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Category: design

June Accessibility News Round-Up

In my last post I mentioned that June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. After, I began physical therapy with a PT who specializes in headaches, and stayed overnight in a sleep lab. That visit confirmed my sleep apnea and need to look into Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and CPAP alternatives. There have been other big accessibility topics this month.

Not all wounds are visible. PTSD Awareness Month.
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World Usability Day 2022

The annual global event, World Usability Day, will be observed on Thursday, November 10th, 2022. I’m slated to deliver accessibility training to international colleagues that day, so I’ll be missing my local UXPA MN event but I’m a big fan. World Usability Day is a single day of events occurring around the world that brings together communities of professional, industrial, educational, citizen, and government groups for a common objective: to ensure that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use. The theme for this year’s World Usability Day is “Our Health.”

In our theme “Our Health” we look to explore systems that provide healthcare in all its many forms such as virtual/telehealth, electronic health records, healthcare products and all digital health related solutions. This theme will help us explore timely and important issues such as continuity of care, access to treatment, telemedicine, systems for mental health, exercise, nutrition and many more. In addition, Our Health includes health problems related to environmental issues such as air and water pollution impact on health.

World Usability Day

Participate in one of the global events, if you are able to. And be sure to sign the Usable Tech for Good petition.

If the UN recognizes usability as a core digital technology value, this will create an awareness of HCI/UX at the policy making level, increase the public engagement with the investment in user experience, potentially lead to a global impact, and let usability do its part for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

WorldUsability Initiative
World Usability Day logo with the earth surrounded by a green circle and the text Make Things Easier Day
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Creating a More Humane Social Order

Writer, disability-justice activist and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha knows that it’s possible for society to become more equitable. They envision a future in which “people are free to be, regardless of their ability to fit into capitalist institutions.”

‘The Future Is Disabled’ book review from Ms. Magazine

I’m excited by the work of activists like Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. And their latest book that “lays out a bare-bones agenda for what is needed to make the U.S. more socially just: affordable, available and accessible housing; healthcare and pharmacare; a universal basic income for all residents; free, high-quality public education programs; and the elimination of punitive policing and incarceration.” A resounding YES PLEASE to all of it!

Unfortunately, the systems in place are resistant to change. Instead, those in power propose much smaller, incremental tweaks. For example, recently the State Department announced the finalization of their Five-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan. Don’t get me wrong, this more intersectional approach is a step in the right direction. But it will only protect federal employees. Only 20% of people with disabilities are employed, compared to 64% of non-disabled people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a huge gap. Only 4% of DEI initiatives include disability and that’s just in organizations that even have a DEI initiative. Most companies don’t have their disabled employees or customers in mind. A perfect example came from the amazing Meryl Evans. Yesterday she posted about her experience with an Apple Watch, and more.

“People with disabilities can bring a lot more to your team than what you see on their resumes.

They have an uncanny ability to come up with innovative ideas and solutions. Feeling excluded has a way of driving people with disabilities.

For instance, I never wanted an Apple Watch. I hadn’t worn a watch in years. A friend convinced me to try it. It made my life as a deaf person easier!

How? It became an accessibility tool.

It buzzes when cooked food is ready. No more overcooked food! It buzzes when someone is at the door. No more packages sitting on the porch for stealing. No more leaving my sister stranded on my doorstep when she dropped by unexpectedly.

No one advertises these benefits. Apple never marketed it that way. If they had, they may have gotten more buyers and fans.

These are examples of how someone who is different from you can innovate and come up with creative solutions.

We don’t always click when we meet someone. This isn’t because of a bad interview. We tend to click with those most like us. You’ll gain more when hiring someone different from you.

The thought of creating a more accessible hiring process feels overwhelming. Just start. How can you get started?

– Ask every candidate what accessibility they require.
– Verify the online application process is accessible for keyboard-only navigation and works with screen readers.

These are starting points. Keep working on it and adding more pieces. Progress over perfection. Just start.”

Again, yes to all of these things! I’m neurodivergent and have an auditory processing disorder. I wear noise-canceling headphones a good portion of the day. The Apple Watch’s haptic feedback has made my life so much easier too. And I want that for others. There’s so much we could do, as a society, to improve the quality of life for our fellow humans. But the pace of change is moving too slowly. More people are being forced to survive with less…while profit margins are on the rise for those at the top. We could all be thriving instead.

Author Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha on the left, a femme non-binary person with green hair, and the cover of their book on the right, The Future Is Disabled
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Inclusive Design 24

September is id24 time! I didn’t think of it in time this year, but I have gotten approval to have my employer support the conference in 2023. For now, I will follow along September 21st into September 22nd.

The inspiration behind Inclusive Design 24 (#id24) was to bring together the global community to share knowledge and ideas without the difficulties of attending a traditional conference. From the beginning, #id24 has only been possible because of the community. It took just three weeks to organise the first conference, and everyone gave their time generously. We had no budget, but many respected and notable people gladly agreed to give a talk because they wanted to help. 

About #id24

This year’s schedule is fantastic, just like past years, celebrating inclusive design and sharing accessibility knowledge. All the videos will be available on YouTube in this playlist.

inclusive design 24 banner with black text on a yellow background
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good: Not directly related to accessibility, but positive news nonetheless — Google and Figma are bringing Figma to education chromebooks. Figma has some accessibility issues of its own, but it is an incredibly robust tool that can be used to design accessible, reusable components in design systems. When I teach the front-end website design class at Minneapolis College, I tell my students that Figma is like Google Docs for design. And have them use it to build design briefs, mood boards, and mockups as I talk about how Figma can be used to promote accessibility.

The Bad: I spend a significant amount of time listening to podcasts. Unfortunately, even many of my favorite podcasters have not invested the time to make their podcasts more accessible. It could be that they are unaware of the need to do so, or how to go about it. Recently, someone in my network shared a great resource intended to help podcasters.

Your podcast should be accessible. But what does that mean, exactly? Why should you care? What can you do to improve the accessibility?

Podcast Accessibility

The Ugly: I’m solidly GenX. When I was growing up, I would have been awed to know that one day I would have a powerful computer in my pocket — or hand — at all times. But I also recognize the inherent danger of smartphones. And now a study bears that out.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto distract drivers more than pot, alcohol, says study: A new study says driver reaction times using this tech were worse than motorists with alcohol or cannabis in their system.

CNET Auto Tech
Screen in car showing Apple Carplay apps
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