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Importance of Accessibility & Usability 

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Importance of Accessibility & Usability  essay
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This document explains the distinction and overlaps between accessibility and usability and further makes an effort to point out the importance of maintaining the focus on accessibility and usability on people of different age groups.

Accessibility addresses discriminatory aspects related to the equivalent user experience for people with disabilities, including people with different age groups or age-related impairments. For the web, accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools and that they can contribute equally without barriers.

Usability and user experience design is about designing products to be effective, efficient, and satisfying. Specifically, ISO defines usability as the “extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals effectively, efficiently and with satisfaction in a specified context of use.

Guidelines for different age groups

A. General Audience

Everyone comes under the general audience. So, what defines it, is the general psyche of the people. If we apply psychology principles to predict and explain how our customers think and act, we get ourselves a good web design. Behaviour is strongly influenced by unconscious thought, but it is often more predictable than you might expect. Understanding the foundations of human cognition will help explain and anticipate user behavior. Thus, help is designing a suitable website for everyone.

Common(all age groups) important aspects that one should always keep in mind, of both usability and accessibility in designing sites are as follows:

  • Attention
  • Visual perception
  • Memory and knowledge
  • Strategies for information retrieval
  • Mental models for predicting interactions and outcomes
  • Language
  • Problem-solving and decision making
  • Emotion-driven behavior

B. Children and Teenagers

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Website design for children is typically based purely on folklore about how children supposedly behave. The best predictor of how children use websites is how much online practice they have. Although many usability guidelines are the same as 9 years earlier, we did find one major change since the first study: children today are much more experienced in using computers and the internet. As a result, they’re not as subject to many of the prevalent, beginning-user problems we found in our first study. These days, children are on computers almost as soon as they can sit up and move a mouse or tap a screen. It’s now common for a 7-year-old child to be a seasoned internet user with several years’ experience. Many of the basic rules for usable Web design are the same for children and adults, though often with differences in degree.

The biggest finding in both the new and old research is the need to target very narrow age groups when designing for children. Indeed, there’s no such thing as “designing for children,” defined as everybody aged 3–12. At a minimum, you must distinguish between young (3–5), mid-range (6–8), and older (9–12) children. Each group has different behaviors, and the users get substantially more web-savvy as they get older. And, those different needs range far beyond the obvious imperative to design differently for pre-readers, beginning readers, and moderately skilled readers.

To understand the expectations of a generation that grew up with technology and the internet, we conducted empirical usability studies with real teens to identify specific guidelines for how websites can be improved to match teenagers’ abilities and preferences. Our research refutes many stereotypes, including that teens: just want to be entertained online with graphics and multimedia; are supremely tech-savvy; use smartphones for everything, and want everything to be social.

Although their specific tasks might differ from adults, teens are similar to adults in major ways: both groups expect websites to be easy to use and to let them accomplish their tasks. Like adults, teens are goal-oriented and don’t surf the web aimlessly; website usability is thus as important for them as for any other user group. Teenagers use the internet from many devices in various environments. For our research, we focused on web usability, mainly from desktop and laptop computers. We also looked at mobile website usability and how teenagers use mobile devices. Although teens spend endless time texting, Facebooking, etc., we didn’t focus on this because our goal was to derive design guidelines for mainstream websites, not to help build the next Facebook.

C. Senior Citizens

The human aging process starts when you turn 20; people in their 40s already have sufficiently reduced eyesight to require somewhat larger font sizes than eagle-eyed designers in their 20s.

Seniors have gotten more skilled at using the web. Although we don’t see much progress over time in the mainstream audience’s web skills, seniors are a different matter. Unlike seniors a decade ago, today’s seniors are more likely to have learned how to use computers while they were still in the workplace. Seniors who learn from corporate training courses and colleagues are more likely to create solid mental models than seniors who picked up their computer skills after retirement. It’s obviously important to recognize that even young people have physical and cognitive limitations. But, as the table clearly shows, these issues are much more severe for older users.

The biggest finding in both the new and old research is the need to target very narrow age groups when designing for children. Indeed, there’s no such thing as “designing for children,” defined as everybody aged 3–12. At a minimum, you must distinguish between young (3–5), mid-range (6–8), and older (9–12) children. Each group has different behaviors, and the users get substantially more web-savvy as they get older. And, those different needs range far beyond the obvious imperative to design differently for pre-readers, beginning readers, and moderately skilled readers.

D. Users with Learning/Cognitive Difficulties

In many ways, it’s hard to define when a page is accessible to users with cognitive disabilities. How simple is simple enough? For the most part, cognitive web accessibility is one of those “you know it when you see it” things. Common sense, holistic evaluation, and user testing should predominantly guide cognitive web accessibility evaluation.
Cognitive accessibility can be defined by the following principles:

  • Simple
  • Consistent
  • Clear
  • Multi-modal
  • Error-tolerant
  • Attention-focusing
  • Improving web accessibility for this audience will improve access for everyone.

A person with profound cognitive disabilities will need assistance with nearly every aspect of daily living. Admittedly, the wide variance among the mental capabilities of those with cognitive disabilities complicates matters somewhat. In fact, one may reasonably argue that a great deal of web content cannot be made accessible to individuals with profound cognitive disabilities, no matter how hard the developer tries. Some content will always be too complex for certain audiences. This is unavoidable. Nevertheless, there are still some things that designers can do to increase the accessibility of web content to people with less severe cognitive disabilities.

Accessibility practitioners and researchers can incorporate usability techniques to improve ‘usable accessibility’. User experience designers and researchers can incorporate accessibility to make their designs work better for more people in more situations. Addressing accessibility, usability, and inclusion together can more effectively lead to a more accessible, usable, and inclusive web for everyone.

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Importance of Accessibility & Usability . (2018, October 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/importance-of-accessibility-usability/
“Importance of Accessibility & Usability .” GradesFixer, 08 Oct. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/importance-of-accessibility-usability/
Importance of Accessibility & Usability . [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/importance-of-accessibility-usability/> [Accessed 18 May 2022].
Importance of Accessibility & Usability  [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 08 [cited 2022 May 18]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/importance-of-accessibility-usability/
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