Andrew Zusman

What can others learn from the successes and failures of your approach to making accessible experiences?: 

Individual products and case studies might change minds, but I am seeking something bigger than that. I want to help facilitate and participate in a design revolution. That might sound over-the-top, but I believe in spreading the ideas of universal design far and wide. I did my own research and I did it on my own budget and in my spare time. I reached out to those that others looked past, and I think it’s important for others to throw caution to the wind and _do_ what they believe in, even if it is difficult or unpopular. I believe in universal design. Doing something with my belief means there is no failure.

What did you do, what was required, and/or what justifications did you need to establish to ensure that accessibility became and remained a requirement for your product or service?: 

I started with a question: How do people with one arm or one hand type? I couldn’t find anyone else who was really interested in this topic until UXBooth’s Andrew Maier encouraged me to write an article based on what I found in my research. I worked hard to build upon my research with an article and build upon my article with a highly praised presentation I took to five locations across Europe and the Middle East. I stayed true to an idea even when many people asked me “Who cares?” and now I am repeating this process with what will be the first ever serious project to look at how universal design can help dyslexic users get a better experience online.

How did you ensure the needs of users with impairments or special requirements were considered throughout the process of designing your product or service?: 

Simple answer: I talked to them…and I still do!

What are the most significant ways that your attention to accessibility manifested in the product or service, and what effect has that had on users?: 

Ideas are contagious. I did everything I could to make universal design a sexier topic and to make it practical. The response from the thousands of people who read my article or saw my presentation was really fantastic, and the response from one-handed/armed users and, more recently, dyslexic users has been highly encouraging.

Please share any quantitative, qualitative, and/or anecdotal evidence of the wisdom and value of your focus on accessibility.: 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who helped to create the WWW, said that “The power of the web is in its universality.” I think we all need to be reminded of this sometimes. After my presentation at WebExpo Prague, a one-armed audience member thanked me for my presentation. He knew that work like mine (and probably the work of all those who applied for this award) would lead to the kind of world that Berners-Lee sought to create. There is power in universality. We live in a time when people talk about B2B and B2C when really everything we make is H2H. Humans to Human. Humans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and we can reach them all through more inclusive and universal designs.