Why I do 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.

Easy enough

What does accessibility mean?

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

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.

But is it?

An Atlas of Reasons

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

An Atlas of Tools

It was to be expected that such an eclectic mix of people who make things uses an eclectic mix of tools. If this chapter about tools in my Atlas of Makers shows one thing, it is that people all have different needs.

Not very shocking, right?

An Atlas of Places

People have different preferences when it comes to the place where they want to work. This chapter of the Atlas of Makers was very much about the physical place, and not so much about the people in the place, the people they work with.

People are interesting as well

An Atlas of Heads

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?

An Atlas of Hands

As I expected when I started this Atlas of Makers: people who make things really value their hands. Not very surprising.
Hands are so obvious for people who make things, many of the people I portayed hardly even mentioned them.

What about people who broke their arms?

An Atlas of Feet

I asked everybody I portrayed for my Atlas of Makers about their feet. Unsurprisingly feet do not matter that much for most people. At least not for their making process. I am pretty sure everybody I spoke to is happy they have them. But still, there are some uses that are worth mentioning.

Like what?

An Atlas of Eyes

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.

Like what?

An Atlas of Extensions

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.

Any conclusions?

An atlas of ears

One chapter in my Atlas of people who make things is all about ears. I assumed this wouldn’t be a very interesting chapter. There were quite a few surprises though. Ears are used in many ways. And they are not used in many ways as well.

Sounds, or reads, interesting

An Atlas of makers

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.

How’s that?

A visit to London

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.

Sounds cozy