PRODUCTHEAD: Digital inclusion and accessibility

PRODUCTHEAD: Digital inclusion and accessibility

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

karma product


What digital inclusion and accessibility are and why you need to think about them

Practical accessibility and inclusion guidance you can apply to your products

How to design for various impairments


This week I’ve pulled together some guides and resources for you on digital inclusion and accessibility.

What is digital inclusion?

Digital inclusion is about making a product or service available to all people regardless of their proficiency with or desire to use technology such as smartphone, computers and the internet. The UK government’s various digital teams use a 9-point scale to assess digital inclusion.

The UK goverment's digital inclusion scale

What is accessibility?

Accessibility is about making a product or service usable by all people regardless of any impairments, whether sensory, motor or cognitive. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability. In the UK, that figure rises to 21%.

Both digital inclusion and accessibility are particularly important considerations for public services, which need to cater to people of all abilities without exception.

Inclusion and accessibility is often deferred

But for most of the private sector, it remains up to individual companies to determine how digitally inclusive and accessible their products are. Sadly, this often means they defer thinking about digital inclusion or accessibility until ‘a future version’, which tends to mean ‘never’.

The standard refrain is that it’s too costly or time consuming to include the features and content from the outset because of the additional work required. The thing is that it then becomes even more costly and technically challenging to retrofit them into subsequent releases.

Should complex topics use complex language?

Some people argue that their products or websites can (and should) be complex when they are deliberately targeting expert users. The reality is that even experts prefer more straightforward content and workflows.

Last week’s newsletter had more on accessible and inclusive content design.

If your user research shows you really need it, you can always create features and content to streamline things specifically for your power users.

Can you justify excluding 15% of your users?

I’ve been frustrated in the past by companies justifying their avoidance of any consideration of disabled people’s needs because “they weren’t targeting that audience”.

This is a b***s**t excuse.

Any niche of users you’re planning to target will likely include at least 15%, who have a disability of some sort. There’s simply no way to justify excluding them.

Be inclusive and accessible from the outset

You might as well start thinking about designing your product to be inclusive and accessible from the outset. If novices and disabled people can easily understand and use your product, then experts and abled people will also.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

Can I Play That?

Can I Play That? provides accessibility game reviews, commentary, news, and detailed accessibility reference guides for various impairments. It’s written by disabled gamers, for disabled gamers, and is the go-to site for game studios, developers and game console manufacturers.

Their media editor, Steve Saylor consulted with Naughty Dog on The Last of Us Part II, which went on to be regarded as the most accessible game ever. Saylor’s emotional reaction to playing the game for the first time will get you in the feels.

Learn about inclusion in gaming


Accessibility and Assisted Digital

If you’ve not come across it before, the UK’s Government Digital Service publishes all of its guidelines, recommendations and advice about building digital products and services in its Service Manual. It’s the reference guide for all the other digital teams working across government.

The good thing is that the vast majority of the content is applicable to any organisation, so it’s well worth a look.

Help people to use your product


Accessibility for Teams

A ‘quick-start’ guide for embedding accessibility and inclusive design practices into your team’s workflow from the US General Service Administration.

This guide is a useful counterpart to the UK’s equivalent (above), with tips broken out by role, including for product managers.

Make your products accessible and inclusive


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Contact us if you’re interested in finding out more.

recent posts

Growing together: developing and retaining your product team

34% of product managers surveyed said they left their previous role because there were no opportunities to grow.

In this video, Lucie McLean (Zalando) discusses growth and career progression for product managers with Jock Busuttil (Product People Limited) and Daniil Pavliuchkov (Tier).

Team coaching and career paths


Misunderstood metaphors: Product manager as conductor

Product managers are sometimes referred to as the conductor of the orchestra. Some people think that the conductor’s job is to direct the players, to lead them through the music. That would be to misunderstand the relationship. Instead, here’s a different take.

Conductors don’t tell the players what to do


The dirty little secrets of decision making

As individuals, we’re continually evaluating options and taking decisions. As product managers, we have the additional responsibility to balance the often competing needs of users, the business and wider ethical considerations. What makes one decision better than another?

How to make better decisions


upcoming talks and events

10th December 2020, 16:00 GMT / 10:00 CST

Shortlist virtual round table

Managing product managers

Let’s talk about measuring product manager performance, providing opportunities for career growth and the challenges of managing teams of product managers and product owners.

Our round table host will be Jock Busuttil – freelance head of product, author and speaker.

Register to attend

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from excess bad weather.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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