by Brittany Maher
Marketing Content Writer
Contributor: Jason Reynolds
Senior Product Designer
In continuation of our accessibility first blog series, we interviewed our Senior Product Designer, Jason Reynolds, to learn more about what inspired him to take an accessibility first approach to our technology and how he hopes tools designed with accessibility first can be implemented in the future.
As we discussed in previous blog posts, accessibility first means designing tools or services around inclusivity and addressing the most challenging circumstances upfront, rather dealing with them last, to provide equal access to equal opportunity.
Designing tech tools with the accessibility first mindset has the potential to open the doors of new possibilities for riders. When it comes to technology, even small advances can have a large impact on all who use it. Let's look at some of the ways UX/UI designers are implementing an accessibility first approach to tech tools.
We're moving beyond clicking, typing and tapping away at technology.
"Conversational and voice UI is what we’re seeing emerge in Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo – being able to state a desire and have the system understand it and respond," Jason said.
Conversational interfaces are making technology more accessible for everyone. Conversational UI and voice UI's essentially allow a person to control technology by simply utilizing one's voice to initiate an automated service or process.
"Taking a step back and relying more on emerging technologies, specifically conversational UI and voice UI, removes the technical issues and turns it more into a more universally accessible application," Jason said.
We're at an age where software can become better than a tool we've created, it can actually become an assistant.
"Once you’ve established conversational UI, you’ve given yourself the ability to choreograph the conversation. No longer is it a question that requires some level of complexity to the answer you get, you shape that question, so you get a series of simple responses. For some of our users that’s probably the best way to go," Jason said.
"We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”
Inspired by Conversational UI
"The whole turn for accessibility first for me was watching my nephew, who is on the severe end of the autism spectrum, engage with the Amazon Echo. He’s just turned six years old and up until last year, he barely spoke but he can work an iPad. He could hack into all of my sister’s accounts, order things online, he was an absolute genius, but he couldn’t speak," Jason said.
"As soon as I got him the [Amazon] Echo, his enunciation and his desire to speak improved. His dialogue used to be based around T.V. shows that he’d watch, which is common with autistic children, but he was able to break free from those patterns and start formulating his own patterns. It was really amazing to see. This led me down the path of conversational UI and practicing the curb cut effect, where creating software for children with autism could actually have a beneficial impact to everyone."
Moving Mobility Forward
For the future of transit technology from a rider perspective, it opens the doors to more than just a computer or a phone or tablet as a source of input. It really broadens the entire range of how people can interact with technologies.
From an agency or driver perspective, ideally, we can incorporate this into tablets and into in-vehicle technologies so it’s easier to input into the system.
Curb cut effect – Laws and programs designed to benefit vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or minorities, that often end up benefiting society as a whole.
Accessible sidewalk ramps, and Conversational UI for example.
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