UX and Accessibility

User experience (UX) is an on the rise skill and career especially for instructional designers and eLearning specialists. My own interest in UX was piqued by capitalism, all of the averages from jobs queries showed that UX designers were higher than just regular instructional designers (ID) and eLearning specialists. In addition to my interests of UX design I also feel a deep personal connection to designing for accessibility. I am drawn to learning that represents all learners. Both of these interests seemed to intersect for me when researching UX, I wanted to find research that uses UX to account for the accessibility of users.

What is UX Design?

Magnus Revang, a leader in the UX field, created and published the wheel graphic above in 2007 on his blog. This image circles the UX community and is a widely accepted representation of the 30 different segmented factors of UX design.

M. Revang. (2007, April 17). The User Experience Wheel [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://userexperienceproject.blogspot.com/2007/04/user-experience-wheel.html .

Ben Ralph, an UX designer at Breaker and Flint, uses Medium as a vehicle to explain the basics of UX design through a graphical representation of a pyramid. His style comes through breaking down the 6 step system UX designers use to create from both qualitative and quantitative methods.

B. Ralph. (2017, February 13). An Introduction to User Experience Design [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/beakerandflint/an-introduction-user-experience-design-2a7f8167bf03.

Ming & Thüring (2018) define UX as “a design model that is a comprehensive approach for designing and investigating interactive systems”(p. 14). The article’s research is highly technical, I recommend reading the introduction and findings, to discover a peer reviewed explanation of UX and the outlines the early stages of CUE UX design model.

M. Ming & M. Thüring. (2018). Hedonic and pragmatic halo effects at early stages of User Experience. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 109.13-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2017.07.007.

Why UX and Accessibility?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a term that is thrown around a lot, Rieber and Estes delve into the background of what accessibility is and the framework around the four levels of accessibility: social, physical, intellectual, and motivational. This article is a great start of understanding accessibility.

L. Rieber & M. Estes. (2017). Accessibility and Instructional Technology: Reframing the Discussion. Journal of Applied Instructional Design 6.1. 9-20. https://doi.org/10.28990/jaid2017.061001

R. Zheng (2019) breaks down the societal need for accessibility design in UX, she cites the overwhelming global growth of limitations for users and taking this population growth into account when designing for the masses.

R. Zheng. (2019, January). Understand the Social Needs for Accessibility in UX Design [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/understand-the-social-needs-for-accessibility-in-ux-design.

Examples of Accessibility & UX

Aizpurua, Harper, and Vigo (2016) did a research study aligning UX principles and perceived web accessibility (p. 13) for blind users. Perceived web accessibility overwhelmingly correlated with UX attributes. (p. 17) Although the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and UX conformance are not as well aligned, within this study. (p. 21) These findings show that UX design is a tool that is well measured for emotional and qualitative evaluation techniques but in creating for WCAG 2.0 guidelines the CUE UX model needs to be tweaked.

A. Aizpurua, S. Harper, & M. Vigo. (2016). Exploring the relationship between web accessibility and user experience. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 91. 13-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2017.07.007.

M. Stone et. alt., (2016) at Yahoo’s UX department did exploratory research into the UX department. Their findings echoed having a rolling evaluations by users for products at all stages to try and reach as many users regardless of limitations.

M. Stone, F. Bentley, B. White, & M. Shebank. (2016). Embedding User Understanding in the Corporate Culture: UX Research and Accessibility at Yahoo. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 823-832. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2851581.2851592.

Samsung’s Accessibility and UX team created guidelines that conformed to legal accessibility requirements and user’s preferences throughout a 3 year study. This study shows the rigorous research about UX and accessibility that companies should heed.

H. K. Kim, C. Kim, E. Lim, & H. Kim. (2016). How to develop accessibility UX design guideline in Samsung. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services Adjunct. 551-556. doi>10.1145/2957265.2957271.

Assistive Guides for UX & Accessibility

Krisztina Szerovay is the founder of UX Knowledge Base Sketches on Medium, the sketch above is her take on UX design for accessibility. The sketch above illustrates the different ways that a UX designer can use the main types of user limitations and decodes the complicated Web Content Accessibility Content Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0).

K. Szerovay. (2018, September 25). UX Knowledge Base Sketch – Accessibility [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://uxknowledgebase.com/accessibility-e98a00c71dc7.

This post is heavy with references of WCAG 2.1, here is the link to the web content accessibility guidelines.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

These accessibility posters are a quick reference to different limitations for developers to keep in mind. The UK Home Office is a governmental office in the UK that created these posters for governmental developers

Accessibility Posters – UK Home Office

R. Zheng wrote another article breaking down the WCAG 2.1 guidelines and align with UX design. Read her article to get a more specific take on how to design for accessibility with UX.

R. Zheng. (2019, February 3). Learn to Create Accessible Websites with the Principles of Universal Design [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/learn-to-create-accessible-websites-with-the-principles-of-universal-designL

Jesse Hausler’s guide to designing for accessibility is reminiscent of Ruby Zheng and the UK Home Accessibility posters, his contribution to this list is his illustrative and annotated examples.

J. Hausler. (2017, April 15). 7 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about Accessibility [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/salesforce-ux/7-things-every-designer-needs-to-know-about-accessibility-64f105f0881b.W

What Do You Think?

As a designer I echo the idea that thinking about accessibility is overwhelming and can stifle the artistic quality of design. The reality is that most people are going to have limitations and to be the most inclusive we as designers have to design for those limitations. I also noticed that from the peer reviewed research articles Samsung was the only company that was able to make accessibility and UX work for their company’s team, although their research was done over the longest period of time and completed multiple levels of accessibility design. Are there things that make you nervous about designing for accessibility? Do you have UX experience? Is there something missing from my list? Reach out and leave a comment.

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