This blog is about universal design, user experience design (UXD) emerging technologies, social media and accessibility. It is based on the belief that the internet and the rapid development of new and better technologies provide unprecedented opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people. We must make the web accessible to all.
From newspaper to net
Who would design a newspaper? A large, unwieldy sheaf of paper covered in tiny inky black and white print that is expensive to produce, slow to deliver information and difficult to read, search and store.
It is difficult enough to read a newspaper if you have 20-20 vision, plenty of time, long, strong arms to hold the paper straight, and if you live in a city with easy access to quality daily papers. Imagine if you are blind or hard of hearing, have limited mobility, or if your arms are not strong and your hands arthritic. Imagine if you live in a country where newspapers are government propaganda.
Newspapers are now on the internet. Blind and visually impaired people can search and read them with screen-readers, enlarge the text, change the color, remove distracting images. People with impaired mobility can use assistive devices like joysticks, switches or eye-gaze devices to navigate and search for articles. Even deaf people can benefit: captioned video and audio clips help them experience what others have always enjoyed.
And people in countries where the press is not free can compare state-controlled media with what the rest of the world is saying.
Internet means interaction
The internet does not just allow disabled and disadvantaged people to consume – it allows them to interact with society more fully. An email can be sent by blind people using braille keyboards, or by mobility-impaired people using joysticks and on-screen keyboards. Everyone with access to a decent internet connection can blog, work, hold conference calls, telecommute, and more.
No longer do people with disabilities have to rely on friends, family and care-givers to read to them, write for them, and act on their behalf. No longer are people in repressive regimes condemned to consume only state-controlled media.
That’s why universal design is so vitally important for the internet. New web-based technologies could potentially achieve what disability and press freedom laws have not yet managed: near equality for disadvantaged and disabled people in work, study and social life. This will only be achieved if the internet is free and open to all members of all societies. Everyone benefits from a more accessible, open web.
Transcending limits through technology
This blog is aimed at all who are interested in universal design, UXD, emerging technologies, social media and accessibility. Topics include:
- Universal and user-centered design: why web accessibility is great for all users.
- Trends in social media and emerging technologies.
- Developments in the field of web accessibility and assistive technologies
- The possibilities that new technologies unleash for people with disabilities, in terms of work and social networking.
- How people with disabilities of all sorts access the internet – what hardware and software is out there, and what exciting new methods are under development.
- How to make your blog or website accessible.