file-nov-06-6-46-35-pm

So I’m writing this from a Dunkin’ Donuts on on St. Nicholas Ave. and 145th St. W. because not only does the place I’m staying not have wi-fi or other internet connections (which, in fairness, they warned me about) but the nearest cafe with wi-fi won’t yet me use laptops there. So I wandered down the street for a few blocks and found this, which taps into the wi-fi offered by the subway station below. Which is a thought: just sit in the subway with my laptop. Except that New York doesn’t seem to believe in elevators, for subways or much of anything else. I’d have to haul this thing up and down at least three flights. My knees are already complaining Dunkin’ Donuts it is.

So…

I was stunned by the Australian YouTube video we were assigned for week 9. Not that it was that bad a video, but because it seemed the least likely one to use to encourage accessibility in your websites. The noise! The colors! The flashiness! I can think of a dozen disabilities, easily, that this video would accentuate. It, honestly, seemed like the kind of thing that could trigger an epileptic convulsion, or migraines for people who have trouble with flashing lights. And much of the message was fed through the medium of musical rhythms…which you wouldn’t get if you were deaf. Now, granted, I haven’t looked at the code (not that I would understand it very well even if I had…) so maybe they’ve worked around these things so that the text is narrated for the visually impaired, for instance, but still, the irony abounds.

It is interesting, though, how much overlay there is between usability and accessibility. Take Nilsen’s “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design,” for instance. “Aesthetic and minimalist design: Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.” Doesn’t that fit in well with designing for accessibility? For instance, too many colors (see: that damned video). A clean palette muse be easier for people with color-blindness to use than one full of clashing and extraneous colors. Also, a minimalist palette would mean the designer is making the site usable for people with a wider range of varieties of color-blindness. I don’t know a lot about learning disabilities, except there are many of them that require many different adaptive strategies, but it makes sense to me that Nielsen’s rules about “Consistency and Standards” and “Recognition Rather than Recall” could only make it easier for people who have reading disabilities to navigate a site than if the designer gets–shall we say–too creative with links and symbols.

Sources:

Nielsen, J. (1995). Ten Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/

Australian Government Department of Social Services. (2012, May 2).
Web accessibility – What does it all mean? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEM9Fn9aOG8

The picture is all mine, taken in Central Park 11/5/2016, with the Catholic University chapter of the SLA.

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