Accessibility as a focus for people-first design: Manchester UX in the City

I gave a talk at the first UX in the City conference in Manchester, UK, on May 5th 2017, exploring the connection between people-first design and accessibility and inclusive design.

My slides are available on Slideshare; here’s a brief overview of the talk.

It seems there’s been a lot of talk this year about the negative effect technology design can have on people; and the underlying issues relating to ethics and empathy in the tech industry. Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s influential Design for Real Life book explores what happens when we don’t consider edge case or stress conditions, and provides some guidance on how our design approach doesn’t lose sight of the need to accommodate less common, but high-impact scenarios.

In our user research work at TPG, we’ve found that a focus on people with disabilities at different stages of research and design helps increase sensitivity to diverse user characteristics and scenarios. We believe this helps design teams to anticipate and accommodate these scenarios in their work.

Involving people with disabilities might present some attitudinal and logistical challenges to many product and project teams. So in my talk, I gave some practical advice and examples from our work on how to design effective research studies that are inclusive, and help to gather usable, useful data—including exploratory research and usability studies. I covered the challenge of recruitment, creating an accessible environment for research activity to take place, and explored some ways in which research findings can be effectively captured to inform and influence design decisions.

The people behind UX in the City put on some excellent UX and agile conferences around the UK, and I was delighted to have the chance to speak at their new event in Manchester. It was no surprise that this event combined a schedule of attractive and relevant talks with a very engaging and informed audience (and a tasty lunch!).

Postscript: If increasing involvement of people with disabilities in your UX research activity is something that interests you, we’re looking forward to addressing this topic in more detail, in an upcoming half-day workshop at UX Lisbon 2017 (24th May, repeated on 26th May).

Categories: Development, User Experience (UX)

About David Sloan

David Sloan is a Principal Accessibility Engineer and Strategy and Research Lead at TPGi. He joined the company in 2013, after nearly 14 years as an accessibility researcher, consultant and instructor at the University of Dundee in Scotland.