Decoded Chats – Heydon Pickering on Inclusive Design and Accessibility

Heydon Pickering on stage

Heydon Pickering (@heydonworks) is a designer, developer and prolific presenter from England. He just finished writing “Inclusive Design Patterns“, a book on how to write more accessible interfaces for common issues we face in interaction design.

At the Reasons conference in London, England, Chris Heilmann took some time to ask Heydon a few questions about inclusive design, accessibility and what we can do to build more usable products for everybody.

If you prefer to have an audio version, you can download it here (MP3, 37MB)

Here are the questions we covered:

  1. (00:05) You’ve written a book that deals with web accessibilty, but has a bit of a different angle. Can you explain what you tried to get across?
  2. (01:53) Inclusive Design is a defined term by now and there seems to be some momentum around that. What issues do you think we solve by rebranding “accessibility”?
  3. (05:02) Do you think this different approach solves the problem that accessibility is added as an afterthought in our current project planning?
  4. (06:25) Isn’t it a problem that people start with accessible HTML interfaces and then create inaccessible JavaScript solutions on top of them? This would require JS to be turned off to make things accessible.
  5. (07:17) What about legal requirements that can not change and are inherently inaccessible? Finance web sites have some of those.
  6. (08:37) Web fonts and enhanced typography for the web seem to be the biggest advancement in the design space. Can they cause accessibilty issues?
  7. (12:36) Catering specifically to different disabilities is something that helps you with legal compliance, but doesn’t necessarily result in accessible interfaces. How can we work around that problem?
  8. (14:11) If you had a magic wand that stops people from doing one thing wrong about accessibility that is very common, what thing would that be?
  9. (16:08) Every new form factor of the web initially is heralded as great for accessibility like the mobile factor or now conversational interfaces. Do you think there is a problem with follow-up on that?
  10. (18:55) One common request of developers is to know if an end user has a disability to change the interface accordingly. This is illegal. Is an inclusive design approach the way around that old problem?
  11. (21:20) Do you think that we often try to build extra functionality to make our products more accessible because we don’t know what operating systems and browsers are already capable of?
  12. (23:56) What about the most basic access needs like simplicity of language? How can we sell that as an important baseline to clients?

Inclusive Design is a very interesting topic earlier explained by Heydon in his “What the heck is inclusive design” article on 24 ways.

The Microsoft design team published a lot of information and a toolkit to train people on Inclusive Design. If you want to start your company on the way, check it out.

Photo by Andreas Dantz

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