A weekly collection of things that i’ve read on inclusive design, accessibility and ethics, things that were interesting to me and hopefully to you too.
A little later than usual this week, mainly because things like life and work and all that jazz got in the way of writing it (is it writing or simply collating, I probably shouldn’t go down that route of philosophical quandary should I? I’ll end up realising this is nothing more than a glorified listical).
Anyway as is the way here’s a load of interesting things across the various scope of Inclusive Design, Accessibility, ethics and more.
I am, you may be surprised to know, something of a sceptic about the desire for big tech to adopt ethical practices without a massive shoe up the arse to get there, but even I came away from this feeling a bit better about what’s happening. Yes 2020 has been utterly horrendous — from that there’s no escaping — but it’s also kickstarted some truly positive change in tech, and hopefully that change sticks.
“I created a product that would be acceptable for as many people as possible. I looked into A.L.S., Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, lupus, arthritis — lots of different areas with tremors and grips,” she said. “Giving people back that power and control that they sometimes lose was a top priority and inspiration to me.”
References to control, god how some of us on this side of the pond are sick of that trope, but in the case of some young innovators and entrepreneurs that’s exactly what they’re doing when they create lines like these. And more may they succeed, since innovations in this space gave us the electric toothbrush (amongst others) and the tools they design now to increase access like these are one of the final frontiers of inclusion in make up.
Removing barriers: How Liliane Canvas Control is empowering designers in the face of disability — Design tools are often not the most inclusive of tools, I personally know of talented designers with impairments who cannot use the full suite at the disposal of other designers, so to see the Liliane Canvas Control plugin for AdobeXD is a genuinely exciting thing.
Liliane, working with the team at Adobe decided to fix the lack of access to their XD tool, and co-created a plug that allows Liliane to pan, zoom and perform techniques most don’t even consider they’re doing, via her own input mechanism. A wonderful example of what co-creation can achieve, and a democratisation of creativity.
The video game market is currently on the edge of huge transformation, an industry blighted by accusations of sexism and racism is finally starting to prioritise and focus on inclusion, EA for example have hired a Director of Accessibility, and companies like Microsoft have expanded their access via the control pads to use them.
This article documents what it’s like to audio transcribe a game for those with low sight, and how techniques taken from the film world can be applied with huge benefit.
So often with the conversations on Inclusive Design we hear about the need for inclusion, diversity and co-creation spoken from the mouths of people in London, California, New York and other western hubs. So to find a conference, run in Africa, by the African accessibility and inclusive design community is something that excites me greatly.
WebAim are brilliant, in a sea of accessibility checkers, validators and the like they are one of those that stand apart in actually providing tools that work, and not just work but improve. I know automated accessibility testing only picks up around 20% of issues and nothing, absolutely nothing, is better than testing on real users, but Wave is one that i’ll use in my day to day workflow and this new release brings in a host of useful new checks, in particular some of the content stuff like identify text that’s formatted like a list but not marked up like a list is brilliantly helpful.
There are a lot of accessibility lawsuits going on at the moment, mostly in the states though also in India and the UK, but what makes this one different is that the case actually cites specifics around button labelling, accessible fields and inaccessible labels. This cuts right to the core of a11y issues, and goes beyond simply being a lack of access to a cart or discounts, a very interesting one to keep an eye on.
One of the things that seems to be forgotten about when it comes to a11y is performance, some recent inclusive user testing I ran at work really brought it’s impact to the forefront of my mind. Watching a screenreader user hearing the equivalent of intrusive pop ups come into “view” due to a slow loading site and a stray aria-live attribute really made me realise just how vital it is to consider perf a part of accessibility.
I’m unsure as to whether this is a lovely conceptual piece of art that speaks — pun intended — to a community that’s often left devoid of the beautiful for the sake of something being beautiful, or if it’s just deeply annoying aural clutter, but either way the sentiment seems right and it’s nice to share things made with nice sentiment.
Anyone that knows me in real life will know my general aversion to photography, well more to the point my aversion to being photographed, that coupled with the fact i’ve never been on a Facebook owned product means that i’ve never experienced this particular piece of algorithmic horror. But a recent study has now proven that Instagram prioritises your image if you “lay out all bare”.
Gender, race and geography are all known “blind spots” (to be polite) in computer vision and AI, fortunately they’re things that people are finally starting to understand are a problem and the AI community are trying to address — I mean if you really want to address it don’t build more AI engage with groups like Black in AI and Queer in AI, but anyway I digress — and a team of researchers have created REVISE, a tool that relies on statistical methods to identify potential biases in a data set. So if you really can’t bring yourself to engage the people you should at least now you can identify when you’ve introduced bias.
The moral case for accessibility — It may seem to many that the adoption of features by web browsers is neither the most interesting, nor the most important thing when considering ethics in technology. But Jeremy Keith succinctly makes the case here that leaving the adoption of accessibility features by browsers to the market place is a deeply flawed way of doing things, and that instead we should focus on access first. And lets be honest it’s a hard case to argue against (unless of course you happen to be a sociopath).
Look the world is burning. Literally in some places. And whilst we all work in an industry and sector full of very smart people (or so we tell ourselves) and people who often care more for the environment than others we are also undoubtably part of the problem. The number of websites online is over a billion, their average page weight pushing the 5mb mark, we are pre-fetching and pre-loading more and more and pumping them full of adtech and spyware to track users in the process, and well… Maybe it’s about time we stopped.
Stopped and considered if that autoplaying background video is really worth the CO2 it’s creating, stopped and asked ourselves if out latest high res food picture or selfie is worth adding to the worlds demise? I’d guess most of us would say no, but we make small micro choices every day at work that add to this digital waste web pollution.