Coding For Diversity

Stemming from our previous blog post Scotland CSS & JS 2016 Stewart Lamb Cromar was kindly invited by Melissa Highton to present a lunchtime talk as part of the PlayFair Steps initiative within ISG.

Stewart’s presentation “Coding For Diversity” covered two key topics – gender and accessibility. His primary aim was to show that equality involves everyone, and web developers in particular can design and build solutions that benefit all of us.

  • šGender
    • šWhen is it ok to ask?
    • šWhen is it not ok?
    • šHow do you ask about gender?
  • šAccessibility
    • šDesigning for diversity helps everyone

Based on the excellent talk Chad Gower gave at Scotland JS 2016, Stewart asked us all to question our existing form design. Do we really need to ask for titles or gender?  If we do, then we should explain why, and give people the flexibility to choose a gender or title that they feel best reflects them.

Gender case studies included the analysis of various user registration forms from Vimeo, Facebook, Scratch and several University of Edinburgh websites maintained by the Interactive Content team. Stewart demonstrated what changes his team made to their websites as a direct result of attending Scotland JS 2016 and in research carried out for this PlayFair Steps talk.

In regards to accessibility, Stewart referenced an excellent Render 2016 video presentation by Robin Christopherson that explained how various situations can temporarily give anyone a visual or motor impairment:

  • šReading glasses or sun glare on screen makes you temporarily visually impaired
  • šHolding coffee in one hand makes you motor impaired
  • šSimilarly, small phone and big fingers makes you temporarily motor impaired

The accessibility case study focused on CAPTCHA and how legacy implementations can negatively affect all users, regardless of any impairment.

Stewart concluded his talk by playing back a recent BBC audio interview with a ten-year-old named Leo.

For most of his life, Leo has lived as a girl, but this summer he began to speak openly about his sense that that gender identity wasn’t quite right. šWith research help for his parents, he’s decided he is non-binary, though for the moment he dresses as a boy and has taken a male name.

The “Coding For Diversity” PowerPoint presentation is CC BY-SA 4.0 licensed and available to download:

N.B. Both the featured image and repeating tile (transparent PNG) used for this article were created by Stewart Lamb Cromar. They are  CC BY-SA 4.0 licensed and can be downloaded from this Flickr album:

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Stewart Lamb Cromar

Interactive Content Manager