We have created 6 computer science student personas who need to use different ways of accessing online materials and elearning systems to highlight some of the issues encountered. In some ways these personas aim to fit into the NNgroup definition in their article on Personas vs. Jobs-to-Be-Done. Page Laubheimer in 2017 said “Jobs-to-be-done focus on user problems and needs, while well-executed personas include the same information and also add behavioral and attitudinal details.”
We hope our personas are ‘well executed’ and the features mentioned relating to accessibility and usability will help support individual preferences when using the web. However, there may be overlaps and there will be techniques and criteria that you may feel are missing. So it is important to think ofthe content as just being a flavour of what can be offered when creating inclusive content, design and development. Follow the links for more information about individual criteria. Content will also go out of date and need checking, so do contact us if you spot any issues.
Umar used to spend all his time on is computer which has been adapted to suit his needs as he really enjoys interacting with friends online playing video games. Now, his family takes up much his time outside university and they often travel between his home country and the UK.
Umar has always worked in universities and was a lecturer before deciding to take up computer science as a second degree. Formally linguistics was his main interest and he taught students English in his home town and often helped out with translations from Arabic. He grew up in a household that encouraged him to compete at school in all activities despite his cerebral palsy that made him appear very uncoordinated, affected his mobility and dexterity.
Umar has always spoken rather hesitantly, but relatively clearly, so lecturing was not a problem, although speech recognition never really worked for him. He also tried eye gaze in order to access his computer, but found it very tiring because keeping his eyes fixed and still on an object was difficult. So Umar largely depends on keyboard short cuts, predictive software, with built in macros using autohotkey, filter keys and a programmable position joystick. Recently he was also able to afford an Xbox Adaptive Controller that made all the difference to the speed at which he could play games once it had been set up to suit his preferences with his mixed access technologies depending on the time of day and feelings of tiredness.
Keyboard access still takes time, but as long as Umar has his specialist expanded keyboard and uses his own computer he can work successfully along with his fellow students. However, where barriers do occur such as being locked out due to timeouts, with for instance online banking or secure applications, his patience can be sorely tested.
Umar needs to take breaks but finds that additional ergonomic aids such as a good chair, two raised monitors linked to his laptop and the spring back keys on his keyboard, help to prevent some of the effects of fatigue. In the past he used his phone with a Bluetooth connection to his keyboard, so that he could type messages, but he has found several companies now offer better links to apps, his joystick and other assistive technology devices such as Tecla. He also finds adapting the phone notifications, so they appear automatically stops him worrying about missing events and larger fonts and app icons have also helped. Bigger buttons mean there is more likelihood the touch screen can be used. Umar has also tried other accessibility options that are available on both the Android and iOS systems.
Keyboard Access is essential for Umar as he really finds using his joystick with the pointer accuracy required for some tasks difficult. Single tabbing and using link lists and headings with macros all help with navigation but depend of the accessibility of the website. He sometimes prefers to use his Xbox adaptive controller when feeling tired, as it offers switch access that can also be mapped to various access actions. Microsoft offer a list of keyboard shortcuts in apps
Keyboard remapping available in any application helps Umar as much as it helped Faith. The WebAim team provide a very useful table that covers the standard keystrokes, but Umar tends to use his autohotkey personalised keyboard mapping
Make dynamic content accessible this applies to everyone, but for Umar it is essential that all types of dynamic content react to keyboard use not just a mouse hovering over an item or a modal window that appears without activation or error messages that prevent an escape route. IBM offer some potential Coding interactions – Dynamic content. “Success Criterion 3.2.1 On Focus (Level A): When any user interface component receives focus, it does not initiate a change of context.”
Headings for easy access. This is not just about using consistent Heading order but being clear about titles and their meaning to help Faith quickly scan down content especially if there are important instructions. This can help her concentration as well as make it easier to navigate.
Media player access. Once again this is about using the keyboard to control:
play and pause buttons
screen size and exiting from full-screen and position
“I find small links, such as individual letters in an alphabet list really annoying when having to access a glossary if a search is not provided – too small to touch accurately or use with my joystick and too long for constant keystrokes. Either add white space around them or offer an alternative!”