Friday, September 28, 2007

universally accessible play area

We recently traveled to the midwest to visit family. Since we were traveling with a 2 year old, we stopped at as many playgrounds as time would allow.

Two of them were accessible. The photos that I took of the play areas didn't turn out, but they both had a ramp that allowed access to the play structure (the towers, steering wheels, and other toys on the walls of the enclosure, as well as the tops of the slides and stairs). The play area in Michigan also had an English alphabet panel. With each letter was the American Sign Language hand gesture and the Braille character.

"Access to Play Areas" lists a variety of reasons to make play areas accessible.

A playground should not just be accessible for children. It should be accessible for adults with disabilities as well. At times there may be teachers, parents, or even grandparents at the play area that may have disabilities and need to access different elements of the play area should children using the equipment need support, supervision, or first aid.

Most importantly, an accessible play environment allows for social integration to still take place. Children naturally form play groups. Play areas that are inaccessible prohibit children with disabilities from fully participating in the group.

Once again, accessible design benefits a variety of users and strengthens our social fabric.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Add to my to-do list

Overall the examples keep the promise the book makes in that they are creative, standards compliant and up-to-date, but there is just a little bit too much inaccessible image replacement going on for my taste. Not a huge problem, but I would have liked to see at least one example of image replacement that has a fallback for when images aren’t available, or at least a mention of the issue to make the reader aware of it.

 blog it

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


One of the coolest things about academia is free access to Lexis-Nexis. Each week I search for "accessibility" and never tire at the interesting things I stumble upon. A couple weeks ago, it was an article in Game Developer magazine that ends:

It's important to keep in mind that game accessibility isn't strictly about contributing to the gaming experience of disabled gamers. As Reid Kimball, creator of the Doom3[CC] mod and a colleague of mine at LucasArts, states, "GA equals 'games for all,' in my opinion," and that's a sentiment commonly found throughout the GA community. Closed captions can help younger children learn to read, clarify foreign language or heavily accented dialog, and add an additional important piece of gameplay feedback for a richly immersive environment. For designers, audio-only gameplay represents a largely unexplored area of game design. [From AUDIO ACCESSIBILITY, Jesse Harlin]
Cue the dreamy music as I leave the real world with its uncaptioned youtube videos and I enter into my utopic dream world where "We are the web" + scrabulous + + Amazon Mechanical Turk = a community-driven process that rewards people for writing and synchronizing captions.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ten-second test

My husband and I have been role playing - heh. He's an executive at a manufacturing company and I'm a universal design/accessibility advocate. We have mock conversations where I try a new sales pitch and he tells me why it won't work. Yesterday, I thought I had the perfect pitch - he wasn't shooting it down and was asking great questions, until wham! I veered off into technobabble about CSS. "You had me until you started talking technical. Frankly, I don't care. I have people for that. I am putting out so many fires each day that you need to make this one of the hottest or we won't get to it. I want to look at my site, see what's wrong, and know what needs to be done to fix it."

And, that's the issue that we - accessibility advocates - have faced for....ever. Today, as I read Launching Your Online Community: How Not to Get Killed, I realized that we need a ten-second test or at least a ten-second pitch that will sell an executive on the idea of standards-based universal design....or at least be interesting enough that he or she will put someone to work on it. The quest continues....