Accessibility

At Surface Impression digital access is about communicating information to users in a way that suits their needs

We have been helping charities, museums, galleries, venues and heritage organisations to improve digital accessibility since our inception in 2001.

We work with many disability charities and disability arts organisations, and digital accessibility is at the core of our work. We frequently work directly with disabled people who are: our clients at many disabled-led organisations; part of many museums’ access advisory panels; people who take part in our user tests. As a result, we have gained insights into the diversity of experiences and circumstances of disabled people, and we witness firsthand the impact, both negative and positive, of digital media.

Accessibility – getting started

We are passionate about access, and have always worked with disabled people to create, explore and audit websites and apps. The past 10 years have been a time of massive change – and we want to share what we have learnt with our clients. This is a collaborative process, with the best outcomes stemming from input not only from our clients, but also from their audience groups and project partners. We have successfully worked with volunteers, Access Advisory Groups, and stakeholders.

Technology is finally catching up with user needs. For example, magnifiers and screen readers are now being built into smartphones and tablets, allowing users to adjust content to suit their own needs. However, at Surface Impression we know we can do so much more to widen access to our clients’ digital content, so we continue experimenting and pushing technology to work better for users with different access needs.

Approaches include:

  • Access user testing – listening to your audience, and finding out what access experiences work best for them. During development we test what works by asking assistive technology users, running access user testing and focus groups.
  • Experiment – we challenge technology to make it as easy as possible for disabled users. We are creative about increasing access; rather than finding accessibility limiting, there is scope to improve the experience for all.
  • User-centred design – we work with access groups and individuals to ensure access is built into our websites and apps from the start – through early wireframe design stages, interactive prototypes, user testing, and the launch. We review progress on the way to ensure that we are delivering the level of access required by the audience.
  • Review the whole access journey – digital projects often form part of a broader experience. To better understand how to improve the user’s experience, Surface Impression looks at projects in the context of the user’s whole access journey and their experience of the brand.