Disability, Cultural Diversity and Accessibility

Presentation to Cosmopolitan Civil Societies
21 April 2010
http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/dspace/handle/2100/1052 for audio of talk

A work in progress – ideas about accessibility, social inclusion
and Australia’s love affair with the mainstream/
Cultural diversity news experience
With Gov 2.0 focusing on accessibility as an issue, the politics of
the term become increasingly apparent. What Gov 2.0 does
not mean is accessibility as it is understood by the disability or
the ethnic movement. What are the political & social issues
raised by web 2.0 for social groups with less economic
resources and poorer cultural capital in relation to new media &
the Internet, especially as these constraints affect political
access to information and decision-making, within the context
of deliberative democracy (one ostensible driver for Gov 2.0
• The technologies associated with web 2.0 are critical in setting
possibility parameters within the continually transforming public
sphere in cyberspace; they produce both enabling and
disabling outcomes. Drawing on theoretical work in media
studies, cultural studies & disability studies, and the practical
experience of developing a communications platform that has
been required to meet W3C web accessibility initiative user
agent accessibility guidelines (UAAG 2.0), the paper will then
address some of the key questions posed by the Usability
Professionals’ Association May 2010 conference, “Embracing
Cultural Diversity – User Experience Design for the World”.
Universal design politics…
• One of the key propositions to be tested concerns the way in
which the burgeoning use of social media for eliciting user
needs may, in an environment of marginalisation of minorities,
further isolate such groups and reduce the purchase they have
on government. These are significant issues for agencies &
further isolate such groups and reduce the purchase they have
on government. These are significant issues for agencies &
organisations working with the (resource, cyber-cultural,
linguistically isolated, technologically unaware) “poor”.
A little more about Gov 2.0
• Trigger for the paper – the possible meanings of accessibility
• Accessibility as a condition of information
• Accessibility as a potential of users
• Accessibility therefore as a relationship between government
and community
• “Digital citizenship” is the ability to participate in society
online….. [it] encourages what has elsewhere been called
social inclusion” (Mossberger et al. Digital Citizenship, MIT
Press, 2007.)
• “The philosophy of Gov2 is to encourage participation at all
levels by a wide cross-section of the community” (Kingston
2010 online).
• “the burden of the Task force’s message …is that ‘nonsensitive’
data should be freely available, open, machine
readable etc.” (N Gruen Gov2.0 TF chair)
• Engage report : Getting on with Govt 2.0 Dec 2009
• Rec 9 Accessibility:
• a. Full compliance with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines)– whichever version is mandated by govt
• b. If not compliant provide timetable to compliance
• Only ref to “multiple languages” is in OECD principles, and
not referred to by TF as an accessibility issue
A conversation about accessibility
• The Gov 2.0 blog and the issue of participation
– Jakubowicz arguing report misses the point on accessibility
– Collins responds that TF is concerned and well-meaning
even if issues not mentioned
– Bostock argues that A, E and D issues are the forefront,
especially in video.gov.au in pulling down walls of
– Jakubowicz says its not whether people are aware but how
they define the issues and what they do in advancing the
– Jakubowicz says its not whether people are aware but how
they define the issues and what they do in advancing the
accessibility agenda
– Clark agrees that the report is appalling on the issue of
enhancing social democratic participation; “access is an
active process where Governments and services must reach
out and actively engage with the citizen”.
– Davies says the technologies “are, by their very nature,
democratising”, and that the Social Inclusion agenda is the
way to go to cover the issues.
AHRC guidelines
• Gladman on changes to Australian guidelines:
– accessible web design should ensure that all users can
access the content regardless of their location, experience or
type of computer technology – particularly users with
disabilities. Web content designed without consideration of
accessibility will often have access issues for people with
disabilities or technological limitations. Whilst accessibility of
web content is often aligned with catering to disabled users
there are significant benefits for the majority of users if
content is accessible.
– Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a
requirement, particularly for publicly funded web content
The political challenge of moving from web 1.0 to 2.0
• Access – eg challenges such as user generated content; flash
video; mashups;
– Disability
• -ve Visual cues; video content; audio; rapidity; less access
to technology; lower educational levels
• +ve Community building; asynchronous; iPhone apps (eg
Autism); engagement; non-text possibilities
– Cultural diversity
• -ve language; bimodal patterns of education; translation
issues; complexity of mainstream delivery
• +ve community building; non-text possibilities;
– Poverty
• -ve no technology; low literacy; under-developed verbal
• -ve no technology; low literacy; under-developed verbal
• Potential for learning and skill acquisition; opportunity to
W3C on moving from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0
• W3C provides detailed advice, including worked examples
• WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference List
– 1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any nontext
content so that it can be changed into other forms people
need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler
– 1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based
– 1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in
different ways (for example simpler layout ) without losing
information or structure.
– 1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear
content including separating foreground from background.
– 2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available
from a keyboard.
– 2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and
use content.
– 2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to
cause seizures.
– 2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find
content and determine where they are.
– 3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and
– 3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in
predictable ways.
– 3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
– 4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and
future user agents, including assistive technologies.
– Conformance Requirements
Video content: how to engage?
• Adobe Flash – OK to create but what about imported content?
• Looking at CulturalDiversity News where we see all of these
issues emerging — a YouTube video made by Chinese TV with
issues emerging — a YouTube video made by Chinese TV with
Chinese subtitles, English labels, and English text short
summary, but no transcript or signing version.
Embracing Cultural Diversity – User Experience Design for
the World
• Culture is critical to success – Designing Cancer.gov en
Español to dispel myths and leverage cultural beliefs for a
diverse U.S. Latino population. This case study presents
research methods, findings, and challenges in creating a
successful culturally appropriate website for U.S. Latinos.
• From International Observations to Cultural requirements –
Integrate or Tailor Cultural Differences in User Interface
Design: Tailoring applications for each country a product is
shipped becomes prohibitive in cost. Through international
observation research, key cultural and technological adoption
patterns can be assessed. In this presentation, we will discuss
when, how, and why we should or should not integrate these
key requirements into a single user experience.
• Establishing Cross-Cultural Collaboration in the Field of User
Centered Design: A process of establishing collaboration
between a German and an Indian UCD service provider is
presented, built on principles of modern communication theory:
By following 5-phases gradually common ground was reached,
allowing both partners to control the growth of trust and mutual
understanding – eventually to deliver successful cross-cultural
UCD projects.
• Social media and user research: Organizations are starting to
use social media to listen to customers. How do they
determine who to listen to? How should organizations use
social media to make decisions about products and services?
Social media presents exciting challenges for user experience
researchers, so it’s essential to share emerging methods &


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