Accessibility and improved User Experience for all

Kurt HolstAt Accessibility Scotland 2018 Curt Holst @curtholst talked about how traditionally accessibility is considered a component of usability focusing on people with disabilities but is often not seen as a powerful opportunity to innovate.

Building upon the work of The Paciello Group and Microsoft, Curt talks about how Barclays uses Inclusive Design to support its aim of becoming the most inclusive bank in the world.



Download Curts slides in Microsoft Powerpoint format.


Good morning everybody, and thanks for coming.

In terms of accessibility and user experience, I guess the question that I’d like to start off with is, have any of you tried to use a mobile phone on a moving train? And found it easy? Or have you tried to use a video in a noisy office?

Often, what’ll you find is that your experience of that digital feature has been influenced by whether that, whether accessibility has been considered as part of the design of that particular device.

Now, an example of this that I have at home. I have a set of speakers that I can control using a mobile app. So it’s got a little slider on it that I can slide to adjust the volume, but unfortunately, what happens is because it’s so finicky to use, I find I don’t use it because I can’t get an exact volume setting on it.

So if accessibility had been considered with the design of that, I’d have the option of maybe using buttons to increase the volume or decrease it or have the ability to enter a value into the app for the volume setting that I liked.

So when we think about accessibility, it’s normally … we’re talking about … It’s normally considered for people with disabilities. And that’s all good. It’s important because it gives us an idea of the number of people that we might otherwise exclude.

And we also know that about one in five people have a disability. And the purple pound, which is the disposable income of people with disabilities is around 1 trillion dollars, globally.

So it’s not a small amount. However, when we consider … When we design for difference, and we’re also considering people with situational or temporary impairments. So it’s looking at the broader scope of things from an accessibility point of view.

Then, so what we’re going to be looking at today is how the requirements that will apply across different types of impairments need to be considered. So if we look at how will somebody be using a screen? If they have a vision impairment, how will they use it? If they have a dexterity impairment, how will they use a slider? And then also looking at situations where, say somebody’s holding a baby in one arm. Can they use the mobile phone with one hand? So it’s looking at accessibility more broadly from that perspective.

And also what we’ll consider as well is that accessibility, if we consider it early in the process, it also saves us a lot of time, energy, and money. And also creates a better user experience for everybody.

So when we talk about user experience, on the slide here what I’ve got is the seven components of user experience that were created by Peter Morville, who’s a well-known user experience expert. And we can see, within this chart there are a number of things that make up what a good user experience is or affects user experience.

So first thing is, is it useful?

Obviously people would be putting out apps if it wasn’t useful, so it’s obviously one of the key components. The more useful something is, the better the user experience. Your user experience is also affected by how usable that product is. So in the case of my slider, it’s obviously useful, because I can adjust the volume of my speakers, but I can’t …

It’s not usable. Then, when we talk about if something is findable, it’s referring to whether an application or any kind of product is easy to find. But then it also refers to how easy it is to find the information within that application.

And then when we talk about that information or that’s provided, is it credible? Do we trust that information when we’re using it? And that also makes … The more we trust the information that we receive, the better the user experience will be.

And one thing that’s also quite important when we’re talking about user experience is desirability. So if we could compare a Skoda to a Porsche, for example. It basically means that we can have bragging rights if we have something that’s really cool, and that makes our user experience better.

And then also, does this product provide value? Does it provide a significant value to us?

If it does, we have a better user experience.

Now, what we find in a lot of cases is, all of these six items that I’ve just mentioned are considered when we’re talking about user experience.

However, when we talk about accessibility, this is often the one that gets … is the one that’s not covered as well as it should be. And we know that accessibility is about making products and services accessible to everyone, especially people with disabilities. And when it’s done well, accessibility can provide a greater reach to our customers from a marketer’s perspective.

That is, we obviously are reaching more customers. If our internal services are more accessible, we have more engaged colleagues, more productive colleagues. And then also, if it’s done well, we have a much better user experience for everybody.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t see accessibility that way. The way they’ll look at accessibility is, it’s often … it’s not worth doing, because of the small number of people that it’s actually focusing on. But when we look at the numbers, we’re talking about 20% of the market, and that’s not a small amount. So what I’d like to do know is actually just go through how we would look at accessibility in a different way.

So we all know that accessibility is a legal requirement, but often, when we talk about legal requirements, unfortunate, it’s not as enforced as it should be. And it’s not the stick that we should be using. So when we look at accessibility and visual disability, we should see it differently or look at it differently.

Reframe our thinking around disability, and that also can inspire better designs and benefit more people. So when we’re thinking about disability, we’re all disabled at some point. Accessibility is about people. It’s not about legal requirements. So regardless of … There might be certain situations that you’re in that you are disabled by the circumstances that you’re in, and I’ll come to that in a bit more detail.

But what I’m going to do now is talk about … just go into a bit more detail about how we can reframe accessibility or at least change our perspective on accessibility. And then I’ll also talk about how we’ve tried to implement this within Barclays.

So when we look at disability, and this is the World Health Organization’s definitely of disability, it’s a mismatch in the interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live.

So when you think about that, that really gives you an insight into what a disability actually means. And from a design point of view, when you’re looking at creating a product, it’s important that you look at, from the design, how that product affects the interactions.

And then also what mismatches you’re creating. And when you get to that point, you actually get … You find points of exclusion. So that point of exclusion, that’s where innovation can normally raise it’s head. And then you can start thinking about it.

And when we think about disability as being more about the situation that you’re in or the technology or whatever that’s causing you to not be able to complete the tasks, then you are thinking in a more inclusive way.

So when you talk about disability as context-dependent, there’s normally three types of impairment types that we’ll refer to.

So the first is permanent impairment. Now, this is something that affects somebody throughout their life, and we normally refer to this as a disability. And an example that I have on the screen, you can see that we somebody with a lower limb amputation.

So let me talk about the second. It’s a temporary impairment. So this is something that we would normally refer to as an injury. And this normally affects somebody for less than 12 months, for example. And the example that we have here, somebody with a broken arm.

And then we have somebody who is … and then we talk about situational impairments. So in this case, we have somebody who is affected by the situation that they’re in. So they’re impaired to be able to do certain things, because of the situation that they’re in.

So in the example we have here, a lady holding a baby and she can only use one arm. But what you notice about, when you look at these three, is that we have the same requirement for all three people. So it means that if we create something that works well for somebody who only has one arm, then we are helping people who have a temporary injury, so a broken arm, or somebody who’s holding a baby in one arm.

So there’s requirements that go across that, give us a more inclusive look. And by creating a better experience for somebody with a permanent disability, we are helping people with temporary or situational impairments.

So there’s just some examples, and this is from the Microsoft inclusive design toolkit.

And we can see from the examples here that we have, and that we’ve covered the first one already, but if we talk about the second one, so if we have a requirement for somebody who has a vision impairment, if they need speech to be able to control something, using Siri, and that it also helps somebody who has cataracts as a temporary impairment.

And also helping somebody who’s a distracted driver in the car where they can’t use their hands to actually do things.

Somebody with hearing impairments, and we’ve covered this as an example, where we have caption video, for example.

This will help somebody with a hearing impairment, but also help somebody with an ear infection, as well as somebody who’s in a noisy environment.

And then another example would be a requirement to have text input where, say somebody has a speech impediment, so then they can use text to communicate.

And that also helps somebody who might have laryngitis or somebody with a heavy accent. That just helps them to communicate a lot better.

Now, one other thing we can look at is adaptions.

So this is often a really good point at looking at innovation. So normally when assistive technology provides early indicators of innovation going mainstream, so just some examples of this we can see, a typewriter, which was invented in 1802 to help the inventor’s blind sister write.

And now we use … Well, typewriters were used for many years as a standard communication device. And moving onto that, we have predictive text, where this helps a number of people with disabilities to be able to type easily if you have a cognitive impairment or a learning disability.

If they’re able to not rely on being able to spell things, the predictive text helps them. And we find now, that’s across the board in a number of devices and helps innumerous people, especially on mobile devices.

Now, speech recognition was invented in 1952 to help people control computers using their voice. And that was used until today, where we have conversational interfaces. Things like Siri, Cortana, or the Amazon Echo, where we can communicate with our voice to make things happen.

So talking about inclusive design versus accessibility, now the example I have here is of two potato peelers.

So one, they both do the same job. However, the one is just a plain metal potato peeler with just sharp edges, and the other one is a really nicely-designed one with soft handles, soft grips, and all that kind of thing. So in this case, the experience of using that particular potato peeler is improved because of some of the considerations around, say, accessibility, for example, so it’s easier to hold and it has a nice grip on it.

All that kind of thing. So one of the objectives we have about this is to try and get that kind of thinking to our designers.

So its very important that, even though we are following user experience principles within Barclays, but we need to try and include these people with disabilities. So when we’re talking about user testing, we should be not just user testing with non-disabled individuals.

We should be including people with disabilities in that group, so that we get a much broader spectrum of what we can do. And also maybe it’ll bring out some form of innovation.

So things like observations, case studies, anything like that, or focus groups. We need to include people with disabilities in that. So one of the things that we’ve been trying to do is to move from a compliance, must-do to a sort of opportunity, want-to approach to accessibility within Barclays.

And what I’m going to talk about now is how we’re trying to do that.

So at Barclays, we have an ambition to become the most accessible FTSE 100 company.

That’s a pretty ambitious statement to make, but one problem that we do have when we try to talk about accessibility is exactly getting people to understand it, because there’s some confusion sometimes with the industry, where when you talk about accessibility, they either think you’re talking about resilience or about access to systems as such, so there’s things like security and whatever.

So we have to clearly state what accessibility means at Barclays.

And accessibility means ensuring that everyone can use our products and services or be employed by us.

So that’s a pretty simplistic and broad sweeping statement. We’ve also added that it’s that simple, because why you’ll find with a lot of organizations, they’ll look for exceptions.

So they’ll see, “Ah, but this. Ah, but that.” But what it means is that there’s no ifs or buts with Barclays. And that’s what we’re trying to push.

Unfortunately, the problem is getting the message to everybody. Barclays is an enormous organization, so we know that our colleagues want to do the right thing, so the people that we’re dealing with, we know that they want to do the right thing.

But trying to communicate those requirements to them has become a challenge. So this is where we’ve embarked on a exercise to try and imbed those things within our organization.

And the way we look at this is to try and align how our people think about accessibility, how they feel, and how they act when it comes to accessibility.

So our three components that we use within Barkleys is to try and get that message across. So we refer to it as inspiring hearts, educating heads, and enabling hands.

So by inspiring hearts, what we mean is that we’re trying to instill or build empathy within our colleagues. So it’s to get them to understand the impact that an inaccessible system will have on somebody with a disability.

Now, one of the ways we do this is with empathy labs. Now, empathy is a common practice within design.

However, we have to deal with it quite carefully when we’re talking about disability or impairment because empathy can sometime be misleading if you’re using, say, goggles or earplugs to try and simulate some form of disability.

Now, what we do as part of these empathy labs is providing tools to people so they can come in during their day and they can come and try out different simulations. But the simulations are not to replicate the disability, but it’s to get them to focus on the impact that a disability has.

So we have things like an augmented reality app that’s freely available and we use it with Google Cardboard, so it simulates colorblindness and you can look through the system and see what’s the effect of colorblindness has if the contrast isn’t correct on a design or anything like that.

We do have goggles and we do have gloves that simulate arthritis and we’ll get people to try and use the app with these gloves on. It’s mimicking the disability, but what we’re getting people is to try and think about something they might have not considered before and then explore further.

Another way we try to build empathy is with a number of videos that are available to people to access.

And this is where we have colleagues or customers talking about their experiences and some of the issues that they might be having when they’re trying to access our systems or carry out tasks in everyday life.

And we found this to be really powerful.

So once we’ve inspired people’s hearts and built empathy, we have to educate their heads. So from the screen, you can see there’s a number of questions that we get or misconceptions that we find within Barclays.

So I’ll just read through them. So one thing you always get is, “If we add in this requirement, accessibility’s going to be so expensive. It’s adding time to what we’re doing.” And then what we also find is users don’t complain about accessibility, so I must be doing okay. One of the other misconceptions is that “I’m not a developer, accessibility’s not my job.”

Another one is “Accessible sites and apps are boring.” This is often what we find from designers. And then also we have the misconception about “There’s only a few people that benefit from accessibility.”

So what we’ve done is create videos, posters, and all that kind of thing to try and get people to think differently about those misconceptions. So we have a video that’s called, “The Five Myths of Accessibility.”

And I’ll go through these very quickly. So the first myth, as we said, users don’t complain so they must be doing okay. But what we find is that 10% of people, only 10% of people complain. We find that 90% of people will just kick away and/or they’ll get somebody else to help them complete the task. And what that equates to is about 12 million pounds in lost revenue if people just walk away. And this is the stats that are available from the

The second myth is “Accessibility’s not my job.” So what we’re trying to instill in people is that, from the design or at least from when we even think about a product, through to design, through to development and to testing, accessibility’s incorporated into all those processes. So if it’s considered early, that by the end of it, we’re not just having a bolt-on exercise to try and address the accessibility issues that might occur.

To say that people … The misconception about accessibility being expensive.

So yes, it is expensive if you bolt it on at the end. Sometimes what we find is that, if projects engage us late, we might identify some accessibility issues and then they have to try and retrofit things to try and address the accessibility issues and that is expensive.

But if we consider accessibility upfront, we build projects with situation and temporary impairments in mind, and if we build it right the first time, then it’s not going to cost us less to fix it if something goes wrong.

So the fourth myth is that the market is just too small and the step that we have is that there’s 12.9 million people within the U.K. that have a disability, so that’s not a small amount. So if we can address issues for them, it’s going to be a commercial benefit to us.

And then the last one was about accessible content being boring.

So one of the things we try to get across is that accessibility should work well for those who need it and be invisible to those who don’t.

And in a lot of cases, that can occur. But what we also find is some accessible things that we develop, so we have eLearning, we sometimes provide an alternative version.

We find that more people use the … A lot of people prefer the alternative version because it’s a lot simpler. So by incorporating accessibility and by busting some of these myths, we are trying to educate people’s heads.

Then enabling hands. So we can’t just say, “Okay, you know about accessibility. You understand that some of these misconceptions are false.” But then just say, “Okay, go for it.” So without giving them the tools to be able to ensure that they can meet the accessibility requirements, then it’s not going to work.

So what we provide is things like enterprise tooling. So this is testing tools that teams can use, they’re able to evaluate accessibility.

We also have what we call a lean accessibility control. Now this is for agile projects. And what this is is where, as projects start, they are automatically engaged with us.

So accessibility’s considered right upfront. And we keep track of those projects throughout the process. I’ve also worked with designers, our brand guys, our developers to create design libraries and patterns.

So what this means is that we have accessible libraries of components that developers can just take and use within their development or within the things that they’re building. And then we also have an accessibility academy where a lot of things, a lot of resources are available to be people.

So we talked about the videos. We talked about … our standards listed there, resources, videos, and all that kind of stuff that people can easily access.

So one of the examples of this is the Inclusive Design Principles (Source: The Paciello Group) which there are seven of these and we have posters that people can download, put them next to their desks.

There’s also separate posters for each principle. Now, I’ll just go through these for the benefits of those who can’t see the screen.

The principles are “Provide a comparable experience,” so this is basically not just providing a rubbish alternative. We need to provide a comparable experience if we’re going to provide an alternative.

Also, give control to users. So they should be able to access the system in a way that they prefer.

We offer choice, so giving people different options when you’re trying to access a system is also very important. And the example we have here is, on IRS, you have the ability to delete emails, for example. You can either press the edit button or you can swipe to remove it. So there’s different options that are available.

We also need to consider situations. So as we’ve seen with … When we talk about temporary and situation impairments, we need to provide good contrasts.

So if somebody’s viewing our app in bright sunlight, they can actually see what’s going on. And it’s also about being consistent.

So using consistent conventions makes it easy for people to understand the content.

And prioritizing that content, which is a common design way of thinking, but at least it gives the user the ability to understand the structure of the content that they’re trying to use, and then adding value.

By the features that we do, we actually add value to the experience. Another thing that we provide in the academy is what we call “Diverse persona magazines.” Now we’re all familiar with the …

With the way we use personas. It gives us an idea of how our users will actually use our system and some of their preferences and needs.

So as an example here, we have a persona of Maya, who’s somebody with dyslexia. And this gives designers a window into her life, the technology she uses, some of the problems she encounters, and some of the ways that she tries to work around things. So if designers consider this persona, they can look at way that they can make the designs work better for somebody like Maya.

We also have a training. So there is training  in the accessibility academy. And one thing that we’ve covered that I think is quite important is design reviews.

So we train designers how to review designs and we also train them how to annotate those designs. So when they create a design, they can put in the accessibility requirements for specific components, so then when it gets to the developer, they know exactly what to build.

We also do user testing, and this is something we recommend to our product teams, especially on key projects.

So the example that I have here is of a PIN entry device, which is a secure code generator. And that went through numerous iterations of user testing with people with disabilities to come to the right solution for them. And we do this for a number of other products.

So some of our achievements.

So what are these initiatives that we’ve been doing? We’ve found they’ve had a lot of positive benefits.

So our Barclay’s mobile banking app, which is the first app within the UK to have been accessibility accredited by an external organization in 2015.

And it’s been re accredited for the last five years, which is amazing.

But the reason why that’s the case is because we’ve incorporated a lot of the practices that we’ve been talking about into the development of that app.

So we’ve provided design patterns for developers to be able to create things with accessible components. We have … Testers are trained to be able to identify accessibility issues on the app as it’s going through quality control.

We also have regular visits from an external agency who will evaluate the accessibility of the app on a monthly basis. We also have regular user testing sessions on new features.

So as a release goes out every month, or at least every six months, there’s a user tested happens.

We also have regular visits from what we’d call “Expert assistive technology users.” So we’ll get them to test the app. And all of those things that are picked up as part of those evaluations are put into our defect logs and then manages any other defect.

So this way we’ve built accessibility into the business as usual process during development.

And this has resulted in some really lovely feedback from customers.

So I’ll just read this one.

“The Barclay’s application has improved vastly. When you go to pay someone, you can type the first two letters of who you want to pay and it takes you straight to that person. It has become very immediate, rather than using lots of text. It’s more concise and allows you to do what you want quickly and easily. It’s brilliant.”

The second one is,

“Having used the Barclay’s mobile app for various things at the weekend, I was surprised to realize that I’d been able to do everything I wanted without a hitch. The fact I can view and manage my accounts, make a call to customer services from inside the app, and place security in one easy step, find out about offers and other products and do all other things people expect to do with a banking app was a genuine pleasure.”

So when we look at both of these pieces of feedback, it’s unfortunate that the people with a vision impairment find it so difficult.

And so the slightest thing where they can easily do something makes such a big difference. However, when we look at both of these bits of feedback, we can see that the features that they’re talking about would be useful to anybody.

So being able to easily just type a name and get the contact that you want to pay a little easier. And also, if you can clear security, that’s always a problem when we talk about online banking.
Some of the other successes, I’ll just go through these very quickly. So things like high-visibility debit cards, or things where a customer can customize what the card will look like, so you can choose the color of it, so this is enormous benefits for people with vision impairments so they can actually see which way they’re putting the card into the slot at the ATM.

They can also read the text a lot easier. And it also helps people with dyslexia so they can choose different color schemes that work for them to be able to easily read the content on the card.

Things like SIRI payments. It obvious how useful that is. So you can just use a voice command to pay somebody using on an iOS device.

From somebody with a disability’s perspective, you don’t have to interact with the app, put in a password, anything like that. You can just say what you want to do and it’ll do it.

Now, B Chip Bands. This is quite interesting because you … It’s basically a chip on a band that you put and … I guess you could do it with an Apple watch, but what’s nice about B Chip bands is that if we have somebody who’s in a vulnerable circumstance, you have somebody who can control the money, so they can have a wallet, and you can put a specific amount of money on that band.

So they can go out, have independence, and be able to make payments themselves without worrying about large amounts of money being lost. It’s also useful for anybody else. If you’re going on a night out, you can put a bit of money on the band.

You don’t have to take your wallet with you. It just makes things a lot easier.

And the last one is contactless ATMs.

So what this is, is the customer has the ability to create a transaction on the mobile device.

So if I want to withdraw 20 pounds, I can put that in using the mobile app and then I can go to an ATM, touch it on the reader, and it’ll give me the cash.

So it’s useful for anybody, but from somebody with a disability’s perspective, they can interact with an accessible app and not have to worry about …

Sometimes there are challenges with using an ATM. So they can set up the transaction on the accessible app and then go the ATM and withdraw the payments.

So at Barclays, some of the things we’ve learned is, as we’ve covered, so we try to recognize bias as much as possible. So this is either done through user testing, through all of the resources that we have available on our academy.

We also try to consider accessibility as early as possible in the process. We also look at innovation from the ages. So looking at how people adapt to certain situations and that might be a point of innovation for us.

And also looking at accessibility as it’s something that affects people.

It’s not about technology.

Now, yesterday actually, I was told about a rough accessible user experience manifesto that was recently released.

And you can find it on Medium, but it basically what it came about from the UXPA event in London recently, where they decided that’s what they’re going to do.

And there’s a number of discussions that went on around this.

And if I can remember correctly, the main points of this manifesto are that accessibility is a core value. It’s not an item on a checklist.

It’s an intrinsic value, so it’s not something that’s a bolt-on. It’s also a creative challenge, but not a challenge to creativity. And it’s about people, not technology.

Thank you very much.