Sunday, September 18, 2011

Notes and links from Friday's Mobile Monday Edinburgh Accessibility Workshop

I was lucky enough to go to Edinburgh on Friday to chair an accessibility workshop in association with Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards, ICT KTN and Mobile Monday Edinburgh. We had a great range of speakers and demos and it certainly gave me a lot of food for thought.
Some key learnings came out of it for me:
1. It’s still an us and them situation and it shouldn’t be and it needn’t be. We’re all people. Accessibility can seem very complicated as the range of capabilities you’re dealing with are so diverse. However, if common sense tactics were applied and we thought more about people and how we really behave instead of the technology, we’d be getting somewhere.
2. Following on from the first point, there’s a lack of understanding about disabled people and their needs. Unless we have a personal friend or relative with a disability, we’re unlikely to have much contact with disabled people for any kind of focus group or user testing. This needs to change to allow for more dialogue and real life testing instead of making assumptions.
3. There were some tools that people would love access to. Dr Nava Tintarev talked about using visual icons to help children with limited abilities to communicate. It turns out that currently those icons, unless you create them yourself, are nearly impossible to licence. A few folks were wondering if it were feasible or possible to create a visual language that could be open-sourced so that more people could implement them in their apps and services – be that web or mobile. Can that happen?
4. Accessibility works both ways. Disability groups could offer more assistance and support to help the rest of us to help those who do have some kind of impairment. The trouble is, most of us just have no experience of this and need to be guided as to how best to help. We don’t know what questions to ask or things to look out for. Legislation isn’t the answer, but communication is.
5. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Scotland.

Upcoming workshops in Belfast and London on 26 September.

Have a look at the storify below and lanyrd pages for more links and notes from the day.

Thank you to Geoff Ballinger at Mobile Monday Edinburgh and Mobile Acuity, Alisdair Gunn from Interactive Scotland, Mark Daniels from Inspace, Deaf Action for finding the wonderful Rosie who BSL signed the event for us, ICT KTN and Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards for their financial support and to all our speakers – Ian Osborne from ICT KTN, Kate Ho from Interface3, Nava Tintarev from Aberdeen University, Gary Macfarlane from Assist Mi and Access4AllApps, Alison Smith from Pesky People, Tim Willis from Flexpansion and Matthew Aylett from Cereproc.

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