Curt  Holst 

Traditionally accessibility is considered a component of usability focusing on people with disabilities, but is often not seen as a powerful opportunity to innovate.

Building upon the work of The Paciello Group and Microsoft, Curt talks about how Barclays utilises Inclusive Design principles to support its aim of becoming the most inclusive bank in the FTSE100.

How Accessibility can improve UX for everyone

Done well, accessibility brings a multitude of benefits – from improved customer experience and reach, to more engaged and productive colleagues, whilst bolstering brand and mitigating risks. However, many businesses still do not pay attention to this topic, despite accessibility becoming increasingly relevant in a growing digital landscape. 

Curt Holst, Senior Digital Accessibility Consultant at Barclays will provide some insights and learnings on:

  • The journey Barclays has been on to re-imagine what accessibility is and why it matters
  • How Barclays are re-framing accessibility as a commercial opportunity
  • The crossover between accessibility and UX
  • How innovation related to assistive technology often crosses over into the mainstream.
  • Inclusive Design Principles and how these can be applied to product and service design.
  • How good UX has enormous benefits for people with disabilities 

Hi, everybody, and,

yeah, thanks for coming.

Yeah, I think Francis was saying

I have forgotten all about

accessibility than most people.

Even the talk today with Jared was

really informative and given me ways to

think about how we can implement

accessibility and make it infused.

Throughout my talk I will talk more about

embedding accessibility but I think the

term infused is a really good one.

So I guess to talk about accessibility and

the user experience.

If you ever tried to use a mobile phone on

a moving train or watch a video in a

noisy office chances are your user experience will

be influenced about whether it was designed with

accessibility in mind.


Accessibility is often associated with

people with disability and that's vital given

the number of people that we might otherwise exclude.

One in five people generally have

some form of disability.

And we know that the disposable income of

people with disabilities which is often referred to

as the purple pound is in the region of

about one trillion dollars.

So it's not a small market.

However, if we design for difference,

we also accommodate people in situational and

temporary situations where they might be

impaired by the situation that they're in.

So imagine if somebody, how would somebody use a

mobile device if they're vision impaired?

And how would somebody use the device in the

same way if they were in bright sunlight or

somewhere where the visibility was poor.


How would somebody use a slider on

an app as opposed if they had a mobility

impairment as opposed to somebody else

who would try to do that if they were

holding a baby in one arm and

trying to juggle the phone using one hand so

thinking about accessibility saves time,

money, energy and if we consider it early,

provides a much greater user experience so

obviously we're talking about

user experience here now.

One of the slides I've got here is

Peter M.'s factors of user experience.

The seven factors of user experience.

So we can see throughout obviously,

if it's useful, if it has a use and

performs a purpose, the user experience

would be a good one.

If it's usable so if I can easily

get to the information,

if I try to get to that information then

my experience of that service is

improved also if I try to find that

information is it easy to find the

application or service and is it easy to

find information within that that

will improve my user experience.


And of course if I get to that information is it

something I can trust is the information

credible and does it improve or

provide value for me as a user?

And then of course there is one element of

desirability that's also quite useful.

Sort of gives bragging rights I got a

cool app I can brag to my friends about it and

that often makes the experience a lot better.

Now last but not least is accessibility.

Accessibility means ensuring that our

systems are usable for everyone.

Especially for people with disabilities.

And if it's done well it provides a

better experience overall.

Unfortunately a lot of companies don't

see accessibility as important.


if you look at the seven factors,

normally accessibility is one that get lost in the

mix somewhere and I think some of the

discussions we had and especially in

UX you have user experience sessions or

user testing but quite often there's not

an element of somebody with some form of

disability that is included within those testing sessions.

Now one of the reasons that happen is

because companies might see it as it's not

worth spending the money on accessibility

because of the low numbers of people who

have a disability statistically speaking.

However, when we think about it and

as I said one related, 20% of your market,

and that's not a small amount.


And also, if we design for accessibility we

improve the experience for all.

Because of the way it makes us think

about how we design things.

One thing we also have to bear in mind is

that accessibility is a legal requirement in many jurisdiction.

So if we aren't compliant,

we are likely to face fines,

however what we find is it is not

enforced as well as it should be.

So when we talk about changing the

mindset of an organization,

probably when you talk about legal

compliance it's probably not the place to start.

If you wanted to make people or

reframe how you talk about accessibility in a

way that it's not something that you have to do,

you know, because it's a legal requirement.

But it's getting people to think about it

differently so that they want to do it.


So we embarked on bit of an exercise to

try and find ways in which we could

talk about accessibility differently.

And we came across the Microsoft

inclusive design toolkit which sort of

pointed us in the right direction in

making us think about disability or

accessibility slightly differently so when you

think about accessibility it's not only to

do with people with disabilities.

We are all disabled in certain circumstances or

contexts and what we have to realize is that

accessibility is about people.

So we have varying scales of ability in how we

can access things and when we consider all of

those things including people with disabilities,

we create a better user experience.


So the our mission at the time was to

look at how we could reframe accessibility

in a way using the concepts that we

learned from the Microsoft inclusive design toolkit.

So what I'm going to do is go into more

detail about how we can look at or

see accessibility differently or

disability differently and go into the

aspect of how we're trying to

integrate that throughout our organization.

So the World Health Organization's definition of

disability is a mismatch between the inter in

the interaction between the features of a

person's body and the features of the

environment in which they live.

So if we look at that,

it's our responsibility to be able to look at

our interactions that we are

creating and to be able to study the

mismatches that are occurring.


And at those points of exclusion,

that's normally the place where

you're likely to find innovation.

So when we look at accessibility or

disability as something that is context or

circumstantial, so it depends on what you're

in as opposed to a personal attribute

then we start to think inclusively.


What I'd like to do is go into that a bit more

to talk about how we can do things differently.

So there are three types of impairment groups

that we are talking about here.

The first we need to design for are

impairment groups where the

impairment is permanent.

So in the example we've got here we

have somebody with a disability throughout their life.

An example we got here is someone with

a lower arm amputation.

The second one is somebody with a

temporary impairment.

This is something that can affect somebody

between 6 and 12 months and normally classed as an injury.


And in the example here,

we have somebody here with a broken arm.

And then the third is situational impairments.

So when we talk about situational impairments

we're talking about a situation where it

makes it difficult or impossible to

complete a task due to the

situation that you're in.

So the example that we got here is a

mother holding a baby in one arm,

in a dominant arm so it makes the

other arm the one that she has to

try and use so this one becomes

incapacitated because she's holding the

baby and that's the situation that we're in.


With all three of these it's pretty much the same requirement.

If we're designing for somebody with a

lower arm amputation we're helping

somebody with a broken arm.

And we're also helping somebody who

may be in a situation where they can only use one arm.

So thinking about accessibility in that way

might make you think about the way you

design things a bit differently.

So these are just a few more examples from

the inclusive design toolkit.

And we've covered the first one so

the second one is to do with vision.

So if we create or at least have requirements for

someone with a vision impairment,

we are helping somebody who may have

cataracts or it might benefit somebody who

is a distracted driver.

It can be designed for people with hearing

impairments and we also help people who

may have an ear infection or

somebody in a noisy environment.


And lastly if we design or consider the

requirements for somebody who finds it

difficult to communicate via speech.

We also are factoring in or helping people who

have say, laryngitis or somebody who

communicates with a strong accent.

So it's looking at accessibility in that way.

Is a good idea and if you look at disability and

accessibility assistive technology as we refer to it,

so things that help us overcome experiences that

didn't meet our requirements so that's what we

find with a lot of assistive technology.

So people who adapt to situations that don't meet their needs.

Some examples here are say,

the typewriter which was invented in

1800 to help the inventor's sister

communicate or to be able to write.

So and we find nowadays it's basically the

standard format in the way we communicate using text.


So what we finds is that assistive technology

provides indicators of communication going

forward so if we understand the adaptions that

people with disabilities make to try to

overcome certain situations it might point us

in the right direction to look at way to

innovate and maybe try something different when

we come to design and then moving onto

today we have predictive text which was

originally developed for people to

help people with cognitive impairments or

therapy impairments be able to complete words

without having to know the spelling of things and

so on and that's ubiquitous now.

When you're typing, often,

it's quite frustrating when you've

written something and it says,

that wasn't what I meant to say but

it's something that has really helped

people and has helped everybody not the

just the people it was originally built for.


And moving on we have voice recognition which

was developed in the 1950s to

help people with mobility impairments control

computer systems and now we have

conversational interfaces like Siri and

Alexa where we can just talk to something and

it'll do and it that's like, wow, you know,

but that's been in place for people with

disabilities since the 1950s.

So just going back to the seven factors of

user experience.

We can see in this example we have

two tools that do the same job.

One might be accessible.

You can use it.

You can peel a potato.

But the other one provides a much greater user

experience so what we're saying is that

you need to include accessibility as part of

the entire user experience studies that you

would do when you are designing something so

it shouldn't be left as an afterthought or

considered at the end of a project or something.


So the earlier you consider accessibility the

better it's going to be so you factored in those things.

You looked at the cases and it's informed how

you improve your design.

So moving onto Barclays so we've

got all this wonderful information.

We've refrain ed how we think about accessibility.  

But our mission was then to

communicate this to our colleagues and to

embark on a culture of change within the organization.

And I know that Jared was talking about it today.

Just saying like, when you said it's going to take,

what, 17 years I think it was.

We're only five years into it so we still got 11 years to go.

We're trying our best and what I'm going to

talk about is ways that we can try to get

people to basically a conscious competence as Jared was saying.

So obviously the focus is to move our colleagues from,

say, a must do compliance thing to

an opportunity driven want to way of thinking.


One of the first things we have to

do is to find exactly what accessibility means at Barclays.

There's often some confusion about

accessibility when you're talking technical terms so

I will say, well, is it to do with access

management or resilience or

something like that and we have to say, no,

this is to do with making systems better for

people with disabilities.

And then our definition eventually became to

try to make it as simple as possible.

It's at Barclays accessibility means

ensuring everyone can use our products and

services or be employed by us.

So that is a bold statement and it sort of

ties in with our ambition to become a successful company.

Bold ambition.

That we need something simple when it come to accessibility.

What we find with a lot of the projects that

we deal with, they'll always be looking for

exceptions so I'll say, oh, you know,

and Jared even mentioned it the mythical next release.


This is an accessibility problem and needs to be fixed.

It's about eliminating the opportunity for exceptions.

So it's all good and well having all of this.

But then what do we do to get people to

start thinking about accessibility differently?

We know that most of our colleagues,

when we talk to them, they want to do the right thing.

But what you'll find especially within

Barclays it's a highly focused and delivery focused organization.

So when you talk about accessibility it's like oh,

you're giving me another requirement now.

So it's about getting the mindset to change and

we know that our colleagues want to

do the right thing but I think we have to

do a better job in communicating that and

making it real for them.

So there are a lot of the things I will be

talking about is what we are in the

process of doing it the moment to

try to change their thinking.

So our approach was to do three

strategies if you want to call it that.

The first thing was to get people to,

you know, feel differently about accessibility.


So it's about inspiring them,

creating empathy, with people with

disabilities and understanding the impact that

inaccessible systems have on individuals.

Second is about enabling hands or

at least educating heads.

This is about removing many of the

misconceptions that people have

relating to accessibility.

And I'll go into that in more detail.

I think it's that misconceptions that

people have that hold back things quite often.

And then lastly it's about enabling

hands so if you've got people to

start feeling differently to start thinking

differently we need to get them to

start acting differently.

So providing the tools and the resources to

get them to a point of conscious competence.

So firstly inspiring hearts.


So we have to do there are a number of

things we have done and I will go into a

couple examples in a minute but we want to

get empathy for people with disabilities to

get them to understand the impact of, say,

poor design, on somebody with a vision impairment,

say, low contrast on somebody who has

vision impairments, dyslexia and

all those kinds of things to get them to

start thinking about and say,

few design this will it impact that

particular group of users?

So one thing that we did was run empathy labs.

And as empathy is a common approach and

I know Jared was saying that, you know,

empathy is only the best way to

generate empathy is to actually spend time with

people to understand their requirements,

and then to observe what they do in their everyday lives.


However, with an organization as large as

Barclays that's not always possible.

I think if we can get people to go to

one of those session as much as possible it's

likely to make a change and

we have engaged senior executives.

We ran a session a couple years ago called

living in our customer's world and we got all of

our senior execs in and we got them to

speak to people with disabilities to

actually discuss with them some of the

issues they were having with our services and

it had an amazing impact.

We've done sessions with designers but

those things we can only do on an ad hoc basis so

having something consistent and

scaleable we have to start thinking in

different way to empathy labs work really well for that.


What we do is set up a session.

We have various simulation kits so we've got

some simulation gloves that mimic arthritis,

we got glasses that will give you an idea of

how various vision impairments will

affect somebody and we have augmented

reality apps that you can use through

Google Cardboard to see how someone with

color blindness views the world and we are

working on a VR environment to

give users the empathy of trying to

navigate a branch if you have a vision impairment.

This is something we're trying to scale up a

lot more and we found this to be fairly successful and

we get people to come throughout the day and

have a look at the tools we've been providing and

the point is not to is the concern that empathy or

at least simulations don't really come

across as the real experience that

somebody with a disability has.


But it's more to get designers and developers to

start thinking differently about accessibility and to

basically understand the impact of what they're doing.

And then maybe explore a bit more various so

maybe going to a user testing session to

see people actually using their systems and

struggling with them if that's the case.

So one of the things and I know that

Jared talked about this.

It's to get people to think, to have a

light bulb moment to say, oh,

I didn't realize that was an issue that

somebody had I might be able to

do something about that.

So we have the portals that give us

insights into how certain people, colleagues,

customers, with disabilities, experience the

services that we have on a day-to-day

basis so the next thing is, educating heads.

Now I'm sure if you are in accessibility you'll

have heard these many times so I'll read through them.


Users don't complain about accessibility we

must be doing okay.

These are the kind of misconceptions that we

hear a lot from people who don't who

aren't educated in accessibility.

They'll say I'm not a developer,

accessibility is not my job.

Accessible sites and apps are boring.

I know we hear that from designers and

we'll come to that in a bit.

Few people benefit from accessibility.

And then accessibility's expensive.

We created a number of videos and

these are available on YouTube as well.

And we also created posters that we

could put up around the place but basically it's

trying to dispel some of those myths that people have.

So if we look at the first one, say,

users don't complain, what we find is

about 10% of users will complain.

And 99 90% of them will click away.


It's called the click away pound.

We could be losing about 12 billion pound from

people leaving us and going to

different services because they're more accessible.

People with disabilities will think it's often their

fault that something's not working so they'll say,

can somebody help me with this or

they'll find something that works a bit better.

So in terms of complaints it's not always the

best gauge when we talk about accessibility.

Second one is accessibility's not my job.

Now as Jared said I think it's everybody's job.

You may have people at different points of

maturity look within an organization but it's

getting people to understand it's their job as well.


As a senior exec you'll be going we need to

make sure this is accessible or I'm not letting this

go until it's accessible.

It's that kind of thinking.

The next thing is fixing accessibility's expensive.

It is expensive if you try to address accessibility at the end of a project.

If you consider accessibility early you factor in the requirements early on and then design based on those.

You save yourself a lot of money and you'll have a better product.

And then the market is just too small.

We have 12.9 million people with disabilities in the UK.

That's not a small amount of people and

that's broadening your customer base is always a good thing.

And then accessible design means boring design.

Now there are creative challenges sometimes.

When trying to incorporate accessibility into design.

However, our mantra has always been,

it should work well for those who need it and

be invisible to those who don't.

So once we dispelled some of those

misconceptions then we need and people are

brought in at an emotional level or and

then at an intellectual level then we need to

provide them with the tools to be able to

create accessible services.


So what we have is what we call accessibility

academy and that has a whole bunch of resources,

this is from training for different roles code

libraries for developers.


Facetoface training that people can go onto

improve their knowledge of accessibility.

Moving through the spectrum as

Jared would say so we get to the point

where we have some competence then

we have what we call lean accessibility controls.

We are now part of the governance process within Barclays.

So we can hold up a release.

So we are at a point where we can say,

this isn't going live because it's not accessible.

There are there's obviously some people who

still jump up and down about it but we

have the same seat at the table as everybody else.

So which is really positive and it has helped us.

It's a bit stick but hopefully all the other things we

can do will encourage people to start thinking a bit

differently but it has had tremendous impact in

the influence that we been able to have within Barclays.


Then we also provide design libraries and patents.

We've been doing a lot of work on

tying in things like our brand.

Our style guide and our component libraries to

ensure developers, designers and all the

various people within a project have the

right tools and we're confident to say, yes,

you can use that component because it's

been accessibility approved, it's meets our

style requirements and it meets our

brand requirements so we provide all that to

the teams and we're still in the process of

trying to encourage them to use it as much as

we want them to but we're sort of in a

transition at a moment so it's a positive step and

sort of focus on one of the resources that we

do give people is the inclusive design principles.

Now this was developed by the group and we have modified it.

The first is to provide a comparable experience.

That's giving it doesn't have to be an

identical experience but it should be similar in

quality to anybody else if you are trying to

access any kind of service.

Then about giving control.


So regardless of how you want to interact with a

digital service, you should be able to do that.

It should be flexible enough to be able to

do that in terms of design.

Offer choice.

Another example here.

You can either have, if from a design point of

view you can have a grid or you can have a list,

or you provide different options like in iOS where you

can select edit it gives you options where you

can select emails and delete them or

you can just swipe across and delete the email.

So you're giving the user various options of

interaction and that's always useful because not

everybody's going to follow a single path when you

are interacting with things.

Then consider the situation.

So if you're in bright sunlight can I see

what's going on and that's probably what we

have because our brand is washed out and

trying to get to start thinking maybe we need to

make things a bit darker.

Provide an inverse color scheme is

something we need to consider.


And obviously making sure our behaviours in

our design, the way interactions work is

consistent with standard interaction methods and

then of course adding value.

If you provide new features they should add value to

the users so one other thing we do provide as a

resource is diverse personas.

We got a few left on our standard downstairs.

Our personas are commonly used in design,

but there aren't many that deal with

people with d disabilities.

So these personas and you can see from this

example here is someone who has dyslexia and

this gives us insight into the daily life.


So what daily likes and dislikes are.

Some of the challenges they have.

So it gives designers an insight so they can

have a look at it and say, maybe,

I can think of my design differently because it may

affect somebody like Maya and then one other

thing we're working on at the moment is

trying to get our designers and because we've

got all the resources, we've got accessible

components and design elements.

What we're trying to encourage them to

do is annotate the designs as much as possible.

So when it gets to the developer then okay,

I have to use that component.

This is what I'm expecting in terms of

accessibility behaviour so it's a

screen reader announcement,

I know exactly what I need to code in to

get it to do that.

It's about integrating and infusing

accessibility as much as possible.

And then of course user testing.


I know that Jared focused on this a lot.

We always encourage teams to do user testing.

It's always the best way is sitting with

people and experiencing what they're experiencing.

That's when the light bulling light bulb moments happen.  

You'll go to user groups and they'll say oh,

it's so terrible and they have to do something

about that and when you come back they're

always more passionate about accessibility because it's,

I think it's lack of awareness more than

anything else if you don't understand the

issues somebody is having and

when you see it actually happening it has a

much greater impact and just an

example here is we have our devices.

So originally they were designed as

little devices with little buttons and screens and

we found our customers has issues with

that so we went through a number of

iterations doing user testing on each of

them and finally came to one a larger screen and

it has audio output and all sorts of things.


That was a good exercise.

Some of our achievements.

One thing we managed to integrate a

lot of the principles I've been talking about is in

our mobile banking app.

What we did originally was we got an

assigned project manager and it was

his objective to ensure we got the app to

where it was accessibility compliant.


We got our trainees in to understand accessibility a

lot better and how they could code it up.

We also got external consultants in to do

user testing sessions and also expert reviews of the application.

And then we also did external user testing sessions

where we got a range of people with disabilities and

tested the app and all of the feedback from all of

those sessions was incorporated into

what's referred to as an accreditation list and

that was worked out to get it fixed and

then once that was fixed it received accreditation and

we've had amazing feedback on that.

I'll just read this out so the Barclays

application have improved vastly.

When you go to pay someone you can type the

first two letters of the person you want to pay and

it goes straight to that person.

It becomes very immediate.

Rather than using a lot of text.

It is more concise and allows you to

do what you want to do immediately.


I was surprised to realize that I've been able to

do everything I wanted without a hitch.

The fact that I can view and manage my accounts,

make a call to customer services from inside the

app and clear security in one step,

find out about other products and

do all other things is a genuine pleasure.

Thank you.

So you can see that feedback and

this is from people with disabilities.

But if you actually look quite deeper into

those comments it's the kind of thing that any user would want.

So by improving those things for

people with disabilities,

immeasurably improved the application for everybody.

So high visibility debit cards and

there's some other examples as well.


These are cards you can customize so

you can take a photograph and

get it printed on your debit card.

So this sort of give IT manager or

the manager of digital accessibility to

say why don't we give high contrast to

read the numbers better?

That was the first step and now you

can customize your card.

And people with more severe vision impairments you

can get an arrow printed on so when you

take your card out of the wallet you can see

what direction it needs to go into the machine and

for people with severe vision impairments there's a

notch cut out the back of it so you can

feel which side the card needs to

go into the ATM.

Really good.

A small very simple thing but has

significant impact.

Then the ability to be able to make

payments using voice control.

That's been added to the

mobile make banking app.

Which is good for anybody.


It's good for anybody who has a vision impairment

where they don't have to interact with the

app but use their voice to control it and

say do this for me.

Now the B pay bands were not something specifically for

people with disabilities but we found it had an

amazing impact for those with disabilities.

 It is a bracelet with a chip in it.

And you can load a certain amount of money on

it but the intention was to get people to

be able to make payments a lot easier but

having something on your wrist but what we

found is it's useful for somebody who wants to

go out for a night and you put 30 quid on it,

and when it's gone it's gone.

It has enormous benefits for people in

vulnerable situations.

Where a carer can put a certain amount of

money on the card and you have the individual who

may be vulnerable to thieves or whatever.

It gives them some level of independence so

they can go out to make purchases and

if the band gets stolen it's only a small amount of

money that's gone.

So very useful.


And gives a bit of independence and

they contactless ATMs.

And this is something that because the

app has been accessibility accredited you

can go into it, set up a transaction,

just say if you use a speech reader on the phone,

we can set it up and say,

I want twenty pound and when you select go

it gives you thirty seconds, all you have to

do is go to the ATM, tap your phone on the

reader and it'll give you 30 pound without you

having to interact with the kiosk and of

course it's easy for any of us.

We set it up on the app it is good from a

security point of view.

It has enormous benefits for everybody.

So some of the learns based on what

I've been speaking about here.

So one of the things that we found is if you

consider accessibility early.

You include all the requirements.

You start to be able to recognize biases and

that might inform your design.


So things like user testing, empathy labs,

all that kind of stuff.

Then obviously considering accessibility has

enormous benefits because obviously it saves money.

It makes ensures that the product is

considers accessibility throughout its

process and we ensure that our products are

accessible before it goes out the door.

We also innovate from the edges.

So this is considering the edge cases.

Look at the requirements for somebody with a

disability might create innovation for all the users.

And then of course humanizing stories.

So it's about getting to a point where we

feel and empathize for people with disabilities.

It doesn't just become another requirement but

we try to help somebody here and if we

understand their stories and observe them we

may be able to get to a culture where

accessibility is considered as business as usual.

So in closing, I'd like to just list some of the

manifesto items of the recently released of

the accessibility manifesto.


The first thing is it's a creative challenge but

it's not a challenge to creativity it's an

important aspect of the requirements.

It's not a bolt on that we don't it's

not a checklist item.

It's something that's integrated as

intrinsic value to what we do.

And then of course it's about people.

And not technology.

Thank you very much.