Traditionally accessibility is considered a component of usability focusing on people with disabilities, but is often not seen as a powerful opportunity to innovate.
Building upon the work of The Paciello Group and Microsoft, Curt talks about how Barclays utilises Inclusive Design principles to support its aim of becoming the most inclusive bank in the FTSE100.
How Accessibility can improve UX for everyone
Done well, accessibility brings a multitude of benefits – from improved customer experience and reach, to more engaged and productive colleagues, whilst bolstering brand and mitigating risks. However, many businesses still do not pay attention to this topic, despite accessibility becoming increasingly relevant in a growing digital landscape.
Curt Holst, Senior Digital Accessibility Consultant at Barclays will provide some insights and learnings on:
- The journey Barclays has been on to re-imagine what accessibility is and why it matters
- How Barclays are re-framing accessibility as a commercial opportunity
- The crossover between accessibility and UX
- How innovation related to assistive technology often crosses over into the mainstream.
- Inclusive Design Principles and how these can be applied to product and service design.
- How good UX has enormous benefits for people with disabilities
Hi, everybody, and,
yeah, thanks for coming.
Yeah, I think Francis was saying
I have forgotten all about
accessibility than most people.
Even the talk today with Jared was
really informative and given me ways to
think about how we can implement
accessibility and make it infused.
Throughout my talk I will talk more about
embedding accessibility but I think the
term infused is a really good one.
So I guess to talk about accessibility and
the user experience.
If you ever tried to use a mobile phone on
a moving train or watch a video in a
noisy office chances are your user experience will
be influenced about whether it was designed with
accessibility in mind.
Accessibility is often associated with
people with disability and that's vital given
the number of people that we might otherwise exclude.
One in five people generally have
some form of disability.
And we know that the disposable income of
people with disabilities which is often referred to
as the purple pound is in the region of
about one trillion dollars.
So it's not a small market.
However, if we design for difference,
we also accommodate people in situational and
temporary situations where they might be
impaired by the situation that they're in.
So imagine if somebody, how would somebody use a
mobile device if they're vision impaired?
And how would somebody use the device in the
same way if they were in bright sunlight or
somewhere where the visibility was poor.
How would somebody use a slider on
an app as opposed if they had a mobility
impairment as opposed to somebody else
who would try to do that if they were
holding a baby in one arm and
trying to juggle the phone using one hand so
thinking about accessibility saves time,
money, energy and if we consider it early,
provides a much greater user experience so
obviously we're talking about
user experience here now.
One of the slides I've got here is
Peter M.'s factors of user experience.
The seven factors of user experience.
So we can see throughout obviously,
if it's useful, if it has a use and
performs a purpose, the user experience
would be a good one.
If it's usable so if I can easily
get to the information,
if I try to get to that information then
my experience of that service is
improved also if I try to find that
information is it easy to find the
application or service and is it easy to
find information within that that
will improve my user experience.
And of course if I get to that information is it
something I can trust is the information
credible and does it improve or
provide value for me as a user?
And then of course there is one element of
desirability that's also quite useful.
Sort of gives bragging rights I got a
cool app I can brag to my friends about it and
that often makes the experience a lot better.
Now last but not least is accessibility.
Accessibility means ensuring that our
systems are usable for everyone.
Especially for people with disabilities.
And if it's done well it provides a
better experience overall.
Unfortunately a lot of companies don't
see accessibility as important.
if you look at the seven factors,
normally accessibility is one that get lost in the
mix somewhere and I think some of the
discussions we had and especially in
UX you have user experience sessions or
user testing but quite often there's not
an element of somebody with some form of
disability that is included within those testing sessions.
Now one of the reasons that happen is
because companies might see it as it's not
worth spending the money on accessibility
because of the low numbers of people who
have a disability statistically speaking.
However, when we think about it and
as I said one related, 20% of your market,
and that's not a small amount.
And also, if we design for accessibility we
improve the experience for all.
Because of the way it makes us think
about how we design things.
One thing we also have to bear in mind is
that accessibility is a legal requirement in many jurisdiction.
So if we aren't compliant,
we are likely to face fines,
however what we find is it is not
enforced as well as it should be.
So when we talk about changing the
mindset of an organization,
probably when you talk about legal
compliance it's probably not the place to start.
If you wanted to make people or
reframe how you talk about accessibility in a
way that it's not something that you have to do,
you know, because it's a legal requirement.
But it's getting people to think about it
differently so that they want to do it.
So we embarked on bit of an exercise to
try and find ways in which we could
talk about accessibility differently.
And we came across the Microsoft
inclusive design toolkit which sort of
pointed us in the right direction in
making us think about disability or
accessibility slightly differently so when you
think about accessibility it's not only to
do with people with disabilities.
We are all disabled in certain circumstances or
contexts and what we have to realize is that
accessibility is about people.
So we have varying scales of ability in how we
can access things and when we consider all of
those things including people with disabilities,
we create a better user experience.
So the our mission at the time was to
look at how we could reframe accessibility
in a way using the concepts that we
learned from the Microsoft inclusive design toolkit.
So what I'm going to do is go into more
detail about how we can look at or
see accessibility differently or
disability differently and go into the
aspect of how we're trying to
integrate that throughout our organization.
So the World Health Organization's definition of
disability is a mismatch between the inter in
the interaction between the features of a
person's body and the features of the
environment in which they live.
So if we look at that,
it's our responsibility to be able to look at
our interactions that we are
creating and to be able to study the
mismatches that are occurring.
And at those points of exclusion,
that's normally the place where
you're likely to find innovation.
So when we look at accessibility or
disability as something that is context or
circumstantial, so it depends on what you're
in as opposed to a personal attribute
then we start to think inclusively.
What I'd like to do is go into that a bit more
to talk about how we can do things differently.
So there are three types of impairment groups
that we are talking about here.
The first we need to design for are
impairment groups where the
impairment is permanent.
So in the example we've got here we
have somebody with a disability throughout their life.
An example we got here is someone with
a lower arm amputation.
The second one is somebody with a
This is something that can affect somebody
between 6 and 12 months and normally classed as an injury.
And in the example here,
we have somebody here with a broken arm.
And then the third is situational impairments.
So when we talk about situational impairments
we're talking about a situation where it
makes it difficult or impossible to
complete a task due to the
situation that you're in.
So the example that we got here is a
mother holding a baby in one arm,
in a dominant arm so it makes the
other arm the one that she has to
try and use so this one becomes
incapacitated because she's holding the
baby and that's the situation that we're in.
With all three of these it's pretty much the same requirement.
If we're designing for somebody with a
lower arm amputation we're helping
somebody with a broken arm.
And we're also helping somebody who
may be in a situation where they can only use one arm.
So thinking about accessibility in that way
might make you think about the way you
design things a bit differently.
So these are just a few more examples from
the inclusive design toolkit.
And we've covered the first one so
the second one is to do with vision.
So if we create or at least have requirements for
someone with a vision impairment,
we are helping somebody who may have
cataracts or it might benefit somebody who
is a distracted driver.
It can be designed for people with hearing
impairments and we also help people who
may have an ear infection or
somebody in a noisy environment.
And lastly if we design or consider the
requirements for somebody who finds it
difficult to communicate via speech.
We also are factoring in or helping people who
have say, laryngitis or somebody who
communicates with a strong accent.
So it's looking at accessibility in that way.
Is a good idea and if you look at disability and
accessibility assistive technology as we refer to it,
so things that help us overcome experiences that
didn't meet our requirements so that's what we
find with a lot of assistive technology.
So people who adapt to situations that don't meet their needs.
Some examples here are say,
the typewriter which was invented in
1800 to help the inventor's sister
communicate or to be able to write.
So and we find nowadays it's basically the
standard format in the way we communicate using text.
So what we finds is that assistive technology
provides indicators of communication going
forward so if we understand the adaptions that
people with disabilities make to try to
overcome certain situations it might point us
in the right direction to look at way to
innovate and maybe try something different when
we come to design and then moving onto
today we have predictive text which was
originally developed for people to
help people with cognitive impairments or
therapy impairments be able to complete words
without having to know the spelling of things and
so on and that's ubiquitous now.
When you're typing, often,
it's quite frustrating when you've
written something and it says,
that wasn't what I meant to say but
it's something that has really helped
people and has helped everybody not the
just the people it was originally built for.
And moving on we have voice recognition which
was developed in the 1950s to
help people with mobility impairments control
computer systems and now we have
conversational interfaces like Siri and
Alexa where we can just talk to something and
it'll do and it that's like, wow, you know,
but that's been in place for people with
disabilities since the 1950s.
So just going back to the seven factors of
We can see in this example we have
two tools that do the same job.
One might be accessible.
You can use it.
You can peel a potato.
But the other one provides a much greater user
experience so what we're saying is that
you need to include accessibility as part of
the entire user experience studies that you
would do when you are designing something so
it shouldn't be left as an afterthought or
considered at the end of a project or something.
So the earlier you consider accessibility the
better it's going to be so you factored in those things.
You looked at the cases and it's informed how
you improve your design.
So moving onto Barclays so we've
got all this wonderful information.
We've refrain ed how we think about accessibility.
But our mission was then to
communicate this to our colleagues and to
embark on a culture of change within the organization.
And I know that Jared was talking about it today.
Just saying like, when you said it's going to take,
what, 17 years I think it was.
We're only five years into it so we still got 11 years to go.
We're trying our best and what I'm going to
talk about is ways that we can try to get
people to basically a conscious competence as Jared was saying.
So obviously the focus is to move our colleagues from,
say, a must do compliance thing to
an opportunity driven want to way of thinking.
One of the first things we have to
do is to find exactly what accessibility means at Barclays.
There's often some confusion about
accessibility when you're talking technical terms so
I will say, well, is it to do with access
management or resilience or
something like that and we have to say, no,
this is to do with making systems better for
people with disabilities.
And then our definition eventually became to
try to make it as simple as possible.
It's at Barclays accessibility means
ensuring everyone can use our products and
services or be employed by us.
So that is a bold statement and it sort of
ties in with our ambition to become a successful company.
That we need something simple when it come to accessibility.
What we find with a lot of the projects that
we deal with, they'll always be looking for
exceptions so I'll say, oh, you know,
and Jared even mentioned it the mythical next release.
This is an accessibility problem and needs to be fixed.
It's about eliminating the opportunity for exceptions.
So it's all good and well having all of this.
But then what do we do to get people to
start thinking about accessibility differently?
We know that most of our colleagues,
when we talk to them, they want to do the right thing.
But what you'll find especially within
Barclays it's a highly focused and delivery focused organization.
So when you talk about accessibility it's like oh,
you're giving me another requirement now.
So it's about getting the mindset to change and
we know that our colleagues want to
do the right thing but I think we have to
do a better job in communicating that and
making it real for them.
So there are a lot of the things I will be
talking about is what we are in the
process of doing it the moment to
try to change their thinking.
So our approach was to do three
strategies if you want to call it that.
The first thing was to get people to,
you know, feel differently about accessibility.
So it's about inspiring them,
creating empathy, with people with
disabilities and understanding the impact that
inaccessible systems have on individuals.
Second is about enabling hands or
at least educating heads.
This is about removing many of the
misconceptions that people have
relating to accessibility.
And I'll go into that in more detail.
I think it's that misconceptions that
people have that hold back things quite often.
And then lastly it's about enabling
hands so if you've got people to
start feeling differently to start thinking
differently we need to get them to
start acting differently.
So providing the tools and the resources to
get them to a point of conscious competence.
So firstly inspiring hearts.
So we have to do there are a number of
things we have done and I will go into a
couple examples in a minute but we want to
get empathy for people with disabilities to
get them to understand the impact of, say,
poor design, on somebody with a vision impairment,
say, low contrast on somebody who has
vision impairments, dyslexia and
all those kinds of things to get them to
start thinking about and say,
few design this will it impact that
particular group of users?
So one thing that we did was run empathy labs.
And as empathy is a common approach and
I know Jared was saying that, you know,
empathy is only the best way to
generate empathy is to actually spend time with
people to understand their requirements,
and then to observe what they do in their everyday lives.
However, with an organization as large as
Barclays that's not always possible.
I think if we can get people to go to
one of those session as much as possible it's
likely to make a change and
we have engaged senior executives.
We ran a session a couple years ago called
living in our customer's world and we got all of
our senior execs in and we got them to
speak to people with disabilities to
actually discuss with them some of the
issues they were having with our services and
it had an amazing impact.
We've done sessions with designers but
those things we can only do on an ad hoc basis so
having something consistent and
scaleable we have to start thinking in
different way to empathy labs work really well for that.
What we do is set up a session.
We have various simulation kits so we've got
some simulation gloves that mimic arthritis,
we got glasses that will give you an idea of
how various vision impairments will
affect somebody and we have augmented
reality apps that you can use through
Google Cardboard to see how someone with
color blindness views the world and we are
working on a VR environment to
give users the empathy of trying to
navigate a branch if you have a vision impairment.
This is something we're trying to scale up a
lot more and we found this to be fairly successful and
we get people to come throughout the day and
have a look at the tools we've been providing and
the point is not to is the concern that empathy or
at least simulations don't really come
across as the real experience that
somebody with a disability has.
But it's more to get designers and developers to
start thinking differently about accessibility and to
basically understand the impact of what they're doing.
And then maybe explore a bit more various so
maybe going to a user testing session to
see people actually using their systems and
struggling with them if that's the case.
So one of the things and I know that
Jared talked about this.
It's to get people to think, to have a
light bulb moment to say, oh,
I didn't realize that was an issue that
somebody had I might be able to
do something about that.
So we have the portals that give us
insights into how certain people, colleagues,
customers, with disabilities, experience the
services that we have on a day-to-day
basis so the next thing is, educating heads.
Now I'm sure if you are in accessibility you'll
have heard these many times so I'll read through them.
Users don't complain about accessibility we
must be doing okay.
These are the kind of misconceptions that we
hear a lot from people who don't who
aren't educated in accessibility.
They'll say I'm not a developer,
accessibility is not my job.
Accessible sites and apps are boring.
I know we hear that from designers and
we'll come to that in a bit.
Few people benefit from accessibility.
And then accessibility's expensive.
We created a number of videos and
these are available on YouTube as well.
And we also created posters that we
could put up around the place but basically it's
trying to dispel some of those myths that people have.
So if we look at the first one, say,
users don't complain, what we find is
about 10% of users will complain.
And 99 90% of them will click away.
It's called the click away pound.
We could be losing about 12 billion pound from
people leaving us and going to
different services because they're more accessible.
People with disabilities will think it's often their
fault that something's not working so they'll say,
can somebody help me with this or
they'll find something that works a bit better.
So in terms of complaints it's not always the
best gauge when we talk about accessibility.
Second one is accessibility's not my job.
Now as Jared said I think it's everybody's job.
You may have people at different points of
maturity look within an organization but it's
getting people to understand it's their job as well.
As a senior exec you'll be going we need to
make sure this is accessible or I'm not letting this
go until it's accessible.
It's that kind of thinking.
The next thing is fixing accessibility's expensive.
It is expensive if you try to address accessibility at the end of a project.
If you consider accessibility early you factor in the requirements early on and then design based on those.
You save yourself a lot of money and you'll have a better product.
And then the market is just too small.
We have 12.9 million people with disabilities in the UK.
That's not a small amount of people and
that's broadening your customer base is always a good thing.
And then accessible design means boring design.
Now there are creative challenges sometimes.
When trying to incorporate accessibility into design.
However, our mantra has always been,
it should work well for those who need it and
be invisible to those who don't.
So once we dispelled some of those
misconceptions then we need and people are
brought in at an emotional level or and
then at an intellectual level then we need to
provide them with the tools to be able to
create accessible services.
So what we have is what we call accessibility
academy and that has a whole bunch of resources,
this is from training for different roles code
libraries for developers.
Facetoface training that people can go onto
improve their knowledge of accessibility.
Moving through the spectrum as
Jared would say so we get to the point
where we have some competence then
we have what we call lean accessibility controls.
We are now part of the governance process within Barclays.
So we can hold up a release.
So we are at a point where we can say,
this isn't going live because it's not accessible.
There are there's obviously some people who
still jump up and down about it but we
have the same seat at the table as everybody else.
So which is really positive and it has helped us.
It's a bit stick but hopefully all the other things we
can do will encourage people to start thinking a bit
differently but it has had tremendous impact in
the influence that we been able to have within Barclays.
Then we also provide design libraries and patents.
We've been doing a lot of work on
tying in things like our brand.
Our style guide and our component libraries to
ensure developers, designers and all the
various people within a project have the
right tools and we're confident to say, yes,
you can use that component because it's
been accessibility approved, it's meets our
style requirements and it meets our
brand requirements so we provide all that to
the teams and we're still in the process of
trying to encourage them to use it as much as
we want them to but we're sort of in a
transition at a moment so it's a positive step and
sort of focus on one of the resources that we
do give people is the inclusive design principles.
Now this was developed by the group and we have modified it.
The first is to provide a comparable experience.
That's giving it doesn't have to be an
identical experience but it should be similar in
quality to anybody else if you are trying to
access any kind of service.
Then about giving control.
So regardless of how you want to interact with a
digital service, you should be able to do that.
It should be flexible enough to be able to
do that in terms of design.
Another example here.
You can either have, if from a design point of
view you can have a grid or you can have a list,
or you provide different options like in iOS where you
can select edit it gives you options where you
can select emails and delete them or
you can just swipe across and delete the email.
So you're giving the user various options of
interaction and that's always useful because not
everybody's going to follow a single path when you
are interacting with things.
Then consider the situation.
So if you're in bright sunlight can I see
what's going on and that's probably what we
have because our brand is washed out and
trying to get to start thinking maybe we need to
make things a bit darker.
Provide an inverse color scheme is
something we need to consider.
And obviously making sure our behaviours in
our design, the way interactions work is
consistent with standard interaction methods and
then of course adding value.
If you provide new features they should add value to
the users so one other thing we do provide as a
resource is diverse personas.
We got a few left on our standard downstairs.
Our personas are commonly used in design,
but there aren't many that deal with
people with d disabilities.
So these personas and you can see from this
example here is someone who has dyslexia and
this gives us insight into the daily life.
So what daily likes and dislikes are.
Some of the challenges they have.
So it gives designers an insight so they can
have a look at it and say, maybe,
I can think of my design differently because it may
affect somebody like Maya and then one other
thing we're working on at the moment is
trying to get our designers and because we've
got all the resources, we've got accessible
components and design elements.
What we're trying to encourage them to
do is annotate the designs as much as possible.
So when it gets to the developer then okay,
I have to use that component.
This is what I'm expecting in terms of
accessibility behaviour so it's a
screen reader announcement,
I know exactly what I need to code in to
get it to do that.
It's about integrating and infusing
accessibility as much as possible.
And then of course user testing.
I know that Jared focused on this a lot.
We always encourage teams to do user testing.
It's always the best way is sitting with
people and experiencing what they're experiencing.
That's when the light bulling light bulb moments happen.
You'll go to user groups and they'll say oh,
it's so terrible and they have to do something
about that and when you come back they're
always more passionate about accessibility because it's,
I think it's lack of awareness more than
anything else if you don't understand the
issues somebody is having and
when you see it actually happening it has a
much greater impact and just an
example here is we have our devices.
So originally they were designed as
little devices with little buttons and screens and
we found our customers has issues with
that so we went through a number of
iterations doing user testing on each of
them and finally came to one a larger screen and
it has audio output and all sorts of things.
That was a good exercise.
Some of our achievements.
One thing we managed to integrate a
lot of the principles I've been talking about is in
our mobile banking app.
What we did originally was we got an
assigned project manager and it was
his objective to ensure we got the app to
where it was accessibility compliant.
We got our trainees in to understand accessibility a
lot better and how they could code it up.
We also got external consultants in to do
user testing sessions and also expert reviews of the application.
And then we also did external user testing sessions
where we got a range of people with disabilities and
tested the app and all of the feedback from all of
those sessions was incorporated into
what's referred to as an accreditation list and
that was worked out to get it fixed and
then once that was fixed it received accreditation and
we've had amazing feedback on that.
I'll just read this out so the Barclays
application have improved vastly.
When you go to pay someone you can type the
first two letters of the person you want to pay and
it goes straight to that person.
It becomes very immediate.
Rather than using a lot of text.
It is more concise and allows you to
do what you want to do immediately.
I was surprised to realize that I've been able to
do everything I wanted without a hitch.
The fact that I can view and manage my accounts,
make a call to customer services from inside the
app and clear security in one step,
find out about other products and
do all other things is a genuine pleasure.
So you can see that feedback and
this is from people with disabilities.
But if you actually look quite deeper into
those comments it's the kind of thing that any user would want.
So by improving those things for
people with disabilities,
immeasurably improved the application for everybody.
So high visibility debit cards and
there's some other examples as well.
These are cards you can customize so
you can take a photograph and
get it printed on your debit card.
So this sort of give IT manager or
the manager of digital accessibility to
say why don't we give high contrast to
read the numbers better?
That was the first step and now you
can customize your card.
And people with more severe vision impairments you
can get an arrow printed on so when you
take your card out of the wallet you can see
what direction it needs to go into the machine and
for people with severe vision impairments there's a
notch cut out the back of it so you can
feel which side the card needs to
go into the ATM.
A small very simple thing but has
Then the ability to be able to make
payments using voice control.
That's been added to the
mobile make banking app.
Which is good for anybody.
It's good for anybody who has a vision impairment
where they don't have to interact with the
app but use their voice to control it and
say do this for me.
Now the B pay bands were not something specifically for
people with disabilities but we found it had an
amazing impact for those with disabilities.
It is a bracelet with a chip in it.
And you can load a certain amount of money on
it but the intention was to get people to
be able to make payments a lot easier but
having something on your wrist but what we
found is it's useful for somebody who wants to
go out for a night and you put 30 quid on it,
and when it's gone it's gone.
It has enormous benefits for people in
Where a carer can put a certain amount of
money on the card and you have the individual who
may be vulnerable to thieves or whatever.
It gives them some level of independence so
they can go out to make purchases and
if the band gets stolen it's only a small amount of
money that's gone.
So very useful.
And gives a bit of independence and
they contactless ATMs.
And this is something that because the
app has been accessibility accredited you
can go into it, set up a transaction,
just say if you use a speech reader on the phone,
we can set it up and say,
I want twenty pound and when you select go
it gives you thirty seconds, all you have to
do is go to the ATM, tap your phone on the
reader and it'll give you 30 pound without you
having to interact with the kiosk and of
course it's easy for any of us.
We set it up on the app it is good from a
security point of view.
It has enormous benefits for everybody.
So some of the learns based on what
I've been speaking about here.
So one of the things that we found is if you
consider accessibility early.
You include all the requirements.
You start to be able to recognize biases and
that might inform your design.
So things like user testing, empathy labs,
all that kind of stuff.
Then obviously considering accessibility has
enormous benefits because obviously it saves money.
It makes ensures that the product is
considers accessibility throughout its
process and we ensure that our products are
accessible before it goes out the door.
We also innovate from the edges.
So this is considering the edge cases.
Look at the requirements for somebody with a
disability might create innovation for all the users.
And then of course humanizing stories.
So it's about getting to a point where we
feel and empathize for people with disabilities.
It doesn't just become another requirement but
we try to help somebody here and if we
understand their stories and observe them we
may be able to get to a culture where
accessibility is considered as business as usual.
So in closing, I'd like to just list some of the
manifesto items of the recently released of
the accessibility manifesto.
The first thing is it's a creative challenge but
it's not a challenge to creativity it's an
important aspect of the requirements.
It's not a bolt on that we don't it's
not a checklist item.
It's something that's integrated as
intrinsic value to what we do.
And then of course it's about people.
And not technology.
Thank you very much.