073: Accessible Digital Spaces with Mel Sutjiadi
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
One of my absolute favourite accessible design resources is a homegrown document created by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) in partnership with the Government of Ontario called Access Ability: A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design. In 2019, the RGD released a ‘revised and supersized second edition’ that contains 88 pages jam-packed full of practical tips for thinking about accessible design for print and digital spaces. The handbook covers planning and management (including how to start a conversation with a client about accessibility requirements), design fundamentals, typography, digital media and physical media (including print design and environmental graphic design).
No discussion of designing accessible digital spaces would be complete without the inclusion of WCAG: ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’. This is the global standard that contains a wide range of recommendations for making digital spaces more accessible. As described in Access Ability 2, the WCAG is organized around four principles of accessibility: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
Perceivable: “Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.” (Specifically, no content can be communicated through visual or sound alone.)
Operable: “User interface components and navigation must be operable.” (Regardless of the user's physical abilities and/or input devices; they should feel in control at all times in the digital space.)
Understandable: “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.” (This includes ensuring content is as understandable as possible to individuals regardless of cognitive, perceptual, linguistic or cultural differences.)
Robust: “Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.” (Thinking of both input devices and output devices, including displays, browsers and assistive technologies, a digital experience must consider and include such variables as older technology, display sizes and screen magnifiers, among others.)
There’s a lot to learn about creating accessible and inclusive digital spaces, which is why I’m glad we have today’s guest.
Meet Mel Sutjiadi, a QTPOC multi-disciplinary creative director, designer, illustrator, developer, and educator who loves to solve problems through design. They are a Registered Graphic Designer (RGD) and they were recently announced as a finalist for the RGD’s ULTRABOLD Awards, celebrating emerging designers under 35 who are making an impact on the design community and beyond. Mel is Founder of ArtOverMatter Creative (“a creative studio that gives a damn”) and one of the co-founders of Ripple of Change Magazine – a magazine built to inspire social action by giving a voice to stories that need to be heard. Mel specializes on projects with a focus on equity, inclusion, accessibility, and social justice. Mel has also been a guest instructor, speaker, and portfolio reviewer, with expertise on designing for diversity, cultural inclusion and social good.
Let’s hear from Mel, specifically in regards to practical tips for how to think about and build more accessible digital experiences for as many people as possible.
Key Themes Discussed:
Best practises from access ability to from the RGD including how to write text and colour contrast specifics
The way in which social media apps are helping to educate the general population about digital accessibility
Mel provides tips for how to think about and build more accessible digital experiences for as many people as possible
“You don’t know what you don’t know” - experiencing the world through different points of view will help us all better understand accessibility and the needs our end users
Accessibility needs are not as removed as we might think they are
Accessibility and customization features built into our devices under the umbrella of ‘accessibility’ can and do help every device user customize their device to their wants and needs
Tips for getting started with accessibility as a designer and content creator; from colour to type size to select diverse images
The's lots of ‘low hanging fruit’ when it comes to thinking about designing inclusively
You command lots of power as a designer
With restrictions, comes great design
*Mel has compiled a list of tools & resources for listeners that they mentioned during the recording, along with links to EDI resources.
**The Indiegogo campaign for the second issue of Ripple of Change magazine is on now! Pre-order at https://igg.me/at/startaripple.
About Our Guest:
Mel Sutjiadi (they/them) is a QTPOC multi-disciplinary creative director, designer, illustrator, developer, and educator who loves to solve problems through design. Founder of ArtOverMatter Creative and one of the co-founders of Ripple of Change Magazine – a magazine built to inspire social action by giving a voice to stories that need to be heard. Mel specializes in projects with a focus on equity, inclusion, accessibility, and social justice. Mel has also been a guest instructor, speaker, and portfolio reviewer, with expertise on designing for diversity, cultural inclusion and social good.
@artovermatter (Instagram and Twitter)
Music (public domain via Free Music Archive): Crowander - Humbug
Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle
Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash
Episode Artwork: Canva (remixed by Diana Varma)