JL Sorak talks about dyslexia and how sites handle mistakes

JL tells us about sites that don’t make it easy to avoid mistakes, and don’t handle mistakes well, make it hard for folks who are dyslexic.



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Transcript

Nic

Hi, I’m Nic Steenhout. And you’re listening to the Accessibility Rules Soundbite, a series of short podcasts where people with disabilities explain their impairments, and what barriers they encounter on the web. Thanks to Tenon for sponsoring the transcript for this episode. Tenon provides accessibility as a service. They offer testing, training, and tooling to help fix accessibility fast. This week I’m speaking to Jean Luc Sorak. JL is a software engineer at Holiday Extras in Kent, United Kingdom. Thanks for talking to me. JL. How are you?

JL

Very good. Thanks. Yeah. Thank you for having me on.

Nic

My pleasure. So let me ask you what is your disability or your impairment?

JL

So I have dyslexia and dyspraxia they often come as a pair. Just in case anyone isn’t aware they’re both learning difficulties dyslexia, primarily affecting reading and writing. But also that coordination organization and memory and dyspraxia primarily affects motor coordination, but also articulation, perception, and thought. I kinda like to think of them as alternate thinking styles. And I think this just better describes how our brains work a little bit differently.

Nic

Yeah. One thing I’ve heard many people comment on is that people should not equate dyslexia with stupidity because you can’t have difficulty with the written word, but that does not affect your intellect. I assume you agree with that?

JL

Yeah, 100% there’s lots of positives from having dyslexia or something like dyspraxia, as well as coming with lots of difficulties. So definitely.

Nic

What is the greatest barrier you encounter on the web?

JL

So the greatest barrier for me is when applications can’t tolerate errors. So by errors, I mean mistakes, I tend to make more mistakes than a typical user. And I’ve relative difficulties with reading and avoid it at all costs. So often I don’t follow the instructions properly, which can probably lead me down the wrong path quite a lot of times. And the idea of tolerating errors can be a bit high level. And I’ve got an example if you want to hear it. Recent shopping experience.

Nic

Yes, yes, absolutely.

JL

So recently, I was I was making an order for something quite boring with some new blinds. And when it took my payment I was redirected to paypal. And when it finished to take payment, it came up with a big tick or something like that. And I didn’t bother reading the rest of the information on the page. So I just clicked off and presumed my payment had been taken around and I’d receive my order soon. But then three weeks ago ┬ánothing arrived. I looked into it. And it turns out there was a button on that page to return to the merchant to the main site that that I’d ordered from. So the order wasn’t actually completed. This is just an example of when that site didn’t tolerate that error. were more my order was just lost because I failed to complete an action and it was my mistake, but the site should be helping users to recover from those sorts of issues.

Nic

Yeah, there’s that old adage, you know, don’t make me think. And I think that’s probably… You didn’t finalize the process, but the developers and the designers did not make it easy for you or anybody else to actually finish the process.

JL

Yes, I really like that idea of not having to think because a lot of the time you have multiple things in your mind. You’re not focusing on that one action of taking payment on the site, you most of the time people are doing something else, whether that’s listening to the radio in the background or TV or talking someone else.

Nic

Now, you were talking about ordering blinds which can be perceived as fairly mundane, but has there been situation where an interface that did not tolerate mistakes caused more critical problems for you?

JL

Sometimes, like getting the delivery address wrong on orders, when you don’t realize and then it turns up at your old accommodation where you used to rent or something like that. And then you have a look in hindsight at the order and realize it’s gone to your old place. And by that time, it’s too late. That can be very frustrating. And there are ways interfaces to kind of deal with that situation and make it more clear.

Nic

Thank you. What message would you like designers and developers to remember about web accessibility?

JL

I’d like them to remember that mistakes will always occur no matter how clever their UI is, or however proud they are of what they’ve done. And it should always be possible for users to reverse those errors. And reversing those without penalty and without difficulty. Some really good examples are Gmail, when you send an email, it doesn’t actually send the email until a couple of seconds later. So you have the opportunity to undo that action. And then the thing in that email that you forgot to write about all the attachment that you forgot to send, and Amazon does it as well. With delivery addresses, you can change your delivery address, cancel the order before it’s been dispatched.

Nic

Yeah, that’s cool. Thank you. JL Sorak, thank you for sharing with us some of your experiences dealing with the web and encountering barriers related to your disability.

JL

You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me on.

Nic

Thank you.

JL

Hope to speak to you again soon. Thank you very much.

Nic

And that’s it for now. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this accessibility soundbite, please support the show https://patreon.com/steenhout