New Year, New Hopes for Accessibility

December newsletter feature image depicting holiday sweater-style repeated pattern of web accessibility human logo

With the year coming to an end, the Fuzzy Math team is doing a lot of reflecting and thinking about our design hopes for the new year and beyond. Specifically, we have been thinking about our hopes for accessibility in not only the products we help create but also for the products we use. Here’s what a few members of the team are hoping for in the new year.

picture of <b>Wren Overesch</b>
Wren Overesch

I want to make sure we shed some light on those accessibility overlays that we see pop up more and more on sites. Hint: they aren’t actually accessible and act more like a band-aid rather than a solution.

picture of <b>Ben Ihnchak</b>
Ben Ihnchak

Apple, please, pleeeeeaaaaase redesign your icons in Big Sur. They’re awful and you should feel bad. They are busy, hard to decipher, and generally, look bad (imo).

picture of <b>Wren Overesch</b>
Wren Overesch

Google too ^

picture of <b>Rachel Vorm</b>
Rachel Vorm

I’d also personally like to see more work done around accessibility from the get-go of a project. In the initial research, user interviews, prototyping, etc. Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought or an add-on.

I think the only way we get better at solving for accessibility is by talking to users about their needs and also looking to experts in these fields to help fill in knowledge gaps. Accessibility is a broad term that can encompass a lot of different opportunities, but I recently found this community/organization and they are doing a lot of great work to amplify disability culture and are some experts people can look to: I could go on about this forever, but I’d also like to see companies push more for caring about accessibility from a place of opportunity and what can be gained, rather than a place of ‘You should do this so you don’t get sued.’

picture of <b>Philip Miller</b>
Philip Miller

+1 to the accessibility focus earlier. It’s not common for “edge cases” like low vision, low hearing, motor skills disabilities, or anything else to be included in the feedback. It’d be cool to bring more diversity in and see what makes or breaks an interface from these different users’ perspectives.

picture of <b>Jon Tinman</b>
Jon Tinman

More closed captioning and audio descriptions, please! Video content is increasing in popularity, and there’s a huge risk that users with vision or hearing deficiencies will be left behind. I’ve noticed a lot of platforms offering closed captioning, but I’m not aware if audio descriptions for visually impaired users are keeping up.

There’s also more user-generated video content than ever before, and it would be great to see platforms making it as easy as possible for content creators to make sure their videos are accessible. These are features that benefit everyone and make for a much better experience.

picture of <b>Ben Ihnchak</b>
Ben Ihnchak

I would like iOS (but maybe all phone OSs?) to do a better job at first-run experiences, or possibly even just announcing that features exist. I just learned that you can spin the numbers in the new time entry within the “Clock” app on an iPhone (thanks Philip!). Last week I learned that you can hold and slide on the space bar to move your cursor, which works a million times better than sliding on top of the copy you’re trying to edit. Why not let me know those features exist instead of waiting for someone else to tell me about them, Apple?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we really don’t know what the future holds, but we can hope for the best! How did we do on our predictions in previous years? Check out our predictions for UX design in 20162017, 2018, and 2019.

What are your hopes for accessibility in the future? Let us know on Twitter @fuzzymath!

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