RNIB shares their expertise with Samsung
With RNIB’s expertise, leading global telecoms provider Samsung, makes android phones accessible to all.
What: Review of the products and advising to meet accessibility standards
How: Expert assessment and in-depth user testing
Result: Accessibility is now being made a core part of the product
Samsung has been working with RNIB to ensure that all their products meet accessibility standards. RNIB’s User Experience team has carried out an expert review of the products, advising Samsung of things to fix to meet the accessibility standards.
Connecting with blind and partially sighted customers through RNIB
Mikael Fodor is a UX researcher at Samsung. He explains how working with RNIB’s UX team and getting feedback from their customers, was vital to improving the accessibility features for Samsung’s android.
“RNIB provides the expertise we need, as well as connecting us to the specific customer already, their input is essential. We’ve done a number of projects; testing the speech voice control feature, the screen reader and the smartwatch. You learn so much by talking to the customers who need these things, at the end of the day it’s about getting real feedback from people.”
Learning about accessible features
The list of accessible features that need improving is extensive, including: writing that’s not legible, pop-up messages that screen readers may not read out or pop-up too quickly, and then disappear again for someone who’s using a zoom feature, or contrast ratios not being sufficient for some people to read. Having RNIB on board helped to simplify the process.
User testing and the value of face‑to‑face customer interviews
Mikael explains that a key part of the process of designing something for a person who can’t see the screen, is watching them use the phone firsthand. Trying to imagine what it’s like to use the phone with your eyes closed, is not a good substitution – because a phone is designed visually, for someone who’s sighted, so that they know where the buttons are. A screen reader is just adapting a visually designed thing to work somehow through hearing, which is an imperfect solution. Mikael says that what would be better for a blind or partially sighted person, is something that’s built from the ground up to be just a hearing mechanism.
Testing the day-to-day user experience
Samsung also did a user trial where they gave some of the participants a phone to use for a couple of months. They did some trials with six participants, three of whom were totally blind and another three with varying degrees of impairment. This way they were able to get feedback over a longer period of time.
Taking accessibility seriously from the start
Mikael says that accessibility is now being made a core part of the product. Samsung has got bigger teams working on it and so the hope is for faster updates going forward.
“I had not ever worked on accessibility features before, so the project was a big learning process. You could have three participants who are all blind and they use the keyboard in a completely different way, which makes designing for accessibility challenging. Coming up with the ideal solution for one person may have an impact on the regular user experience too, so it’s about finding the balance. ”
Robin Spinks from RNIB says:
“We’re delighted to be working with Samsung on this project. Like many of us with sight loss, for me the modern smartphone is the remote control to my life. From reading and navigating to banking and social networking, smartphones can enable much greater accessibility. But it’s critical that inclusion is baked into the experience rather than being an afterthought. Our expert assessment and in-depth user testing capabilities enable our clients to make constant progress, ensuring products and services continue to be as accessible and usable as possible.”