Accessibility Design Industrial

Inclusive Design

When I talk to my design students about inclusive design, there is no snickering, not even a hint of doubt. They simply take it for granted that it’s part of a designer’s job today.

Rochelle Steiner in How Design for One Turns Into Design for All

Accessibility Design Interaction Interface macOS

Generally SpottieOttieDopalicious

Overall, I’m very happy with 10.5. The new features are mostly useful and intelligently implemented and I’ve experienced only minor upgrade-related problems with third-party software.

General & Miscellany

  1. Spotlight results are nearly instantaneous for even very broad searches. A very impressive improvement.
  2. The menu bar opacity is not as bad as I thought it would be. I believe it was adjusted before the final release.
  3. The smaller font size in the Help menu looks a bit odd next to all the menus using the standard size, though it is consistent with the Spotlight menu.
  4. Foreground/background window contrast is much improved by the increased shadow depth and source list background and window titlebar color changes. Although I was never a zealous advocate of the Grand Window Style Unification (functional consistency is more important), I’m glad it has been done.
  5. More than ever, Lucida Grande needs a smallcaps variant — too many source lists yelling at once. Contact Bigelow and Holmes!
  6. Command-Delete replaces Option-Delete as the means of deleting full words to the left of the insertion bar.
  7. Wrap-around using the arrow keys has been removed from the Command-Tab application switcher, though it still works with Command-Shift-Tab. I suspect this was done to prevent users from overshooting the left- and right-most applications, but I believe it is a poor choice; it is more efficient (and physically easier than the Shift-Command-Tab sequence) to press the left arrow while on the left-most application to get to the far right when many applications are open (and likewise when the right-most application is selected). If four or five applications are open, it is easy enough to reverse direction. This also makes it harder to get to hidden applications, which are placed at the right end once hidden.
  8. If arrow key wrap-around is not to return, a subtle bumping animation like that when an iPhone list reaches the bottom would make it clear that it is possible to move in only one lateral direction. Additionally, allowing selection of the left- and right-most applications by pressing the up and down arrows (respectively) would be nice. This is already possible using the Home/Page Up and End/Page Down keys, but they are on a different part of the keyboard, requiring that the user move their hand from the inverted T.
  9. Being able to scroll background windows system-wide does a bit to reduce the inherent modality of applications. It’s a non-destructive action that is easily undone and reduces the need to flip between windows and/or applications.
  10. In addition to Command-click, Right- and Control-clicking on a window title bar proxy icon summons the path menu. I’m not certain this is new.
  11. Regarding the rounded screen corners, who cares? My only screen corner complaint is that the uppers still do not visually indicate that they have infinite depth for activating the Apple and Spotlight menus.
  12. The iTunes “rip complete” sound is now played when Installer completes an installation. Conceptually sound, but what if you have a CD ripping and a piece of software installing? How do you know which one is done? This is compounded by Spaces. This is part of why the Dock and Growl are useful feedback vectors; they exist independent of whatever else you are looking at (unless you hide your Dock…).
  13. The Movies widget needs an “Add to iCal” button that opens iCal and, if necessary, prompts for selection of a calendar to which the selected showing will be added.
  14. Something similar to my spring-loaded Dock idea has been implemented as a hidden setting. The application’s windows do not tile automatically, but you can trigger Exposé yourself or use Command-~ to switch. The default out-of-the-box behavior is that apps only open or spring forward after tapping the space bar.
  15. The print dialog (now with progressive disclosure, as I suggested) will make Alan Cooper happy, though I don’t think he uses OS X.
  16. The sound output list now updates immediately after plugging in headphones rather than only once you select the Built-in Output item.
  17. The revised Software Update process is nicely done. The new flow makes the installation of updates feel more like something you can do once you have time to take a break.

The Finder

  1. The Spotlight results window is no longer an orphan.
  2. Alternating row background colors in List view. Finally!
  3. Still no contextual menu on List view column headers to toggle column display.
  4. The new Dock menu commands are nice additions, in part for reasons mentioned in the Dock section.
  5. The Finder claims my iDisk has 1.36 TB of total space with 360.77 GB free. The .Mac System Preferences pane gives accurate information.

The Dock

  1. The default look is not for me and I feel it is an inferior visual design. I like the simple, high-contrast alternative.
  2. The opacity of Dock item text labels should be increased just a bit to improve readability.
  3. When given keyboard focus using Control-F3 or Control-D, Dock type-ahead selection should search the entire object name for matches rather than just the beginning. This would be less of an irritation if marketing zombies at Microsoft and Adobe didn’t insist on prepending all their applications’ names with the company name.
  4. I’m not yet sold on Stacks, but I do like the gradient selection background that appears when moving through the contents with the keyboard.
  5. Dock menu commands to create new documents are all the more useful when using Spaces. Otherwise, you first have to switch to applications that are on other spaces, create the new document, then move it to the previous space. Note that space-application bindings interfere a bit; if bound, you will be switched to the app’s space after creating a document via the Dock menu, possibly moving you away from the space displaying information needed for your document, message, etc.
  6. “New Thing” Dock menu commands in document creation applications such as the iWork suite and TextEdit would be nice for the aforementioned reason.


Spaces is very solid for an initial release. It feels like a more evolved version of a little noticed application by Mac Murrett called Workspaces that was basically Exposé for virtual desktops. Alas, it broke with 10.4.

  1. Space placement of windows should be retained across launches. If the number of spaces changes between launches, default to wherever the application is launched.
  2. I would really, really like to be able to click on a window’s titlebar, invoke the birdseye view quasi-mode with F8, and then drag the window I grabbed to another space without having to re-grab the window.
  3. Another way users should be able to move a single window from one space to another: hold a modifier key while selecting the window from the application’s Dock menu.
  4. When removing a space-application binding, I do not think the application’s windows should be moved to the first space. You are not moving the application, just specifying that you don’t always want it to appear on a specific space.
  5. To help with spatial orientation, the OS should route sounds generated by applications on inactive spaces through an appropriate audio channel. If you are viewing space 1 and iTunes is done ripping a CD on space 2, the completion sound should come from the right channel. This would only map cleanly along the horizontal axis, but audio perception experts may know how sound can be manipulated to seem as though it is coming from above or below.
  6. The drag-and-drop method of moving single windows between spaces is great, but there is no way to relocate several of an application’s windows. A Dock menu command “Move All Windows to Space” with a sub-menu listing all spaces is basically how GNOME and KDE handle relocation. This command would of course only appear if Spaces is enabled. For drag-and-drop relocation of all of an application’s windows, holding Option while dragging a window would be consistent in scope with how Option is used in conjunction with the Close/Minimize/Zoom widgets. Windows would be moved as a group, retaining their spatial relationships. I am wrong. All of an application’s windows on one space can be moved by holding Shift or Control.
  7. Edge flipping works as a means of moving windows between spaces. Excellent. You can also grab a window with the mouse and, while holding the window, use the keyboard to switch using Control-(Arrow or Number). It would be nice if diagonal switching was direct rather than moving in one direction (horizontally or vertically) first and then the other.
  8. Edge flipping should also be triggered by dragged objects held at the edge of the screen.
  9. Showing an outline of the Dock while in Spaces’ birdseye view would save users from having to reposition windows they accidentally place behind the Dock. Either that or using the same automatic repositioning as when a window is placed in the menu bar area. This behavior should be aware of Dock hiding.


Now with more Acrobat functionality!

  1. The static size of the PDF Info window (Tools > Info or Command-I) means you cannot read long text strings in the General Information section; they do not wrap and there are no tooltips.
  2. The Print button on the print preview window does not visually indicate that it is the default button mapped to Return or Enter.
  3. Contextual menu commands for printing and exporting selected pages would allow users to more directly select pages to print rather than having to input page number ranges.
  4. The Preferences window still looks like someone closed their eyes and hoped for the best while dragging widgets in Interface Builder.


  1. You had it right the first time — Data Detectors belong at the system level! Mail is a logical choice for a testbed implementation, but they should be available system-wide.
  2. The “Verify Certificate” dialog now includes a check box to add self-signed certs to your trusted list. Much easier than the “drag-and-drop then import” process required previously.
  3. The Erase Junk Mail confirmation dialog now uses proper button labels rather than No/Yes.
  4. I still don’t understand why the Erase Junk Mail confirmation is a floating dialog while Delete Messages is a sheet.


I generally like the redesign of iCal, but I will return to Contactizer once a 10.5-compatible version is available.

  1. The Mini Month pane size is not retained across launches, always reverting to the default of two months. Having only one calendar (Contactizer uses Category metadata to differentiate items within one calendar) and a large display, this is a rather irritating bug.
  2. A large “Today” text button rather than a small mysterious diamond! Raskin said something along the lines of “I’ve often seen text used to describe images, but never images used to describe text.”
  3. The use of Helvetica is odd, but not something I mind. It’s consistent with the iPhone, but Helvetica is the iPhone system face.
  4. The inline information overlays require too many clicks to view, edit, and dismiss. The Info drawer or floating window were far from perfect, but I prefer either one to the new method.

More as I explore.

Accessibility Interaction Interface

More Keyboard Support in iTunes

Somewhere between 7.0 and the current 7.1.1 release, left and right arrow key navigation of the iTunes browser columns (Genre, Artist, Album) was added. Much better.

Accessibility Interaction macOS Meta-data Movies

Source of Labor

As with all annotations and chapter titles, it would be nice to have QuickTime video subtitles indexed by Spotlight. I have no clue as to the technical feasibility of this, but the text of the displayed frame is searchable within QuickTime Player (Command-R), so I would think it could be done.

  1. I am trying to recall a labor statistic that Stephen Colbert mentioned on his show. I know he used the specific phrase "Labor Department", so I enter that in the Spotlight search field.
  2. The subtitled QuickTime movie appears in the result list.
    Spotlight search for 'Labor Department'
  3. Opening the movie automatically moves to the point at which the phrase "Labor Department" first appears.
    Stephen Colbert cites a Labor Department statistic

If both a chapter and subtitle contained the same text, I think the subtitle should be given more weight; it is more specific and likely easier for the user to put in context.

Accessibility Browsers Interaction Interface

A Measure More Keyboard Pleasure

Keyboard accessibility suggestions for Measure Map, the web statistics service from Adaptive Path.

Type-Ahead Link Selection

Make the text labels of the four top-level sections links. This enables the use of the type-ahead link selection feature found in Firefox, Camino, and OmniWeb.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Assign access keys to the four primary navigation links:

  1. v for Visitors
  2. l for Links
  3. c for Comments
  4. p for Posts

The three secondary navigation items could be:

  1. b for Browsers
  2. u for Countries
  3. t for Times
Accessibility Design Interaction Interface macOS Pro Bono Portfolio

Heads-Up Shortcuts

In the iTunes Info window:

iTunes Info with keyboard shortcut bezels

Nisus Writer Express:

Nisus Writer Express toolbar with keyboard shortcut bezels

Implementation Notes

  1. Hold down Command for a second or two to make the bezels appear, release it to let them fade away. A means of completely turning shortcut overlays off would be available in the System Preferences -> Universal Access -> Keyboard section.
  2. Shortcut commands could be executed from the initial depression of the Command key. As with the Command-Tab application switcher, users would not need to release Command and then press it again to execute a shortcut.
  3. Upon execution of a shortcut, the bezel for the activated shortcut would fade after a second while those for the non-selected shortcuts would immediately disappear. Somewhat like the menu title flashing that indicates a command within the menu has been activated via its shortcut, this would provide some visual confirmation that the shortcut has been triggered.
  4. To control visual clutter (which these could definitely cause), bezels would only appear for the front-most window of the active application.
  5. As you can see in the Nisus Writer mockup, this could potentially interfere with the hierarchical menu accessible by Command-clicking on the proxy icon in the window’s title bar.
  6. Keyboard shortcuts would be easier to learn if Apple put the damn modifier symbols on the actual modifier keys, which is supposedly the case with non-U.S. keyboards. Why some have to suffer an inferior keyboard design while others do not is a mystery to me.

This is an evolution of my earlier Dialog Button Keyboard Shortcuts idea, which simply would not work for toolbar buttons.