For More Accessibility in a Tech-driven World, Let’s Start with Empathy

8: 00 a Cooking Podcast

9: 30 a History of Opera course over Zoom

11: 00 a FaceTime with most special friend from childhood

1: 00 p Text exchange with neighbour on the fourth floor

The schedule above seems normal enough for an ordinary, device-centric day in 2020. What attains it amazing is that it’s the schedule of a freshly tech-enabled nonagenarian. Iris, 92, hungry for a simulacrum of in-person connection, was forced to become binary best friends with inanimate blocks of silicon and glass.

Her eyesight fading, she relies on voice aides, learns flows and favorites productive workflows across a suite of apps and portfolio of maneuvers. All seems passably ordinary until a standard tech ritual turns a meant podcast listening conference into sheer panic: An overnight update renders all she’s learned useless. What’s new? Every button she knows is now a button. Would you like to speak to your friend in a Kiwi-tinged accent? Blink twice and make a fledgling call towards the spinning orb.

What follows is most likely a familiar dynamic for most of us, one that has been explored in depth as one of the purposes of Ketchum’s Technology Sandwich Generation study: a phone tree of children, grandchildren and frenetic Twitter scours. Which setting pane, menu nip or gazing contest will allow Iris to get back to her regularly scheduled life?

As consumer technology displacements from novelty to essential, there needs to be a corresponding shift to curb the restlessness of ship-and-fix culture. We need give closer attention to the small actions that have a big impact on our new actuality of living inside a massive interface of toil, presentation and overall connection.

How can we as communicators cure tech corporations progress the very best meanings for iterative design?

Form Follows Intention

Nearly 120 year ago, one approach that allowed people to feel cozy with the altering flake of architecture was to fix something new feel aged and familiar.

The bright designer Louis Sullivan realized that compiling arrangements of ever-greater scale seem congenial and beneficial mean considering the scale of the occupant and using familiar information in romance actions. This new canon of designing emphasized the verticality of a formation but formulated the key interaction tops with simplified more classical sorts. It was enough of the past to feel a connection to what came before, with a nudge toward the light-filled, well-ventilated cavities that would come to define the future.

Similarly, as we enter a brand-new stage of augmented associate with our colleagues, family and friends, we should expect our device-driven contexts to be functional, intuitive and joy-inducing.

As our gaps for knowing so much better of the lockdown-weary world, hardware and software must intuit specific emotions and allow for trust to be established between human and device. This process must start and end with a deeper understanding of our drive to explore and connect without frustration, learning reward and amusement in the use of an object.

Interfaces for Life

So who is responsible for solving, structure and evolving these interface-centric inventions? The anthropologist? The client know-how unit? The software make? The boundary decorator? The MarComs specialist?

The answer, of course, is all of the above, and their challenge is that they must understand the true mission of the product. Should the maneuver advance in a linear way? Should it be a revolution in usability with each major update?

I’d argue that the age of leaps and bounds should be replaced with a sentiment of graphical Darwinism–how interfaces retain similar figures while larger roadmaps for deeper interactions progress over a longer timeframe. Instead of rivalling with one another, what if Big Tech emulated for the high levels of continued usability? That by avoiding annual modify for the purposes of the a talking point–it was rooted in something much more profound? Something that is rooted in a more functional type of empathy for a broader range of ages/ seeing the skills and mobility requirements.

Thinking this nature entails our machines and boundaries can be informed by our actual use, the skills and requirements, molding or simplifying their purpose based on our their relationships with them.

User Empathy

So, deep wheeze, let’s go back to Iris.

Yes, enunciate deputies and other assistive technologies have become slightly more sophisticated–but very often one evolution in an emotive smell outcomes in a regression in another, often without warning after a apparently innocuous overnight modernize. But I believe this process can be adapted for buyers of different ages or abilities, with elements being slow-walked into reforming versus being lumped together in the all too familiar and out-of-context” What’s New ?” modal box.

From a communications standpoint, those of us more familiar with feeing complex topics to a wide range of audiences can help ensure the march of technology continues, but with a greater context for its inescapable jolt. Marketing and communications professionals, equipment/ software engineers, professionals of human behavior and concoction directors can find a common ground where newness is replaced with the deepest sense of empathy.

To start, we need to channel the empathy of those trying to help Iris navigate her new world remotely. The empathy to keep her from having to relearn her brain roadmap of human interaction annually, as smart devices progress from gadget to quasi-appendage. The empathy to view inventions is not merely as tools, but as partners–and to expect from them its interpretation and kindnes we expect of each other.

What do you think? How can this approach come to life in the services offered of connecting the world in a most functional and joy-inducing way? At Ketchum, we’re passionate about how layout can better connect symbols with humans–reach out if you’d like to continue the conversation.

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