A comparison of three pyramids

The last six months I’ve been wondering what a pleasurable user experience would be for people with disabilites. After doing a little but of research I came to the conclusion that a pleasurable experience for people who are blind would be an unacceptable experience for me. I did some research into what a makes a user experience pleasurable. One of the books I read about this subject is Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter. 

The hierarchy of senses

Butterfly Works, a social innovation studio, invited me to organise part of a workshop for their clients and friends. I did a very quick version of the exclusive design challenge I organised a while ago. This time there were three teams, and they had just half an hour to come up with ideas with the material I gave them. After that they took their first ideas and moved over to Kim van den Berg who gave the teams a very quick workshop in visualising ideas by drawing. 

A critical look at the Exclusive Design Principles

Last week I had a good critical look at the material I use for my Exclusive Design Challenges together with my colleagues Fransiska Groenland and Albert de Klein. We took a look at the exclusive design principles. 

The 3rd International Disabilities Studies Conference

Last week I visited the third International Disabilities Studies Conference in Amsterdam. I was very curious to see what the academic approach to accessibility would be. Is it completely different from the practical world of accessible web design where I come from? Where’s their focus? And of course, what ideas can I use for my own research. 

Designing for Disability

Designing for Disability. In this article in the New Yorker a few nice examples are shown of why identity, style, are important in design. You don’t want to walk around on shoes you don’t like, so why should someone who needs a cane have to use an ugly one? Since this applies to the physical world, it probably also applies to the digital.

Because engineers focus on function, aesthetics are often overlooked

Methods of crisis

In order to create truly inclusive designs, we need to be at least as good at designing things for people with disabilities as we are at designing things for ourselves. There is an incredible amount of knowledge about designing things for common technologies like laptops, mouses, touch devices, etc. Libraries of Borgesian proportions can be filled with expert books about user interface design for average people. Specialist books about user interface design for alternative technologies — like keyboard navigation and screen readers — are much less common. There is no comparable body of knowledge, which means we can not create truly inclusive interfaces. 

‘Nederland doet te weinig voor gehandicapten’

Nederland doet te weinig om mensen met een beperking volledig te laten deelnemen aan de samenleving. According to this study people with disabilities (1 in 8 people in the Netherlands) have to deal with accessibility issues around work, independent living, and education; these are all parts of life that are situated in the lower sections of Maslow’s pyramid.

One could argue that we should focus on these lower parts of the pyramid first: make sure that all the basic needs are covered first before you start thinking about next levels. On the other hand there’s something like the law of the handicap of a head start, which says that groups that start later can skip quite a few steps and become leading right away.

Peet Sneekes — The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting

In this podcast Peet Sneekes explains (in Dutch) that good is not good enough. Robots can make good things. We need to aim higher.

I think this is a very interesting observation. According to Peet, a very experienced creative consultant, by now robots should be able to create interfaces that are functional, and even usable and reliable. You need people to create stuff you’ll remember.

Exclusive Design at Beyond Tellerrand

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. 

An extended report of the first Exclusive Design Challenge

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! 

The First The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting Exclusive Design Challenge

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) 

Can Exclusive Design make the web more accessible?

Theoretically the web is in itself accessible for people with disabilities. The theory is wonderful. Yet in practice we’re not there yet. 

Exclusive Design Principles

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

Design meets Disability

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 Journa11y

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. 

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. 

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.