Colour Kindness

A group of people standing holding a pink banner with the words You are Not Alone, but you can't see the word NOT because it is in pale red and blends into the background colourIt’s one thing to talk about colour blindness, but it is quite another to see what it looks like to the 6-10 percent of the population that have colour vision deficiency. Axess Lab has produced an excellent set of successes and failures using real life examples of colours used by web designers. These examples provide really good guidance for anyone involved in web content and design, as well as printed material. The blog page has links to more information. There is a nice pic of what a football field looks like to someone who can’t see red and green – so it’s not all about the web – it’s all around us as the picture shows. If you want to see more on this topic see ColourBlindAwareness Twitter feed. 

The banner in the picture shown should read You Are Not Alone, instead it looks like, You Are Alone.


Inclusive design: A poster

A screenshot of the poster showing the principles of inclusive designBarclays Bank has taken a new set of inclusive design principles developed by The Paciello Group, and made them their own. They’ve styled them into two posters that make it easy to see how to design for all. While these seven principles are aimed at the digital world, the principles can be applied to other fields of design. You can download the A3 poster which gives a quick overview. Or download a more detailed  set of A4 posters. Barclays Bank began investing in inclusive practice many years ago but they haven’t rested on their laurels. They also encourage their business customers to get on board with accessibility. You can read more about the article from The Paciello Group website.


What does that icon mean?

A brightly coloured abstract painting consisting of painbrush lines going in all directions.Which icon does what, and where will the video end up so that it can be found again? Hampus Sethfors in an Axesslab articleuses the example of trying to download a TED Talk on a smart phone for viewing later. He explains why icons are ruining interfaces  He argues icons need labels otherwise users give up after a few unsuccessful tries and become unsatisfied with the app. Sethfors says, “Icons are like abstract paintings. They get different meanings for different people. It’s all through the eyes of an observer. And that ambiguity is really exciting with art. But not so much in user interfaces.” Saving space at the expense of usability is not the way to go. Sethfors also uses  Instagram, Gmail, and Apple apps as examples of what not to do. He goes on to look at icons on a washing machine dial, and then to icons that really work. You can really see the difference.

People who design these things make a lot of assumptions about previous experience with instructions and ways of doing things.


Stop talking about accessibility…

drawing of two computer screensThe envato blog features an article that begins, “Accessibility… Wait! Don’t stop reading! This isn’t a preachy article about how you should design your digital platforms to be more friendly to the disabled. No. This is a hard-nosed business article about maximizing your potential audience and your profits at the same time. Keep reading, I promise it is worth it.”  The article, Stop talking about accessibility. Start talking about inclusive design, by Paul Boag, goes on to say people have the wrong view of accessibility: “If we are honest we tend to think of blind people.” He says it is time to rebrand accessibility in this easy to read article. He ends with “So next time a client or colleague says they don’t have disabled customers, ask them what they mean. Because they could be turning away more than 1 in 5 of their customers.”

Editor’s Note: Terminology for inclusive practice is critical to success. Accessibility is linked to disability rights and is often legislated. This is why it is still considered to be something for “the others”, and not for everyone. As a human rights issue, inclusion has been hard fought over many years. The terms universal design and inclusive design are still often interpreted as “disabled design”. I wrote a paper on the issues of terminology, Calling a Spade a Shovel: Universal, accessible, adaptable, disabled – aren’t they all the same?  It’s a universal mix-up. Jane Bringolf.


Microsoft and the Guatamalan challenge

A group of Guatamalan women sit at notebook computers in a village hallHow do you design computer interfaces for people who have never seen or used a computer? Or only ever used spoken language to communicate? That was the challenge for Microsoft when working with a group of Guatemalan women who only know their local traditional language. Microsoft developed a pilot program with the aim of teaching the women how to read and speak Spanish. The challenge was all the greater because modern technology hadn’t yet reached the women.  And there was the technology itself – the community didn’t have internet access – the key to so many established learning programs. Read the article for more of the story and to see the inventive solutions the designers came up with. The article on the FastCo Design website has several short video clips that help explain the process and the outcome. The best part is that Microsoft believes that they have designed something that could be useful for everyone. In an increasingly digitised world, these developments will help include everyone.


Pay Pal Design Principles

Blue PayPal logoPay Pal has four simple design principles that could be duplicated in any setting, but particularly in the digital world. Interestingly their principles statement uses the first person pronoun, we, which indicates ownership of the action. They are: 

  1. We Craft  We obsess over every pixel. Every word. Every experience. We make big changes in tiny spaces and small tweaks to global ideas. We won’t release anything we’re not proud of. Because focusing on the details lets us build something truly memorable.
  2. We Simplify  Building something simple is anything but. So, we’re honest about our impact on people’s lives. We respect their time and spend every waking moment of our day making things simpler. Because simple is loved, needed, used and shared. 
  3. We Connect We create opportunity by connecting people to each other. That’s a powerful concept–coming up with ways to connect and further interconnect our world anyway we can. It’s an awesome challenge, too. One we dive into headfirst every day.
  4. We Go All In  We invent, then reinvent. Design, then redesign. Yes, we butt heads sometimes, but only because we’re fighting for the people that depend on us. Our customers need us to do the best work of our lives so that they can do the best work of theirs.

Note: PayPal is part of Ebay so they share the same principles.


Inclusive video gaming

A young woman avatar with yellow hair and a white dress with yellow flowers holds out her arm that is a black prosthesisA recent article in The Guardian explains how video game developers are designing avatar elements to be more representative of population diversity. There is a growing realisation that choice of skin tone, gender, ethnicity or physical ability for a character is important to players for the “looks like me” appeal. Games are a key element of childhood and teenage life, so it is important to have avatars that represent them. Xbox now have avatars that allow players to depict themselves as wheelchair users or having prosthetic limbs, as well as other atributes such as body shape and skin colour. The article includes a section on gender non-conforming players using gaming as a means for helping them with their coming out process. Games are also a way for children to share time with others when they might not be able to communicate verbally. The article nicely counters arguments about diversity being a fad or holding back creativity:

“When people dismiss representation as a political fad, as an imposition on the creative process, as a means of ticking off lists, they are almost always doing this from a position of privilege. The argument that it’s not the gender, ethnicity or physical abilities of a character that are important, but whether they’re written well and fun to play, is easier to make if you’re already being comfortably represented. It is easy to assume your experience is universal. But it isn’t.” 

A young male and young female are depicted as wheelchair usersA very readable article covering the diversity spectrum in gaming. Short explanatory videos are included.