Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Do We Teach Design for Everyone?

Summer is a time for me to think about how I want to teach better in the next school year. I’m always looking for ideas about this and recently came across this post about Designing Games for Everyone at Microsoft. Now I’ve been thinking about this for a while as part of my involvement with the K12 Computer Science Framework (see as this issue is a big one for us. It’s being covered in the principles section.

I’ve been thinking about how I teach this in my courses. Of course when we talk about web design and HTML I make a big thing about using the alt tag for images. I talk about why that is so important. And several places in my freshmen course we talk about color choices. Many students have no idea about various color blindness unless we talk about it in class.

I’ve thought about a unit on accessibility but at the same time I wonder if teaching it in context, integrated with other discussions, might not be the best way to do it.

While I’m thinking about this accessibility (dealing with people who have different abilities) is not the only thing to talk about when discussing designing for everyone. There are also cultural issues. Race, color, national origin, and more. This shows up in little things that can mean a lot. For example a shortage of female emojis. (See Google proposes new set of female emojis to promote equality ) Why were they not their from the beginning? Now isn’t that an interesting topic for discussion!

We need our students to think about these things and more. Inclusivity has to be designed in to our software. It can’t be an add on for later. Teachers need to help students see this before they develop bad habits. Doing this better is a goal for me for next year. I’m looking for resources over the summer. Suggestions anyone?

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