Resources for Inclusive Design for Mac Admins at MacSysAdmin 2021

Slide deck, additional resources, and a transcript from Inclusive Design for Mac Admins at MacSysAdmin 2021.

MacBook Pro in Setup Assistant with Hover Text Accessibility feature screen open.

๐ŸŒ Hej y'all! As promised, here are resources for my session at this year's MacSysAdmin conference!

Slide Deck

I have a few version of the slide deck available to review. 

  • PDF of Keynote deck with presenter notes, including builds & transitions: click here
  • PDF of Keynote deck with presenter notes, no builds or transitions: click here
  • Read-only .pptx conversion of Keynote deck: click here

Note: unfortunately converting the Keynote slides to PowerPoint or PDF tends to mangle transitions and build flows. If you'd like a copy of the original Keynote slide deck to review please contact me.


I included a slide with links but wanted to make sure I included those here as well.


Below is a transcript of the session. The text should line up pretty closely with the presenter notes.

Note: this transcript with automatically generated using There may be some inaccuracies.

Emily Kausalik 0:03
Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. My name is Emily. And I'm so happy to be here virtually, at Mac sysadmin 2021 to discuss inclusive design for Mac admins.

Before we get started when I discuss legislation or regulations for accessibility for people with disabilities, it'll be through the lens of us regulations, as that's what I'm most familiar with due to the fact that I live and work in the US. Many countries outside the US have comparable laws for ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities that I encourage you to find in review. I'll keep my presenter video up for the entire duration of the talk so that it's easier to follow along with what I'm saying when I'm saying there should also be closed captions available when the video is posted. A full transcription and slide deck with presenter notes will be available on my website, www dot mod

Some of you may remember my last talk for Mac sysadmin back in 2016 called design thinking for Mac admins. This year's presentation is cut from the same cloth. The way we interact and process the world around us is greatly impacted by how experiences are designed. how we interact with electronic information and technology can vary greatly from person to person based on our own experiences. Our individual illness shaped by our human characteristics, like our gender, our age, and the physical and mental abilities and disabilities we may have. Today I want to discuss the role Mac admins have in creating seamless and intuitive experiences for the people using the Macs they administer. We're going to touch on key areas Mac admins can look at to ensure workflows and engineering efforts are designed for inclusiveness for different experiences and perspectives and take into consideration the needs of a person using a device we configure.

Apple devices come standard with built in accessibility features that let people experience quote, everything iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, homepod and iPod Touch have to offer and quote Apple's worldwide developer conference regularly focuses on what's new in accessibility with sessions and has a section of session videos dedicated to accessibility. Apple's website has two portals for information on accessibility features in their products. The consumer facing accessibility portal at slash accessibility and developer guides for designing and building apps with accessibility in mind at slash accessibility.

Let's take a quick look at a scenario you've likely experienced before you boot up a brand new Mac and you end up on the select your country or region screen. After a few moments you hear Siri announce

Siri 3:21
macOS contains a built in screen reader called voiceover. If you know how to use voiceover, press Command f5 now to turn it on and set up your Mac. If you would like to learn how to use voiceover to set up your Mac, press the Escape key.

Emily Kausalik 3:35
Thank you, Siri. Have you ever turned on voiceover to see what setting up your Mac with assistive technology is like?

I imagine quite a few of us watching and participating in the Mac sysadmin conference are in roles where we don't often directly interact with end users. So I got to thinking, where does being a back admin intersect with accessibility? And what tools are available for Mac admins to make inclusive design a part of our engineering approach? Anyone with a role in producing or distributing electronic communications applications or services plays a role in the accessibility of it. That absolutely includes Mac admins, such as ourselves. This can be anything from the deployment of devices and accessories to configuring settings used to customize the operating system interface to maintaining an app catalog and the app services descriptions and categories they're in to push notifications, prompts and tools we build and deploy both with graphical interfaces and command line interfaces, to the documentation and training materials we make for our teams and our end users. And even the blogs and websites we maintain, including the wiki And readmes of open source tools published on sites like GitHub. Making accessibility and inclusiveness a part of our engineering and deployment process is an important part of helping the people using the technology we support, feel welcome and considered.

So today, I want to help broaden awareness of accessibility and inclusion and what we do by looking at a few topics. First, we'll do a quick overview of the accessibility features built into Mac OS. We'll take a look at why planning for accessibility should be a part of your engineering efforts. Then, we'll look at the intersection of inclusion and accessibility and key examples of things we do as Mac admins. And I'll also highlight tools that are available to test accessibility, including using Mac OS is built in assistive technologies.

So let's get started with a quick overview of the built in accessibility features of Mac OS. Some of you may already be familiar with these features, but I think it'll be handy to discuss them before I go through the rest of my presentation. Also worth noting that today I'm focusing on Mac OS. But I want to make sure to point out the iOS, iPad, iOS, TV, OS, watch, OS, and homepod also have built in accessibility features. And a bit of a disclaimer, I'm not an expert on accessibility by any means. Much of what I'll be talking about today is from my own experience, and curiosity, looking into accessibility and inclusion to better understand it, and how to make the policies and services I provide for the people I support as open and approachable as possible.

So that being said, on the slide, I have a mock up of a MacBook Pro with a screenshot from Setup Assistant. It shows accessibility features that can be enabled from the very beginning of the setup process. This is the first screen that is displayed after selecting country or region. Selecting the country or region is important for localization of language on the following screens. Language localization is another important accessibility and inclusion feature.

Apple categorizes the way they make technology accessible for end users in four areas. vision, hearing, motor, hearing, and cognitive. Voiceover is the first option displayed which you can enable at any point on the operating system by clicking command a five. The voiceover utility is the built in macro a screen reader can not only read and describe all interactive elements on the screen, but also interact with refreshable Braille keyboards. Once on the Mac OS desktop, voiceover can be configured to work with gestures on a trackpad much like VoiceOver on iOS. Zoom is a built in magnifier that enlarges the screen on demand with a keyboard shortcut or gesture. Hover text takes the text under the cursor and enlarge is that when the Command key is held down. Speak Selection reads back text on the screen by selecting the text and holding the option escape keys.

Once logged into the desktop options include speak announcements, speak items under the pointer and speak typing feedback. pointer size customizes the size of the pointer to make it easier to see. Reduced transparency improves contrast and legibility for those with low vision conditions. Increased contrast as lines and makes colors more vibrant to make app colors more legible and appearance allows for customization of the entire operating system to help reduce eye strain.

As I went through the accessibility options for vision, you may have noticed a few features that you use or perhaps have benefited from, but their inclusion in Mac OS over the years. I remember first learning about the zoom feature. When I would take training courses for certification. Instructors would use zoom during demos to draw our eyes to certain parts of the screen to highlight what was being discussed. pointer size brings to mind the mouse shaking gesture added to OS X El Capitan back in 2015

Craig Federighi 9:48
Shake we all normally do. There it is it comes right out to greet you. It's really handy.

Emily Kausalik 9:55
It's still a part of Mac OS today. It makes the cursor easier to find one on particularly As the desktop or when a lot of windows or other elements are open assistive technologies that enhance accessibility help everyone. Now let's take a look at the accessibility features highlighted for mobility, hearing, and cognition. Access accessibility keyboard displays an onscreen keyboard that can be used in place of a physical keyboard. Closed captions, turn on closed captioning whenever possible, while watching movies and TV shows. Flash for alerts will flash the screen instead of playing an alert sound when an app needs your attention. Cognitive accessibility options repeat some of the built in features previously discussed including the ability selected light, dark or auto light dark mode for appearance, Speak Selection, typing feedback, which speaks words characters or selection changes as you type and hover text. These are just the options displayed in Setup Assistant before continuing through the rest of the Mac setup and enrollment. You're configured for automated enrollment.

Beyond Setup Assistant, there are many other resources available for someone that requires accessibility features including a full playlist of usability tutorials for these built in features on YouTube. downloadable Braille guides to use with the refreshable Braille keyboard, as well as embossed Braille guides for Apple products available to order. Voluntary product accessibility templates, which describe how Apple products address us section 508 guidelines. For those unfamiliar, US section 508 refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended in 1998 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.
The accessibility panel of System Preferences allows for much more customization of accessibility features, including many more assistive technologies beyond what is initially offered instead of assistant. And the accessibility menu for the menu bar, which makes these options more readily available on the desktop. And as I mentioned previously, an accessibility portal for developers on Apple's developer website, which provides many resources and guidelines for designing apps with inclusion in mind.

Let's talk briefly about the concepts behind planning for accessibility. Before we take a closer look at examples of where Mac admins should do that planning. Designing inclusive content for your apps, prompts, documentation, websites or other media formats helps take what you create and make it available to the broadest range of people that might use that content. Having a general idea of why planning for accessibility is important. And what you should be thinking about when starting a project is a great way to work towards accommodating as broad and diverse a group of end users as possible.

So why plan for accessibility? planning for accessibility improves the user experience for people with situational and or ability based impairments. At least 15% of the world's population has a recognized disability. Your apps tools and services become available to more people. And it's a legal requirement in many countries. Who should you consider when planning for accessibility? people with low vision people who are deaf or hard of hearing people who use screen readers, people who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, people with physical impairments, people with dyslexia, and all races, backgrounds, genders and ages.

Assistive Technology is a general term to describe any technology that helps people with disabilities performed tasks. Some examples of assistive technology include screen readers, screen magnifiers Braille display, and refreshable Braille keyboards, voice recognition, and voice captions.

Many of us act as the product manager for our own apps and services. This isn't always ideal, but it's often a position we find ourselves in within the Mac App and space. As the product manager of your app service or solution, your response Ability should include advocating for accessibility throughout a project or apps lifecycle. Understanding high level accessibility roles, communicating the importance of accessibility to stakeholders, collecting requirements and user feedback early in the project, and budgeting for accessibility and time and resources. To make sure accessibility is included in your planning and implementation, you'll want to do some basic prep, which should involve including people with disabilities and surveys, interviews, and persona building. Using an accessibility checklist as you iterate and work on your service, add accessibility as an acceptance criteria to stories and your sprints. Add accessibility testing to each sprint and recruit diverse user testers.

Okay, so far, we've done a quick overview of built in accessibility features in Mac OS, and discuss topics to keep in mind as you plan for accessibility in the work you do. Now let's take a look at some examples of where planning for accessibility can shape the decisions we make as Mac admins. The overview of Mac OS has built in accessibility features may have already given you some ideas of areas to focus on and tools you use and solutions you engineer. Let's take a closer look at some examples of where you should plan for accessibility as a Mac admin.

We'll start with a quick discussion of deployment and enrollment, and accessories. This discussion won't be exhaustive, exhaustive, I'm just going to touch on a few things that we can keep in mind as we plan accessibility while configuring device enrollment. As you're configuring pre stage enrollment options for Mac OS automated enrollment, keep items like Siri appearance and accessibility available for the end user to enable. Siri unlocks voice based assistance. Appearance settings are helpful for people with low vision or other cognitive needs. And accessibility contains a treasure trove of features that benefit a variety of people and their needs before they even get to the desktop. Along those lines, be mindful of when to use auto advance in a pre stage. It's helpful for building out labs or manually configuring many Macs at once. But Macs are going directly to end users this should be disabled. give people the opportunity to configure accessibility settings and customize their experience with Mac OS based on their needs.

Enrollment customization is a great way to ensure a streamlined and company branded enrollment experience is worth keeping in mind, however, that websites can vary greatly and how they follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are the standards apple and others follow to make navigating digital content with screen readers and other assistive technologies a better experience for those using them. screens like the SSO sign in for enrollment customization load portals from external sites. So if you use that feature, plan for accessibility by making sure those login portals can be navigated effectively with the screen reader or other accessibility tools. If they don't send in feedback to those service providers to request better accessibility on those pages. You'll also want to keep this in mind or any additional screens added to enrollment customization workflows, or any custom login screens generated by third party tools.

If you use helper apps during enrollment, such as DEPNotify pictured here, there are simple things you can do to make sure navigating the app with assistive technology is as straightforward as possible. Something as simple as mentioning the presence of an actionable button at the bottom of the window. In the body text of the window is helpful for people using screen readers. See if elements in the app are correctly titled for appropriate navigation and auditory feedback while using a screen reader or other tool. Send Feedback to developers. If you notice voiceover, flash alert, or other accessibility features, interacting with the elements of a screen in a way you weren't anticipating. Make sure any actions taking place automatically move a progress bar, update text or send a notification for transparency around background processes. And plan to research what options you have available for localization. Chances are not everyone using a device provided by your organization has the same experience or comfort with any single language.

This one may not seem like it Specifically planning for accessibility. When appointed on any way as best practice for the highly distributed workforces many of us find ourselves in these days. Consider delegating the installation of very large installers like productivity or design suite apps to accompany our portal like self service, rather than auto deploying them. These apps can give the impression that there's a stall in the setup process, especially for folks and low bandwidth internet connections. If large app suites are hard requirements, find a way to deploy individual installers that can help avoid long spans of perceived inactivity during the setup process.

Next, let's take a look at customization of the graphical user interface of Mac OS. There's a fine line to draw between keeping an end user from feeling needlessly nagged and letting them customize their Mac OS experience. as annoying as prompts to allow notifications from different apps can seem being able to manually adjust notification settings can be pretty important for folks using accessibility features. Someone relying on flash alerts may not want or need forced alerts banners for every app. Another person using voiceover or another screen reading tool may want to be able to turn off sounds for notifications to limit noise. Siri can be a handy voice assistant tool for a wide variety of folks. using Siri to do basic tasks like run shortcuts, send messages, or search for information online can be of great help to folks that require assistance with motor skills or low vision. Siri on Mac OS can also search their folders quickly and find files. Make sure you allow the enablement of Siri and Mac OS for folks that would need it. And know that there are great resources available online to learn more about accessibility features and OS customization that benefit a diverse group of people with various needs. Apple is an example of a community website that's an indispensable source of information around accessibility options, tutorials and more. For blind or low vision users of Apple devices. familiarizing yourself with how people with these needs use Mac OS and look for apps and services can give you a lot of insight into how best to serve their needs, and ensure they feel considered and welcomed when using devices you manage. Another area where you should plan for accessibility is your company app portal.

This is one of the primary ways an end user interacts directly with the apps and services that you provide. Ensure titles and descriptions are informative and concise, and that any action buttons are clear and easy to understand. There are a few things you can do within your company app portal to provide a better experience for people using accessibility features in Mac OS. Use clear titles for apps and policies that avoid abbreviations that can cause confusion and sound odd when read by screen reader. Include descriptions with pertinent information regarding what the app or service is doing or can do. Use consistent action buttons for policies like install for installers open or run for services or tools you run on behalf of a user on install for uninstallers, etc. Don't be too clever here. Keep it simple and understandable. Try not to bog down navigation with a ton of categories. And add automation to the app portal that will benefit everyone, including folks that use accessibility features. If you need ideas for how to better categorize, title and describe items in your app portal, check out Apple's App Store. If you have more categories on the app store, you probably have too many. And chances are the apps you deploy fit within the categories they provide. So model what's there and I feel the need to include at least one slide that kind of looks like it has code on it. So include this Mac OS has a list of system preference links that you can use to deep link to specific panes in System Preferences. The one above x dash Apple dot System Preferences colon open comm dot Apple dot preference dot universal access can open the accessibility pane within System Preferences. Add it to a script, a policy, a payload free package. To help people that are new to Mac OS find the accessibility options pane. You can also deeply dismiss The big sections of the accessibility pane, such as display, zoom voiceover and captions. I've included the link above and we'll add one to the resources slide at the end of the presentation for a list of those system preference links. Next, let's briefly discuss prompts notifications helper tools, you may find yourself deploying to manage Mac's. There are tons of great tools out there that lovely organizations and individuals have made available for anyone to use. When you get ready to implement them as part of a project or deployment effort, make accessibility testing a part of your engineering process. Apps built with Xcode have the greatest likelihood of compatibility with Mac OS built in accessibility features due to Xcode built in accessibility inspector. Turn on voiceover flash alert, or head pointer and test out interacting with dialogues or prompts you're sending out to devices. If there are challenges in navigating the app, or the order of elements and navigating with something like screen readers seem off or out of order, see what you can do to fix it. And as I've mentioned previously, Apple's developer portal includes an entire section just on accessibility. Review What's there to see what you can improve in an app you're building or deploying. When it comes to documentation and training materials, there are many opportunities to make those materials more accessible. apps like Microsoft Word include a built in accessibility checker to help you improve the accessibility and overall readability of what you're writing. If you write documentation that is public facing their websites and services that can do accessibility checks and validation for you. I'll highlight a few of those later on in this presentation. Using clear hierarchies and your pros, like headers and lists help organize the contents and make the document easier to navigate with the screen reader. All text set for an image will be read by a screen reader to describe the contents of an image. These two things alone go a long way and making documentation more accessible. If you make videos for training and knowledge base articles include clothes include closed captions, and transcripts in addition to voiceovers that describe what's happening on screen. unlisted YouTube videos are handy way to make videos with closed captions using their auto generated closed caption feature. If that's not an option for you, see if the marketing or training departments at your organization use a closed captioning or interpretation service asked about transcription services to

and don't forget about image captions. Image captions are easy to add on most content management systems. There isn't a built in caption feature for images on your internal documentation system. Add one yourself and make the text clearly state that is the caption. While we're on the topic of time based media, check to see if your organization's video conferencing tool has live transcriptions and enable it on meetings whenever you can. Live transcriptions are incredibly helpful and provide an immediate benefit to all participants, especially those that need to see what's being spoken on screen. There are great resources for how best to participate in video calls and protect users with sensory sensitivities that are a quick Google away and worth reviewing. In particular, heavily blurred or animated backgrounds can be tough on folks that are susceptible to migraines or have other sensory sensitivities, avoiding bright light directly behind you. setting your video recording device on a flat surface, and limiting certain movements are all helpful on video calls. Next, let's briefly discuss accessibility planning for our blogs and websites. The World Wide Web Consortium maintains the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines aimed to make digital content accessible for as many people as possible with a focus on the use of assistive technologies. Many online publishing services can medium and WordPress have WCAG guidelines incorporated into their platforms to help bloggers and writers automatically follow basic accessibility guidelines. Depending on your template, or if you use a CMS at all, or self published with some other service provider, your site may not meet basic WCAG guidelines. Fortunately, it's easy to audit and validate public facing websites for WCAG compliance. Websites typically struggle with basic things like adding alt text images, maintaining adequate color contrast, labeling elements like forms, buttons, header text and iframe font size and zooming beyond 200%, causing contents to spill out of the viewport. And I admit that my site right now hosted on blogger fails most of these accessibility tests. I'm actually on the hunt for a new hosting solution with better built in accessibility support. If you have recommendations, let me know. I'll have my contact information at the end of the presentation. There are some very simple ways to make a website more accessible like maintaining a text to background color ratio of at least 4.5 to one. using text styles with familiar naming conventions using section headings and hierarchy, labeling forms and making sure those form labels don't disappear when typing.

Using responsive design, being consistent with spacing values, and being clear in your use of icons, text labels, and having consistent use of language. That's a lot of small texts on the screen, and I apologize for that. I'll make sure to include a link to these graphics and their accompanying blog post at the end of this presentation. One last note for planning for accessibility and documentation and other digital content. For videos or podcasts in particular podcasts. It's incredibly helpful to post transcriptions that accompany the recording services like, and many others are available to generate transcriptions from time based digital media. I'll link a few at the end of this presentation. Through review so far, we've seen an overview of Mac OS built in accessibility features, discussed a few examples of places where Mac admins should plan for accessibility. Now, let's wrap things up with an overview of just a handful of tools out there that you can use to check your apps, documentation and websites for areas to improve accessibility. I've already touched on a few throughout the presentation, I think it's worth calling out a few more to add to your engineering toolbox. We'll start with accessibility Inspector, which is built into Xcode. Accessibility inspector provides feedback on how to take parts of your app and make them more accessible and even simulates voiceover to help you identify what a voiceover screen reading experience would be like. The screenshot I've added above is from WWDC 2019 called aptly accessibility Inspector, and at demos accessibility inspector on an Xcode project. It's a great video to review if you'd like to learn how to use accessibility inspector when you're developing an app. But nothing quite beats using the real thing. You can quickly access different accessibility features for testing by adding accessibility options to the menu bar. This can help you test different accessibility features while you run your app or workflow. design your documentation or website or review digital media you share. There are quite a few browser extensions available to simulate disability is when browsing the web. funkified is one such extension for Google Chrome that simulates different categories of disabilities including dyslexia, cognition, motor, and vision. Another handy Chrome extension is the disability simulator from silk tied. Silk tied can simulate experiencing the web as if you're blind or low vision. It can also read text aloud. Navigate a website with a keyboard or mouse. Turn off your ability to see the page entirely. And experienced screen reader features like skipping to headings, landmarks and form elements. When it comes to accessibility and readability of documentation, descriptions, titles, really any text you write the Apple style guide is a fantastic resource. The Apple style guide provides editorial guidelines for text and Apple instructional materials, technical documentation, reference information, training programs, and user interfaces. The intent of these guidelines is to help maintain a consistent voice in Apple materials. Apple has published his guide online for anyone to reference and model for their own writing style. This guide includes a section specifically addressing writing inclusively, which is an excellent resource to use as you find your voice of documentation and websites you maintain or you're striving to be more inclusive and accessible. For pros you've already written readable is A helpful online service that looks at text files, whole websites, emails, and more engages readability. It displays readability scores and highlights sentences and phrases with room for improvement. readable also makes suggestions for word replacements and grammatical tweaks to make text more approachable for a wide variety of readers. When I mentioned blogs and websites earlier I mentioned the World Wide Web Consortium and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Apple bases much of its own accessibility guidelines off of these guidelines. Using a WCAG checklist as you work on an app, website, blog or other digital content is very beneficial for making accessibility a part of your engineering effort.

There are many online resources that will crawl a website and check for WCAG compliance. excessively is one example of such a service. Using their accessibility reporting tool on a website breaks down the WCAG checklist checks for those items on a web page and gives a score based on the level of compliance. Sites like these are great starting points for planning for accessibility on a web page or blog. For those of us that support the development of web sites and web content, tools, like palley and Qawwali, are available to make accessibility testing a part of continuous integration and deployment workflows. palley is one open source tool that works in conjunction with continuous integration to automate accessibility testing for websites and is available to use alongside services like Git lab. kuali is a handy graphical interface for pally and I know I've mentioned the apple developer portal a few times, but it truly is a great resource. The archive of WWDC videos is a treasure trove of information, especially the videos on accessibility. Many of the videos discuss best practice and theoretical concepts, and many more include live demos to show you how you can make accessibility features a part of your deploy development strategy. So to recap, Mac OS has an incredible list of built in accessibility features to make the operating system inclusive and accessible to many people regardless of their abilities. We as Mac admins play a role in ensuring that it is accessible. Plan for accessibility as you design your solutions for managing Mac's when it conforms to accessibility standards, assistive technologies can effectively render content and interfaces, enabling users with disabilities to fully participate. And there are great tools and resources available to make planning for accessibility approachable, and give you tactical things to work on to improve accessibility on the things that you work on. If you'd like to reach out to me about this presentation, share resources for accessibility and inclusion planning for IT admins, or anything else really. Feel free to email me send me a note on the Mac admin Slack, Twitter, or LinkedIn. As I mentioned at the top of the presentation, a transcription and full keynote deck with presenter notes will be available on my website mod Titan comm Not long after the session is released on the conference webpage. Here are some of the resources I mentioned and relied on for today's presentation. This will go up on my website. So take a look for more easily clickable links there. Thank you so much for joining me today and enjoy the rest of the Mac sysadmin conference.

Many thanks to Patrik for inviting me to participate in the conference this year. I hope we all get to see each other in person next year in beautiful Gรถteborg, Sweden!

❤️ ekw

Write a comment