These are a couple of models of accessibility which I use when working on projects. They are to ensure that human-centered perspectives and design remains the crucial points. It is easy to drift into system perspectives and lose touch with both the history and the current meaning of accessibility in terms of personal independence, identity and respect.

Agency And Autonomy

A circular model of Agency and Autonomy showing the wider space of autonomy when person has greater control
A circular model of Agency and Autonomy showing the wider space of autonomy when person has greater control

User Experience, and design more generally, is interested in enabling the individual to do the thing they want to do. However, this can be unhelpful when discussing accessibility because it ignores much wider social and poltical ideas of personal independence and autonomy.

“Doing the thing I want to do…” is a tightly consumerist idea of being human. As long as I get what I want then I will be satisfied sounds OK unless you notice how much control is being taken away from you. …


Good Dissent badge on backing card
Good Dissent badge on backing card

I ran workshops on Dissent in 2020 and one outcome was a better understanding of what Good Dissent might be like. Lately, I have summarised some of those ideas on a badge.

The two ideas are:

  • Sceptical generalist
  • Persistent specialist

What that means is that Good Dissent comes from breaking the apparent unanimity of the group. People assume everyone agrees what has been shared and it’s easy for groups to stop thinking critically or seeking out new information.

What the two phrases try to communicate are the need to keep asking questions (not to convince others that they are wrong but to ensure they remain critical of ideas being discussed) and the need to keep speaking truthfully from your knowledge and experiences. …


WEIRD

Text — WEIRD
Text — WEIRD

When talking about #PostNormal, it’s important to talk about the concept of #WEIRD – White, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic. The idea that research is historically biased to a very specific group of people.

However, even WEIRD is itself is biased and does not completely describe the active nature of the bias to Normal.

I AM WEIRD is a longer version to try and take in those biases and missing elements.

AM


Diagram of time in 6 month project: months on x axis & daily hours on y axis to show how useful project time is compressed
Diagram of time in 6 month project: months on x axis & daily hours on y axis to show how useful project time is compressed

I have been reading a few books on time and research shows how little is truly available for what companies recognise as ‘real’ work.

Connie Gersick’s work on inertia and midpoints shows teams do not engage meaningfully with work until half way thru whatever the defined project timeline is. So in a 6 Month project, most work occurs post the 3M point (x axis in image).

Daniel Pink’s book When (which includes Gersick’s research) talks about Chronotypes and the idea of a fairly standard Peak, Slump, Recovery sense of individual capacity. Mornings work for most people for analytical work but performance slumps by 20% or more in afternoon. …


Diagram of four themes of post about friendship, authority, shared goals and shared enemies
Diagram of four themes of post about friendship, authority, shared goals and shared enemies

This is a post to just set out some ideas of problems in Codesign and Service Design with communities and change in a world of fake news, populism and authoritarianism.

More particularly it is a post about the problems of friendship. Friendship that bridges between families to enable civic society yet also which can ensure civil war. Friendship that is enabled by social media and yet poisoned by it.

Friendship

The power of friendship is great. It creates positive change in neighbourhoods and communities that go beyond simple family or clan connection.

People will build and will fight with their friends. They will keep doing this way beyond what they would do for money or ideology. …


3 Per’s — Perception, Perspective, Percentage
3 Per’s — Perception, Perspective, Percentage

Just a short post about 3 professional biases in user research that prevent making accessible or inclusive products and services. These are some basic ideas of the normal, on what it is to be human, and how such definitions of being human exclude so many people.

I am not saying do not use them. I am saying be aware of how you use them and involve people with different ideas and viewpoints on them. Normal is a comforting place to view problems from but it is not the right place.

Perception


Square card held up — text says Do not flip this card. Let us now assume we are kind, astute and capable
Square card held up — text says Do not flip this card. Let us now assume we are kind, astute and capable

There is an old conservative trick to stop radical change happening. Politicians and journalists talk as tho such a change has happened and then condemn its clear failure.

I have read slightly too many tweets and read too many articles lately talking of the failure of human centred design. Mostly they are written by people who are not conservative but have been captured by this old narrative trick.

This is a quick post just to clearly state that human centred design has not failed because we have not really even started with it yet. …


Two Lego minifigs look at each other while standing on pieces of printed paper that represent ideas about Hope
Two Lego minifigs look at each other while standing on pieces of printed paper that represent ideas about Hope

I’m currently working on a talk and a workshop on the topic of Hope for EuroIA in September. Obviously, it is being held as an online conference. This means I have two constraints, particularly for the design of a workshop. Firstly, I must explain and engage people with ideas of Hope – an enormously broad concept. Secondly, I must enable people to participate in activities while sitting at work or at home with only a few materials to hand.

This post is about the current prototype of both the ideas to be communicated and the method for involving people.

Vast, small and big


Diagram of Stop and Go Back that if you feel lost the stop and go back to a point where yiu felt certain
Diagram of Stop and Go Back that if you feel lost the stop and go back to a point where yiu felt certain

Getting lost is stressful. It becomes harder and harder to make good decisions. Many people who get lost and die in physical spaces, like forests, are often found near to systems of paths but, from a personal perspective, nowhere near safety. Providing advice on how to not get lost is not just about providing better signage and maps, it is about providing ways for individuals to survive when faced by both personal and systemic behavioural biases.

Stop

Both physical and digital architectures and experience design are currently biased towards a systemic ideal of frictionless journeys.

Ensuring that people move quickly thru spaces and get to the ending that satisfies the provider, but not necessarily the consumer, is important to both UX and Service Design. Rapid movement thru the system is a key metric for success. Many people, moving quickly thru many touch points to a delimited number of successful transactions. Both buildings and websites are designed on this frictionless theory. …


Text quote: Dissent is not brealing the harmony of consensus but mitigating the harm of it
Text quote: Dissent is not brealing the harmony of consensus but mitigating the harm of it

Generally, I facilitate experiential workshops on topics like senses and emotions in design for conferences and organisations. Being together, working closely is crucial. That all stopped suddenly in March.

I needed both some income and some idea of how to work in a future where in-person workshops were few and far apart (in all ways).

Online was clearly the only opportunity but there seemed to be multiple problems with the delivery technology and the general sense of how online time is spent.

I developed and ran a workshop on Design for Dissent. This was drawn out of the final conference talk I did on Post Normal Service Design and previous workshops on Active and Structured Listening methods. …

About

Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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