As a technology-driven company, PayPal strives to promote the best development and design practices across our organization. One of the disciplines we have been especially proactive in fostering is accessibility. Making our products accessible to as many people as possible makes sense, not only from a business point of view, but also supports our goals to deliver high quality products our customers love.
The PayPal Accessibility Team works closely with product teams to make sure they are delivering the best accessible user experiences possible.
While the need for creating accessible products is understood by product managers, designers, and developers, most of them do not have experience working with people with disabilities that use our products.
The PayPal Accessibility Team created the Accessibility Showcase where employees get a chance to experience, first-hand, what it is like to use our products by simulating the experience of people with disabilities. Some of the simulations visitors experience are:
- Low vision conditions: Visitors wear goggles that are hard to see through and then share their experience and the strategies they would use to remedy a problem. As visitors navigate a site, they better understand the importance of design choices that affect readability such as size, and color contrast for content, and the coding practices that enable resizing and zoom in the browser and assistive technology such as screen enlargers.
- Experience of a blind user: We turn off the monitor and ask participants to navigate a Web page using a screen reader. This experience reinforces the importance of the non-visual metadata and page structure such as labels for form fields, alt attributes for images, and the use of HTML headings. Since a blind user does not use a mouse, this simulation also emphasizes the importance of keyboard navigation principles
- Limited use of arms:, Participants are asked to type their name using their nose as an input device. This simulation shows that technology should be agnostic of the input device the user may be relying on to interact with the computer.
Since the official launch of the Accessibility Showcase as part of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, on May 9, 2013, over 170 PayPal designers, developers and product managers have experienced first-hand what it feels like to browse the Internet as a user with a visual or physical disability. Surveys and visitors’ feedback indicate the experience has changed the way they think about accessibility and the importance of creating products that work for everyone.
Check out the video below to learn more about the Accessibility Showcase and how it works!