Last impressions might count more

Graph showing a peak one third of the way through the time scale and another at the end of the visitor experience.First impressions might not be as critical as we first thought or were taught. This is especially the case with website start or landing pages. The Axess Lab has a good article on a flipped approach to web design. It seems the critical points for website visitors is their “peak experience” – best or worst- and the last experience. The last experience is the most important. This is based on Nobel Prize winning masterpiece, Thinking Fast and Slow. The article goes on to explain how to get the best impact for the last experience using the peak-end rule.

For an example of a good end experience, the article links to a UK Government thank you page. It was so well done that they encouraged more people to sign up as organ donors. There’s also some advice on footers. 

As always, Axess Lab uses good techniques and design for its own web pages and this article. That makes it an interesting read for anyone, not just IT people. More good material in other articles as well.

Graphic courtesy of Axess Lab

 

Web accessibility made easy: the how and why

A graphic with line drawings of a computer screen and some of the accessibility icons.Everyone should know about web accessibility, not just IT people. That’s because so many of us contribute to the digital world one way or another – social media, personal blog sites and the places we work.
If you want to find out about web accessibility the easy way – and why you should do it, help is at hand. The Commons website has a guide that’s easy to read, understand and follow. While there are many different guides around, this one is comprehensive without being overwhelming. It brings the key points together and makes it easy to understand why web accessibility is so important – for everyone.

The nice part about the design (we should take note) is they don’t try to give you too much information in one go. You can get the general idea and principles first. Then when you need to know more, the links will provide it. The topics start with the usual ones – text size, colour contrast, etc., and then some of the things most people don’t think about. It nicely concludes with a section on inclusive language and disability etiquette. Remember, 44% of Australian adults have difficulty reading and writing. One of the best guides around. 

Note: The Commons Library website has a host of resources and information about advocacy.

Graphic courtesy The Commons website.

 

Creating videos for learning

A woman is fixing a camera to a tripod.Many teachers and instructors are making their own videos for their learners. With today’s technology it’s becoming easier. But how to make the videos universally designed for online learning? A paper from Ireland gives really practical advice from preparing videos to editing for universal design. It lists step by step activities for planning and preparation, script writing, filming and a detailed section on equipment. The key concepts for editing are also included.

Captioning used to be very expensive when done by outside contractors, but YouTube and Google have improved their technology and made it possible for do-it-yourself captioning. This is a big step forward and really no excuse for not doing it. We know that captioning helps many people to better understand content regardless of their level of hearing. It’s also handy when you can’t have the sound on or if it’s not in your first language.

In summary, videos allow educators to engage with students and prepare learners for practical sessions. Inaccurate or poorly designed videos can confuse and cause disengagement. Educators often lack time as well as training, but with the practical advice in this article, they can improve and thereby save time in the long run.

The title of the article is, Practical Recommendations on the Production of Video Teaching Resources.  

Abstract:  Instructional videos are widely used and potentially highly effective and flexible teaching tools. They are increasingly employed in practical skills training in the fields of science and healthcare. However, educators may struggle to source suitable videos demonstrating safe and suitable techniques. In addition, academic staff may lack the resources and expertise needed to produce and edit effective video in-house. This article provides an overview of the planning, shooting, editing and sharing of video footage to produce effective teaching resources. The aim is to provide guidance for academic staff who wish to develop customised teaching videos and successfully integrate them into their teaching.

Staying vigilant on web accessibility

A pair of hands holding a tablet with a computer screen in the background.Digital infrastructure accessibility and content accessibility are not the same things. Infrastructure covers things like elements that show up on every page and anything related to navigation. Content is anything that can be updated and uploaded. So that’s text, documents, articles, photos and videos. A key point in an informative article from Sheri Byrne-Haber is:

Every single time the content is updated, content accessibility should be reassessed. 

This is particularly relevant if staff or third parties are free to upload content onto a site, or are providing content. The other key point is:

Accessibility is never one-off and done.

The article uses a case study to show how organisations can be left vulnerable to lawsuits if they don’t check regularly for accessibility. Webpages can be accessible today, but next week they might not be because new content has not been assessed for accessibility. The title of the article is, What’s more expensive than getting sued over inaccessibility?

 

How can you use a computer if you are blind?

shows corner of a laptop and a smartphone on a deskHow does a blind person use a computer?  There are lots of ways depending on the type of blindness and individual preferences. When you understand how people who are blind or have low vision use a computer, it makes web accessibility more understandable too. Axess lab has several videos with real life examples:

“There is no better way to understand the importance of accessibility and inclusive design than learning from actual users with disabilities. Here’s a collection of our favorite Youtube videos where people showcase how they use assistive technologies like screen readers, eye tracking, zoom and switches.”

My favourite is Molly with her “Apple orchard” because a first glance she doesn’t look blind, and she is good at explaining.

Videos of people with disabilities using tech

Smart Cities for All

cover of Smart Cities Toolkit.How smart can a smart city be? ‘Smart’ is everything from the footpath to the website. So not so smart if it doesn’t include everyone and join the dots between all the factors that make a city a city.  With digital transformations happening worldwide, the aim of the Smart Cities for All Toolkit is to eliminate the digital divide and improve urban environments for everyone. In the video below, James Thurston talks about the issues cities are facing.

The main part of the toolkit, the Inclusive Innovation Playbook, is detailed and aimed at a policy and planning level. Stakeholder participation and inclusion is an essential theme. Case studies assist with understanding. There is a helpful checklist at the end of the Playbook. There’s a lot to digest, but this means it isn’t a cursory overview with simplistic solutions. It goes much deeper than a digital accessibility checklist. This is about joining the dots across city assets and leveraging them for everyone’s benefit. Other sections of the toolkit cover: 

    • Toolkit Overview
    • Guide to adopting an ICT accessibility procurement policy
    • Implementing priority ICT accessibility standards
    • Communicating the case for stronger commitment to digital inclusion in cities
    • Database of solutions for digital inclusion in cities

“The toolkit supports a range of organizations and roles related to Smart Cities, including government managers, policy makers, IT professionals, disability advocates, procurement officials, technology suppliers, and developers who design Smart City apps and solutions.

Each of the tools addresses a priority challenge identified by global experts as a barrier to the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in Smart Cities.”  See also Smart Cities for All: A Vision

James Thurston of 3Gict discusses the issues in the video below.  

Colours for colour blindness

Title of the blog article using light blue and dark blue colours.Colour is often used in charts, maps and infographics, but what if you can’t see some colours? One in twelve men are colour blind, but not for all colours or the same colours. Infographics are becoming more popular as a means of explaining things. So choosing the best colours is to everyone’s advantage. Venngage website has an good guide and lots of tips on making charts more accessible. It shows the three types of colour blindness and compares them with normal vision. Different colour palettes are provided along with templates. The blog page includes links to other resources. Colour combinations to avoid include:

    • Red & green
    • Green & brown
    • Green & blue
    • Blue & gray
    • Blue & purple
    • Green & gray
    • Green & black

Most colour blind people can detect contrast, so as a last resort, if you must use these colours, make the contrast as strong as possible. Patterns and textures also work. The article is titled, How to use color blind friendly palettes to make your charts accessible.  Colour blindness is technically referred known as colour vision deficiency (CVD). 

Editor’s note: The Venngage blog site includes advertising.

 

You understand me? Maybe

Front cover of the toolkit with three overlapping circles, bright pink, purple and turquoise.This toolkit about communicating with customers follows its own advice. The information is written in a straightforward way. Lots of graphics illustrate key points, and the information is very specific, such as when to write numbers as digits or as words. While the information might not be new to some, it serves as a good reviser of current practice. Designed for organisations but good for everyone.

The Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service – A Universal Design Approach has sections on written, verbal and digital communication. At 134 pages it is comprehensive. Each section has examples, tips, checklists and links to learn more. The intention of the toolkit is for public service planning, training and informing contractors. But of course, it works for anyone who is communicating with the public. 

Another great resource from Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Interesting to note that they have chosen colours for the cover and their logo that almost everyone can see – that includes people with colour vision deficiency.

Inclusive Digital Design Poster

A screenshot of the poster showing the principles of inclusive designBarclays Bank has developed a set of inclusive digital design posters. They are based on seven design principles. These principles can be applied to other design fields as well as digital platforms. 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 posters from The Paciello Group website. The seven principles below are explained in more detail:

      1. Provide comparable experience
      2. Consider situation
      3. Provide comparable experience
      4. Be consistent
      5. Give control
      6. Offer choice 
      7. Prioritise content
      8. Add value

Barclays says the Inclusive Design Principles are about putting people first. It’s about designing for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing disabilities — all of us really. The posters are a good quick reference for web and app design professionals.  

 

AI, the web and picture descriptions

A laptop computer on a desk showing several picturesPeople who rely on screen readers or Braille displays like to use the internet in the same way as others. When it comes to images, this depends on remembering to use the alt-text feature to describe uploaded images. While many big websites do include alt-text, smaller ones often don’t – and there are a lot of bloggers. And social media is the biggest culprit.

There are applications designed to describe images, but they don’t do it accurately. The Chrome accessibility team at Google are working on this. The aim is to use machine learning to more accurately describe the millions of images that are yet to be described. The FastCo website has more information.

Applying alt-text to all your images means that screen readers don’t get the image filename or upload coding instead of something sensible. The added advantage is that when the image fails to load on, say, a phone, a sensible text appears instead of the image. Axess Lab has lots more information in a very readable format.