November 30, 2021

UX Accessibility

How Do We Design for Everyone?

When designing, we usually have the regular user in mind. However, according to World Bank data, about one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have some kind of disability. Significant impairments affect one-fifth of the projected world population, or between 110 million and 190 million individuals. 

When we think of designing a website or an app, the first kind of impairment that comes to mind is visual. However, there are other types of impairments we also need to think of: hearing, intellectual, and physical.  

To make your digital product easy to use for everyone, you need to pay attention to accessibility. Accessibility is important to users to easily complete tasks that allow them to use your website or app. If you don’t have an accessibility team, the UX team should be the voice for accessibility. 

In this article, we’re explaining the concept of accessibility in UX and talking about how important it is for your digital product. 

What is accessibility in UX?  

Accessibility refers to the ability of anyone to use a product or service. If a product is accessible, all users should easily navigate an app or a website, completing the product goals without any hurdle. People with various skills and impairments can perceive, comprehend, navigate, engage with, and participate in the activities within a specific digital product when designed with accessibility in mind. 

Accessibility is often mixed with usability, so let’s clear out that dilemma. The term usability refers to the ability of a design to be successful and enjoyable to use. Usability doesn’t always focus on the user experience of persons with disabilities. Accessibility ensures that all users can have a similar user experience regardless of how they come into contact with a product or service. A great user experience is the combination of usability + visual design + accessibility. What is Accessibility?

Why is UX accessibility important?  

When it comes to designing digital products for humans, you need to think about their emotions and behavior. This means you need to have empathy. Empathy is achieved by sitting at the user’s level and conversing with common respect. 

According to Elise Roy, a lawyer and a human rights advocate with a hearing impairment, designers have the ability and obligation to confront and solve human problems on both micro and macro sizes, as well as contribute to societal well-being. In her TED Talk, called she claims that: “When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.” 

And, when you develop good human-centered designs, you also get better business results. Google will rank your website higher, which will help you reach a bigger audience. Accessibility also means leveraging good development practices and improving the entire usability of your digital product.  

How to design for accessibility?  

All company processes start from the company culture, and so does UX accessibility. So, to develop accessible designs, you need to create an inclusive company culture with employees who share that mindset. Your goal should be to make sure that every person can use your product without much effort. Here are some things to take into account:  

Color & contrast 

Ensuring the colors you pick lead to an accessible journey for all is one of the most critical criteria for a designer to follow. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using color as the only way of transmitting the information. You can combine colors with tooltips, borders, iconography, bold text, highlights, italics, and other elements. Typography must be big enough and contrasted sufficiently with the background to guarantee that users can access it. Images and symbols must be identifiable as well. Status symbols, for example, should be distinguishable based on form rather than color. 

Next, make sure the colors of your elements have appropriate contrast. As a result, keeping your website’s backdrop white is preferable. Examine your element colors with a contrast checker to ensure they are perceived the way you want them to be. 

Keyboard navigation 

A user should be able to complete all tasks on your website with a keyboard. Because not everyone uses a mouse to use the internet, tabbing becomes quite crucial. This allows a user to navigate across multiple areas on a website, such as buttons, menus, and inputs. Your objective should be to ensure that Tab can access all product information and functionality. 

Images & alt text 

For people with visual impairments, images are a major obstacle to overcome. They frequently rely on applications that use a synthesizer or Braille display to interpret text. But, these technologies are unable to decipher pictures or text embedded inside images. 

Add alt text to your photos to describe them to impaired people to fix this. Make careful to include as much detail as possible when describing the image. For example, if there’s a girl wearing a red dress in a photo, your alt text should be something like this: “A tall, blond girl wearing a long red dress.” 

Follow the guidelines 

The points we mentioned previously were only some examples that you should consider when designing for UX accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a set of worldwide guidelines for designing accessible websites (WCAG). The WCAG (now WCAG 2.0) is a common standard for online content accessibility developed through the W3C process. 

All WCAG publications explain how to design a website more accessible and are grouped around four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. It will take many steps to deliver all of the WCAG standards, but starting with the fundamentals may make a significant difference in making your digital product more accessible to visitors with a range of disabilities. 

Perform inclusive testing 

It’s critical to include individuals with impairments in the UX assessment process before launching any new website or app. They’ll provide you with the most accurate feedback on whether or not your user experience is pleasurable. Collaborate with a reputable UX designer to create testing scenarios that take into account various impairments. 

Wrapping up 

Accessibility is a human right. Companies that aren’t aware of this can suffer a lot of consequences on their public image and reputation. Accessibility is critical, and UX plays a vital part in ensuring that everyone can utilize the internet. Hopefully, these accessibility pointers will encourage designers to consider accessibility from the start of a project instead of just having it as an afterthought. Do you require your design to serve every person can use your product without much effort?  

If you seek support with accessibility in your design Consulteer provides support and services to ensure your product is accessible for all.

This article is a part of our World Usability Day series, where we talk about some of the most critical UX topics—trust, ethics, and integrity