A (Rough) Manifesto for Accessible User Experience

When we examine accessibility through the lens of user experience, we see that accessibility is:

A core value, not an item on a checklist

A shared concern, not a delegated task

A creative challenge, not a challenge to creativity

An intrinsic quality, not a bolted-on fix

About people, not technology


Principles

The Manifesto for Accessible User Experience is an articulation of beliefs, derived from our understanding of the benefits of integrating efforts towards better accessibility and user experience, constraints we face in achieving these benefits, and actions we must take to address the constraints. The following sections articulate foundational principles that support the manifesto.

We believe…

Access to digital resources is an individual and societal imperative and a fundamental human right

Digital resources can reduce social and economic exclusion; without deliberate attention, they will increase exclusion

Attention to accessibility can drive innovation; inattention fundamentally compromises quality and user experience

Therefore, we all reap benefits if we collectively commit to advancing accessibility

Truly advancing accessibility requires commitment and change, for people, processes, and technologies

We recognize…

People’s capabilities and preferences are unique and variable; environmental factors influence accessibility needs

Change can be complex and challenging

Therefore, universal accessibility must be a goal, not a target

We will…

Focus accessibility efforts on delivering quality user experiences

Foster a shared responsibility for accessibility on our teams

Learn from people with disabilities about their needs and preferences

Continuously build and share our accessibility knowledge and skills


Origins and next steps

The idea of developing a “manifesto” as a rallying call and statement of intent was the theme of our UXPA 2014 workshop in London, UK. Following some intense and enthusiastic discussion amongst workshop attendees, we produced an early draft of the Manifesto for Accessible User Experience. We further refined the ideas following discussions at WebVisions Chicago and A11ycamp Toronto in September 2014. The input of participants at all of these events has been influential in shaping the manifesto as it currently stands, in particular the UXPA workshop attendees Chris Bailey, Graham Cook, Amber DeRosa, Dana Douglas, Yolanda González, Jack Holmes, Sarah Horton, Caroline Jarrett, David Sloan, Jennifer Sutton, Henny Swan and Léonie Watson.

We recognize that the Manifesto must speak to us all to be effective. We will build on this “rough” version through your feedback and insights from applying its principles in UX strategy and design. Our aim is for the Manifesto to be a change agent that will inspire and support creation of accessible and pleasurable digital experiences.

Please share your thoughts here, or through Twitter (@sloandr and @gradualclearing) or email (dsloan@paciellogroup.com and shorton@paciellogroup.com).