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Inclusive Design Lightning Talk

On Thursday 29th March 2018, Nicola du Toit and I gave a lightning talk about Inclusive Design at the Cape Town chapter of the Scrum User Group South Africa. Here’s what we talked about.

Even thought it was a lightning talk, we managed to sneak in some activity-like things. Before the talk, we placed posters in the toilets. This let us start as we meant to go on by asking: “Did anyone notice something strange in the toilet?” Then, a little way into the talk, we asked people to walk and write on some posters we had put up. The posters showed the spectrum of disabilities under the categories of Visual, Physical, Cognitive.

Here are our slides, with some commentary.

The most important thing is to think about disability as a spectrum, not a binary. This helps more humans, on more devices and browsers, under more conditions, use our stuff.

In 2017 we looked at some of things we’d designed and built. We did some testing and realised that they weren’t very accessible. We got sad. Then we got angry. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We started thinking about how we could do our work better, and help other people to do the same.

So we became… The Empathy Labradors. Yes, we like dogs… and cats too!

Here’s a more modern definition of disability:

Ability + Barrier = Disability

Ability is functional capacity. A Barrier might arise from a product. The conflict between the Ability and the Barrier results in a Disability. A disability might be permanent, contextual, situational.

If we look at physical aspects, someone’s functional capacity could be affected by:

  • having a condition like arthritis, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, or lupus;
  • having decreased and less precise motor control (perhaps from old age);
  • having an injury;
  • being in moving vehicle like a bus or train.

Looking at visual aspects, someone’s functional capacity could be affected by:

  • being blind;
  • having low vision or poor eyesight (perhaps from old age);
  • being colour blind (color vision deficiency);
  • being outside on a sunny day.

And if we look at cognitive aspects, someone’s functional capacity could be affected by:

  • having autism, dyslexia, or a learning disability;
  • reading something that’s not in their first language;
  • being distracted or in a rush;
  • being tired, stressed, or depressed.

Tim Berners-Lee, the person who created the World Wide Web, says:

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

❤ Inclusive Design is understanding and accepting the diversity of our users, despite our preconceptions. We have users with disabilities, we just don’t know about many of them.

❤ Accessibility is the specifics of the implementation. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) says:

Web accessibility is essential for some and useful for all.

❤ Inclusive Design has lots in common with high quality software and good usability.

One of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto is:

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

❤ Inclusive Design is our chance to be superheroes. In the best case scenario, we take it from can’t use to can use. In the worst case, we make it easier to use.

At the fronteers conference, Leonie Watson was talking about accessiblity and said:

“It doesn’t have to be perfect, just a little bit better than yesterday”

Now what? the first.

Find 10 mins and test your stuff. At there are three short activities you can do. Pick one!

Now what? the second.

On Thursday 17th May, it’s the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Find time during the day and spend an hour with your team doing the activities. If you can’t get an hour, try 30 minutes, or 15. The Cape Town front-end developers meetup group will be running a workshop on Saturday 12th, which will be announced soon.