I read quite a few books about designing for accessibility in the last few months. Most of them were about so called inclusive design, and most of them were focused on designing inclusively for the web. While I learned a lot, and while I thoroughly enjoyed all the books I read, there was one book that stood out: Design Meets Disability by Graham Pullin. It stood out because of its different approach to designing for accessibility.
One of my coaches at the Design Master course asked me what I mean when I use the term accessibility. I tried to explain what I mean by quoting a few sources that explain it quite clearly (I hope). But that post doesn’t necessarily explain why I chose accessibility as my subject. There are three reasons why I like accessible web design. It’s possible, it’s a friendly thing to do, and it’s not very hard.
One of my coaches at the Master Design course I’m following wondered what I mean when I say accessibility. I’ve heard the term so often that I forgot that the definition I use is not common at all. In this blog post I’ll try to explain what I mean by looking at a few definitions used by different organisations.
So what’s accessibility
When it comes to making websites accessible, there’s a lack of awareness among the people who design and build websites. At least, that’s what I have to conclude after speaking to quite a few different specialists. I spoke to people who build websites, who design them, who lead teams, who use websites with a screenreader, who study to become a web designer, and I spoke with accessibility specialists in different fields. They all agree. There is a lack of awareness. People don’t know it is possible to create websites that work for everybody. And if they’ve heard of accessibility they think it’s hard to do.
But is it?
I made this Atlas of Makers because I want to understand why people make things. My assumption is that if I understand the different reasons it’s easier to find the right tone of voice when I want to teach them something. In this chapter I think it makes some sense to make a distinction between people who make things for others and people who make things for themselves. But it’s not really possible to fit people into these exact boxes. For instance, some people have a personal obsession with a certain subject, but at the same time they want to share the beauty of this obsession with others. So, even when it’s not binary at all I decided to order this chapter about reasons why people make things in my Atlas of Makers by people who make things for others, and people who make things for themselves.
There are more ways to order things
I made an assumption when I portrayed the first maker for my Atlas. I assumed that only the eyes and the ears deserved a separate chapter. I thought that the rest of the head — the brain, the nose, the mouth, the face, the hair — could be combined in one single chapter. I am not sure if this was a good idea. Sure, I guess most people would not use their hair that much in making, but now I don’t know because I didn’t ask.
What about their chin?
Eyes are important to most makers. One big miss is that I didn’t get the chance to portray somebody who is blind. They would have been a very interesting addition to this chapter. But even without blind people some conclusions can be drawn.
I asked everybody I portrayed for my Atlas of Makers to tell me about the tools they use, and then I asked them to pick their primary tool, their extension so to speak. I thought most people would name their computer. Quite a few people did, but fewer than I expected. For various reasons as well. I also assumed more people would name their phone. It turns out people don’t use it that much for making. Pen and paper is another favourite.