Accessibility Days: the experience of Virginia Capoluongo
We had a chat with our UX/UI Designer, Virginia Capoluongo, on design and accessibility after her participation at the Accessibility Days.
Accessibility Days: accessibility and design
Accessibility Days is an event that shines a spotlight on the issues of accessibility and disability especially: it is aimed primarily at developers, designers, creators, content editors and digital experts in general. It took place on 20/21 May, during the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, an event promoted precisely to raise awereness among people and bring them closer to those with a disability.
Our Virginia was at the Institute of the Blind of Milan, following in-person talks and workshops. Here’s what she told us.
What was the main theme of Accessibility Days? Who did you meet in the audience?
Virginia: The focus was on accessibility to computer systems and to information, on making it possible for everyone to find and understand information. And I believe that this is an aspect that mainly involves designers and developers, of course, the so called digital world, which can lead to overcoming some of the traditional barriers, but in general the whole of society. There were also really many people with disabilities.
I believe that such an event is really interesting for everyone, because it really opens their eyes to so many critical issues that people encounter every day, and that we do not consider. Confronting ourselves with people with disabilities, listening to their needs and experiences is the thing that struck me most of these days.
Before we get to the content, have you noticed any difference in the type of event? Was it really accessible?
Virginia: I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues involved in organizing an event like this. Indeed, I noticed much "care" that could be put into practice with little effort, even in large events, but which is not given the right space for pure and simple detachment from the issues highlighted in the Accessibility Days. For example, in the talks there was always someone who used sign language, everything was subtitled live and the speakers were careful to use simple language, to speak slowly and to describe themselves and any images and situations for those who could not see.
It doesn't take much to do this, you just need to reach awareness and start taking care of these aspects.
What content struck you most?
Virginia: First of all, that of Pete Kercher, EIDD Ambassador of Design for All Europe, who has truly remained in my heart: he spoke of accessibility as a responsibility of designers.
Because diversity, in reality, belongs to everyone: apart from those who have a recognized one, there are those who wear glasses, those who have a disabled friend or relative, there are women who are menstruating or pregnant who have a “particular” situation in a world designed for men, and then we will all become - hopefully - elderly persons.
Inclusion is essential in planning, yet total accessibility is still impossible: exclusion does exist and we must be aware of it, however, we must not exclude out of sloppiness but knowing that we are leaving someone out.
Then there were the guys from Google, Lorenzo Caggioni and Davide Ferraro who told a very beautiful story: one of them developed a project for Giovanni, his disabled brother. From the needs of a single person, the development of Diva began, a Google project to develop a solution that can be used by many users who share similar needs. The thing that impressed me is that each of the team presented themselves with an "objective" description, giving information on their physicality to give context to the visually impaired.
From a technical point of view, on the other hand, I found very interesting the talk by Daniele Tabellini of the Dipartimento per la Trasformazione Digitale (Department for Digital Transformation) and Fabrizio Cavelo of the Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale (Agency for Digital Italy), who talked about the Design System for the country, namely the tools necessary for the creation of the interfaces of websites and digital services of the Public Administration, so as to make them coherent, simple and usable by all citizens.
The last speech that was very strong for me and left me plenty of food for thought was that of Pietro Minucci, an expert in hearing disabilities, who raised a strong question: why he, deaf, cannot have access to the same information and to the same services as others? It is not correct, he too has the right to understand everything and have his own independence.
Today this is easier thanks to a number of devices for the disabled, thanks to assistive technology. Why not do it?
What do you bring back in 20tab and your work routine?
Virginia: Beyond all technical notions, the thing that I brought home is precisely the concept of responsibility: making design and information accessible is something that is required of us by the Law, for example on public instruments, but it should be a due attention.
After all, it is possible to do this, we just need to put care and awareness into the process.