About 15% of the world’s population, or over one billion people, experience some form of disability. This means technology that is not accessible will exclude about three out of every 20 people.
World Usability Day, which is celebrated every year on the second Thursday in November, aims to make technology more inclusive for everyone, by educating people on the importance of usability.
This year’s theme is “Our Health”, which focuses on making virtual healthcare, electronic health records, and health-related technologies more inclusive and usable for all.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some ideas for how you can promote World Usability Day in your community. But first, let’s take a look at how this event came to be.
World Usability Day was founded in 2005 by the User Experience Professionals Association. However, the idea of usability goes back much further than that.
In fact, some of the basic principles of usability and user experience design can be traced all the way back to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui. Feng Shui is all about arranging buildings, objects and space to create a space that is not only beautiful, but balanced, harmonious, and user-friendly — which is the foundation of user experience design.
The term “user experience” as we know it today was coined in 1993 by cognitive psychologist Don Norman at Apple Computer. Norman went on to write several books on user-centered technology design and user experience, or “UX” for short.
The idea of UX has come a long way since then, with innovations like artificial intelligence, voice user interfaces, universal design, and assistive technology. However, the basic principles of designing for the user — not the system — remain the same today.
The theme for World Usability Day in 2022 is “Our Health”.
During the pandemic, telehealth became a critical lifeline, allowing people to “see” their doctor or service provider without coming into the office. Nearly half (46%) of patients reported using telehealth to replace canceled healthcare visits during the pandemic, and three-quarters (76%) said they were likely to continue using telehealth going forward.
Telehealth, along with other healthcare technologies like electronic records and wearable devices, hold tremendous promise to improve access and quality of care. However, achieving these goals will require a continued focus on usability and accessibility.
So what can your disability service agency do to educate your community about the importance of usability and bring attention to the accessibility challenges people face when it comes to technology? Here are seven ideas:
One easy way to show your support for World Usability Day is with this The Future is Accessible T-Shirt ($23). The shirt was designed by content creator, Youtuber, and activist Annie Elainey, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Or, grab a coffee mug, tote bag, sticker or sweatshirt from the Access is Love Project.
Universal design is about designing buildings, products, and environments so that they are usable by everyone. Curb cuts in sidewalks, automatic doors on buildings, and speech recognition on smartphones are all examples of universal design. World Usability Day is a great opportunity to take a course on universal design or host a lunch-and-learn event for your employees.
Each year, organizations around the world host events on or around World Usability Day. Check this list to find out if there’s an event happening in your town. If not, many of these events offer the option to join virtually from anywhere around the globe. There are even virtual watch parties so you can participate in events with your team and share the celebration.
World Usability Day is aimed at getting everyone talking, thinking, and learning about usability. Sharing helpful ideas and resources on your social media channels is one easy way to help get the word out. Be sure to use the hashtag #WorldUsabilityDay so that others can see and share your posts!
How accessible is your website? You can use an accessibility checker like the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool to find out. The free tool, which was developed by WebAIM and Utah State University, will help you identify potential issues and give you recommendations to make your website more accessible to everyone.
From shopping to seeing a doctor, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives. Thanks in part to initiatives like World Usability Day, most smartphones now come equipped with accessibility features and apps that make them easier for everyone to use. World Usability Day is the perfect time to learn about some of these capabilities, whether you take advantage of them yourself or show someone else how to use them. To get you started, here are 15 ways to use a smartphone as assistive technology.
Including people with disabilities in the design process can help make products and technology better for everyone, but individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs. Fortunately, there are grant-funded programs designed to encourage individuals with disabilities to pursue careers in STEM fields, such as:
So there you have it — seven ideas for celebrating World Usability Day and helping to make technology more usable and inclusive for all. For more disability-related events and observances, download our free Disability Events Calendar.
Shopping at disability-owned and -employed companies is a great way to support meaningful work for people with disabilities.
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