GAAD 2023 - C1: Designing data for cognitive load - Doug Schepers
** Accessibility note: For those that attended this session, the issue with the flashing slides has been fixed. There isn't a strobe effect anymore.
Doug Schepers, he/him, Director at Fizz Studio
For staff and faculty with intermediate knowledge
There's a growing movement toward making data visualizations accessible to people with disabilities, rooted in social equity. But in practice, this can be complicated, especially because accessibility standards like WCAG don't provide much guidance for dataviz, and there are many different issues for different disabilities.
One helpful tool in approaching making content accessible is Cognitive Load Theory (CLT). CLT is a scientific approach to education and communication, and this talk will apply its principles to making effective and accessible charts and diagrams.
Cognitive disabilities have been largely overlooked for a long time, partly because they are harder to address than sensory or mobility disabilities. But cognitive load is an issue for how all of us, including people with disabilities using assistive technology like screen readers. Knowing how the brain processes charts and graphs helps inform how we should create them.
This talk will go over the general principles of Cognitive Load Theory, and apply each of them with direct examples that you can use to create effective, efficient data visualizations that build a mental model of the data in your reader's head.About Doug Schepers
Doug is the founder and director of Fizz Studio, a small startup focusing on making data visualizations accessible to people with disabilities. He began this work while working as a project manager for the W3C, organizing and authoring web standards for over a decade. Since then, he's been doing consulting, software development, and research to make access to data universal. He uses his own adult-diagnosed ADHD as a tool to help synthesize ideas from across different domains, and as an intuitive gauge for cognitive load.