2009 Digital Access Online (low budget) Winner
Sally Booth is a visually impaired artist and her website was born out of her own frustration with the inaccessibility of other websites, particularly arts websites. Her website exude accessibility and challenges the negative impression that anything to do with disability has got to be at the expense of an aesthetically pleasing design and utilitarian.
Her website presents aspects of her work, including information of practice, projects and residences. It incorporates a mixture of text, audio description, subtitles, British Sign Language and moving pictures. The website is more accessible and attempts to be more inclusive than the sites of many arts and disability organisations.
The text is in a clean, simple format using a sans serif black typeface on soft white. Font and layout can be adjusted by the user. The choice of black, white and red throughout the site gives good contrast and legibility, and a feeling of warmth quie unusual in websites. Lyrical soundtrack text is used to give an evocation of moving images on the screen, subtitles are included on the various films and BSL is interpreted by a respected arts sector interpreter. All of these facilities can be accessed easily through on screen icons which appear on the pages for which they are available.
Sally’s priority throughout the site is to maximise accessibility whilst not sacrificing good design and aesthetics. This project is a great example of a creative approach to making websites accessible and user friendly for all visitors as well as an example of good practice for arts organisations. The project began in planning in 2005 and was in regular use by 2008. Its initial funding grant of £1,500 from Action for Blind People has been supplemented twice by Sally to the tune of another £1,500.
Sally Booth is an individual visual artist working in a variety of media including drawing, painting, digital photography and printmaking. She has exhibited her work in the UK and Japan. Being visually impaired has been a significant factor in the development of her art practice and professional career. Her own work reflects an engagement with visibility, clarity and the act of seeing. Attention to accessibility extends to creating sloping displays of her work which can easily be viewed by wheelchair users.
She also runs arts workshops with adults and children, has a background in arts management and has a particular interest in working with disabled and deaf people to enable access to the arts.
This project has been disabled led from the start. Sally has used her experience and contacts with people in the disability arts field to get advice. Other disabled artists have shared their experiences of poor access and at all stages disabled people were intensively consulted on aspects of presentation of content, navigation access techniques and design.
“It has been said since the beginning of the web that accessibility kills creativity in web design: I’m not surprised that it has taken a visually impaired person to discredit this proposition. In her work, Sally Booth demonstrates creative adventure with comprehensive accessibility. If penniless artists can do so well, why not cultural organisations?”
Kevin Carey, Chair RNIB and member of the Digital Inclusion Taskforce
This is very much a ‘live’ project, and is constantly being refined and developed. Future development of the site would include reorganisation of the films to ease access, compilation of an ‘easy read’ page with examples of each section for people with learning disabilities, and development of a gallery section which would have the option of a short or more in depth description of works.