Category: User Interface Design

What the Popularity of Closed Captions Tells Us About the Value of  Making Accomodations

Twenty years ago when I was leading web production teams, we had to ensure our sites were compatible for people with slower browsers, screen readers and any other accommodations. At the time, I remember feeling like this was far too much effort for a relatively small population. Eventually I realized the problem with this mindset and began to understand how many people are left behind when technology is not accessible.

In the WSJ this week, there was a feature story about how closed captions (once seen solely as an accommodation for the hearing impaired) are hugely popular among multitasking young people who prefer to leave them on for all videos. The story is a great reminder for us all that making things more accessible doesn’t only benefit those who have a disability. When you take the time to create something that is accessible by those who need the most help, you often end up creating a better experience for everyone.

Why I Will Never Buy a Macbook

I am a writer, so my keyboard is pretty important to me. It’s the reason why my computer of choice for the past two decades has consistently been a Lenovo Thinkpad. They have the best keyboards.

Clive Thompson is a journalist I have admired and read often – but his sadistic laptop choices baffled me. He recently estimated that he typed “22 million keystrokes on Apple’s horrid butterfly keyboard.” Yet he describes how he stuck with using a Macbook for years despite it’s painful user experience. This strikes me as a perfect example of our dysfunctional relationship with expensive things. Pricey shoes, cars, furniture, food and much more are often terribly uncomfortable to use or consume … but we buy them anyway and invite the suffering.

It’s time to stop doing that. Embrace the comfortable clothes you got used to when working from home. If you have the budget, upgrade your laptop and donate your old one to someone who can’t afford to do the same. And at the very least, upgrade your keyboard. Life’s too short to wear uncomfortable shoes and use a crap keyboard. Especially if you spend a lot of time writing … or any time walking.