Accessibility by design

May 15, 2020

Create fully accessible apps

Have you ever thought how you deliver a digital service or indeed any service that is accessible to as many children and young people as possible? Here at Mind Of My Own our ambition is for all children’s voices to be heard and we carefully co-produce all our apps with children and young people across a range of services. Our apps are used to support children’s wellbeing and give them a digital way to safeguard themselves. We believe that every child is able to have a say, so we create fully accessible apps that provide a unique digital solution to help them do just that.

Design for user need

We always start at the beginning of any development with user need. Nothing should be designed or built unless it is answering a known user need. To work out user need we do primary and secondary research, analyse data and interact with our users. Every single change we make to our apps follows this process.

One app has taken five years in the making and has been co-produced and tested with many thousands of young people. We design with evidence – evidence of user need and evidence of user behaviours should always guide decision making, never pet theories, hunches, or subjective views (in our case those of adults).

Rolling programme of co-production

All too often the same groups of young people are ‘consulted’ for their views. This is not how to not create accessibility. The users of a product or service should be actively involved in its design and implementation. This includes users of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

We have a rolling programme of co-production with young people and the process we use can involve designing, prototyping, digital testing and copy writing/editing. Every time it kicks up some surprises – things we would never have dreamed of.

Like when we re-wrote the One app and thought we got the sign up part just right. I tested it with three young people in London and every single one was confused as to whether ‘name’ meant first name or surname or both. We had fallen at the first hurdle.

Iterate, then iterate some more

The best way to build good apps and indeed good services is to start small and iterate constantly. It reduces risk, making big failures unlikely and turning small failures into positive learning for us all like this example.

Accessible design is good design

Everything we build should be as inclusive, usable and readable as possible. We always keep in mind that the people who need Mind Of My Own apps the most may be the ones with the biggest challenges to accessing them.

We embrace the fact that all children and young people are experts by experience and harness their energy every step of the way through our co-production approach to development which makes our apps as accessible as possible.