I attended a meetup this week put on by the KC .NET User Group, “Designing for Accessibility: Thinking outside the box – by John Alexander.
Inclusive design is for those who want to make great products for the greatest number of people.-Microsoft Design
Many steer away from providing more access options for a service or product because they fear the high cost. They also think only a few people will actually benefit.
This presentation helped me think differently about how more access options provides opportunities to grow your customer group. Maybe that’s why AWG provides so many different marketing services?
When I’m about to start a new website project for someone I haven’t worked with before, one of my first questions is, “Who is your target audience?”
“Everybody” is the normal response.
“Greatest number of people = Everybody”
Consider how adaptable humans are when using tools, I mean, who hasn’t used a butter knife as a screwdriver? Another example is the Closed Captioning (CC) setting on a TV. At first, CC was for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Now, CC is used for a myriad of situations that go beyond aiding those are hearing impaired. We use CC settings on TVs in waiting rooms where you don’t want to miss your name getting called out. Some of us use CC if someone close by is trying to sleep. Sometimes I use CC if someone has a thick accent and I just can’t make out what they are saying.
The small computers we carry around with us (phones) are mostly designed for people without an impairment. We assume all senses work: Cognition, Mobility, Vision, Hearing, Voice/Speech and Sensation/Perception. It is assumed a user can see the screen, hear the audio, can use their fingers to touch the screen and has arms to carry the phone.
Inclusive Design includes many types of people. The goal is to not design for a specific gender, age, language ability, tech literacy or physical ability. Try not to think about how a person without an impairment would interact. Don’t assume your user has access to time, money or even a social network.
There are times when even a person without an impairment can’t use a phone. When it’s really bright outside, it can be hard to see the screen. If your in a noisy restaurant, it’s easy miss your phone ringing. When you have your arms full of groceries, it’s hard to answer your phone. It’s important to recognize an exclusion especially if they are temporary or situational. Think about why an exclusion is happening, for example, the sound of a moving train nearby can make it hard to hear.
Finding a solution to a constraint can benefit a larger group of people. Don’t only depend on tests using yourself, learn from diversity. Solve for one, extend to many by focusing on a Persona Spectrum.
The difference between accessibility and inclusive design is that accessibility is an attribute, while inclusive design is a method. Practicing inclusive design should make your products/service more accessible. Ideally, accessibility and inclusive design work together to make experiences that are truly usable and open to all.
Naturally, I tried to think of adaptive grocery shopping experiences that are around today and what might be down the road. I think of online shopping as an example of a service designed for people who, for a variety of reasons, don’t want to or can’t visit a store to shop.
I also thought about how grocery shopping relies on using several senses. To shop for groceries it helps if you have: mobility, sight, can hear maybe even smell and use your voice. Out of all of these senses, I would think not being able to see would be the hardest to deal with for finding products. What if store beacons and a phone app could be used to help guide a blind person to the bread aisle? What if those beacons ended up helping EVERYONE find what they need?