Speaking to people within the community

Tonight I was invited to a monthly meet-up by the organisation Shared Approach, called the speak out group forum. This meet-up gives the local community the opportunity to talk about the latest news; changes, and express their opinions. It is aimed at people in the area who have a disability or learning difficulty.

Initially, I did plan to give a typical powerpoint presentation to the group before asking what websites they struggle using. I scrapped that idea. I realised that the audience I was about to present to didn’t want to be spoken at, they want to be spoken to and they want people to hear their opinions.

Below is a quick list of the main points which I picked out from tonight’s meet-up:

  • Out of 8 people, only 4 used a computer and only 2 used the computer to go online
  • Those who did go online liked the following websites: News websites; Sport websites; booking sites such as Trainline, and emails
  • Only 1 out of the 8 people used social networking websites
  • Most people in the room had never heard of social networking
  • Content on webpages, such as buttons, are too small to view
  • Too much happening on the screen
  • Forms are difficult to understand (mainly the wording of the questions)
  • Getting lost with the process of buying things, such as purchasing tickets online.
  • 15 – 20 % of the population have reading and language difficulties
  • Difficulty understanding what universal symbols mean
  • No one has offered a change – they don’t know any different because there isn’t a big opportunity for these people to learn how to use the internet and visit websites

Attending the speak out meet-up allowed me to talk too many lovely people; it also made me realise how big the gap is between website developers and people who have these difficulties. For my project I did plan to start concentrating on technology, I will still do this to begin building the main website; but, I also want to attend more meet-up’s like Speak Out and possibly volunteer with disability organisations so I can get to know the users I’m creating this site for much more.

Many thanks to Shared Approach and The Speak Out forum.

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