Diana van Dulken talks about ADHD and things moving on screen

Di tells us that to make the web more difficult than it needs to be for disabled people is a shitty thing to do. And it doesn’t reflect well on you.



Tenon

Thanks to Tenon for sponsoring the transcript for this episode.

Transcript

Nic

Hi, I’m Nic Steenhout. And you’re listening to the accessibility rules soundbite. A series of short podcasts where disabled people explain their impairments, and what barriers they encounter on the web. First, I need to thank Tenon for sponsoring the transcript for this episode. Tenon provides accessibility as service. They offer testing, training and tooling to help fix accessibility fast. Today, I’m talking with Diane van Dulken. Hey, Di, how are you?

Di

I’m great. Thank you. How are you?

Nic

I’m doing good. Very glad to have you on board. We have not spoken very much before today. So it’s going to be a fun, fun interaction getting to know you. First question I have for you is what’s your disability or your impairment?

Di

Okay, so I have ADHD, I’m quite a late diagnosed ADHD person, you would have found that a lot of females are like that. So I only got diagnosed with ADHD about five, six years ago. But yes, it explains so much about how I interact with the world.

Nic

I understand that it’s actually very difficult to get diagnosed with ADHD later in life, especially as a woman, can you tell me a little bit about that process?

Di

Yes, sure. There’s a bit of a discussion with my child about how this happened because my child was diagnosed with ADHD. And they believe that my psychiatrist, first of all said that I had ADHD, and that made their psychiatrist diagnose them with ADHD. But I think it was the other way around. It’s because it’s extremely genetic, when this talk was happening. In either case, it was basically Yes, you do actually fit all of those criteria. That explains a lot of things that we had previously thought was just anxiety driven, because of course, there’s a very large overlap between. So but the process was, I already had a psychiatrist. I think the main impact, or the main thing that stops people from getting this diagnosis is that they need to have a mental health care professional. And that’s actually very difficult for people to get in the first place. In Australia, we’re lucky that you can get things like mental health care plans and things like that, to actually get these diagnoses. But I’m on Tick tock, for example, and you see a huge amount of people who are self diagnosing with ADHD because they reverberate with people who are talking about ADHD on there. But it does make it an official diagnosis, there’s a whole heap of criteria that you have to match. And I had to do things like go and discover my school reports from very long time ago, because I’m old. And bring those in so that there was evidence that was actually existing as a child, but just wasn’t picked up all of those sorts of things. So I certainly never thought I’d have to look at those again. Yeah,

Nic

That sounds like quite a journey.

Di

Yes, it was, but it was, it was extremely freeing. When I actually did get diagnosed. It was one of those things where this is going to sound a little bit sad. But for most of my life, I knew that I wasn’t living up to my potential. And I would get extraordinarily frustrated with myself because of that, like, why am I like this, why other people would be able to do things without, you know, procrastinating, or getting distracted or wasting time or you know, not self sabotaging all of those sorts of things. So the diagnosis has been an incredibly good thing for me. And it’s not always a great thing to put yourself in ¬†boxes. But sometimes it can be a very good thing when it helps you to understand yourself.

Nic

Thank you. What would you say your greatest barrier is when you’re on the web?

Di

Okay, so when I’m on the web, my greatest barrier and also possibly just my pet peeve, are things that automatically move because things like automatic playing videos, automatic sound, especially automatic moving carousels. I, I am a web developer myself and I hate carousels with a passion. But I hated those well, before I am, because I would react to them is one of two things, I will either go, Ah, stop, stop, stop it, and just try to get it to stop straightaway. Or I will just dive into a rabbit hole and forget what I’m actually on therefore, and just sit there going, Okay, what’s coming up next, oh, blah, blah, blah. I don’t think either of those are the intended result. And so, it basically it just absolutely drives me insane and can completely waste my time and completely distract me from the purpose of the reason I’m there. And it just makes me hate that. I will not go back to that website again, if I know that it exists like that. It just No. No, they are horrible things.

Nic

Yeah. There’s so many people that dislike the experience as an end user. And yet designers and stakeholders appear to really love carousels and moving things. And I don’t know where the dichotomy is, where it comes from that so many people that create things love them, and so many people who actually use them hate them. It’s it’s an interesting thing.

Di

Well, I’ve always got a little bit of a philosophy about these things is, do you know why you’re actually putting this there. So when it comes to carousels, for example, there’s a whole heap of evidence out there that people have things like banner blindness, and completely ignore things during carousels, the interaction with carousels goes down from something like 80% on the first image, down to 20%, on the second image, things like that, so they don’t even work. So quite often, what they used for is just to get a tick off for marketing people saying, yes, we’re putting your stuff right at the very top. So be happy that we’re giving you this priority, but they’re not actually. So I think, you know, with things like your, your automatic playing videos, or the especially background videos, I hate background videos, because you generally can’t stop them. I can understand for things that you can stop. But you shouldn’t be automatically playing them anyway, you should be giving people not letting them know that a video there if they want to watch it, but you shouldn’t be automatically playing it because that’s really you’re infringing on their rights in a way. Yeah, just saying, I’ve decided that you need to have this. And whether you want it or not, is irrelevant to me. And I think you know, there are very few rare cases where that might be appropriate. So if, for example, you are, I believe the Sydney Opera House has a background image that they use. And given that their art community and things like that, maybe that’s appropriate. But I still would vastly prefer if it was something that I could just stop. But I think in most cases, people just don’t think about what is the purpose of this? Because if the only purpose is that somebody thinks that looks cool, that actually doesn’t have a purpose at all?

Nic

Yes.

Di

It’s kind of the contrary. So what are you trying to achieve with any of the things that you put on your website. And if you actually put it into, if you have an understanding about the purpose of the things on your website, you’ll have a much cleaner website, and ones that people want to actually interact with. And once which you could at least, do some analysis to see if your purpose is being met, where at the moment people just find a shove stuff up there and go, Oh, I think it looks pretty. That’s nice.

Nic

So what would you have as one message for designers or developers around accessibility? Is this around this concept that you were just talking about to find the purpose of what you’re doing what you’re putting there, or is there something else you think is more critical?

Di

Oh, the thing that I think is more critical is understanding that being accessible or especially not being accessible, is going to cost your business. One in five people have some sort of accessibility issue as you would know. And that means that you are… basically, if you’re not trying to be accessible on your website, that you are cutting off, accessibility or actionability to 20% of the people, I don’t know any business that can afford to say, we don’t want to 20 of our customers. And I think that’s something that a lot of companies don’t quite grasp that there’s a massive business cost in not being accessible. And they tend to go on I’m sure that other people out there who have been web developers have people say things to them, like, Oh, we don’t have blind people come to our site. Yes, you do. That we have people with cognitive issues come to your site, you have people with arthritis come to your site, you have the people who have color blindness come to your site, you have all these other people and, and often for people who have got physical impairments, the web is their escape into the world and the chance to actually really interact with the world. And to make it more difficult than it needs to be for them. It’s just, it’s really shitty. It’s a shitty thing to do. And it doesn’t reflect well on you.

Nic

Fantastic.

Di

But yes, that’s, that’s my main thing. There’s a business cost to being non accessible, and it’s a big one.

Nic

Then thank you so much for your insights. And I’m sure I’ll see you on the web somewhere.

Di

Thank you so much, Nic.