Trial of BBC accessibility tool, MyDisplay, launches
Guest blogger: Jonathan Hassell, Head of Usability & Accessibility, BBC Future Media & Technology
Back in February, we got a big response when we asked you to give us name suggestions for a new accessibility tool the BBC was developing. This Christmas, we're giving you the opportunity to try it and shape its future.
We have been working hard all year, trying to create one accessibility tool which will allow you to change the way every one of the BBC's 3million+ pages look.
It's been a real challenge to come up with something which lets the user get a personalised experience on everything from simple, text-heavy News archive pages from 10 years ago, all the way through to the much richer, more technologically complex pages on recent sites like iPlayer v3.
But we've finally managed to get the tool ready for a trial which launches today.
While the tool isn't perfect yet, it has user-tested really well with a sample of those people it intends to help: people with dyslexia, low-literacy, ADHD, Aspergers and limited vision. Feedback on the News redesign earlier in the year and the recent redesign of the Archers message-board has made it very clear that some people really need BBC sites their way, in the colours, structure and font that works for them. That feedback has also confirmed findings from the user-research for the tool that different groups can have very different (sometimes completely contradictory) ideas of what the best colours and fonts for BBC websites should be.
So we are now asking people in the tool's target audiences to try it out so that we can plan for its future. The BBC needs to know that enough people are going to use the tool to justify the cost of making sure all future designs and technologies on BBC Online work well with it. This is neither a simple nor inexpensive proposition.
We've called the new accessibility tool MyDisplay. While it wasn't any of the names you proposed in February, the MyDisplay team did take all your suggestions into account during the process.
Note that the name doesn't have BBC in front of it. As we're investigating potentially sharing the technology with non-BBC sites, we couldn't really call it BBC anything...
It's a good time for us to be trialling this tool, as it chimes with one of the suggestions in the new British Standard for Web Accessibility, BS8878, launched last week - that all websites should consider including such personalisation systems. While some sites do this at the moment, each tends to include different personalisation options, and users can't take their settings from one site to another.
If MyDisplay finds a large audience, and it proves possible to share it with other sites, the BBC could help change this in the future.
So, now's your chance to give My Display a shot. Go to bbc.co.uk/mydisplay, and get ready to use BBC Online your way.
We really welcome feedback, so when you've tried it out, please tell us whether we've created something which you'd use all the time to make BBC sites work better for you, or whether we've missed something you'd need from a tool like this.