Designing technology for all

one hand is holding a smart phone and the other is pointing at the screen. It’s not just a matter of fairness. Technology is generally better for everyone if it’s designed for people with disability. People who are blind use the same smartphones as sighted people. They also use computers by using screen readers. But screen readers can’t improve the way websites are designed. The thing is, a website that causes problems for a screen reader is likely to be more difficult for anyone. So designing for disability is designing technology for all. That’s universal design.

An article in The Conversation explains the issues in more detail. One of the issues for web designers is that prototyping software is not compatible with screen readers. Consequently they can’t get blind users to test their designs. It also means a blind designer wouldn’t be able to make mock-ups of their own.

The researchers said that accessibility is the hallmark of good technology. Many technologies that we take for granted were developed around disability. The article concludes that no matter how much empathy a designer has, it doesn’t replace the benefits of technology built by people who actually use it. 

The title of the article is, “Why getting more people with disabilities developing technology is good for everyone”.

A related postKristy Viers is sitting in a T shirt and shorts with an iPhone in her hands. Designing technology for all. is Kristy Viers, a blind user, showing how she uses her iPhone.

See a screen reader in action in a previous post.