Designing websites for people with disabilities is in large part uncharted territory. Nonsense can be a useful tool to investigate the unkown. And it’s fun.
Using the exact opposite of the inclusive design principles to create accessible interfaces for people with disabilities sounds ridiculous. It turned out to be a very good idea.
When I asked Hannes Wallrafen if he had some ideas for his website that sounded nonsesical to him, he immediately told me he wants funny little illustrative animations. Animations he will never be able to see. How do you make invisible illustrations?
Adding nonsense is such an important part of my research, but it’s also a more complex subject than the title suggests. It is much more than simply adding fun. So it deserves its own chapter.
Elsewhere on this website
All articles can be read in a structured order, staring with the context of this reasearch, followed by the things I did and created, and ending with recommendations.
The reason why the web is accessible is because it was designed to be used by everyone. The reason why the web isn’t accessible is the same.
The defaults suck
Could it be that the web is broken because the defaults our tools use are not very well designed?
Inclusive Design as practiced on the web right now could be a nice end goal, but I do think we are not there yet.
Tales of guessing how people use their computers. And then, of course, getting it all wrong.
More death to more bullshit
Screen readers tend to talk a lot. Which becomes increasingly annoying with more content. A recalibration of our love for features would be very welcome.
Design like it’s 1999
In which Simon Dogger and I wonder why it’s so hard to use the website with all Dutch national television documentaries.
In which I tell about the tailor made website and the giggling animations I made for Hannes Wallrafen, the famous blind photographer.
In which I explain the contrast between web development best practices, and the way our tools present them.
Edge cases in software development means that you use the extremes to test with. In Web design it means you ignore the extremes. Calling them stress cases might help.
Coders should learn how to design
We’re developing expertise in choosing rather than in thinking. If we want an accessible web, we need to start designing.
Add nonsense, for fun, for surprise, and because we really need to innovate.
In which I try to reach a conclusion.
The Exclusive Design Principles
During my research at the Master Design I have worked with four exclusive design principles. With some good will we can organise all chapters in this thesis into these four principles.
In order to become specialist designers for all kinds of people with all kinds of disabilities we have to study different, individual situations.
The current conventions are designed by, and thus for, designers. Not all of these conventions work for non-designers. If we want to include non-designers, and especially people with disabilities, we should reconsider these conventions, after we studied their situations.
Including excluded people into our design process, by seeing them as co-designers rather than study objects, can help in coming up with new, and relevant, conventions.
Designing for people with disabilities is in large part uncharted territory. Nonsense can be a useful tool to investigate the unkown. And it’s fun.