I have spent a lot of time over the last 20 years thinking about User Design and Experience. It is not an obsession, but it is an interest. I have read books on typography, and visual cueing, as well as articles on urban planning for pedestrian mobility. The articles we have been reading strike a familiar chord with me, and their explicitness is welcome. If only most designers and developers would adhere to the standards they outline.
This post is not intended as a lament, however, some background for should provide context (see what I did there?) Our daughter was born a little more than 20 years ago. Due to complications during her birth, she developed Cerebral Palsy and her optic nerve was irreparably damaged. As she grew, I was forced to interact with the world in the same way she does, encountering the obstacles unwittingly placed in her path, and navigating with frustration what most of us are completely oblivious to. I use oblivious here not as a pejorative, but as the best descriptor of the facts, “Not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one.” (Google dictionary)
I found the UI Design Do’s and Don’ts from Apple interesting reading, in that the overview was so very vague.
According to User Experience Magazine, there are some definite fundamentals to take into account when designing, and adding in user profiles who have disabilities is one of them. One must also take into account federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508 and recommendations from the W3C, the international web standards consortium.
The broad categories of disabilities are:
- Vision (blindness, low vision, color blindness)
- Hearing (deaf or hard of hearing)
- Speech and voice-related
- Manual dexterity (for example: unable to use a mouse)
- Mobility (for example: wheelchair users)
- Cognitive disabilities (for example: dyslexia, autism, executive processing: “What do I do next?”).
For instance, low vision or blind users may use screen reader software. If the design is not compatible, this might be the result might be as shown, Abraham Lincoln’s brilliant historical plea, rendered to the unseeing as word salad.
As I continue these posts with examples of various stumbling blocks, be mindful! Thank you.
To be continued……