Who designed Windows 10

Design inclusive software for Windows 10

  • 9 minutes to read

Learn more about building an inclusive design with Windows apps for Windows 10. Design and create inclusive software with accessibility in mind.

Microsoft is continually developing its design principles and processes. These provide information about the appearance, presentation, function and behavior of our surroundings. We broaden our perspective.

This new design philosophy is called inclusive design. Our goal is to develop software from the ground up for all types of users. This is in contrast to the belief that accessibility features are only created at the end of the development process to meet the needs of a small group of users.

“We define a disability as the conflict between an individual's needs and the service, product or environment offered. Any user can suffer from a disability. It is a common human experience to be excluded. ”- from the inclusive video

Inclusive design creates better products for everyone. It's about taking into account the full range of human diversity. Think about the curb marks you will now find in the intersection areas of most sidewalks. These are clearly intended for use by wheelchair users. But now they are used by almost everyone, including those with strollers, cyclists, and skateboarders. Even pedestrians often use curb drops because they are simply there and comfortable. Remote controls could be viewed as assistive technology (AT) for people with physical disabilities. However, today it is almost impossible to buy a TV without a remote control. Before children learn to tie their shoes, they can wear slip-on shoes or easy-to-close shoes. Shoes that are easy to put on and take off are often preferred in cultures where shoes are removed before entering a home. They are also better suited for those with restricted hand movement, such as those with arthritis or a temporarily broken wrist.

Basics of Inclusive Design

The following 4 principles apply to the move from Microsoft to inclusive design:

Think Universal : We focus on what connects people - human motivations, relationships and skills. This spurs us to think about the broader social implications of our work. The result is an environment that is rich in opportunities for all people to participate.

Make it personal (personalization) : Next we face the challenge of making emotional connections. Human interactions can inspire better interactions between people and technology. One person's unique circumstances can improve a design for all people. The result is an environment that feels like it was designed for just one person.

Keep it simple : Simplicity is the unifying element. When we make the environment clearer, people know what to do next. You are inspired to open up areas that are tidy, bright and open. The result is an honest and timeless environment.

Create delight (enthusiasm) : Enthusiastic environments arouse wonder and discovery. Sometimes it's magic. Sometimes it's a detail that is just right. We design these moments to feel like welcome changes in pace. The result is an environment that is dynamic and fluid.

Inclusive design users

There are two main types of Assistive Technologies (AT) users:

  1. People who need it because of a disability or impairment, age-related circumstances, or temporary circumstances (such as a broken arm or leg)
  2. People who use these out of preference as they provide a more comfortable or convenient computing experience

The majority of computer users (54 percent) are familiar with some type of assistive technology, and 44 percent of computer users use assistive technology. However, many of these do not use assistive technology that would benefit them (Forrester 2004).

A 2003-2004 study by Microsoft, operated by ForresterResearch, found that over half - 57 percent - of computer users in the United States between ages 18 and 64 can benefit from assistive technology. The majority of these users reported no disabilities or impairments, but reported certain task-related difficulties or impairments in using computers. Forrester (2003) also found the following numbers for users with specific difficulties: One in four users has difficulty seeing. One in four users has pain in their wrists or hands. One in five users has difficulty hearing.

Aside from permanent disabilities, the severity and type of difficulties a person has during their lifetime can vary. There are no "normal" people. Our skills are subject to constant change. Margaret Meade once said: “We are all unique. This uniqueness is common to all of us. "

Microsoft is engaged in research in the fields of computer science and software development to optimize the computing experience and to invent novel computing technologies. For more information, see Current Microsoft Research and Development Projects. These aim to make computers more accessible, to simplify the visual and auditory access to computers and to facilitate interactions with computers.

Practical design steps

If you are at it, this section is for you. It outlines real-world design steps to consider when implementing inclusive design for your app.

Describe the target audience

Define the potential users of your app. Think of all the different skills and traits they have. Examples are age, gender, language, deafness or hearing impairment, poor eyesight, cognitive abilities, learning style, mobility restrictions, etc. Does your design meet your individual requirements?

Talk to people with specific needs

Meet with potential users who have different characteristics. Make sure you take all of their needs into account when designing your app. For example, Microsoft has found that deaf users turn off toast notifications on their Xbox consoles. When we interviewed deaf users about this, we learned that the toast notifications obscure a section of subtitles. This has been fixed by showing the popups a little further up the screen. This is a simple solution that wasn't necessarily obvious based on the telemetry data that originally indicated the behavior.

Choose the development framework carefully

At the design stage, the development framework you are using (i.e. UWP, Win32, Web) is critical to the development of your product. When you have the framework to choose from, think about how much effort it will take to create your controls within the framework. What standard or built-in accessibility properties does the framework provide? Which controls do you need to customize? When you choose your framework, you largely decide how many of the controls you need for an accessible app are easy to get (that is, how many of those controls are built in) and how many controls require additional development due to control customizations.

Use standard Windows controls whenever possible. These controls already have the technology required to interface with assistive technology.

Create a logical hierarchy for your controls

Once you've chosen the framework, it's a good idea to design a logical hierarchy to plan your controls. The logical hierarchy of your app contains the layout and tab order of the controls. If assistive technology (AT) programs such as screen readers read your user interface, a visual representation is insufficient. You need to provide a programmatic alternative that makes structural sense to your users. A logical hierarchy can help you with this. This is a way to examine the layout of your user interface and structure each element so that users can understand it. A logical hierarchy is mainly used for the following purposes:

  1. To provide context to programs for the logical order (reading order) of elements in the user interface
  2. To set clear boundaries between custom controls and standard controls in the user interface
  3. To determine how the parts of the user interface interact with each other

A logical hierarchy is a great way to handle potential operator problems. If you can't structure the user interface in a relatively simple way, then you might have problems with usability. The logical representation of a simple dialog box should not lead to multiple pages of diagrams. If logical hierarchies become too detailed or extensive, you may need to redesign your user interface. For more information, download the Engineering Software for Accessibility e-book.

Design appropriate settings for the visual user interface

While designing the visual user interface, make sure your product has a high contrast setting that uses standard system fonts and anti-aliasing options, scales to the correct DPI screen settings, standard text with a contrast ratio of at least 5: 1 to the background and uses a combination of colors that can be easily distinguished by color-impaired users.

High contrast setting

One of the accessibility features built into Windows is the high contrast mode, which increases the color contrast of text and images. For some people, increased color contrast reduces eye strain and improves legibility. When reviewing your user interface in high contrast mode, make sure that controls such as links have been coded consistently and with system colors (not hard-coded colors) to ensure that all of the controls that a user sees are displayed on the screen who doesn't use the high contrast.

System font settings

To ensure readability and to minimize unexpected distortion of the text, make sure that your product always uses the standard system fonts and the anti-aliasing and smoothing options. If your product uses custom fonts, users may experience significant legibility and distortion issues when they customize the appearance of the user interface (for example, using a screen reader or other font styles to display your user interface).

High DPI resolutions

For users with low vision, it is important that the user interface is scalable. In user interfaces that do not scale properly at high dots per inch (DPI) resolutions, key components may overlap or cover other components and make them inaccessible.

Color contrast ratio

The updated version of Section 508 of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and other laws require that the color contrast ratio between text and background be at least 5: 1. For large text (font sizes with 18 point or 14 point and bold) the required contrast ratio is 3: 1.

Color combinations

About 7 percent of men (and less than 1 percent of women) have color vision deficiency. Color blind users have trouble distinguishing between certain colors. It is therefore important that colors are never used to convey status or meaning in an application. For decorative images (such as icons or backgrounds), color combinations should be chosen to maximize the perception of the image by the color-blind user. If you design your user interface from the beginning with these color recommendations in mind, your app is already making important strides towards an inclusive design.

Summary - seven steps to inclusive design

Follow these seven steps to make sure your software is inclusive.

  1. First, decide if inclusive design is an important aspect of your software. If so, learn how she can help practical users live, work, and play for guidance on your design.
  2. Whenever possible, use the controls your framework provides (that is, standard controls) as you develop solutions to your needs, and avoid the unnecessary effort and expense of developing custom controls.
  3. Design a logical hierarchy for your product and determine where standard controls, possible custom controls, and keyboard focus are in the user interface.
  4. Integrate useful system settings (e.g. keyboard navigation, high contrast and high DPI resolution) into your product.
  5. Implement the design using the Microsoft Accessibility Developer Hub and your framework's accessibility specification as a reference point.
  6. Test your product with users with special needs to ensure they can take advantage of the inclusive design you have implemented.
  7. Deploy the finished product and document your implementation for people who may work on the project after you.

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