Designing for Dyslexia (Part 1)

There are fifty-two cards in a standard deck of cards, and we are tasked with putting them in order, whatever that might mean to us. We might choose to simply place the cards into two piles: blacks and reds, and leave it at that. Alternatively, we could separate these two piles into two further piles: hearts and diamonds for the red cards, and spades and clubs for the black cards. Adding another layer of complexity, it is possible to arrange each of these four piles into numerical order from ace to king. If this deck of cards were handed to a random person, the expectation is that the user would be able to find a particular card. If, for example, the person were tasked with finding the ace of spades, he or she would most likely flip through the cards, recognize the pattern, and extract the card with ease. This is an understandable expectation, but it relies on the assumption that the searcher’s cognition is the same as that of the card’s arranger. What might occur if the person were unable to recognize the pattern? What might occur if they were able to recognize the pattern, but it took additional time to find a particular card? Dyslexics worldwide face this very challenge. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity estimates that 20% of the population is dyslexic, yet designers are generally ill equipped to create designs that are accessible for dyslexic users. In this article, we’ll take a look at the study I created and what I learned about dyslexia. Then, in part two, we’ll review the five universal...

Whitney Quesenbery and Joe O’Connor – Accessible WordPress

[ Transcript Available ] WordPress powers over 25 million sites with more than 14 billion pages viewed each month, making it one of the most popular web publishing platforms. Imagine if every one of those sites was accessible. Joe O’Connor has been a leader in making that happen, through the WordPress accessibility team which works from the inside to make WordPress into a web publishing platform for everyone. Joe joins Whitney Quesenbery for this episode of A Podcast for Everyone to talk about what it takes to make an open source platform that can help authors make their sites accessible. They talked about: How can you make your WordPress accessible? What are the best accessible-ready WordPress themes? What tools can help you keep your content accessible for everyone? Joseph Karr O’Connor lives in Santa Monica, California. When Section 508 came into effect in 1999 he began leading Accessible UX teams creating accessible web environments. Joe has been using WordPress in support of non-profits, research, and university news since 2005. Now leading Cities, a world-wide effort to build free accessible WordPress themes, Joe also contributes to Make WordPress Accessible and asks you to get involved. He’s known on Twitter as AccessibleJoe. Resources mentioned in this podcast WordPress Guidelines: Accessibility Accessibility-Ready WordPress Themes Making WordPress Accessible WP Accessibility plugin by Joe Dolson The Cities project Accessibility checking tools Accessible WordPress themes that Joe recommends: Blaskan Simone WordPress Twenty Fourteen WordPress Twenty Thirteen Recorded: July, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via ?This link will launch the iTunes application.] [ Subscribe with other podcast applications.] Full Transcript. Whitney Quesenbery: Hi, I’m Whitney...

Breaking the Constraints

On August 7, 2014, UX designers and developers around the world cheered to the news that Microsoft would officially drop support for older versions of Internet Explorer, effective January 2016. Yet by and large, the outcry was less “hooray for Microsoft!” and more “why didn’t they do this sooner?” The answer is “because people still use IE,” and yet people still use IE because it’s supported, and it’s supported because people use it. It’s a vicious cycle. Two years ago, Nicholas Zakas wrote an article for Smashing Magazine entitled “It’s Time to Stop Blaming Internet Explorer,” in which he said: It’s not actually old browsers that are holding back the web, it’s old ways of thinking about the Web that are holding back the Web. He went on to explain that constraints will always exist, be they older browsers, business requirements, or user needs, and it’s the UX designer’s job to focus on what can be done rather than how to rid the world of the constraint. It’s an intriguing idea. We do work within constraints on every project, and many of them will never wane no matter how much we complain about them, but some constraints can be cracked, or at least altered, if we know where to begin. We’re often told to ask for serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage (or coffee) to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. By understanding where constraints originate and why users react to a given constraint the way they do, we can gain the wisdom we need to identify whether each constraint...

Sarah Horton and Steve Faulkner – HTML5 Accessibility

[ Transcript Available ] Web accessibility takes place on a foundation of technologies, the most common of which are developed and maintained by the Worldwide Web Consortium, or W3C. Its success is dependent on how well these underlying technologies support accessible user experiences. Fortunately for us, people like Steve Faulkner devote much of their time to ensure technology specifications, such as HTML5, include the hooks that make it possible to build an accessible and enjoyable user experience for everyone. Including people who use assistive technologies, such as screen reader and screen magnification software, and different display and interaction modalities, such as user stylesheets and keyboard navigation. The web was created with accessibility as part its framework. Steve’s focus is to ensure accessibility remains a fundamental component of the web’s foundational technologies. Steve is co-editor of the HTML5 specification. He has been closely involved in other W3C specifications development, including the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) specification. In this podcast Steve joins Sarah Horton to tell us about: The current status of the HTML5 specification How WAI-ARIA and HTML5 work together to support accessibility How accessibility is integrated into specification development What it’s like to work on a W3C specification Steve Faulkner has been working in accessibility since 2001, first with Vision Australia and currently with The Paciello Group (TPG), where he is Principal Accessibility Engineer. He is involved with several W3C working groups, including the HTML Working Group and the Protocols and Formats Working Group, and is author of the helpful resource, Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He is also creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility...

Sarah Horton and Jonathan Lazar – Accessibility Research Methods

[ Transcript Available ] Accessibility research can help us better understand how people with disabilities use the web and what we in product design and development can do to make that experience more successful and enjoyable. However, accessibility research is often carried out in academia. The valuable insights gained through research are shared and built upon among scholars, but often do not make their way into the practice of people who are designing and building digital products and services. In this podcast we hear from Dr. Jonathan Lazar, a computer scientist specializing in human-computer interaction with a focus on usability and accessibility. Jonathan has done a great deal of work bridging the gap between research and practice. He joins Sarah Horton for this episode of A Podcast for Everyone to answer these questions: What are different accessibility research methods and what they are good for? And when are they most effective in the product development lifecycle? What are the broad benefits of accessibility research? How can you get organizational buy-in for conducting accessibility research? How can researchers and practitioners work together to advance accessibility? Resources mentioned in this podcast Evaluation tools: WAVE, WorldSpace Locked Out (Video) by Jonathan Lazar Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology (CWUAAT) SIGCHI Public Policy Harvard Law School Project on Disability Recorded: April, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via ?This link will launch the iTunes application.] [ Subscribe with other podcast applications.] Full Transcript. Sarah Horton: Hi, I’m Sarah Horton. I’m co-author with Whitney Quesenbery of “A Web for Everyone,” from Rosenfeld Media. I’m here today with Jonathan Lazar. Jonathan is a...