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axe-con 2024: Day Two (Riley)

Team Insights

Rising Tides: Disability Inclusion in the DEI Landscape

Speaker: Kathy Martinez

Kathy spoke about the barriers to employment for people with disabilities and the concerns that hiring managers have that stems from a lack of knowledge on how to interact with a person with a disability. She also stated that we have seen an increase in employment of people with disabilities since the pandemic and the shift to more people working from home.

It's a bit difficult for me to apply some of what Kathy's presentation because I'm not a manager or in a position where I'm looking to hire people. I do appreciate what she said about the importance for organizations to have more than one person in charge of inclusion, not only to have different points of view but also so that the company doesn't need to build a new initiative if one person leaves. If we are able to weave this into other aspects of the company then we can create a safe environment for people with disabilities where they are capable, valuable and valued.

Lessons Learned from Mobile App Accessibility Testing

Speaker: Rachele DiTullio

Rachele went through her experience testing Android and IOS versions of the Citizens Core mobile app. This included a total of 17 tasks including logging in, transferring money between accounts and depositing checks. Most of the testing was with a wireless keyboard to make sure all interactive elements can be reached using a tab key. I thought this was really interesting because I've never thought of pairing a wireless keyboard to test for mobile screen sizes, I usually size down my window or use the different sizes offered in Chrome.

I really liked how Rachele went through the different Android and IOS settings she used for testing as well as some tips for using VoiceOver and other screen readers. As someone who doesn't use a screen reader in my day-to-day work, I always question whether someone who is more familiar would be able to identify other issues that I miss when testing.

Users submitted their feedback on the app, which includes the list below and this is what prompted more accessibility testing for Rachele's team.

  • Small print and whether the app respects text resizing in the phone settings
  • Color contrast issues for people who are color blind
  • Buttons and other form elements that were not labeled correctly for screen reader and speech input users
  • Biggest issue was users being logged out because of a timer that didn't offer the ability to extend the session, and didn't convey the information to screen reader users

Some key takeaways are that we want to use the native UI controls because they have accessibility support included by default. She also mentioned that WCAG AA guidelines should be the baseline for accessibility in mobile apps and that we should also look at areas like reducing animations and motion, dark mode and most importantly to listen to what users are asking for. Fortunately we already do reduced motion and dark mode for our websites so I'm interested to see what other areas we can make improvements.

Capturing Disabled Voices: How we are building our own research panel

Speaker: Zoe Portlock

People are more likely to navigate away from a site if there are accessibility blockers and only a small fraction of those people who experience issues actually report their issues to the website owner. User testing is such an important part of the process because people with disabilities have a lived experience that can help inform design decisions and it can be very beneficial to get their perspective.

Zoe went on to say that using an external agency is still better than not getting feedback at all, but when possible it's better to use an internal panel of existing clients who are familiar with the project and challenges that users may have. They will also be more invested in making the website better and willing to dedicate more time to testing.

While user testing is a big part of the design process, we aren't always able to justify it for each project. I've been a part of user testing for one of our projects, and seeing people who are already users of a website try to navigate some key tasks is really helpful in identifying pain points. Setting up the tests themselves is a lot of work, not to mention trying to find individuals and maintain that connection so that they can be a part of future testing. This is where Zoe talked about not chasing down people who drop off in communication, but instead be mindful of their time and focus on the testers you do have.

Building a culture of accessibility through design annotation

Speakers: Damian Sian and Taniya Bhosale

This presentation was an overview of accessibility annotations implementation in Adobe's digital products used to provide additional context. The idea behind these annotations is think about accessibility early on in the process and to reduce the amount of issues that come up in the development phase. They went through each type of annotation available and what they are for.

  • Accessible name annotations: provide additional context to accessibility APIs and assistive technology
  • Landmark annotations: provide an navigation structure to allow users to move through different regions
  • Heading annotations: provide structure and context to pages which benefit all users in particular screen reader users who navigate by headings
  • Keyboard annotations: documents how keyboard-only users navigate for focus and tab order considerations

It seems like they're in the testing process of implementing this and are still working through issues with people over using annotations or using the wrong one in their designs. They also mentioned other annotation tools that were recently released from CVS and Figma.

Annotation isn't something that we typically do in our mockups. We are able to follow a project from the design phase into the development phase, so there isn't typically a handoff of the design to the developer. I was curious to see how this could be applied to our process in the future, especially since back-end developers aren't constantly looking at the mockups.

Multisensory Design: Accessibility as a Creative Practice for Designers

Speaker: Lauren Race

The idea that multisensory design approaches through creativity and looking for ways to help us design and innovate beyond WCAG requirements. Lauren shared a couple examples from projects at NYU.

The first was tactile schematics, which was a solution for blind or low vision workers who are underrepresented in STEM. In the curriculum there were images of schematics that had alt text, but it was very long and could be confusing for a beginner. The idea is that someone could download an SVG of the image and that can be printed out with braille incorporated into the plans. She also included videos of a blind person using the tactile graphics which were very impressive, the person was able to understand the plan quickly and recognized each element of the plan.

The second project she went over was a shift into a more digital experience for the Intrepid Museum. The idea was to expand access to the different exhibits through the different senses including sight, touch, smell and hearing. This was a very interesting presentation and not at all what I was expecting. I loved seeing the different iterations for each project, and getting to hear about the ways they would improve them going forward. I think this is something that should be taken into consideration for virtual reality in the future as we move into creating more of those experiences.