Iâ€™ve been thinking about accessibility a lot, lately. Historically, Iâ€™ve thought of it as very important but very uninterestingâ€”a sort of â€œeat your vegetablesâ€ part of the job. Itâ€™s still not the most thrilling topic to me. Too much of it is highly technical, official documentation is a lesson in terrible, obfuscatory writing, and it relies too much on heuristics rather than user research for my taste. But I have become very concerned with it lately, and doing my best to bake accessibility into the design work I do.
The idea Iâ€™ve been playing with lately is designing from the words up. After ten years, Iâ€™ve become very accustomed to taking on a design problem by sketching out some boxes and lines on a piece of paper. That is, approaching design as a problem of arranging things in space. This unfortunately makes it easy to get a design where space is a central component of understanding the relationships between objects.
What if, instead, I started with designing an interface that could only be read, or heard? Iâ€™m challenging myself to start the design process with arranging words in sequence. Arranging them in spaceâ€”adding a second dimensionâ€”comes later. Think of it as progressive enhancement, I suppose.
If nothing else, this approach may help me think about how I would explain interactive elements verbally before they get that spatial layer, instead of going through a fully baked design and figuring out how to make it more accessible.
All that said, the thing Iâ€™m most excited about doing is incorporating people with different disabilities into future usability testing.