User experience concepts
Inclusive design: Keyboard accessibility
Inclusive design considers as many people’s needs and ability possible. It goes further than accessibility, specifically focused on people with disabilities and how to make sites or apps usable for them.
The idea of inclusive design is that asides from permanent disabilities, there are also temporary, situational and changing disabilities. Some of us may have struggled with using keyboard shortcuts on websites to fill forms, but the form flow is terrible, or there is no keyboard accessibility at all; We’ve all tried squinting at our screens in bright sunlight or tapping buttons that are too close together or too small to touch at all;
“When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.”
- Elise Roy
As a User experience designer being inclusive in your design is part of the job description; we don’t just design for the users with perfect vision and hand-eye coordination; we design for visually impaired people, who may or may not be able to co-ordinate their hand movement.
Keyboards are pretty much the easiest way to navigate our laptops and desktops, which is why the World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C, have made keyboard accessibility a standard for websites and why software’s like the Microsoft office package and VideoLan Client or VLC have a series of functional keyboard shortcuts.
If you’re typically on your laptop or a workstation, or maybe you have a keyboard and mouse extension, you’d find that using your mouse can be quite a hassle; if you could avoid your mouse or trackpad, you most likely will.
I am taking a Google-led 7-course program on Coursera, and in the second course, Start the UX Design Process: Empathize, Define, and Ideate, the course instructor talked on accessibility and gave a mini assignment, to use websites with just the keyboard, it sounded pretty easy hearing it, so I did it, and for two weeks I did just that, unfortunately, I cheated, I couldn’t use just my keyboard because whenever I did I felt “handicapped” because the use of the keyboard was either not functional or it was non-existent.
Functionality should be available from a keyboard.
Many individuals use the keyboard instead of the mouse to interact with the Internet. All functionality, including form controls, input, and other user interface components, must be accessed via the keyboard.
Keyboard accessibility includes:
1. All functionality available by the mouse is also available from the mouse.
2. Keyboard support is available in web browsers, authoring tools, and other applications.
People who use alternative keyboards, such as keyboards with ergonomic layouts, on-screen keyboards, or switch devices, benefit from meeting this requirement.
UX designers should pay more attention to keyboard accessibility.
The purpose of the user experience designer is to create an experience that every user would be happy with, including users with disabilities, be it a permanent disability, a temporary one or situational; our goal is to ensure our users have more happy paths and fewer pain points.
Next week’s edition of User Experience concepts will cover how we can be more inclusive in our designs; until then, let your mind wander on how to make your designs more user-centred.
Have a brilliant week.