great free tools that help you measure color contrasts and create beautiful, accessible color schemes that fulfill the contrast requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). With almost everything in life being linked to the internet, it is important to make sure sites are fully accessible. Colour contrast is important for many with low vision, but accessibility does not have to equal boring. By going to the website you can see more on each of these seven free tools. 

  1. Contrast Ratio
  2. Tanaguru Contrast Finder
  3. Colour Contrast Analyser – by the Paciello Group
  4. Color Tool at Material.IO – by Google
  5. Accessibility Developer Tools – by Google
  6. Colour Contrast – IOS APP by Userlight
  7. Android Accessibility Scanner – Android App by Google

You can see more about colour vision deficiency and how it affects different people by going to a previous post, Seeing Red – or it it Green?

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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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Mobile banking for everyone

two male icons showing how a disability can excludeBarclays Bank has been a leader in inclusion and accessibility of their branches and now taking the next step to mobile banking. The short video below explains clearly how inclusive design is good for everyone as well as the bank’s profits. The video ends with a call to action: “Accessibility – make it your mantra”. Mark McLane from Barclays Bank will be speaking at the AND national conference on diversity in Melbourne in May. There is a great line-up of speakers.

 

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Media and Communications

Front cover of the guideMedia Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications.  Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides.

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Time for the inclusive revolution

book cover showing outline drawing of an older couple with an iPad tabletThe sub title from the e-book “Ageing, Adaption and Accessibility: Time for a revolution!” says it all. The book includes chapters from UK, Denmark, USA, Slovenia and Norway. The theme is the digital age and how to include everyone. It covers the economic case, putting people at the centre of the design, keeping it simple, and user testing.

In the foreword CEO of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson, says, “The experts interviewed for this book have given all who are involved in developing technology food for thought. It sets out the opportunities, challenges and impacts that communication solutions present to users, to help ensure that what we develop in the future does not end up excluding people whose lives we actually set out to improve. “

Ageing, Adaption and Accessibility is published by the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and is free to download. Several well known authors are featured, including Valerie Fletcher, Roger Coleman, Ger Craddock, Hua Dong, and Baroness Sally Greengross.

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Seeing Red – or is it Green?

Colour diagram showing the three different types of colour vision deficiencyNot everyone experiences colour in the same way, yet the use of colour in illustrations is rarely questioned in terms of universal design. If people with Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) are not included when illustrations, charts and images are designed, what colours should a designer use to include the 8% of the population with CVD? There are three types of CVD as shown in the image: green blindness, blue blindness and red blindness. People with CVD also have other difficulties in discerning some types of text, shapes and lines.

Preparing Images for All to See explains in detail how people with different versions of CVD experience colour. The article also gives some great guidelines for illustrators, map makers and others who communicate using coloured images. Included is a summary of the most frequently cited best practices for publication, presentation and instruction. Here is a synopsis of their recommendations.

  1. Select graphic styles for accessibility and use bar charts instead of pie charts 
  2. Distinguish items by more than color. Use circles and squares and solid and dashed lines. 
  3. Red and Green usually have the same hue (density of colour) and can’t be distinguished. Dark red–dark green, blue–violet, red–orange, and yellow–green are also not good. Magenta and turquoise are good choices because people with RedGreen-CVD can see the blue component.
  4. Make fonts and lines thick bright and with contrast.  
  5. Avoid rainbow color maps as this is the worst possible choice

You can also find out more about CVD or colour blindness from going to the National Eye Institute website

Three circular charts showing how people with colour deficiency see different colours on the colour wheel

 

 

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