International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a worldwide event that aims to increase public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

Every year, the United Nations announces a theme to observe, which for 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

At Transpire, universal design is one of our core values, and as such, we take digital accessibility and inclusion very seriously.

Accessibility isn’t an added extra for us, even when we get push back from our clients to meet tough timelines and budget constraints – it’s simply part of everything we do.

With this in mind, Transpire UX Designer Lucy Serret has been busy developing a virtual version of our ‘Empathy Lab Workshop’ – a series of digital-based exercises designed to raise awareness of accessibility and inclusion. 

Universal design for accessibility and inclusion at Transpire

“The purpose of this session is to help our consultants (software engineers, designers, testers and project managers) keep digital inclusion and accessibility front of mind,” said Transpire Director of User Experience Amir Ansari.

“Taking place 100% remotely, the exercises help each individual experience the effects of different disabilities during everyday digital tasks on mobiles and laptop.”

Before COVID-19, our Empathy Lab Workshop took place in-person, making use of various devices and props to mimic some form of disability; vision, mobility, hearing or cognitive.

But with every member of the Transpire team currently working from home, Lucy needed to flex her creative muscle and unearth alternative ways to deliver the same engaging experience. This was made possible with tools like the browser extension Funkify, as well as other browser-based interactive tasks.

An example of an Empathy Lab Workshop task
Example of an Empathy Lab Workshop task

“If there is one thing 2020 has taught me, it’s that we as a workforce need to be adaptive to different ways of working, thinking, doing and understanding,” said Lucy. “Whether you have wifi issues, a crying baby in the background, or can’t take yourself off mute in a virtual meeting, we have all probably experienced some form of situational disability this year.

“Our aim is to build empathy through interactive activities that simulate a variety of needs in conjunction with a variety of everyday digital tools, as a way to showcase just how many avoidable barriers websites and apps contain.”

Good, better, best…

Despite the fact over four million people in Australia have some form of disability, a third say that their customer needs are often unmet.

By giving precedence to accessibility when designing and developing digital products, Transpire is making sure everyone can benefit from the latest and greatest in technology and innovation.

But that doesn’t mean to say embedding accessibility and inclusion into every project is like adding a certain feature or facilitating greater functionality. It’s a continual process of good, better, best…

“Transpire recognises that building digital accessibility and inclusion is not an all or nothing exercise, it’s about awareness, building empathy, and making small, continuous improvements,” added Amir.

“We designed these exercises to be approachable and flexible and would love the opportunity to run them with other teams and organisations.”

Lucy added: “Now that we have adapted the Empathy Lab Workshop to be remote, we are now no longer constrained by our location, and can offer this workshop beyond our borders.”

To see how your team could benefit from greater accessibility and inclusion awareness, get in touch with us to find out more.