Having taught courses in user-centered design (UCD) and human-computer interaction (HCI) for over 20 years, I am familiar with both the history of the field and the methods and tools currently in use. On several occasions, I’ve also had the chance to work with the disability resource center at our university. While those projects were interesting and challenging, they were also often frustrating and satisfying at the same time. Satisfying because student teams were able to help users with disabilities, or at least obtain a better understanding of the problem, and frustrating because it was hard to find guidance for the development of apps and systems that support such users.
Based on the descriptions of Regine Gilbert’s book, I hoped to find a resource that goes beyond a brief listing of principles (such as https://inclusivedesignprinciples.org/, as helpful as it is) but does not require an extensive literature review, for example, a text for a team of students ready to tackle the development of a mobile app.
Due to time constraints related to the review process, it wasn’t practical to involve students. Instead, I examined the book from the perspective of a team of student developers with a background in computer science and software engineering, some mobile app development skills, and limited exposure to user experience, usability testing, and HCI methods. Assuming that the target audience included users with vision impairments, limited mobility in their hands, and low familiarity with computing devices, I checked the book for guidance.
I then identified chapters as recommended readings for the team. Chapter 1, “Designing with Accessibility in Mind,” is appropriate for the whole team as a foundation. The team lead would work through chapters 4 and 5, “Compliance and Accessibility” and “Building a Vision for the Future: Design Strategies for Accessibility,” while the user experience person would develop a testing and assessment strategy based on chapters 6, “Inclusive Design Research,” and 9, “Usability Testing.” Mobile developers would read up on “Assistive Technologies” in chapter 7, and select relevant sections from chapter 10, “Beyond the Web.” Further material with valuable pointers to resources is included in a 40-page appendix.
Based on this thought experiment, I would be comfortable recommending that student team members purchase a copy. I believe it offers a good combination of background information on inclusive design, practical advice for dealing with common interaction limitations, and pointers to additional resources.
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