As a result of completing a fairly in depth look at accessibility issues for web designers I am rounding out my work on the subject by mentioning the fact that today is World Usability Day. Alright, this year’s theme is transportation, but there’s a strong technology flavour throughout this subject.
“Technology today is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to access as a doorknob,” says the movement’s web site, which appears to have been going since 2006 and is supported by vendors from a variety of industries. There’s a video of Mr Gates on the home page doing one of his Bono-style ‘I care about the world’ speeches, it’s not too bad though.
A key theme appears to be that if you make your site more accessible to disabled users, then you naturally improve usability for ALL users. Tesco recently revamped its online offering from an accessibility perspective and found that sales increased across its entire user/customer base.
One of the companies I didn’t get to mention in my original report describe themselves as ‘digital interactive design consultants’ (gosh!) and like a lot of other socially aware consultancies they work on accessibility and usability as inter-related terms that should always stand side by side.
Wilson Fletcher is working closely with the British Dyslexia Association to develop a set of best practices to help these users get the most from the Internet. The company says that, “The web accessibility issue has, to date, tended to focus around those with partial sight. However, improving web standards for other groups - such as those with dyslexia for example - has been largely ignored.”
Looking back one last time to Microsoft’s ReMIX web designer’s event in Brighton last month, one accessibility presentation featured demonstrations of ‘what dyslexia looks like to a sufferer’. Well, as you can imagine, the audience was pretty fascinated to see blurry, fuzzy, moving and doubled-up text and try for just a moment to imagine what it must be like to harbour this condition.
Anyway, one last call from a journalist with very few morals, scruples or political correctness to boast about. I think I’ve been woken up to the need for more social conscience when it comes to web development and design. If you need a wake up call, the take a look at the worst web design ever and put yourself in a blind person’s shoes trying to use a screen reader on this car crash of a home page for a second.