Interactive Responsive Design

[Author: Bill Fischer]


Responsive Media is Based in Progressive Enhancement

An equal quality of experience for sight, hearing, physically and cognitively impaired persons is the goal of responsive media. At the baseline of the progression is text. Then, multi-sensory enhancements are added for those persons that have the physical abilities to engage with them. The value added by the multi-sensory input has been proven to increase the attentiveness to and recall of information.

A man is looking onto a virtual reality headset

This VR simulation, called Simuli (external link) was created by students and faculty as part of The Epic Project. It simulates an anxiety episode in a school classroom. It works as a 'just audio' and 'just visual' experience. And, of course both audio and visual. In all use-cases, immersion is the goal.

Sensory Progression

  • Text is the baseline information that the most people can engage with.
  • Images can reinforce the text.
  • Motion can be used to attract attention to page/screen elements in a way that can affect the overall visual hierarchy.
  • Sound can make information accessible to the sight impaired.
  • The effect of emotion (as delivered through the use of story, color, sound, motion, and composition) should not be underestimated as many studies have shown that the human brain learns and solves problems more efficiently when it engages the hind brain, medulla and limbic systems where emotion is processed.

A Website Screen Reader View

This is the "semantic" version of The Epic Project website. It's what a screen reader, used by a sight impaired person, 'sees'. This screen captures are from a test performed using the Webaim Wave Checker tool (external link).