Category: Design

Accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. Accessibility sometimes refers to the characteristic that products, services, and facilities can be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities. Accessible design, usable design, and universal design are all approaches to design that can result in products that are easier for everyone to use, including people with disabilities. These concepts apply to design of the built environment, of customer services, and the other products and environments, including information technologies such as hardware, software, multimedia, distance learning courses, websites, curriculum, and instruction.
(This definition is © 2015 DO-IT, University of Washington (UW) in materials provided under a Creative Commons License.)

Understanding Disabilities When Designing a Web Site

In Digital Web Magazine last month (September 16, 2008), Leona Tomlinson of Agoo IT wrote a great article: "Understanding disabilities when designing a website". While some of the information can be found in many places, Tomlinson distills a broad range of information in one article, making it ideal for sharing with those new to Web accessibility. She also organizes it by disability – including the often overlooked cognitive disabilities. Tomlinson provides snapshot statistics of people with disabilities in the U.K. and the U.S. By showing the data in raw numbers rather than percentages, you get – to my mind – a powerful sense of scope. The comments that follow the article are useful as well. Particularly useful is a reference to Ginny Redish and Mary Theophanes' article "Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing Users Who Work With Screen Readers" (.pdf) originally published in Interactions, this link is the the authors' version and includes figures not in the ACM publication.

Photo Group Collections to Illustrate Your Blogs and Other Writing

Our Flickr account holds photos from conferences and meetings related to the Accessibility SIG and it's members. These are collected in photo albums in our Flickr albums. In addition to the SIG's photos, there are several groups in Flickr that contain interesting images to use for your blogs and other writing related to accessibility and technical communication. Log on to Flickr and go to the Groups tab to see a list of all groups and search for a group. You'll be sure to find something that is relevant or gives you a good laugh. Some groups we like are
  • Usability & Accessibility – Photos from the UPA.
  • !Rock That Disability! – This is a group for anyone with a disability, physical, mental or otherwise. (But not just them!) Pictures you want to share.
  • Crutches, Wheelchairs and Canes – The beauty of people who use crutches, wheelchairs, or canes to get around. We welcome pictures of these items being used.
  • Design: Oohs & Aaughs – Photos of both praiseworthy and inadequate design. These are products, objects, and experiences (good or bad), which impact us enough to stop and take notice (and take a photo, too).
  • Public Computer Errors – Computer crashes, errors and other horrors as viewed by those of us innocently traveling along in life.
  • This Is Broken – Photos about the brokenness (bad design) of items, places, etc. ... see for more.
  • Accessible Travel – Photos of accessibility in tourism hot spots around the world. This includes wheelchair access, Braille signage, sound, markers for the hearing impaired, accessible and inaccessible intersections, public transportation, maps, lodging, restaurants, bathrooms, telephones and communication infrastructure, museum signage, best practices/worst practices, You (!) enjoying a public place with superb accessibility.
  • Wheelchair Accessible Trails – Photos taken on wheelchair accessible or paved hiking trails.
  • Rolling Rains - Travel with a Disability – This group gives travelers with disabilities, their travel companions, friends, and allies of the disability community a place to post about travel. Sometimes we see (or use other senses) differently; sometimes not. To publish your work here you don't need to snap a shot of every curb cut or Braille road sign - aesthetics counts - but somehow weave in insights about accessibility as you tell your story. The combination of photos, firsthand commentary, and the ability to contact the poster provides a unique and ever-changing consumer-level guide for the disability community on to where to go for a good time.
  • Old Wheelchairs, Gurneys, & Outdated Medical Equip – Photographs of outdated/decayed/found Medical Equipment/Devices. The older the better.
  • Writing Machines – Photos of typewriters, printing presses, and movable type—anything to do with the mechanical reproduction or creation of the written word.
  • Writing – Photos about writing and the life of writers. If you are a writer/journalist, you can show fragments of your writing life. Includes photos of handwritten pieces, pens, notebooks, Moleskines, and so on. Photos of people writing and artworks if the theme is "words, writing, writers".
  • Written In Stone – Photos of inscriptions (i.e., words, phrases, names) carved into stone such as on tombs, monuments, and buildings.

If you encounter another group you think we should add, please send us a note with the name of the Flickr group.