Accessibility First.

UXSpain is just done and I’m on my way back to Gran Canaria where I work as am UX/UI Dev. Designer (sounds fancy, yeah? but I do the same as you probably do, just with another confusing title). To make it short I’m an Interaction Designer.

This is one of the first times which I attend an event related to my professional field. I carefully listened to each one of the keynotes, took some notes, wrote down some thoughts and even cope with the pessimism of part of a community which seems to think that the UX/UI has already an expiration date.

Cut the crap about ‘our profession’. We have something more important to worry about, and we all look into another direction when it comes to what it really matters.

Let’s start with the basics: Accessibility. We had an awesome and fun keynote by Jonathan Chacón. It was über good to have a keynote about accessibility by someone who is visually impaired.

He kindly reminded us all that accessibility isn’t an add-on. It is not a plugin or something we add at the end of the project. Instead, we should integrate accessibility from the beginning. My personal thoughts on this are that, as we all designers are obsessed with smart methods such as ‘mobile first’, ‘atomic design’, ‘crap flat design’; why aren’t we obsessed with, let’s say, ‘accessible first’?

While mobile first, kind of, help us focus on simplifying the system to the essential and get on with what’s important while allowing users to consume and interact on the go; ‘accessible first’ could even strengthen all of these concepts.

Yeah! Cool story bro, but we all have time constraints and budget limitations’. Sure! I do get it, we all work on a demanding environment where deadlines are yesterday and stakeholders don’t care about accessibility.

Bullshit. Stop blaming everyone else.

It is not the budget’s fault. It is not your stakeholders fault. Tight deadlines are not an excuse. It’s up to you.

Sorry, but it is within your range of action to start integrating good practices onto your everyday work. Worry about designing a system which looks good on every screen size, but worry about creating a system which is accessible by the majority of your users. Integrating good practices into your everyday work will probably be a viral situation on your team, teach everyone around it and spread the ‘accessible from within’ virus.

Design for everyone… Defining everyone as the majority of your target users, and not everyone as the whole world’s population.

Jonathan Chacón, made a comment in the keynote which really opened my eyes:

‘Design for today. Design for tomorrow.’ — @jonathanchacon

The system we design are living organisms that will evolve with time and probably get old or outdate with time. Those sites can be updated and they can be fix.

We as users are also living organism (oh, really?), we will get older and our functions will stop working properly with time. The systems can be patched, fixed and updated… but we users can’t. We can’t fight against growing older. With time we will also have difficulties to access the content of those system.

When that time comes: Who are we going to blame then?

Work on your empathy, leave aside your ego, and think about how proud your future you will be if you design accessible-first systems.

disclaimer: i’m not an expert. i’m not a guru. I’m probably even not really good at my work but I do have an opinion.

Now, discuss & find me on twitter @ramsescabello.

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