Ravensbourne University London
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24 Nov 2017

Product design students develop solutions to enhance web browser accessibility for Mozilla

BA (Hons) Design Products students at Ravensbourne have been working on solutions which enhance web browser accessibility.

The project was run in partnership with the Open Innovation team at Mozilla, a global software community aiming to keep the internet “healthy, open and accessible to all”. Ravensbourne partners with the Mozilla Foundation, the organisation which supports and leads Mozilla, once a year to host ‘MozFest’, all things open technology-related.

Web accessibility is an issue that affects a large section of the global population. Mozilla’s Firefox Test Pilot, an enterprise aimed at trialling experimental browsing projects, tasked Ravensbourne’s design products students with developing solutions which assist those with physical or sensory impairments, mental health issues, learning disabilities or little familiarity with the internet, in web browsing.

They have been working in groups since early October, when a number of Mozilla staff travelled from the US to provide a briefing and run initial discovery sessions. Since this, students have attended Q&A sessions with accessibility, engineering and design experts at Mozilla, and on Thursday 26 October, underwent a client feedback session, helping them refine their final designs.

Finally, the teams were asked to present their ideas to John Gruen, Product Manager at Mozilla and Sharon Bautista, User Experience Researcher at Mozilla.

The winning team, ‘Spectrum’, was comprised of Sophie Woodhead, Jericho Cauilan, Abigail Ooi and Ali Faghihi. They presented a Firefox add-on designed to enhance the browsing process for those with phonological dyslexia, in regards to improving their reading experience. They were awarded a £1,000 prize.

In second place was team ‘Elderline’, comprised of Aleksandra Borowska, Tavanna Hutchinson, Dario Rickenbach, Arsalan Maqsood and Ollie Clutson. They designed a Firefox add-on which helps older users access online services through customising and simplifying elements of the browser interface. They were awarded a £500 prize.

Commenting, Andrew Marsh, Co-Course Leader for BA (Hons) Design Products said: “I am really proud of the work our students have turned out. Design products can be an incredibly broad subject, and it's inspiring to see our students take on real world challenges outside of their comfort zone with such enthusiasm.

Sharon added: “The World Bank has estimated that around 15 percent of the world’s population experience some kind of disability. When you factor in those who suffer from conditions like arthritis or impaired vision, the number of people who might face web accessibility issues rises significantly.

It’s been great to work with such a bright, enthusiastic group of students, and inspiring to see them approach the challenge with fresh eyes and open minds.”

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