[community] is the COVID app accessible (accessibility features)

John W (personal) pickupwillis at gmail.com
Fri Aug 14 21:32:56 UTC 2020

Thanks everyone for this fascinating and highly informative thread!

As a service designer I am continually challenged by the dynamics of
prototyping vs piloting. To Jutta's point, as inclusive designers we should
be prototyping in a way that generates more and more options for stretching
our design to the edges - to what is actually needed by those who have the
MOST difficulty using our design, rather than settling for what those who
find it easiest want.

And to Mark's point, our research with  individuals on social assistance in
Ontario demonstrates taht affordability is a key factor for digital
services channels - as we know, many low-income folks have some digital
access but many do not.  And those that do rarely have the latest  OS or
device. Affordability is paired with availability, to account for lack of
broadband in many communities  in Canada still.

So count affordability as a leaf in Jutta's inclusive design mapping tool
(see 'tornado' post) - along with (for people on on ODSP) adaptability
(i.e. accessibility), how well the channel filters relevant information
(responsive), easy to use or matching one's habits (aka convenience in
Morville's UX model) and convivial (connecting me to others). Note we
identified these as requirements for selecting a service channel - between
website, mobile app, phone, automated phone, text message, and in-person

So we can easily imagine taking all of these dimensions and prototyping
service channels as Jutta has described.

But to move from prototype to pilot and on to implementation, we must also
add sustainable, mustn't we? WCAG recognizes this - it's not good giving
users a prototype service, we need to give the the actual service. In
social services, we are moving to a prototyping approach to ensure there
are multiple rounds of learning before moving anywhere near an MVP / pilot
project -- but we still do  need to get there eventually.

One upshot of this is that we have to prototype and design new business
models that can sustain the inclusive product or service.  And, moreover,
we need business models and platforms that allow for continuous
improvement, so that we can keep stretching our design as new needs -- or
new understanding of needs, or new advocating voices for needs -- emerge.

I realize that I am going through this logic rather pedantically.. But only
to loop back and refresh the question that sparked this thread *- what
exactly would we do differently if we were developing the COVID Alert app?
What could we do differently next time?*

- Were the design objectives insufficient - ie. did they overlook inclusion
or mis-characterize its dimensions (e.g. afordability, adaptability)?
- did they not prototype sufficiently to stretch the design far enough?
- did they err in having private-sector firms provide the platform?This
brings other stakeholder needs into play as well as potentially
pre-ordaining a narrow range of technical options
- did they over-value privacy requirements? did they overvalue technical
- did they select the wrong features for the MVP?
- Or, my top pick as it is very common in service design - did they not set
the problem statement as one of designing a service for the most vulnerable
population, and instead tframe  it in terms of traditional product design?

Any of these (and other factors, of course) could help to explain the
outcome - an app that is apparently quite sophisticated as far as core
functions go, but which has important lilmitations with respect to leaving
out people who could most benefit from it.

I am honestly grappling these days with how we both use inclusive design
right from the get-go and at the same time transition from prototyping to
landed, market-ready, services. My work is in public services so the
requirement to meet vulnerable people's needs is theoretically baked-in --
and yet, we just saw the feds do a good technical job but show some flaws
on the inclusion front. How?

Thanks everyone!

it is really bothering me that while I totally agree with Jutta that
inclusive designers must push back against the culture of competition that
has taken hold in our broader disciipline - we are still selecting designs
to be sustainable on platforms in

But I would like to know more from people on this thread about actually
selecting a design, which does require consideration of tradeoffs. In our
community, we do not recognize cost as a be-all, end-all consideration
because if it competes with inclusion, it will undermine the design (again,
as Jutta said in this thread).

 the case of

affordability is
IDRC's work
By way of restating the initial question, and taking into account what has
been said:


On Thu, Aug 13, 2020 at 5:26 PM Mark Weiler <mweiler at alumni.sfu.ca> wrote:

> I think this raises an important and long overdue question.  When
> designing web content for Canadians, do our governments even know what
> platforms, browsers, and assistive technologies that web content must be
> compatible with, if it is to be accessible?
> This is the 4th of five conformance requirement of WCAG 2.x (called
> 'accessibility supported') and the WCAG authors are very clear that this
> requires broad discussion:
> "This is a complex topic and one that varies both by environment and by
> language. There is a need for an external and international dialogue on
> this topic.... The [WCAG] Working Group encourages more discussion of this
> topic in the general forum of society since this lack of generally
> available yet robust assistive technologies is a problem that affects
> users, technology developers and authors negatively."
> Are we ourselves asking our governments to ask this question?
>    On Friday, August 7, 2020, 1:07:46 a.m. EDT, Cybele S <
> cybele.sack at gmail.com> wrote:
>  Hello all:
> I found this notice about the accessibility features of the new COVID app
> in Mike Gifford's newsletter:
> https://digital.canada.ca/2020/07/31/continuously-improving-covid-alert/?utm_source=Accessibility&utm_campaign=003bc4a1c8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_23_01_42_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e836043476-003bc4a1c8-458189301&ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_10_28_2019_13_16_COPY_01)&mc_cid=003bc4a1c8&mc_eid=81f7501ed9
> Does this go far enough to address questions about accessibility for the
> COVID app?
> Are all the accessibility questions about the app as technical as this
> document appears to be?  Or are some of the questions more political?  Or
> economic?
> For example:
> Many (including John Willis and the CCLA) have raised questions about
> whether the app is accessible to those who don't have the latest
> smartphones and the demographics who are especially under-represented in
> that functionality.
> There are other outstanding questions about the app.  What are yours?
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*John D. Willis | CE CAIP MDes*
Design & Innovation in Public Services
Toronto CANADA

Garbled text? My apologies - speech-to-text technology is still a work in

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