Designers and developers can have a tendency to concentrate on sighted mouse users when building a web site. This is usually due to a lack of knowledge about how other people can use the web.
Something I have been thinking about for a while is using personas to help teach accessibility. I think it would be really useful to come up with some detailed personas that highlight the most common disabilities, the problems they face on the web and how assistive technologies are used. These can then be used to get designers, developers and project owners on board with accessibility – and used in discussions about designs or code that have accessibility issues.
Here’s a quick first attempt at some personas. I’d be interested in what people think of the idea and suggestions for improving the personas.
Tom, 54 is an accountant who spends 2 hours a day commuting to work by train. He is colour blind and uses a 3g dongle to connect to the internet when on the train.
Tom has problems when a website relies only on colour to communicate something.
Ben, 20 is a deaf student studying computer science at university
Tom has problems with websites that don’t include captions or transcripts
Liane, 38 (once sighted) is blind. Uses JAWS and Internet explorer to surf the web.
JAWS lets Liane get up a list of headings and links to get a quick overview of a web pages. She uses short cuts to navigate the page -jumping to headings, lists and tables etc
She has problems when pages don’t make use of headings and when links don’t have descriptive labels.
She has problems with pages that don’t allow keyboard navigation (e.g clickable ‘buttons’ that are implement with ‘span’)
She has problems with pages that use ajax that don’t inform her when new new content has updated
Alice, 69, has poor mobility and poor vision. Unable to get out of her flat without help. Uses the web to do her weekly shop and buy presents.
Uses IE 6. Has difficulty using a mouse so uses a keyboard. Due to poor vision she sets the font size to 200%
Has problems with sites that don’t work with a keyboard and sites that don’t provide the option to skip links.
Has problems with sites that break when font size increased.
Her memory is not as good as it used to be – needs things to be explained in simple language.
Get confused if a website does something unexpected.
Derek does not have full use of his hands so is unable to type. On his desktop uses Dragon Naturally speaking.
When using Dragon Naturally speaking can use the ‘button’ command which displays a number next to all the buttons on the page. Can then say the number to activate the button. Won’t work if developers have used ‘span’ instead of ‘button’
An example Accessibility for the modern web – @ 4 minutes
Can you suggest any other or better personas or scenarios? – or help flesh out the these ones?
It would be great to include the number of people that have these disabilities, examples of sites that have good or bad accessibility for the above issues – and videos that show people using the mentioned assistive technologies