And we've now got a real treat in store, Antonia Hyde, who is originally from a television production background, very strong rich media area and she's been working with United Response since 2000 now. She's responsible, she's in charge of web strategy, technical direction and web authoring at United Response and has come to appreciate the vital importance of having people with learning disabilities involved at every stage in the process.
That's my mobile going off. Have to turn that off. How are your mobiles? If people could turn their’s off and I'll turn mine off in a minute as well.
Great. So Antonia's going to talk about rich media applications, web 2 and learning disabilities. So I'll pass over to Antonia. Thank you very much.
Hi everyone. Just to say, before I start, this is a high-risk presentation. What I've done is, I've put together a presentation almost for people with learning disabilities. So I'm hoping that it will all be instructive to you. And also I'm going to be presenting a lot of rich media, which causes problems sometimes when you're presenting.
So why isn't anyone thinking about people with learning disabilities? Well they are, but how much.
There's a lot of information there, there's a lot of pictures and it's right down across. There's too much information.
So that was David. He's 26, he supports Manchester United and he's looking for a girlfriend. He has mild learning disabilities, which means that sometimes it seems that he understands things when actually he doesn't.
So I just wanted to say thank you to AbilityNet for including people with learning disabilities today. Obviously I'm not co-presenting but we will be hearing from lots of different people throughout my presentation, but it's great that this subject matter is being addressed. This group is still very under represented when it comes to accessibility. So much of the content of this presentation is obvious, but that's actually the point.
So some background information. There are around 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK and many of those people have a secondary impairment. So that could be they're visually impaired, hearing impaired or they have some motability issues.
When I say learning disability, what do I mean? I mean people with Down's Syndrome, people on the autistic spectrum, people with Asperger's and a whole range of other syndromes.
Almost one in three people with learning disabilities say they have no contact with friends. This is still a very isolating situation. We were talking about ghettos before and this is still very much happening.
Now people can communicate in different ways so people might want to use easy words and pictures, as you're seeing here, they might want to use video, audio. There's a whole raft of different ways people communicate, so there's no quick fix.
So United Response, who are they? Well they support 1,500 people, a range of people and disabilities, and they support people to be independent in the community. Many of the people we support don't communicate verbally. So what we've done is we've found out how people want to give and receive information and then we've changed how we actually communicate with those people.
So my experience, well Robin's already said, web development of our website and some design work, working with people with learning disabilities and a background in rich media. But really it's a personal interest, what I'm doing is something that interests me about how people are accessing rich media, and hopefully it will feed into my job as well.
So, the power of rich media offline. People are consumers of rich media. It can help people with learning disabilities to communicate, it can help people to learn things and it can make concepts real. Obviously a video is actually showing somebody something rather than you trying to explain a concept. It can also really help people to organise thinking and memory if things are in sequential order.
So I want to show you a video of Michael, hopefully, who has more complex needs but I just wanted to show you this video just so you can see how he communicates. The sound levels are a little bit low so I'm going to audio describe, so you'll be bit bored with my voice by the end of this.
Okay I'm just going to the video now.
Okay Michael, what we having today? Michael doesn't speak. He uses a DynaVox machine with pictures and audio, which he presses to tell people what he wants.
Brush my teeth, have a shave, do my hair.
Or what he thinks of Manchester United.
So he's selecting particular options.
What a load of rubbish.
So he can enjoy life and have control.
And you see him here drinking a pint of Guinness.
So what about user generated content? Well this is offline. People are generating content. It's used in day-to-day support so people are using rich media to help them show other people what choices they're making and actually what support they want to receive from people. If you imagine that you have say five people supporting you and they're all different, if you make a video about what you like, then all of those people are going to receive the same information and they're less likely to get it wrong when you maybe can't communicate in another way.
And people with more complex needs are having a voice. Obviously, people who don't speak are able to use these mediums and people with learning disabilities are making DVDs to actually peer-to-peer support each other about various issues. Extremely powerful.
So obviously I started looking at the power of rich media online. Well people are consumers, people are using rich media for news. Obviously a video of a long and convoluted news piece is really helpful for people. Entertainment, understanding difficult or new concepts. I know of one guy who had some sort of comedy joke explained to him because his support worker just showed him it on You Tube. He didn't really understand it and it was a gag, and that made it real for him.
So, rich media can really open doors to the niche or the unattainable. If people have literacy issues, of course rich media can help to explain these things. So I want you to have a look at this film. It's Mandy. She's deaf and she has a learning disability and she has a complete passion for Land Rovers. She's got pictures of them all over her wall, it's incredible, that is just her hobby. And this is how she used You Tube to help her.
I'll talk about these players that I'm using a bit later. So this is Mandy.
Mandy, do you enjoy using the Internet?
So the interpreter is now signing my question to her. He's got quite a quiet voice so I might talk over it.
Oh yeah. I get really happy about it, it keeps me calm.
Have you found out more things since you've been using the Internet? She's telling me to talk to him. He's now signing her the question. Hmm yes. Yeah.
What, in particular, have you found out about? Mandy's now looking at You Tube. She's scrolling down the page to select a video that she wants to show me. So she's just selected a video and she makes a screen bid.
It's about off-roading with Land Rovers. So the video starts playing and you can see Land Rovers operating. Yeah I just select from the list.
So we're still watching the video.
Is this one of your favourite ones? Oh yeah. Yeah really.
We're still watching the video.
Calm down now.
Would you like to meet other people who like looking at Land Rovers on the Internet? The interpreter's signing the question? Oh yeah I'd like that. That'd be brilliant.
So then I went to look at user generated content. Are people with learning disabilities contributing? Well they are to sites for people with learning disabilities. There are some really good dating signs, for example, where people can meet each other and also there is a version that the [Rick 9.34] Centre has developed of a My Space situation, where people can go and interact with each other. So they tend to be niche in that sense and they're not really mainstream.
So how are people using websites? Well more and more people are coming on line. People are living in independent settings, computers are getting cheaper, so is broadband. But often people are accessing websites hand-on-hand or with support, so a support worker or somebody will be actually literally helping somebody to go and use the keys. I'm hoping that software and hardware may develop so there'll be other assisted technologies.
So the videos I'm showing you today, they're really all people with mild learning disabilities but I would like you to consider the more complex needs, like Michael who we met in the first video. But what I wanted to do was to show you how people are doing things.
So in terms of getting the user experience, I decided to ask my esteemed friend and colleague, David, to do some user testing for us. So I've put together this film for you to have a look at, to see what it's like. What we won't be seeing is which websites he's testing but we will be seeing him actually using the computer.
So video and audio.
Can you go to a page on that website that I know you like to use and just have a look at something that you want to find out about. So he's scrolling around, trying to find something at the moment. Yeah.
Can you.... is there a video that you want to watch? Oh too loud. Oh yeah.
So how did you find that? What happened, I clicked on the box and I didn’t know it was going to play a video. I found it a bit too confusing.
Can you explain why? Because what it is, the same menu or same picture from the main menu is still on the right hand side of the screen.
So you don't feel like you've gone to a new page? No. It feels like it's just showing you a video on top of another page.
So what do you want to do now? I want to go back. It doesn’t give you options like if you want some information or if you want to watch the video because it just goes straight onto the video. Because you want to know what's.... there doesn't give you an option if you wanted to watch the video or if you just want to read it about what's going on.
Okay so you need to be in a position where you can decide when it starts? Yeah.
And when it stops I suppose? Yeah.
Okay. APIs and user control? Bigger font, less.... not more information, just less.
What Dave I think is trying to say there is that actually what happens is that too many things are crammed into one space, so he just wants each component part to be less.
To understand and to change the colour and the font on the …. It'd be good if it had options. Just too many stuff, a bit confusing.
It's the option to change how you look at these pages. Can you find that option on this page? I have.... I'm looking and I can't find....
He's looking around, trying to find this option.
Can't find it.
So shall I give you a clue? Yeah.
Okay. Have you got it? Yes I have.
Can you now change the colours? Yeah.
Things that change? Yeah I wouldn't have found the video. And I'm scrolling down and I'm still.... and the thing, boxes always keep changing and it's like seeing the boxes changing the same time you want to look at some information about the video and what you want to watch.
How does that make you feel then? I think that's really annoying. I think that's really annoying. I think they.... if they can just not do it....
What can you see on the screen? I'm seeing a lot of films. They just go too quick, they go too quick for me. It doesn't give you time to like give you a think about it, it just keeps changing, keep changing.
Do you want to put your mouse on one of the films that you're interested in? Yeah if it comes up.
David's actually waiting for his film to come up, he's watching his film scrolling past and he's waiting.
It takes a while. Okay. I clicked on it, it tells you what the film's about, who stars in it. It's what language is it, English, what year it's made.
So when you get to the information you want, it's good information for you? Yeah. It's good information and like if I want to buy it, I can just go for it. It just comes up in a little box that tells you what it's about.
Were you expecting that? No.
So, obviously what I'm trying to do is show you things in real time, like me losing my slides, so you can get a sense of the time aspect really with David in particular.
Oops. Okay sorry about all of this. It should be alright now.
So yeah I'll just see if I can talk. We'll just get back to my ... so I'm going to do a film now, I'm not sure where it is yet. So, basically what I'm going to try and do in a minute once we've done this, I might have to whiz through them a bit, is give you some fixes to some of these issues because I think what he's done is very instructive but obviously I want to give you some solutions.
We're just configuring Microsoft Office Professional edition 2003, which is good. I'm assuming that that's what I need, so forgive me whilst I just get myself to the right slide. We'll have to go through it all again. Okay sorry about this everybody. As if it wasn't enough of an insult anyway.
Okay, so what did that mean? Well we're still locking people with learning disabilities out. Obviously you saw some of the problems that David had just trying to find things that we all take for granted. Many elements of Web 2.0 are not being accessed but many of those elements could really benefit people with learning disabilities. So you can see what happened when he got what he wanted to, it was actually quite good information.
So how could people benefit from having more accessible websites for this group? Well as I said before, the sites for people with learning disabilities are okay but we need to do some more work on the mainstream. It really could increase independence as more elements of life are coming on line, things that we take for granted. People could network. I know some people are using Facebook to connect with support circles, which is great. It's a very closed environment but they're able to connect with people who can help them. And one of the biggest things is that people with learning disabilities could actually contribute rather than receive. So politically, people with learning disabilities often have been on the receiving end of things rather than actually contributing.
So how can we make it better? Order and clarity, for instance, adopting a modular approach to site development. Many people with learning disabilities rely on things being presented in ordered ways. Here's an example. Jonathan Chetwynd's site, I don't know if any of you know him. Pepo.com. This is how somebody with a learning disability might see the BBC site. So you can see that things are ordered, there's text and pictures so they're backing each other up and it's split very much into sections, one section for games, one section for TV, with an image to back it up. Here's another version of it, Comic Sans by the way is a very favoured font by a lot of people with learning disabilities.
This is a screen shot of My Life presentation which United Response is putting together. It's PowerPoint, it's splitting bits of people's lives into sections. So for example, if I clicked on.... it's not live but if I clicked on places, that would take me to the same screen but each of those boxes would be a different place that someone would want to access. So it's about ordering information.
So how could this approach apply to your discipline as a designer, developer, content author, project manager? Here's the grid. Is there anything that you can take from that and apply it to the discipline that you're actually working in? I just want you to try and think about this box approach.
So the four areas tested by David, players and layout, APIs and user control, and things that change. And then I'll come on to the Web 2.0 bit a bit later.
So players and layout. There are great elements of different players but they're not coming together as one for people with learning disabilities. Many people need to take time over what they're doing and they don’t want to use assisted technology. Assisted technology is not just screen readers, it's things like [Big Macs 20.45], they're huge great big remote control or handheld devices that people used to navigate sites and bigger keyboards.
Lots of people need to repeat information to understand it. Quite often on players, there's no option to repeat.
How much control does the user have when it comes to the player? Are you giving people the option to repeat? Are the player controls easy to use? Are they in a logical order? I said these things were obvious. Are you thinking about labels, people are using those, and the size of buttons. Volume control, massive issue for people. You manage to get your mouth somewhere if you've got a physical impairment as well and it goes from nought to 60 and for someone with autism, it's a big deal.
So what else can people customise from your player? Signposting. Embedding seems to be the preference. We're living in a You Tube age, people just want to click on a page and get the video. But people need to select what they want to receive, they don't want in line. It can be impossible if a page isn't dedicated to the subject matter for somebody to understand what that video or audio means.
And actually, can people find it in the first place? Graphics can really help people with learning disabilities. Now we are talking about design quite a lot here but they need to be big. Here's a wonderful mock-up of a web page with some links and lots of lots of text, and some vague hints of where there might be video or audio. Here is how someone with a learning disability may see it and I know this applies to a lot of people with dyslexia as well. The text is all muddled, it's jumping off the page. Because there are various elements, people are trying to squeeze in and find out what they all are and it's all saying go over here, go over here, it's very, very confusing.
So we need to think about what else is on the page, how does it relate to the rich media. If you're using other applications or content on the page, are they distracting? If you could use a still, it's really instructive, photo of beach, video of beach.
So what are we up to in United Response. My colleague Roger, who's with me today, we're just having a look at how we present video on our site and how we group information about that together. This is for a resource that I produced called 'Can You Hear Us' and we're trying to.... you can see the links at the bottom. Graphic - you can find out more, graphic - you can find you can watch a video, graphic - you can listen to highlights. I know that what we've produced here, although it hasn't been user tested yet, isn't what we'll end up with and I'll know they'll want me to make the graphics bigger for a start. It just gives you an idea.
And then in terms of language, graphic language, once you want to go to the video, that graphic is repeated. Okay you've selected that graphic and now you're here, look there's the graphic. And with this particular player we're using, I got a tip-off from Mobility Net about this actually, it's called CC for Flash, which has been developed by [N Cam 23.40]. And as you can see, it allows for captioning, and it's quite a good player. I haven't done any styling or anything on it yet so that's pretty much how it comes.
But what we've done, Roger and I, is we've done this player key here to tell people what those buttons, what those options, what those controls are. It's something that we really take for granted and there's a uniform play and stop probably. There's all sorts of other things. You can see that some of the buttons on the bottom - this is to open and close captions, this is to make your screen tiny. I've heard from the makers of this player that, in a couple of weeks, they'll be releasing the option to actually customise the buttons, so I've been having a little bit of a dialogue about people with learning disabilities there obviously. So I'm just giving you an idea of how you can tell people what they can do.
So layout. There's a pressure on video and audio to deliver the goods. Let's not make audio the poor relation. In my opinion, at the moment it is. It's not easy to find, audio.
The big tree, again this is the [Rick 24.44] Centre who have built this. I love the way they've done this page. There's a picture, right next to the picture there's a graphic with a speaker. Click on the speaker to get the audio, it couldn't be more instructive.
These sorts of things will help to ensure that people with learning disabilities are accessing rich media and, in turn, it can open up worlds and untap markets for people. The more people can do for themselves, the more control and independence people can have. And this way of working actually does benefit us all.
I'll have to quickly go through these slides because we lost a bit of time at the beginning. So APIs and user control. User control, one of the most powerful things of Web 2.0. Content and function are actually not separate in layout terms. So be explicit about what an application is for. The terminology you use - is it actually to do with the code and its function or what the user experiences?
Controls are they big and bold? I like controls like 'Do it'. Things that change. What is changing on the page, does it need to? Something else happening in the page will almost always be a problem for people with learning disabilities
AJAX - interesting. The information is being sent to a screen reader about AJAX that Steven was talking about before, that's actually the information that people with learning disabilities need as well. So what's actually happening. We don't want it to become the new pop-up.
I wanted to show you a video about David using Last FM but I've run out of time but I can maybe make it available. Yeah? Okay. So okay, so I wanted to look at social media. David uses My Space and various other things to a degree and with support from me normally. But I wanted to show him one that he'd never seen before just to see real time responses to it. So it's slow, it's slower than my speaking at the moment, so just enjoy if you can.
Okay well that's made out that decision. What I might do is, I might make this available. Oh.
They have given you options, you can watch some videos of their music.
You've got search that if you want to look at your favourite rock group.
Do you want to do that?
He's typing in his favourite rock group. 30 seconds to [inaudible 27.26] by the way. He doesn't type so well so it does take him a bit of time.
It takes 30 seconds.
He's spotted 30 seconds to [inaudible 27.42] page.
How would you listen to some of their music? By clicking on it. It was all in that place.
What do you think of that? It's really good.
What do you think is on the right hand side?
And underneath that?
Cartoons or movies or…. It doesn't give you a little.... it doesn't tell you what the little pictures are.
Why don't you click on one of them?
So it's gone to someone's page, user's page.
What do you think that is? A different….someone's email, like a fan of the rock group.
Okay. Yeah and so what's on the right hand side, can you see if you scroll down a bit, on the right hand side of the page?
So he's scrolling down.
People who joined the website that you can talk to.
What does it actually say?
It says friends doesn't it? If you're a friend of the rock group or if you're friends.
Those people are friends of the person's page that you're on, like Facebook. Oh okay.
So what do you think of that? It'd be good if they just give you like.... tells you who these people are.
They've got user names and so the name next to them is who they say they are.
Well just say they're like I mean or just say like their fan.... well like a fan zone or something, if you've got friends, I don’t know who the people are. If they give you a little clue who the people are.
So now that you now what Last FM is, what do you think about it as an idea?
I think it's really good because when you click on your favourite group, all of that comes up, it plays the music and it gives you a lot of information.
What do you think about people using the site to share music tastes?
Really good because then you can meet friends, make friends and have a good conversation about your favourite rock group.
So you could meet friends, people you don't know? Yeah.
Do you think many people with learning disabilities would like to do that? Yeah. It gives them a chance to meet other people who likes their favourite music and they can have a good conversation and can make friends and have a good time.
So hopefully you can see the power of that. Can I keep going or shall I stop?
Okay. Thank you.
Thank you very much indeed, and totally not your fault because there were some technical issues that were nothing to do with you, at the beginning of the presentation. But we're ruthless, ruthless timekeepers here.
So thank you very much indeed. I think what we'll do, if you don't mind is, we'll invite Antonia on the panel later, if that's okay, because we are actually going to bail out of the Q&A session, if that's okay? Good.
I'll just.... yeah is that okay? So we're just swapping over machines and thank you again to Antonia, that was really, really powerful. What we saw there were really vivid examples of end users and the power of end user testing. Christian earlier talked about disabled user testing being hard core usability testing and we see this time and again in disabled end user testing. They are getting like a shortcut to an extremely useful website, so it's like other people say extreme user testing, disabled user testing. And nowhere more so than with people with learning disabilities. If a site's easy to use for those groups, then it's going to be fantastically easy for the broad range of audience that every website attracts. So we're not designing for the [technicaretee 32.19] we're designing for everybody and they're a really broad bunch.
So thank you once again to Antonia. That was really, really good.