Tommy Edison, also known as “the Blind Film Critic”, posts movie reviews on hisYouTube channel that are filled with humor and charm. In addition to his movie reviews, Edison has also posted videos that illustrate how he navigates everyday activities as a man who is blind. For instance, the video below demonstrates how he uses Instagram on the iPhone 4S, using the iPhone’s VoiceOver accessibility feature. Some of the comments that viewers have left on Edison’s You Tube channel expression confusion over why a man who is blind would be interested in using Instagram. Edison clearly demonstrates that even though he can’t personally see the images that he posts, they are still a fun way for him to communicate with his sighted friends and followers. It serves as a an important reminder of the benefits of Universal Design and why designers should provide accessibility without making prior assumptions about who will or won’t be interested in using their product. Watch the video after the jump.
The Norwegian Design Council has featured a concept car, designed by the electric car company Think, as an example of how companies should incorperate inclusive design in the design process. Think’s concept car incorporates modern communication and information technology, allowing users to connect to various applications or social media sites. Users can create personalized profiles that set the size, color, and contrast of the digital dashboard as well as the car’s other interfaces. These profiles could be saved and transferred from car to car, so that even when you rent or borrow a car, it can “become your car” by displaying your personalized settings. During the design process, Think interviewed users with a wide range of ages and mobility requirements in order to understand their needs. The result is that the car company has developed a concept that would work for a wide range of potential users.
Design firm L+W created the “No Country for Old Men” collection in 2012, which consists of Together – a set of walking aids and carts, Aussunta – a chair that tilts forwards to help users rise from a seated position, and MonoLight – a table lamp that illuminates and magnifies. While these products were designed with older adults in mind, their appearance is so friendly and approachable that anyone would love to own them.
Aesthetics is important to Universal Design, because people are often hesitant to buy projects that look institutional or stigmatizing. If Universal Design is going to be brought into the mainstream it will have to be available at the hardware and big box stores where most people shop. At the same time, high-end products, like L+W’s collection, often combine innovation with aesthetics, illustrating just how lovely Universal Design can be.
Australian consumer and disability organizations have begun a campaign to reduce the use of CAPTCHA, the visual tests used by websites to distinguish human users from automated computer bots. CAPTCHA tests are generally not user friendly and they are often completely inaccessible to people who are blind or have low vision. While audio CAPTCHAs are available, many users find them even more difficult to understand. The official web standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has said CAPTCHA excludes people with disabilities. It proposes several alternative methods of proving web users are human. The “kill CAPTCHA” petition can be viewed at Change.org.