7 Accessibility: a brief summary

7.2 Self-Assessment Questions

The following review questions and activities are intended to tie this material together.

Activity 21

Give three different types of reasons why all interaction designers should be concerned with accessibility.

The three differerent types of reasons for an interaction designer to consider accessibilty are:

ethical reason – a disabled person, so far as is possible, should have the same oppertunities as anyone else
reasons of good practice – making an interactive product more accessible often represents a general improvement in the product, and
legal reasons – conforming to existing legislation.

Activity 22

What is the difference between the medical (individual) and social models of disability?

The medical (or individual) model locates the ‘problem’ of disability within the individual; the social model locates the 'problem' as everything that imposes restricitions on disabled people.

Activity 23

Consider an interactive product you have available in your own home or office, for example a mobile phone or television remote controller, or a PlayStation game or website you know well. For each of the main disability groups described in Sections 36 (people with visual, hearing, physical or cognitive impairments), consider how people from these groups would cope with the product. For the purposes of this exercise, assume that the person only has one disability.

Example answers

Visual impairment. Most mobile phones do not include screen reader software (such as that described in Box 3 above from Nokia), and so a blind person would not be able to use the screen output at all. They would rely on the tactile nature of the buttons for input. On my mobile phone there is a little raised portion in the middle of the ‘5’ button which would help a blind user to recognise where their fingers are on the keypad, but keypads aren't all standard configurations so they would need to spend some time learning their own phone.

If you've chosen to look at a website, consider how easy it might be for screen reader output to process the site's contents. What about pictures and graphics? How important is it for the user to be able to ‘see’ these elements?

Deafness. For someone profoundly deaf, the use of a mobile phone would be restricted to text messaging. For a television remote control panel, this disability should not prevent its normal use. For a website, the only problems here may arise if the sound is integral to the user experience. This would be particularly true of a PlayStation game, where the sound effects have a significant effect on the user experience.

Physical impairment. Small buttons on remote control panels or on mobile phones can cause difficulties for people with motor disabilities, or who have lost sensitivity in their fingertips. The accuracy required to press small buttons can be difficult for those who simply have large fingers. As commented above, there are devices available to support most physical disability provided some controlled muscle movement is possible, and so access to most websites is feasible, but maybe not to games where speed and accuracy is crucial.

Dyslexia. A dyslexic user is as likely to experience difficulties with using a mobile phone or a remote control device as any other member of the public. Similarly, provided they have access to assistive technology appropriate to their own situation, neither a website nor a computer game is likely to cause any problems.

Cognitive impairments – lack of concentration and memory. Here, issues to consider include the following: does the device make it difficult for the user to make irremediable errors? Is it easy to reverse an action if you decide that you've done something wrong? Does use of the product rely heavily on memory?

Activity 24

You should allow 0 hour(s), 30 minute(s).

Testing a web page for accessibility

This activity involves the user choosing a web page and having it scanned by an online service which reports back on how the page might be structured so as to improve accessibility.

Chose any web page, go to webxact, enter the url of the page to be tested in the box shown and see how well it meets the accessibility guidelines.

I was embarrassed by the number of comments made about the accessibility difficulties of my personal web page!

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