Emily Steel – WK

Know your users, meet their needs, and enable them to thrive (with some help from ISO Standards)

Presenter: Emily Steel,

Workshop presentation

We are more likely to thrive when our needs are met, but is it possible to meet everyone’s needs? A good place to start is with the international Standard ISO/IEC 29138-1 Information technology — User interface accessibility — Part 1: User accessibility needs.

The latest version describes high level user needs, recognizing that different users can have different sets of user accessibility needs in different contexts. In addition to identifying user needs, it identifies the relationship of these user needs with the accessibility goals found in ISO/IEC Guide 71: 2014 Guide for addressing accessibility in standards. Professor Jim Carter recently started mapping the user needs to guidance found in ISO 21801-1 Cognitive accessibility — Part 1: General guidelines.

While this set of user accessibility needs was developed for the domain of ICT, many of the user accessibility needs in this set also apply in other domains. Working with user needs is less stigmatizing than creating discrete guidance for different populations based on diagnostic or other criteria that are often only loosely connected to functional needs and frequently overlap.

This workshop will outline the structure of the Standard, and select specific user needs that map to cognitive accessibility guidelines to demonstrate how these can be met with examples of products and systems. The Standards mentioned do not provide requirements or specific processes and methods for the application and evaluation of user accessibility needs, giving designers the freedom to meet the challenge and ensure that their new or improved products or systems allow as many people as possible to thrive.