The Ability to Disable: Who Did You Forget When You Designed Your UI?

*
Accepted Session
Short Form
Beginner
Scheduled: Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 2:30 – 3:15pm in B201

Excerpt

While the increased use of technology has in some ways improved the lives of those with disabilities, there is a gap that still needs to be filled. Uncaptioned or poorly captioned videos leave the deaf and hard of hearing community out of the loop, untagged photos leave blind users unaware of integral information, and poorly coded webpages are too much of a hassle for individuals using screen readers.

But what if this was this was different? What if we thought about all of the potential users of our technology and developed programs intentionally allowing access for everyone? How could we make a programmer’s work truly inclusive, truly open to everyone?

Experiential learning often provides those ‘a ha!’ moments, so together we’ll enjoy some mis-captioned videos, have a ‘listen-along’ to what a screen reader sounds like when a page is not coded correctly, and take a look at the end users’ experience when software is not programmed with a disabled audience in mind. Then, we’ll talk about what we can do to improve the current offerings and answer, “what next?”

Description

Each of us falls (or will fall) into the category of disabled at some point in our lives, and that classification is fully reliant on whether our environment, including the technological environment, is designed thoughtfully and available for us to take part in. Technology both supports and disenfranchises the disabled community, but there are steps we can take to make universal access a standard working practice. The tools that are employed and needed by end users and access providers can be improved upon, and developers have the intelligence coupled with a generous spirit to make it happen.

Three main thoughts:
1. Who is disabled, what does it mean?
Historically, disability has meant weak, disadvantaged, limited. The defining characteristics of disability have been shifting in recent literature and thought, however, to include a more open, inclusive and culturally-based philosophy.

“Disabilities are less the property of persons than they are moments in a cultural focus. Everyone in any culture is subject to being labeled and disabled” – Herve Varenne and Ray McDermott

2. How is technology helpful/unhelpful for the disabled community?
The advent of video and texting apps has changed the way deaf and hard of hearing individuals communicate with those in the ‘hearing world’, blind and visually impaired users can access the written word through screen readers, individuals with reading disabilities can obtain texts in an audio format, there’s even an app that scans money and speaks the denomination for the user. So much progress has given opportunities to individuals with minimal privilege, but that progress simultaneously widens a knowledge gap that is a challenge to close. With changes happening so rapidly, and individuals with disabilities rarely considered in the programming and dissemination, they are more often than not unable to utilize the ‘latest and greatest’ technology that their non-disabled peers have access to. Additionally, there is nothing more cherished than an accessible software that allows a user consistent and easy entry to information. Once the learning curve has been attained, and when that new technology fits that user’s need, change is the enemy. The developer, however, is working at odds with this and going for a better, faster, stronger “mousetrap”

3. What can you do to make it better?
Take a moment to think through a ‘non-normed’ end-user and the small improvements that can be made that will have a tremendous impact on their ability to experience what you create.

Tags

disability, technology, websites, captioning, screen readers, blind, deaf, accessibility

Speaking experience

People First: How To Plan and Advertise your Events for Your Entire Campus Community
Creating a Campus-Wide Digital Policy

Speaker

  • Biography

    Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services/Associate Director, Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities at Teachers College, Columbia University. Sign Language Interpreter for the past 15 years in monologic and dialogic settings, primarily corporate and higher educational environments. An uninitiated member of the Open Source arena, but looking forward to soaking in all I can.

    Sessions

      • Title: The Ability to Disable: Who Did You Forget When You Designed Your UI?
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B201
      • Time: 2:303:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        While the increased use of technology has in some ways improved the lives of those with disabilities, there is a gap that still needs to be filled. Uncaptioned or poorly captioned videos leave the deaf and hard of hearing community out of the loop, untagged photos leave blind users unaware of integral information, and poorly coded webpages are too much of a hassle for individuals using screen readers.

        But what if this was this was different? What if we thought about all of the potential users of our technology and developed programs intentionally allowing access for everyone? How could we make a programmer’s work truly inclusive, truly open to everyone?

        Experiential learning often provides those ‘a ha!’ moments, so together we’ll enjoy some mis-captioned videos, have a ‘listen-along’ to what a screen reader sounds like when a page is not coded correctly, and take a look at the end users’ experience when software is not programmed with a disabled audience in mind. Then, we’ll talk about what we can do to improve the current offerings and answer, “what next?”

      • Speakers: Rebecca Jennings

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