A few methods to consider when building yours.

Persona describing the digital needs of a woman who wants simple pages and layouts
Persona describing the digital needs of a woman who wants simple pages and layouts
Accessibility personas created by Mark Boyes-Smith and Alicia Crowther

I love personas. I feel really lucky that I get to spend a lot of time at work thinking and talking about them. For those less familiar with the concept, personas are fictionalised representations of different types of users that come into contact with your product or service. They focus on the user’s needs and any frustrations they might have, so that Product & UX teams can design and build solutions that work for them.

I’ve written before about making personas accessible — but this time I am talking about accessibility personas — personas that are designed specifically with a…


Two disabled women chat on a couch, both holding coffee mugs. An electric lightweight mobility scooter rests nearby.
Two disabled women chat on a couch, both holding coffee mugs. An electric lightweight mobility scooter rests nearby.
Disabled and Here collection by Tojo Andrianarivo

Update March 2021 — On International Women’s Day 2021, the ongoing coronavirus situation has continued to exacerbate discrepancies for women and girls with disabilities, including a 3.5x greater chance of death in the UK and at-capacity hospitals deciding that their lives just aren’t worth saving. Read the UN’s brief on Women with Disabilities in a Pandemic.

International Women’s Day was 8th March, a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, along with a call to action to push for women’s equality. The 2020 IWD theme is “Each for Equal”, drawing from collective individualism.

“We…


Smiling man with a learning disability works on a laptop in a meeting with other colleagues.
Smiling man with a learning disability works on a laptop in a meeting with other colleagues.
Disability:IN collection by Jordan Nicholson

I’m working on revamping our customer personas, so I’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at stock photography. As accessibility and disability inclusion are important to me, I’ve noticed that it is not easy to find stock photos which represent disabilities. This is problematic in three main ways. Overall, disability is just not represented enough. Second, disability photos tend to make stereotypical assumptions and third, there is a lack of actual disabled individuals being used in the photography.

Lack of representation


People walking on crosswalk in city centre
People walking on crosswalk in city centre
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

Personas are used across organisations in UX or marketing to help businesses better understand the customers they are serving. Like any deliverable, it’s important to consider the accessibility of personas so that your audience can understand and engage with them. Some of the main accessibility pain points for personas are centred on making sure your content is perceivable and understandable.

Contrast


Image of rainbow lights/ “Night Light” by Tim Taylor CC by 2.0

As Pride month comes to a close, we will see rainbows leaving shopfronts and social media logos. For those of us who build websites, products and services, it is our responsibility to be inclusive and think about how our design choices affect others every day of the year.

A few reminders to help you make LGBTQ+ inclusive design decisions:

  1. Avoid gender binary defaults — give your users options beyond just male and female. For example, Hawaii has become the 12th US state to allow a third gender option for state issued IDs. Consider whether you really need to ask about…


Doing better for our customers means doing better for ourselves

A group of employees attend an accessibility event in an open plan office kitchen and listen to guest speakers. Photo credit: Mark Boyes-Smith

I’ve been leading accessibility efforts at Anaplan for a year now, and it’s been an amazing journey. I’m on a product team, so my job is to help produce things — the what. Yet our work on accessibility has been such a rich experience because of the who — the diverse colleagues I am proud to work with every day, including those with disabilities. As we deliver on accessibility for our customers, we learn more about how we can make a better and more inclusive experience for ourselves.

We’ve taken…

Alicia Crowther

Human centred change catalyst — championing inclusive experiences for customers and businesses. Currently Lead UX Researcher for a cloud based software company.

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