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.
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.