A while ago Jan Wessel Hovingh gave me a Raspberry Pi Zero as a thank you gift for a talk I gave at the University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden. I decided to create my own streaming audio speakers with this Pi. After quite a bit of DuckDuckGoing, quite some help from many wonderful people and some work it’s done: two hifi speakers made out of layers of corrugated card board, powered by a Raspberry Pi.
I created a new research blog. That’s where I’ll be documenting my master research. Which means that I will be mostly publishing over there. This blog will probably be even more sleepy that is has been. So if you’re interested in the research I’m doing in accessible web design you can better move over there. You can subscribe to that blog via RSS if you want to.
The amazing Marc Thiele invited me to give a talk at his incredible Beyond Tellerrand conference in Berlin. The line-up was simply amazing. Mina Markham did a beautiful talk which is worth your time for so many reasons. You should all watch it. And I absolutely loved the talk that Paula Sher did. She is even more fantastic on stage that she is on Netflix.
More after the click
I published a much more graphically appealing and much more detailed report of the very first The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting Exclusive Design Challenge. It’s filled with the beautiful pictures that Gitta Schermer took of the event. And I added some graphs as well!
In the past year I recorded conversations with an eclectic mix of 40 designers and published them on my site under the moniker The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting (mostly in Dutch). This summer I decided to invite all my guests for the very first The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting Exclusive Design Challenge. This weekend 16 people showed up for this event. I’m probably biased, but it was fantastic. (A more detailed report of this event can be found here)
Tel me more!
Theoretically the web is in itself accessible for people with disabilities. The theory is wonderful. Yet in practice we’re not there yet.
I learned from Jeremy Keith (who learned it from Cennydd Bowles, who learned it from Jared Spool) that good design principles are reversible. To test if a design principle works, the exact opposite rule should work as well. I decided to put the Paciello Group’s Inclusive Design Principles to the test. What happens if you reverse all these principles? They should result in something that you could name exclusive design principles.
What are they?
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.
I created a first iteration of a little tool I plan to use. Or to be more precise, a tool I hope you will use every now and then. It’s inspired on a project Manon Mostert – van der Sar made, where she asked makers in het maker’s lab to log their failures in a booklet. I ask you to log design decisions that influence accessibility on a website. And I call it Journa11y.
What does that mean?
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 created an atlas of people who make things. This was an assignment for my masters study. Well, the assignment was to make an atlas. I chose to make one about makers. The idea was that if I understand how and why people make things, that I better understand how to talk to them. What tone of voice I need to use when I want to educate them. To be honest, this atlas didn’t really teach me about tone of voice, so in that way I failed. It did turn out to be a wonderful little website though.
I finally visited London. I have been to many cities around London — Brighton, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford — but this was the first time I actually visited the city itself. We went there on a semi-organised trip with my fellow students (and teachers) from the Master Design course in Rotterdam. The idea was that you should organise your own schedule and, if possible, invite others to join the activities you organised. I visited three different agencies in three completely different offices. One owned a complete building overlooking the Thames. Another had a few rooms in an enormous palace. The first office we visited reminded us of an apartment in Amsterdam. Not too big, not very small, with 50 people working in it.