The Big Hack by Scope
The Big Hack by Scope is working with the tech industry to break down barriers disabled people face, both online and in real life.
From the start, the project has been a collaborative effort between ourselves and Scope, facilitating a test and learn approach with constant communication, to create the best-possible end result.
The Big Hack has so far developed into a three-pronged approach: the Reporting Tool, which gathers disabled people's experiences, the Resource Hub (a collection of guides, articles and interviews to give context to the issues) and Business Case pages, focussing on the real-life, industry-specific benefits of maximising digital accessibility.
These elements work together to usher in a new, more inclusive, digital landscape.
- Client : The Big Hack by Scope
- Website : bighack.org
- Issues : Disability, Accessibility, Inclusive Design
- Services Offered : Strategy, Branding, Web Design, Web Development
The Original Challenge & Brief
The original aim for the Big Hack was to build a picture of how inclusive the current digital landscape is, leading to insights on what's working well and where the biggest problems lie, both at the industry and company level. Doing so would help pinpoint where change could have the biggest impact on people's lives, as well as highlight specific and quick wins for companies to implement. The best way to do this would be to gather qualitative and quantitive data from disabled users to back up Scope's recommendations, at a human/ethical level, but also at a pragmatic/financial level where possible.
One of the initial challenges was making a decision as to how much focus should be placed on gathering qualitative data vs quantitative data, with the awareness that if a survey was to become too complex/lengthy, it could limit the amounts of responses received. Whilst quantitative data would allow us to easily present statistics and trends to aid the business case for inclusivity, emotive stories and personal experiences garnered from qualitative responses would be vital in giving context to why this matters at the individual level.
The sweet spot was always going to be somewhere in the middle and, after a few iterations, we found that combining quantitative questions with optional qualitative follow up questions was sufficient; people were frequently leaving us long and personal stories that added real weight to the statistics.
As one of the target audiences for the Big Hack, creators, we are living proof that the idea of upskilling creators works! As a result of partnering with Scope and the Big Hack, and making sure that everything we created was built to the highest standards, we realised where we'd fallen short before. We've now begun the task of going back through previous projects and implementing the lessons we've learned from this project.
A huge part of making the digital world more inclusive is honesty and openness, and understanding that it is a journey, not a destination - we all can, and should, aim to always create products as accessible as possible, and hold our hands up and say when we've fallen short.
What we've learned
Put simply, a lot. The test-and-learn approach once again confirmed the value of iterating on our designs and products after they've been released into the wild, but we've also learned a lot from the users of the Big Hack. We've heard so many stories and experiences from disabled people that have opened our eyes to the consequences of building products and services which aren't accessible for all. Below are just a couple of the many many things that disabled people have told us:
"Frustrated, defeated, angry, neglected, excluded."
"Proof of my disability so I don't have to repeat again and again, or post copy of my blue badge"
Once we started to get responses from disabled people coming in, we needed a way to showcase all of the data and responses in order to effectively convey insights, as well as the scale of the problem. From the beginning, everyone involved in the project wanted the data to be open and available to all, and so the next step was to create an analytics platform that could show all the data in an accessible and clear way.
As well as accessibility challenges like ensuring that wordclouds and graphs could be read by screen-readers, we also faced challenges due to the volume of data we were receiving. For example, on the question "How does it make you feel when you cannot complete a task online?", we received so many comments containing the word 'frustrated', that every time we fixed the wordcloud to keep everything in-frame, more responses came in and it broke again. In the end we had to rebuild it from scratch to ensure it could deal with people's frustration!
As well as gathering disabled people's stories and experiences, convincing companies and creators to make their products and services more accessible would be vital to the project's success. To do that, we created the Resource Hub.
Guides, Interviews & Advice
The most important goal for the Resource Hub would be making it as quick and easy as possible for the Big Hack team to create and upload content, ensuring the platform is regularly updated. Creating a fully customised Wordpress back-end has meant that a huge variety of content has already been uploaded.