Creating awareness around 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.

At first I thought I should focus on creating awareness at the junior level. For me as a teacher this makes sense. But quite a few people pointed out that deciding to build websites in an accessible way is a team effort, and as such is a cultural thing, which needs to be addressed on a senior level. In the next few months of my Master Design I will focus on creating things and events to create awareness on both these levels.

Awareness of accessibility on junior level

When it comes to the next generation of digital designers my ambition is clear: I want to ingrain accessibility into the obvious basics. As a lecturer at the university of applied sciences in Amsterdam I have a few possible ways to do this.

Creating empathy

Teaching

Senior level

There are several activities I’d like to start with in order to create awareness of accessibility among senior level designers and managers in design agencies.

Events

I could organise a few different kinds of events to investigate this. What needs to be done to make accessibility part of a culture? Are there ways to get it into the basic design principles, or even into the mission statement? Can we set up guidelines when it comes to hiring people?
I assume that personal interviews and brainstorm sessions can help me coming up with possible things I can do on this level.

Awards

One thing that could work is an award show. Some agencies really love these. I’m thinking of handing out an award (or a series of awards) to the best accessible websites. This award should focus on a different, more solid kind of aesthetic based on the POUR principles, which stands for Perceivable, Operable, Usable and Robust. This will be a positive stimulus.
I could create a new award show, or I could try to make this part of one of the existing awards shows that exist in the Netherlands.
Such an award show could generate more attention to well built websites, which could result in a more positive copycat culture.

Another possible award show would be the My Little Pony Awards. A wall of shame. Fancy looking yet inaccessible websites can be unawarded here. While it’s probably a lot of fun to create something like that, I do have to investigate the possible side-effects of such a negative approach. Maybe it works counter productive.

Coming six months

Maybe it’s too ambitious to achieve all of this in the next six months. But these are the two directions I’ll be focusing on. If you have any ideas to get me going, please let me know.

Comments

    • Hanneke Briër
    • #

    Hallo Vasilis,

    Deze eerste schets was nog moeilijk te lezen, omdat er veel elementen (grafische structuur, beeld) ontbreken. Wat wel opvalt:
    *Wat bedoel je met accessible? Wees specifiek, leg uit, geef een voorbeeld…
    *Denk in je uitwerking grafisch: hoe verbindt je de verschillende elementen, wat is primaire, wat secundaire informatie?
    *Laat zien wat je al wel wee: zo onderbouw je de keuzes die je nu al deed om tot deze vraag te komen.
    *Geef geen oplossingen, maar vragen voor beide levels – en mogelijke methoden om die te onderzoeken.
    *Tell én show, hoe dan ook…

    Kun je hiermee uit de voeten?

    Hanneke

    • Vasilis
    • #

    Hallo Hanneke,
    Dank je wel voor je feedback. Ik ga er mee aan de slag. Om je eerste vraag te beantwoorden heb ik twee(!) blogposts geschreven. Al weer met heel weinig beeld. (Aiai. Zal ik het ooit leren?) In de eerste probeer ik een definitie van accessibility te geven door naar verschillende definities elders te kijken. En in de andere leg ik mijn persoonlijke redenen uit: waarom vind ik toegankelijk ontwerpen zo belangrijk?