We ran a series of inclusion and accessibility talks this week. They took place over 3 lunch breaks and they fell nicely into these themes:
This post summarises what the speakers covered. We pre-recorded the talks and added captions afterwards which meant that we didn’t give live answers to the questions that were asked after each talk. We didn’t anticipate getting so many so we’ll save them for a separate post to give us a little more time to answer them thoroughly.
Follow Accessibility Manchester on Twitter for future events.
Being inclusive at Co-op
Paul Munday, software engineer
I tell a story about my everyday experience as a neurodivergent software engineer. I talk about an unexpected difficulty I met and how a seemingly small thing caused me big problems. I want to show some of my lived experience as a disabled person, and how my impairments, the history of that lived experience, and its psychological consequences can interact in complex ways. I’m hoping that talking about what went wrong might create better understanding so people making decision on product and service teams can avoid unintended consequences that might make life worse for people like me.
In-store innovation and format
Steve Gell, Format development equipment manager
Before we develop or buy new equipment, we always consider customer and colleague needs. However, we know there’s always room for improvement. In my talk I talk about how an isolated incident involving one of our Food store colleagues who uses a wheelchair has led to a more inclusive way of working for our team. I also talk about our plans to work with the Represent team to help make sure all store solutions are as open and as accessible as possible for all customers and colleagues.
Putting inclusion at the heart of what we do
Enabling accessibility in teams
The power of policy
Dave Cunningham, DesignOps and accessibility lead
I have tried and failed to implement accessibility at scale before. I have run training sessions. Done audits. It’s tough, and when you leave an organisation, the desire of the team often does too.
In my talk I shout about our accessibility policy which makes accessibility standards more tangible and sustainable because colleagues can see what their responsibilities include.
To deliver the things set out in a policy, we must remove barriers for our teams. We also need to fit in to the way they work and enable people at scale.
To help, we brought in Fable to ensure our designers could regularly crit their work with native users of assistive tech such as screen readers, magnification, dragon naturally speaking. Thus, saving valuable time whilst building an army of designers with working knowledge of the diverse ways people use computers.
Vicki Riley, Lead user researcher
There are lots of product teams working on colleague-facing services at Co-op, across Food stores, Funeral homes and the support centre.
We’ve been testing different ways to identify and recruit colleagues who have a disability into our research.
Sign up to the Co-op colleague accessibility research panel here – Microsoft Forms
Take a look at the ways of working website.
Chris Gibbons, Lead front end engineer
I’m on the design system team – the team responsible for the foundations of Co-op products and service. We believe accessibility needs to be baked into the products we build, from the beginning, that includes the design system. that’s why we take accessibility seriously, and want to ensure that our colleagues have the utmost trust in the tools that we provide them.
We also want our colleagues to know that anyone can contribute into the design system, into their design system.
Alex Hall, content designer
There’s a lot of useful information on accessibility out there, but often this information is not very accessible itself. Take something like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. A fantastic resource, but it’s full of complex guidance and specialist language. They, like a lot of accessibility information, can be difficult to understand and use. My talk is about this and how we kept this in mind when we created our digital accessibility standards.
We wanted them to be clear, concise and actionable. We have also tried to make them into simple rules that are easy to remember and share. These standards are one of many things we are doing to try and create an accessibility culture at Co-op.
We know nothing is ever perfect and any feedback on the standards is very welcome, just email email@example.com
Watch my talk ‘Simplifying standards’ on YouTube
Getting accessibility done
Accessibility on Co-operate
The Co-operate team
We work on Co-operate, which lists things to do and groups that make good things happen in communities around the UK. It’s kind of like an online community centre.
Just like the diverse communities we all live in, it’s so important Co-operate reflects that diversity, and is inclusive and accessible to everyone.
We talk about how we’re doing this through:
- front end build
Can a banner be accessible?
Alexandra Borowska, junior designer
In many cases, website banners are often inaccessible and ineffective. There are often issues such as small text and poor colour contrast but once they are spotted, they’re easy to fix. I think what’s interesting is the question around whether we need really a banner at all? In my talk I explain how I discovered pain points and opportunities with several banners and how I found that in many scenarios we can give users the information in a different but more accessible, effective way.
Getting people to care
Phoebe Quayle, agile delivery manager
Getting people to prioritise accessibility changes is hard. It’s a behavior change that requires empathy for the users but also support and education for your team to learn how to approach, understand the impacts and learn how to apply design and engineering techniques that will make a huge difference.
In my talk I explain how I’ve got this wrong. I lacked understanding of other teams’ motivation and decision process, and I lacked empathy and understanding for my colleagues and what support and reassurances they needed.
Then I talk about what I did to make things better. Briefly: the best way to learn, build understanding and alignment as a group is to put the work you care about in front of users.
Watch my talk ‘Getting people to care’ on YouTube
Researching with Fable
Hannah Pass, Lead user researcher
When it comes to accessibility, a lot of people automatically think of screen readers. My talk is about the importance of testing with other types of assistive technology as well as my experience of using Fable, web accessibility testing software that lets us do audits and moderated sessions with people who use assistive technology easily and quickly.
I talk about how we used Fable to test our careers website with a range of assistive technology, for example, screen magnification, voice activation as well as a screen reader. Each one uncovered different issues showing that relying on screen reader testing alone isn’t good or thorough enough.
Fable has helped us feel confident about running our own tests within the team and we’re in a better, more accessible place for it.
Golden rules of forms
Paul Braddock, UX designer
We have a lot of forms at Co-op – in fact, every meaningful interaction involves at least one. Good user experience encourages users to return. We know that 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to websites they know are barrier-free. Forms can attract a lot of usability and accessibility issues.
My talk explains why and how I follow these rules when designing a form:
- Give the user context.
- Allow users to change their answer.
- Give examples to make it clearer what a user is expected to do.
- Tell users why we may need certain information.
- Use plain English; be clear, concise, specific, consistent, and human.