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Transcript: Matt May talks about how accessibility has influenced mobile development and design

The following text is a transcript for the video: Matt May talks about how accessibility has influenced mobile development and design. Matt May is Accessibility Evangelist at Adobe. On twitter he is @MattMay. The video was produced by Metal Toad Media for "Interviews WebVisions PDX 2012".

Matt:

My name is Matt May and the presentation I am giving is called "Wanted Mobile Dev with Forty Years of Experience".

So I am going to be talking about basically things that we've learned from various other fields that contribute to the solutions to the kinds of problems that the mobile developers face everyday.

[How is accessibility related to mobile web development?]

Matt:

The idea of accessibility is to create a bridge between the problems that people with disabilities have with using technology.

And in the mobile world you basically have the same issue. Your devices - whether it is a phone or a tablet what have you - are all just all technological solutions to the problems that you encounter. You run into the same kinds of issues that a person with disabilities may have - whether it's ambient noise in a room or bright sunlight or things like that where contrast becomes an issue or being able to hear music over a background or whatever can be a problem. These are all things you have to take into account.

Now in the mobile world that's a convenience to the user.

But what we've learned over decades of dealing with these issues in the field of accessibility is that for the things that were needs for people with disabilities are now wants for lots of other people.

So we think about things like on-screen keyboard. That was around in desktop operating systems since the eighties. Pinching and zooming: we've had screen magnifiers for that long. Going back to curb cuts in the pavement. They were designed for people who were using wheelchairs and now you see more people with strollers using it. So if you look at it that way you can see you can solve people's problems by making things a little easier for them in their environment.

That carries over to everyone but it benefits people with disabilities most because you're integrating that problem. You realize if they can't do what they need to be doing they are actually being blocked from something. So it is more than a convenience. It is enabling someone to live a life unfettered.

[How is this being used to shape mobile development?]

Matt:

We have been talking about this within accessibility. And universal design was a term that we borrowed including actually now adopting the principles of it as they were developed for physical architecture. Built like in the built space. So we are taking the things that we learned from accessibility and bringing it into mobile. And we found just so much is crossing over as we are doing it.

So I wrote a book in 2008 called "Universal Design for Web Applications" with Wendy Chisholm that covers a lot of the philosophy behind it. But again we have to continue to evolve so that we can speak the language of today's mobile developer. And impart the knowledge that we've got from these forty years of experience in disability and technology.

[What excites you about working in the mobile field?]

Matt:

What excites me about working in the field right now is it continues to just expand in ways that we haven't fully grasped yet.

So even while I'm talking about building best practices and coalescing, what we're doing is...you know the saying "we are standing on the shoulders of giants". Well, we are just building the bricks that you get to stand on.

You know we have to keep evolving the knowledge and advancing and bring more people into the fold. And its great to see that there are so many people interested in it and are excited about it. There is so much more new technology that's coming along. With that comes more problems and I get more things to solve and talk about. And so it's great all around.