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What makes an interface accessible?

In this video, Marcus Ophir, Dorota Chapko and Nalini Edwards reflect on what makes an interface accessible.
I think I would define an interface as the means to have total control over the way you would experience access time and access point and the content you want to see. The user interface, I just think it empowers people to control better how they engage with content and how to access it.
There are a number of issues regarding interface elements that are often addressed by the WCAG guidelines. For example, the size and colour of font can be an issue for those who are visually impaired. The background colour of a particular digital product, especially websites, can be difficult for dyslexics to read the text that’s presented. And the use of images should really be sparing, because that could possibly cause sensory processing issues for those that are on the autistic spectrum. So if we start with a well-designed accessible interface or technology, it actually, in fact, may become problematic.
So first of all, it may be problematic within the interface, we use jargon or language that other people cannot really understand and make sense out of it. So of course, this is when this interface becomes not only problematic, but really useless for its purposes. And second of all, a well-designed accessible interface by definition is intuitive. However, certain groups of people - and that may include people with learning disabilities or autistic people - may require some additional accessible materials, training materials where they will find some more information into to how to use the interface.
So we also shouldn’t forget about this kind of larger picture of, even though we have this well-designed accessible interface, we might still need to do some work so that we really make sure that everybody can use it.

Now that we know what an interface is and we have found out some of the key principles behind accessibility, it is a good time to look at how these two things work together.

In this video, experts Marcus Ophir, Nalini Edwards and Dorota Chapko reflect on what they feel makes an interface accessible. They reflect on what kind of interface may be considered problematic or less so, and what that means in practice for end users.

We will go on to look deeper into the implementation of accessibility principles in the next step.

Over to you

Before moving on, take a moment to reflect again on your own use of digital interfaces.
  • What level of customisation do you put in place to enable you to comfortably access digital interfaces?
  • Do you regularly use any alternative methods of accessing content?
Share your experience with other learners in the Comments.
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Introduction to UX and Accessible Design

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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