This week on the IAP, we discuss an article on .net Magazine which included an interview with accessibility icon Léonie Watson
Show Notes & Links
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- Léonie Watson on giving a d**n about what you're building
Announcer: This is the IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast with Mike Guill and Mark Miller. Introducing Mike Guill and Mark Miller.
Mark Miller: Hi I’m Mark Miller with accessibility specialist Mike Guill and this is your Accessibility podcast. I’d like to thank everybody for listening and to remind you to let people know about the podcast. Especially people who are concerned with accessibility. We have a lot of fun and hope you do too.
Mark: Hi Mike, how are you this week?
Mike Guill: Great Mark, how you doing this week?
Mark: I’m doing excellent. I’m kind of excited to talk about Leona Watson interview that you came up with on the web. She’s a pretty cool woman here who has a lot to say about accessibility. She herself is blind so she not only knows it from an intellectual standpoint but it’s something that she experiences and counts on. Accessibility helps her through her life everyday so I think you listen a little extra hard when somebody like that talks about it. She’s such a dynamic woman to begin that um, that it’s really cool. There’s a lot of great points that came out of it and just in our off-line discussions, you’ve had quite a bit to say about this. So, tell us a little bit about what kind of attracted you to this article and made you send it over to me for this podcast.
Mike: Yeah, so I came across this on .net magazine and um through a link on Twitter from one of my friends where of course I get all my new content.
Mark: (Laughs) You get all your information. Isn’t Twitter just like, forget everything else, you just get everything through Twitter now.
Mike: Well yeah, when your looking for up to date sort of press releases, not press releases, but things that are new, things that are getting a little bit of a buzz you know. If you look to your circle of friends or certain networks, like accessibility folks or like if you’re into running, maybe look at the running folks, you’ll get a real sense of what the buzz is lately on Twitter, whereas you can’t have those kinds of huge circles on other social networks, like Facebook. It might work a little on LinkedIn, but still LinkedIn is kind of a whole separate beast anyway.
Mike: But to get back to this
Mark: Yeah so like Twitter buzz Léonie Watson basically is what you’re saying.
Mike: Yeah, of course she’s a big deal anyway. She’s been around forever in accessibility and she’s got a huge list of geek cred. You know, she’s been using computers forever , even before there was such a thing as accessibility she was into it anyway. So yeah, it’s a real personal issue for her to have things that are more accessible to her because that’s how she gets around.
Mike: That’s how she experiences the world. She wants things to be more accessible so she can personally enjoy them and use them. Uh, but in this interview there were a lot of cool things that she brought up that um we’ve talked about this in a couple different podcasts. I think we’ve talked about how interesting it is that accessibility discussions are coming into the mainstream a lot more now then ever before.
Mike: And she specifically talks about that sort of, that thing happening.
Mike: She mentions responsive web design and how responsive so um, um, so clearly is brilliant for accessibility, using her words. Um
Mark: Yeah, responsive is about creating different experiences for different audiences. So actually it has brought something that has been inaccessibility for a long time right into the mainstream. That’s her , that’s her quote on responsive design and uh, and that’s true. And I think that you know the interesting thing about that and about this and about everything that we’re talking about here is that this .net is a mainstream development magazine. So .net would handle this discussion of responsive design um all the time as a mainstream discussion.
Mark: And then going back to you know some of the things we’ve said before when we’ve seen things show up on um things like Mashable and uh, things like that on accessibility which is sort of a new phenomenon. The fact that Léonie Watson in this interview showed up on .Net Magazine is a very cool and very sort of reaching into the mainstream itself. And then the fact she is now in the article turning around and going hey look accessibility is mainstream. Look at responsive design. Responsive design is definitely a mainstream discussion and one that you can’t get out of the way of if you’re a developer and she’s sitting there saying ya know, responsive design is accessibility too, which it really is.
Mike: Yeah, and the over arching sort of theme o this interview is that accessibility isn’t just this sort of thing by itself that you consider part of the project. Accessibility it becomes part of the project when you care about what you’re building.
Mark: Right. Because caring about your, what your building is means sort of caring about your customers, your users Who’s going to be experiencing this? She’s very clear in the sort of opening bit of this article in .Net. That, um, forget about accessibility for a minute all of today’s consumers are using different stuff. They’re on tablets, ,they’re on phones, they’re on desktops, laptops, all of that. So, we as designers, developers, app builders, whatever. We are already considering a whole bunch of niche audiences.
Mark: Exactly, yep, yep.
Mike: And to quote her, "So Accessibility is just one part of getting that experience right." Ya know, the more accessible you make something, the more universal um, it will be for users.
Mark: Which, by the way, is a concept that were embracing with responsive design right now. Nobody’s going like Ah, let’s design a website, ah, geez, now let’s think about how to make it responsive. No, everybody’s excited, everybody’s jumping on board and saying we design with responsive design right now. When we sit down to plan a project, we plan for responsive design right from the beginning. If you’re a developer, you’re asking your customer those questions, right from the beginning. What’s important in the content. What can we do with this, what can we do with that? What’s going to be important to a consumer on a mobile device, what’s going to be important to them on a tablet, what’s going to be important on all those things. So she says, that’s all accessibility is. Giving a damn about what you’re building and who you’re building it for. And the interesting thing to me is that from a device standpoint or a format standpoint, we’re all over that, right? Responsive design, responsive design.
Mark: Let’s make sure we’re respecting the format this things landing on.
Mike: Um, hm
Mark: Shouldn’t we be more excited about respecting the audience this thing is landing on, respecting the individual this things landing on. Right, we’re talking about people here. If we’re going to design responsively for a device and a format, why not design responsively for people and they tools they use to access this content. And I think that’s what we’re talking about and I think that in a roundabout way, that’s sort of distills the point, the thread that runs through this interview with her.
Mike: Well I think um what I took away from this article, was that and this interview is that um, a lot of accessibility folks right now, and for good reason by the way, are spending a fair bit of time trying to get the message across to developers and designers that accessibility isn’t scary.
Mike: And she does say that um, ya know accessibility can seem scary at first, really complicated. This is her quote, but she says, "but it’s not rocket science." The rocket science is learning to do what we all do anyway. It’s learning HTML, CSS, Compatibility, debugging and all of that. If you can do that, you can get accessibility right, no question. So, that little bit of setting cuz just the part you were just talking about with responsive, then you start changing the conversation into accessibility for user experience, and developers and designers start to get a little squirmy.
Mike: Like, I don’t know. They can look up, there’s a lot of information on how, on how to handle media queries for responsive CSS calls, but the accessibility part can seem pretty daunting.
Mike: So that’s the part where they go, I know I can make this responsive, I don’t know if I can make it completely accessible.
Mark: And it seems inconvenient. I think that in a way it’s the thorn in the paw of the lion and they’re waiting for the mouse to pull it out. Ya know what I mean?
Mark: And it’s been this sort of broken off piece for a long time and I think that what Léonie is saying here is that it doesn’t have to be that. It can be as integrated as something like responsive design. And she says in response to that, if you’re having a hard time with it, ya know, if this is something that’s still an afterthought to you, something that you think is inconvenient um, she says, I suggest take another look at it. Put the talent you have as designers and developers to finding accessible solutions to the creative stuff, rather than constraining creative stuff to make it accessible. And uh, that says it all to me right there. I mean, that’s what we’re doing with responsive design. Certainly you could look at that as something that could be restraining as well as something that’s liberating. But you don’t, you look at it from that point of view as being liberating.
Mike: That’s right.
Mark: I think accessibility is the same thing, you have to look at it from the point of being liberating. And you know, you and I it’s easy, we know a lot about accessibility and a lot about the techniques used so we can kind of see our way around it pretty easily, I think. But some of these designers and stuff out there that aren’t quite as familiar, it’s tough, I get it, it’s another thing you have to think about. But, you know, learn what you need to learn and look at it from that perspective and it could become a creative driver instead of a creative inhibitor.
Mike: Yeah and you know there’s some fear among designers and developers that every little bit of extra work, of course costs money, it costs time and that sort of thing. Which is not entirely untrue. It does take more time and more money to build quality products.
Mike: So when you look at your website or app, or whatever product from this perspective, about caring about your users and about caring about their experience, you can sort of wrap accessibility right into that bit of, you know, caring. So yeah, it’s going to take a little more time, it is going to take a little more effort.
Mark: Yeah, sorry Mike, we’ve got to wrap it up but the one last thing I would say is that, you know it’s it’s we can talk about caring all day long, but the bottom line is if you build a quality product, you’ve got something that more people are going to participate in. So you’ve got a better ROI. So it’s not just hey this is the way we should do it because we care, which is fantastic if that’s it but people build quality products for a reason because they’re better and because people buy more of them. And um, if people are able to participate in your content better, more efficiently, more people are able to do it, who cares how much, it doesn’t cost that much more to do, you know what I mean.
Mark: So, anyway sorry to cut you off there. Um, but we do have to wrap it up.
Mark and Mike: laughing
Mark: Um, so thanks for listening again and please do tell a friend if you’re enjoying these podcasts. This is Mark Miller
Mike: And this is Mike Guill
Mark: Reminding you to keep it accessible.
Announcer: The IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast brought to you by Interactive Accessibility, the accessibility experts. You can find their Access Matters Blog at Interactiveaccessibility.com/blog