Principles of inclusive design and the UK eAccessibility Action Plan

The eAccessibility Forum, part of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, published their eAccessibility Action Plan last week. Among many good things it highlights the importance of web education and the work that the Open Web Education Alliance (OWEA) are doing to promote open web education:

“As there are currently no standards or regulation specific to web education in the UK, the principles of Open Web Education as articulated by the W3C group, the Open Web Education Alliance (OWEA) will underpin the work of the Forum. This group will be tasked with the liaison of the OWEA members and UK Educators across Schools, Colleges and Higher Education.”

This is hot, sizzling stuff (no really) because if the UK Government go ahead and formalise web education in a way that reinforces the open web, builds better websites and helps web developers get well paid jobs working remotely from a sun lounger in the Maldives then what’s not to love? Everyone’s happy right?

Having UK Government reference OWEA in the action plan is a hugely positive step for education where, as Chris Mills says in a Web Sized Education Problem, teaching web standards is a bit of an “orphan” within universities and colleges.

What would add icing and sparkles would be if, further down the line, work formalising web standards education by the UK Government could act as a test case for other countries around the world. OWEA are already there acting as an umbrella for education initiatives and maintain a living curriculum in the form of InterAct but we need implementations and real change.

So bring it on, happy users, happy employers and sun loungers.

Ten principles of good design

What I really liked in the eAccessibility Plan were the Principles of Universal Design. Sandi Wassmer, who was involved in writing the plan, explained to me that they were evolved from Dieter Rams’ ten principles of ‘good design’. Rams was an iconic industrial designer in the 1950’s.

Principle one: equitable use

Should be welcoming and not discriminate, offering equally valuable user
experiences for anyone and everyone.

Principle two: flexibility in use

Should provide plenty of choice in how, why, where, when and with what device
different people want to use it.

Principle three: simple and intuitive use

Should not require a manual and should be immediately obvious how to navigate
from the get go.

Principle four: perceptible information

Should be clear what the purpose of the website is for, what people should get from it and why.

Principle five: tolerance for error

Should aim to prevent user error, but to provide guidance and assistance that is well considered and not an afterthought, if they do.

Principle six: low physical effort

Should not be difficult, onerous or restrictive to use and does not require the user to do the hard work.

Principle seven: size and space for approach and use

Should be the appropriate size and shape to suit the user and user agent.

Dieter Rams’ ‘ten principles of  ‘good design’

Good design is:

  • is innovative
  • makes a product useful
  • is aesthetic
  • makes a product understandable
  • is unobtrusive
  • is honest
  • is long-lasting
  • is thorough down to the last detail
  • is environmentally friendly
  • is as little design as possible

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, downtown Beirut. Built in 2007 the mosque, like many public places in the city, includes seamless wheelchair access.

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