Open Sesame! Packaging made easy

Exploded view of the package and all its partsIn marketing terms, the packaging is part of the product. The package shape, colour and brand are important in enticing consumers to buy. But all too often we have to get a sharp knife, a pair of scissors and wrestle with the packaging in order to get to the product inside. Microsoft has come up with a nice solution to packaging their Xbox Adaptive Controller – a gamepad for people who might not have use of their limbs. Good thinking – no good having a nicely designed accessible product that you can’t get out of the box! The video below shows the simple but effective design. There is another video on the FastCompany website or see the engadget website. Package designers take note. 

The title of the article is How Microsoft fixed the worst thing about product packaging.


Colour perceptions vary across cultures

Three smart phones showing the colour game.Anyone interested in optimal colours for web and phone might be interested in a project that came out of a colour matching game app. The game is based on colour perception. Feedback data showed designers how people perceive colour. With the help of academics they began to analyse the data in meaningful ways. Preliminary analysis indicates there is a variation across countries. For example, Norwegians were better at colour matching than Saudi Arabians. Singaporeans struggled to identify greens, and Scandinavians did best with red-purple hues. Research papers are to follow which could lead to more inclusive colour choices. The article concludes, 

“But the fruits of the project live on in open source. A generic version of Jose’s tools to query the Specimen dataset are hosted here on github. My greatest hope is other researchers find and make use of what was gathered, and that other designers and engineers consider leveraging play in unexpected ways”.

The title of the article on FastCompany website is, Our viral app made less than $1,000. We’d still do it again.

Picture courtesy FastCompany.

Writing material for websites

A computer screen sits on a desk. It shows a web page. Writing material for websitesIt’s all very well having web designers familiar with the accessibility requirements in their designs, but what about the people writing material for websites?

In many organisations staff write their own material and send it to the web controller for uploading. But is their writing and format also accessible? It is easy to post a document that was originally meant for another reader, such as a submission to a government body. But perhaps an Easy English version should be considered for the ease of access for all readers?

Web accessibility techniques: a guide

ictCentre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a guide for web accessibility techniques. It is split into three parts for: Developers; Designers; and Content providers and editors.  One good tip for inserting links in text is not to use “click here”, “more”, “full information” etc.

They advise that each link should clearly indicate its destination or function out of the context of the text surrounding it. The information focuses on practical advice and direction for anyone involved in web development, design and writing content. Topics covered include developing accessible data tables, using colour wisely, and writing well structured content. Writing material for websites isn’t difficult – it just takes a bit more thought about who the readers are. 

WCAG 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 distress. WCAG guidelines for people who haven't read them.WCAG and W3C might be familiar acronyms, but what do they mean? And what, if anything, you should be doing about it? No matter what your role, everyone needs to have a basic understanding. That’s because we are living in a digital age. The article, WCAG for people who haven’t read them, is a good place to start. 

WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, can a bit daunting at first. That’s because this is an international document and 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. 

A graphic with logos of popular social media platforms.Web accessibility is becoming increasingly important as we move ever closer to reliance on computers and other internet devices. Web accessibility is not just a matter for people who are blind or have low vision. 

All webpages, blog pages, or uploaded documents or pictures should be accessible. Dalton’s information is good for website managers and others who provide newsfeeds, documents and pictures for their website. Dalton’s 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. The W3C – World Wide Web Consortium, released the next version, WCAG 2.1. in 2018. However, the key information remains current.

There are links to other useful resources, such as Why Bother with Accessibility?

Overview of Web Guidelines 2.1 Update

Set of emoji faces depicting various emotions from happy to sad, and angry to loving.Alan Dalton provides a non-geek look at the WCAG update in his article, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 – for People Who Haven’t Read the Update. The update has 17 success criteria for web accessibility that were added last year by the working group. 

The new criteria make it easier to produce accessible content for people using mobile devices and touchscreens. People with low vision, and people with cognitive and learning disabilities are also covered. Making sure your website can be used in portrait and landscape orientation, colour contrast, graphics and the value of autocomplete are some of the features discussed.

Live captioning and sign language are also included. There are lots of links to other documents for reference. There is also a book list. This article might be non-geek for Alan Dalton, but even with some techo language you can get the gist of what is being updated even if you are not a web designer or technician. As we advance in the digital age this sort of information will be important for everyone who needs to communicate using digital technologies.  

WCAG 2.2

The final recommendation for WCAG 2.2 will be made available towards the end of 2022. According to speculations, it will most likely be out in December 2022. WCAG 2.2 is not entirely a new recommendation but an updated version of WCAG 2.1.

The W3C website has more technical details on WCAG2.1You can access more information in the ICT and UD section of this website.

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