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The experts reflect on their career

Marcus Ophir, Robyn Steward, Nalini Edwards and Dorota Chapko share thoughts on their careers to date.
I enjoy using both my creative and research skills to produce a product that is able to be used by everyone. And I get a real buzz where they’re able to use it and they enjoy doing so. I’ve always liked computers and I’ve always liked content. And my degree is primarily focused around developing content and looking at how they would be distributed different - to different platforms, across different platforms, but to different access points. So that could be your desktop, your mobile devices, maybe now your iPad, kiosk, interactive CD ROMs and the kind of list that goes on. What I find fascinating about this field is that it can really make difference to people’s lives.
So for example, first you call design accessible technology that can be used by many people, or hopefully any people, any kinds of people. And then you can use this technology in the research context, so for example to collect data, information about people’s lives. So this way you also widen participation in research for everybody.
There weren’t a lot of people doing much in terms of accessibility. And I wanted to be one of those people who was trying to take what was existing then and try and push it and see what else I could do to make things better. So that means learning how to understand the different technologies that were available there, learning how you could channel information and make it more accessible to different people. But most importantly, making the experience very enticing so people could enjoy content the way they want to instead of what was the norm, people forcing you to enjoy a certain way. So it was very two dimensional. But I want to expand it as far as possible.
Like I said, making it a pleasurable experience and making sure people enjoyed the one they really wanted to. I was involved in a study where we initiated a study on brain development and brain ageing in India. So this is where I - as part of these initiatives - organised, for example, multiple public engagement events in Mysore, in Mumbai, where I would work with the study participants and ask them what they understand by health data science and how they want to approach the future studies. So all of this - doing the research in an international context and mixing and matching both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies - brought me to this role in here.
You need to be methodical, pay attention to detail, and care about your end users. Listening is key. Understanding the code. You have to embrace uncertainty as part of your daily routine and realities of this kind of interdisciplinary research project. Everything is different and sometimes you might not necessarily know the answer to the upcoming issues or any questions people might have. So patience is another one.
I think it helps if you really understand code. You might not be - you could be a UX and UI designer. You might not really be into coding. But I think learn as much about necessary coding practises and technologies out there. You might go to different conferences or sometimes very simply just, you know, reach out to your colleagues and friends, exchange some experiences, and discuss what techniques they are using in their research and you might find out that even though they work with, for example, different themes, different projects than yours, this might be relevant to your own project. So I think that there are many informal ways which will help you to upgrade your skills in this field.
I would recommend getting those skills through an undergraduate degree, which there are very few of. But if you have a prior degree, you can also study for a conversion master’s. And on completion of those, you can gain some experience in the industry by taking on an internship.

How can you carve out a career in accessible interface design?

We invited our selection of experts to reflect on what made them want to work in this area, and what excites you the most about it.

They explain their own career path, and share advice on the key skills they feel are needed to do their jobs. They end by offering their tips on how you might gain those skills.

Share your thoughts

After watching, share your reflections on their responses with other learners:
  • Was there a common theme in their experience and advice?
  • What particular knowledge did they feel was important?
  • Were there any ‘soft skills’ recommended?
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Introduction to UX and Accessible Design

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