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The new Standard on Web Accessibility: WCAG 2.0, with David Berman

June 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

Toronto | OCAD University

OCAD University IDRC, 49 McCaul, Toronto
in The Red Lab, Room 4904

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Master Video Embed for Cloning

David Berman keynotes at agIdeas Melbourne: Making The Planet Your Client: Designing Sustainability

agIdeas International Design Week
Melbourne, Australia | May 2012 (4:40)








Show Transcript

This a transcript of the video Weapons of mass deception: Good design and doing good.

(Image of Slow TV wordmark)

(Text on screen: Weapons of mass deception: Good design and doing good
David Berman
State of Design Festival
Melbourne – July 2009)

(Image of State of Design Festival logo. David Berman appears on stage and faces the audience for the duration of this video. David is wearing a black suit with a dark grey shirt.)

It’s great to be in Australia. It’s my very first time ever in my life being in Australia and, aside from the 15-hour jetlag, I find it so warm … inviting, just like being in Canada. That’s where I am from Ottawa, Canada.

We’ve been on a tight schedule, I’m meeting all kinds of people and I’m surprised that even though the time shift is great, the similarities are greater. Alright: we’re both huge countries: We’re both about 25 … 30 million people. I’m also impressed at how similar we are, but you guys are clearly much more dedicated than designers in Canada because I’m amazed that all of you are willing to get up in the middle of the night to hear me speak! [LAUGHTER] So, let’s get into it.

I said I am going to talk about doing good and we live in a remarkable time. This is a very special time right here, right now…because although we’ve been talking about praying to the Internet and new media in the future, as Nicholas Negroponte from MIT tells us, for the majority of the people on the planet the Internet remains a rumour. Today most humans have never seen, have never touched, felt, looked, tasted the Internet, and yet in the next 10 years that’s going to change. In the next 10 years from today the majority of human beings will have engaged with this remarkable time. Now we talk about…

Hey, how many of you are familiar with the idea of the “digital divide”? Have you heard of this before: digital divide? We’ve got the rich and the poor … and those who have the technology, the rich can get richer and the poor get poorer.

And there are two potential outcomes over the next ten years … and we have a huge power over deciding what’s going to happen, because we can either see the next 10 years being a place where people first get the Internet … that they’re going to be a part of something wonderful, that they’re going to have access to knowledge and communications and medical ideas, conflict resolution, democracy … or it can just be one more way we convince huge populations that they need to consume more stuff to belong as a part of the world culture.

A friend of mine Professor Bruck from Salzburg, Austria, he describes the space we’ve been in as four screens. He talks about the first screen being the movie screen: a group of us together, a community like this, get together and have an experience where information is sent to us. And then the second screen was where that screen moved into our homes, into our private spaces, and we had interaction which is somewhat interactive but really not very much: we can choose channels … and that prominence of television has had a huge effect on us. Now we then move into the space just in last 15 years where the third screen … the interactive computer has allowed us to create own experiences.

However truly the place where most of the world’s population is going to get the Internet for the first time is on this tiny screen: the 4th screen. I’d like you to imagine a moment that you live in Ghana: your daughter is ill, not deathly ill, but pretty ill, coughing up all night. You’re not sure what’s wrong, you rush to a pharmacy in the middle of the night, you have to buy some medicine.

The problem is that in Ghana 20 percent of the drugs are fraudulent. They are not real. You don’t know what’s in it. So do you buy the drugs or not? You could do more good than harm. You are going to give some mystery stuff to your daughter. That’s the reality for people in Ghana today. But it’s shifting, because this year this remarkable group created an application which runs on cell phones and this application, called mPedigree, has arranged with the drug companies where they put a unique numeric string on each bottle of pharmaceuticals and all you do is pull out your cell phone, you send an SMS to a certain address with that number and it instantly tells you if the drugs are legitimate. It’s a Web-based application, it’s got no colour, it’s got no fancy typography, it’s got no great mission statement. It simply works in 160 characters. It saves lives. It saves an economy … and we have the opportunity to decide whether we will simply do good design or whether we are going to do good: because designers have never had as much power as we have today. You know we live in a time where we can leave or we can send messages, free ideas, and we can send them over vast distances at such a low cost, to larger and larger populations. We can choose which messages we are going to do that with.

When I was in Africa, I met this child with a Camel cigarette bag, and it concerns me that that’s the message he’s getting. This girl whose in Petra holding my traveling companion, Spice, she lives in Petra — you know Petra, in Jordan? It’s like the eighth wonder of the world. A whole city is carved out of rocks by designers working on a large scale a few thousand years ago. The thing is that she lives in a town just out of Petra and this is largest sign in that town. “Superior American Taste.” That’s the message that she’s grown up with. Now as a traveler to the Middle East, I found a lot of examples of cases where people are being told you have to look and feel and taste, and smell and look like a good European, Canadian, Australian kind of good-looking people if you’re going to really matter in this world. And yet my own daughter, she’s been just accepted to a design school in Montreal (I’m so proud, not my idea [laughs] but still proud.) She’s never seen a cigarette billboard, because in Canada, as in Australia, you recognize the value that it takes more than parents to raise children: it takes a whole society to recognize the power of messaging. And indeed, as she grows, as she ages, I hope she’ll make great decisions about how to use tobacco or not. I also think she will move into an age where there’s less focus on the Michael Jackson funerals in the headlines of the day and more focus on the things that are happening every day on our planet. This is a time of unlimited hope. We’ve never had so much power. We’ve never had so much possibility, but at the same time things have never seen quite so fragile. And every one of these major stories is one that designers have a role in. So we can decide that our lives are just about creating great design … or we can decide to do good. And that’s what I’m here to encourage you to do. Not just do good design, but to do good. This is the most influential piece of design I think I’ve experienced in my life. Do you recognize it? It’s far from home it’s the ballot that allowed George Bush to beat Al Gore in that very famous election back in 2000, in Florida where some 3,000 votes separated these two presidential candidates. And we don’t tend to think of this as design. We think design is all glamorous.

We saw amazing award-winning projects all over this city this week … yet this is a horribly failed piece of information design you see: The way it worked was … we have at the top there that if you wanted to vote for George Bush, you had to poke a rod into that first hole, and knock out a little piece of cardboard. Have you ever seen the Americans, when they vote? They vote for everyone from the President, to their senators, the governor, all the way down to the janitor for the local school, all at once. So you rush into that voting booth, and move really quickly because you have a lot of work to do. Now if you wanted to vote for Al Gore from the Democratic Party you poked into that third hole. You poke into the third hole, because if you poked into the second hole, you would have inadvertently voted for Pat Buchanan who was a radical right-wing fundamentalist way over there on the next page … and it happened that in Palm Beach County fifty thousand Blacks and Jews voted for Pat Buchanan. And even Pat himself said that doesn’t make any sense to me. And certainly 50,000 was enough to turn the election, was enough to create a war in Iraq. It was enough to stop the United States from signing the Kyoto Accord It was enough to stop condoms and AIDS drugs being sent out across Africa. Then we see the power of design. Just to be fair, by the way, because I’m obviously a bit left-wing …

In 2004, George Bush again was running … against John Kerry and it cuts both ways. In this ballot, you think after four years after such a disaster the Americans were alert enough to design a better ballot? Nah. Over here if you want to vote for John Kerry, for the Democrats, you had to mark a little mark (and the colour there is mine … there was no colour up there.) So if you had to mark a mark in this box, you would take your pen and rub that out. If you want to vote for George Bush way down at the bottom of the list (and his pal Dick Chene)y you had to fill in a box
which is not right here next to the arrow, but way up there at the top of the page. Absolutely bizarre.

Fortunately the AIGA, which is the American version of AGDA, has been working on ballot reform. The point I am trying to make is that the design isn’t just about the aesthetic, it isn’t just about delighting each other, it isn’t about creating marvelous experience. It’s life and death. I did some research and I discovered the largest source of accidental death in Melbourne is traffic accidents. Is that a design problem we can solve? I think so. This is a shot of a standard traffic light seen at night. The shot’s in Brisbane. This is the same shot but how they are seen by a person who is completely colourblind and I guess if you kind of squint you can see that the light is a little higher than lower at night … it’s a little hard to see. Now in Canada we are testing a new kind of traffic light and these were developed for colourblind people. The way this works is that the red is a squarish rather than a circle and there are two of them rather than one … and they are far apart so can see the pattern. So now we have colour as a secondary cue; we also have the shape and the frequency: all these different cues to help someone see that traffic light and know what to do when they get there. And just as with so much design for accessibility, when we design for the extremes we find everyone benefits. Everyone enjoys the new traffic lights. Not just someone who is colourblind. It helps someone who’s distracted.

Now here’s a more extreme case: This girl is wearing a piece of equipment which is designed for quadriplegics to navigate the Internet. She can, by blowing air into that tube, or sipping and puffing air through the tube … as well as moving her neck she can move and click the mouse pointer on the screen even though one doesn’t have any use of your muscles below your neck, so indeed information technology has made it possible for designers to give access to the world to millions of people over the last forty years that didn’t have access before: whether it’s motorized wheelchairs or it’s Internet access, because documents that are converted from text into HTML now can be streamed to all points and technologies, and indeed when we take care of people with accessibility issues and disabilities and difficulties we think we’re doing the right thing not leaving anyone behind. Maybe there is one or two percent of people who are blind or deaf and we get to take care them of them too. But in fact, it affects a lot more people than that because I think we underestimate how many people actually have functional difficulties: which make it difficult for them to always work with the perfect interface. In fact I would like to do an experiment with you right now if you’re willing. Are you willing? Let me show you something. Okay: I don’t want to embarrass anyone. What I’m going to do is list of a number of difficulties and disabilities and if you have one of them, at the end of my list, I am going to ask you to stand up so no one will know what you have. [laughs] I’ve got two of the things that I am going to list off: maybe you can figure out what they are. So if you have a hearing impairment, if you’re blind, if you are in a wheelchair, if you’re colourblind if you have a learning disability, if you have ADHD, if you are having trouble finding it easy to keep listening to what I’m saying, if you’ve ever had an arm in a cast for more than three days if you’re ever on the bus trying to use a cellphone while holding groceries in one arm, if you have trouble problem falling asleep at night, if you have any of these things just stand up, please, right now, if you don’t mind.

Let’s see. Oh my goodness. Holy Moley! I wasn’t really expecting that! Okay … and if you’re planning on living past the age of 50, could you stand up too? Because your eyesight is probably going to dim at a certain point. So, designer friends of mine. I’d like you to look left and look right, and when you’re designing products or interfaces for people with disabilities
and difficulties this is the audience you’re designing for. Is that what you expected? Please have a seat. Thank you very much.

Look: The most known commercial brand in the world is Coke and certainly you know if you ask a non-designer “What do you think of a Coke logo? “they tend to go “Oh, Coke logo…wow…a great logo.” It’s a horrible logo. I don’t know about you here in Australia, but in Canada we only use typefaces like that for really gaudy wedding invitations, with fake thermography so clearly it’s not the typography or the brand promise or the benefit statement. It’s nothing in there. It’s about that wonderful thing that the humans love: comfort of a repeated consistent message. And that’s at the core of brand, and Coke are masters at this.

They invented these two-metre high backlit billboards that are littering my hometown now; I see them all over the world… often in front of stores that sell the same product. I know a guy at Coke who explained to me that most of these things lose money. In fact the ideas … if I travel in my own city now: someone came along and convinced the City Council to put up these free billboards with a park bench attached to them, and these billboards that are supposedly recycling bins they are this wide and this tall … and if you look at the side, it is this thin.
And the city was so proud that they now had a commitment to recycling but meanwhile the visual space was eaten up. I’m impressed when I went all the way to Africa and we were doing mountain trekking there, and we were climbing up, thirty-five hundred metres above the planet’s surface and this last little outpost is where we can buy something to drink
and I’m amazed: it took us three days to get up there but some very deft guy has run up the mountain first to put some Coca Cola there, just so I always have that pause that refreshes there within reach.
It is darn impressive, and was even more impressive as we moved through the villages, on the highways of Africa, I found the hospitals and the orphanages
and the schools all have Coca-Cola branding.

But it’s kinda creepy too. This is the official signage for these facilities. This is the official signage markers between major cities And just to make clear: Arusha is the second largest city in Tanzania, which has many people as all of Australia, and these are the official concrete markers between the cities. I got to Zanzibar: wonderful Casablanca-esque Zanzibar. I was horrified to find that every street corner now had a Coca-Cola sign. Sometime in the nineties, when Tanzania was dealing with malaria and insurrection, the Coca-Cola Company came along and said “Hey you guys have got problems, politically: no problem, we’ll take care of all your signage in the meanwhile.” and the government embraced that … and it’s brilliant branding: its fantastic strategy.

But there is a problem, and the problem is that on the streets of Tanzania the cost of a Coca-Cola is about the same cost as a malaria pill. And a million children died in Africa, just in this past 12 months of malaria. And so when we choose what messages we’re going to share with the world, I think we need to be a little more cautious. Perhaps there is a way that Coca-Cola’s infrastructure can be used to share something more powerful than… … than caffeinated sugar water.

And this is my challenge to you: because as we get involved in an increasingly global community, we know that what insulates us against the downside of globalization are the principles we carry in our professionalism. What will hold our local culture together is how it is manifested. In a world where the very alphabet we learn is being owned by others. [LAUGHTER] Where… can you name that typeface? I know there’s no cigarette advertising done in Australia … right? … since the mid-nineties … this is fantastic. [claps] This is an ad…kind of [chuckles].

There is no product There’s no benefits statement, you know the campaign and indeed Naomi Klein has claimed that logos have become their own alphabet our children can speak this language When I was in Jordan and I showed this to a group of fifteen-year-olds, they were able to get almost every one of those logos, all within a minute… I’m losing your attention: you want to identify them? Do you think you can recognize all the way from start? [Audience guessing the logos] Yeah after the “Apple” Oh it’s just too easy …”CBS”, got them all? that’s the Volkswagen, That’s a tough one: “Xerox” What’s the next one? “FedEx”…wait wait that’s just the letters F E set in Futura. Wait a minute: Does this mean that every time you are reading a book and you come across an F-E your minds go … hmm “how do I positively perfectly get the shipment overnight?” Every time you see the word “ferret-legging” … you do ferret-legging here? Oh you don’t know want to know about ferret-legging. Every time you see a word that starts with F E you are thinking about FedEx, and so are your children. And I think that’s a problem. Yeah, you can get them all. I know you can get them all: the challenge then is with all this power we have as designers what are we going to do with it? What’s the legacy we wanna leave?

Well the American car… you know our American car industry was almost non-existent … I’m not sure by the time I get back it will still be there because Americans got caught up in this idea that they could sell fantasy, a fantasy that the United States has endless roads, where you can drive your toy car… there’s no traffic at all. And in Europe the horrible, horrific advertising to make the point that a tool can become a style object. Meanwhile the Japanese cleverly using the American idea of continuous improvement and figure out how to reinvent the car: they went in a 15-year period from creating cars that we would just point and laugh at like: “Oh driving a Honda lawnmower there?!” …to cars that are now the number one choice. In the United States today the Camry is the number one family car and Americans pay thirty five hundred dollars more for that car than the American counterpart. So that means that we live in an age where Americans have learned the value of better design and they’re willing to invest in it.

So in a world where we are told we have to drive down price companies like Toyota and Apple are showing that people appreciate good design. And indeed the awareness of good design has changed how we see things. Now sometimes there is no competition for a product in terms of direct competition, and for cigarettes the competition is public education.

I’ve been to over 20 countries trying to encourage designers and design students to consider carefully what they do, with the time they have available and we’ve seen a transformation of how things are sold because as the population gets more clever how they deal with advertising the audience gets more sophisticated, and the advertisers gets more sophisticated. Way back in the seventies, this is how bottled water was being sold: with a clever slogan: H20 … water, very sharp. But in a time when water is scarce sex is being used to sell water.

Something we have so much of …we have more fresh water in Canada than any other country in the world and yet we foolishly are bringing water in all the way from Europe and then we are sending our water to Europe. It’s crazy: we’re paying more for water than we do for petrol and in fact, I would like to have three cheers for the village of Bundanoon. You know Bundanoon? Southwest of Sydney… They just banned bottled water altogether… July 9th! All 400 of them, but it’s a start! They voted 398 to two: banned bottles of water … and you see the thing is that we’re talking about designing the future and when I showed you the advertisement of that teenager making love to that bottle, I’d like to think that fifty years from now that will be considered totally unacceptable, because our young girls deserve a better break then having to be told that that’s what their bodies are about.

So when I look back at this: this is an ad from 55 years ago that was run in the largest magazine in the United States LIFE magazine. It’s selling coffee: it says if your husband ever finds out you’re not “store-testing” for fresher coffee … he is going to beat the crap out of you: it’s a very disturbing idea. In 1952 this was considered humour and I wonder to what degree in 1952 this was a reflection of the society, but you can say: “oh, yeah: 1952 … people were beating their wives all the time” that’s just the way it was. I’m not so sure, I wonder to what degree advertising like this was telling men in 1952 in the United States that it was okay to beat your wife. … “It’s a good thing to beat wife. That’s what men do.” We have to be so careful because we have so much power. We have to use it with grace and you know the idea of using women to sell stuff, using sex to sell stuff, it’s not a new idea. It’s something that needs to be checked, and indeed in the early nineties it seemed that a certain amount of feminism had pushed this stuff away, but it’s grown right back.

My daughter grows up in a world where this type of perception is gone off away trying to sell stuff, stuff that should be either extinct, or exist in a different way cannot be fixed by doing the same thing to men. This is a a billboard in Beirut selling a cigarette in ..if you don’t know French…the slogan is “Liberte toujours” …”Always free” and the sad thing is they even branded his body with the shackles of this addiction. Here we’re selling … what we see here … we’re selling feminine hygiene products but its about this guy, this guy with a security … but here’s the good news because we live in this remarkable time.

Business has noticed that it’s good to check and control advertising. Governments have realized that it’s okay to put warnings on cigarette packages. I am very proud of this: This is one of my biggest clients: Health Canada … and we Canadians were the first ones to come up with this great idea of putting it right on the package the warnings about what to do but the Australians have bettered us, because I noticed the cigarette boxes here, is turned where there is a full page ad on the back and they’re working on other parts of this too so this idea has moved around the world that unbridled greed is not necessarily a good business plan. For the world that there’s not a one single bottom line, but rather a triple bottom line that we need to take care of and indeed, in this tenement housing project in Dar-al-Salaam, Tanzania, I was so proud to find this spoof ad from Adbusters … a Vancouver magazine … on a door.

Our business world has popped up and recognized the value of design. I couldn’t imagine that even ten years ago there would be cover article about logos on R.O.B. Report On Business is the largest business magazine in Canada. This is Business Week from Europe. They’re all featuring design, because now the balance sheets of the world’s largest corporations have brand equity as a line item. And indeed we’re finding ways of saying that design isn’t just about clever emphasis, it’s not just about creating equity.

In Canada we created … the Graphic Designers of Canada created … a new type of exhibit where we have a competition where you win the competition by how much social impact you’ve had in your local population rather than how much impact you’ve had in terms of helping someone make money. The thing is we’re professionals and few thousand years ago the doctors got together and came up with the Hippocratic oath. They decided that it is important that they have a standard that was higher than what the society expected of them and we’ve seen in the past few years how bankers and financiers and accountancies are in industries where their behaviour fell below the standard … and society came after them like dogs, as it should be.

We designers have to set a higher bar for ourselves. It’s true that some doctors go for the cosmetic surgery and perhaps there was a time when a doctor would shake you down for every penny I have five more minutes of life but we know that 99 percent of the doctors, if they are driving down the highway, and there’s an overturned vehicle, they are not going to worry about insurance liability. They are just going to pull over and jump out of their car: whatever they can do to save lives, as being a professional is not something to do from nine to five. It’s something we do twenty-four seven and we have to agree on a minimum standard.

Now in Canada we did something exciting. We developed a Code of Ethics for our design profession which set a minimum standard … and most professions have some type of code of ethics to make sure you show up for jury duty. We decided to include a commitment to society, to the environment and there are other countries around the world that have done similar things … and the work we’ve done in Icograda internationally, in Canada, it’s found its way into the standards of practice in the AIGA in the United States and is now being used as a sample for 600,000 Chinese design students. (Can you imagine?)

Just this year the graphic designers of Canada have adopted a new level sustainability practices, a charter for minimum behaviour for designers and I know that here in Australia there is not a formal code of professional conduct, a minimum standard in the design professions and I’d love to see that change. I’m wondering how many here would be willing to back the idea that we have a minimum standard for designers in Australia that says we have to take care of the environment, we have to take care of society. Look…I really appreciate giving me so much time, I know it’s it’s almost lunch in a I won’t take too much of your time, but I do want to compel you to do this.

I do know that I’m sure that I’ve entertained you. Also I know that for some of you this thing is just a matter of entertainment. For some of you I hope you to move towards a space, or perhaps you are already at this space.

I’d like you to make a commitment to me today, if you are willing and this is what I want to ask: I want you to make a pledge. This is the pledge: the pledge is to spend at least ten percent of your professional time doing good. Not just doing good design but doing good. So let’s say you had a forty-hour work week… now that would be four hours a week and I’m asking you to spend at least four hours a week to .. I’m not saying pro bono and so you can get paid. You just find clients or employers that are doing good for the world… …that are creating a more socially just world. We figure there are over one and a half million designers in the world today. Multiply four hours a week times one and a half million gives us six million hours of creative energy in every aspect of the society ready to be rolled out to create a better society. Is this something you are willing to commit to? The key is that I’m so excited about where this is all going and I’m confident that if we can just decide not just do good design, but do good we can create the best planet this planet has ever known.

So let’s do that.

Thank you so much!

(Text on screen: Special Thanks to:
David Berman; State of Design Festival; Ewan McEoin; Emma Telfer; Jane Mathews; Studio Propeller; Taki Oldham.)

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Web Accessibility Matters: Why Should We Care

Show transcript

This is a transcript of the video Transcript of Impressions on David Berman e-Accessibility course at OCAD, 29 June 2015.

If you wouldn’t mind just stating your name.

Yep. So my name is Jody Graham, and I’m a student in OCAD University’s inclusive design program, and I’m in my second year.

Fabulous. What did you find that you remember the most about today?

For me, it was actually having the confidence in knowing how to use the technologies, especially around, like, for example, making accessible PDFs, making accessible Word documents, having

confidence at this so that I can actually do accessibility audits now. I kind of theoretically were introduced to them in my degree, which I really appreciate, but I felt like with David, I got practical applications, and the ability to work with external partners with confidence, knowing that my answers are what they’re supposed to be.

Great. And Jody, what’s your degree in?

So my degree is actually in inclusive design at OCAD University.

Oh, that’s fabulous. OK. Well, thank you very much.

Thank you.

David Berman Testimonial produced by SHAW

Testimonial from Berman Accessibility Workshop for Sultanate of Oman

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Reviewed January 29, 2012