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Sitting for the CPACC Exam - #3

Ashley Thompson is a member of DubBot’s Support team, serving as our newest Support Engineer. The following post is the third part of a blog series documenting her experiences as she prepares for the CPACC exam. The second blog entry about Ashley's experience is available here. The fourth installment can be found here.

It can be easy to get burned out when studying for a lengthy, exhaustive exam like the CPACC. I have found myself struggling through some of the more technical portions of the study guides, especially when it doesn’t directly relate to what I will be doing in the field of digital accessibility. I’m currently reading the sections on Universal Design, and I'm encountering difficulties in retaining the information. Time to get creative with my approach to studying this material!

I use mnemonic devices every day to remember anything from my to-do list, work tasks, driving routes and now…The 7 Principles of Universal Design! Association is one of my favorite ways to remember things because the stranger or sillier your associations are - the better they work! My children are home on summer break, so naturally my brain has switched into “everything is a Disney quote/song” mode. Why not capitalize on that and make some associations with the study materials I’m working on? After all, as Mary Poppins says: “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun” (Mary Poppins, 1964).

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

Here are the 7 Principles of Universal Design, as Disney Quotes. Enjoy!

  1. Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

    Equitable use ensures that all people, regardless of ability, can use a product. A byproduct of equitable use is that often the solutions, while necessary for some, are beneficial to all. A great example of this are curb cuts; initially designed to allow wheelchair users safe use of crosswalks that have a surrounding curb, but are very useful in many other cases like using a shopping cart, baby stroller, or having altered depth perception. I associate this principle with the lovely line from Lilo and Stitch: “Ohana means family, and family means nobody is left behind or forgotten” (Lilo and Stitch, 2002). Consider all people when designing a product - don’t leave anyone out!

    Ohana means family, and family means nobody is left behind or forgotten. Stitch (Lilo and Stitch)
  2. Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

    Flexibility in use is intended to allow users to interact with the product in a way that best suits their needs. This would include things like left- and right-handed compatibility, ability to toggle colors, allowing users to choose to read or listen to information. One example of this that I encounter frequently is whether or not a mobile site allows zoom. Often, if I can’t zoom in on a mobile site, I will find another site to use. Merida, a fiercely independent princess, sums up this principle with her line: “You control your destiny - you don’t need magic to do it” (Brave, 2012). Users should have options and control when it comes to how they can interact with a product.

    You control your destiny - you don’t need magic to do it. Merida (Brave)

  3. Simple and Intuitive Use - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

    The aim of simple and intuitive use is to accommodate as many people as possible by avoiding over-complication. Make sure information is arranged in a way that makes sense on an intuitive level, and flows naturally. Be consistent, and don’t surprise users with unexpected or confusing designs. This movie quote from Chef Gusteau came to mind immediately when I read this principle: “You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from.” (Ratatouille, 2007). Don’t overthink it! You want to ensure that anyone and everyone can use your product, regardless of age, language ability, cultural background, etc.

    You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Chef Gusteau (Ratatouille)

  4. Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

    For maximum reach - you should make sure that you have multiple ways that users can consume the content or use the product. Present your content in as many different modes as possible. If you have visual content, like a photo, be sure to include alt text that can be used by a screen reader to provide an audio description. This also includes things like making sure text is legible with accessible fonts and color contrasts, providing quality closed captioning, and video transcripts. As Jack Skellington said: “Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it” (Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993). Make your content available to every user by offering your content in diverse formats.

    Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it. Jack Skellington (Nightmare Before Christmas)

  5. Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

    Error tolerance plays a crucial role in universal design. This is the principle that comes into play when you almost delete every file from your cloud and you have to click through several warning windows before you can complete the action. It can also be a literal life-saver when it involves physical products like heavy equipment or escalators with emergency stop buttons. It can be something as simple as a warning label or putting that “delete everything” button in an isolated spot that isn’t likely to get accidentally clicked. This line from Zootopia (which I have seen approximately 700 times this week) sums up this principle perfectly: “life’s a little bit messy. We all make mistakes” (Zootopia, 2016).
    The primary objective is to utilize good design to safeguard users against making costly mistakes.

    life’s a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. Judy Hopps (Zootopia)

  6. Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

    The easier the product is to use - the more people will use it! Consideration should be given to how much effort it takes when using the product. Not only does this ensure users with physical disabilities can use the product, but it also just makes it more pleasant to use in general. Again, necessary for some, beneficial for all! This quote, by one of my favorite characters, is not technically a Disney quote, but it is certainly Disney-adjacent!: “A little consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference” (Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926). Empathy - that’s all it takes sometimes!

    A little consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference. Eeyore (Winnie-the-Pooh)

  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.

    This principle is definitely geared more towards physical design, but it is very important. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a wheelchair ramp too narrow for a standard wheelchair, or an “accessible” bathroom stall with an impossible angle to enter. It matters when considering the design for a space that many different sizes, statures, and mobility capabilities exist. Designs should consider these and make every possible effort to accommodate. This classic line from the Genie says it all: “Phenomenal cosmic powers! - itty bitty living space” (Aladdin, 1992). A design can’t be great if it excludes people because of limited space.

    Phenomenal cosmic powers! - itty bitty living space. Genie (Aladdin)

And there we have it! Snow White and the 7 Principles of Universal Design. I am getting close to being confident in actually taking the CPACC exam! In the meantime, I’ll be repeating this sage advice to myself every day: “Just keep swimming” (Finding Nemo, 2003).

Just keep swimming. Dory(Finding Nemo)


Resources on the 7 Principles and a study guide I am using for the CPACC:

The second blog entry about Ashely's experience is available here. The fourth installment can be found here.

Ashley Thompson, CPACC
Support Engineer