Accessible Design – Have You Thought About It?

If you were asked if you wanted your material to be accessible to as many people as possible, you’d no doubt answer yes. However, have you thought about your audience and what their abilities are? Do you consciously create for people of all abilities? These are good questions to ask yourself when it comes to your design needs across platforms.

Accessibility means being able to independently access, use and benefit from the user experience. Accessible design provides this access by increasing usability and making things easier for everyone.

“Design for inclusion, not exclusion.”

It’s still possible to produce powerful, dynamic designs which communicate and engage. Even while remaining compliant with any government, business or education regulations. Designing for communication doesn’t preclude beauty.

“Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.” Alan Kay, American Computer Scientist

It can be as simple as paying attention to the contrast between text and background. We’ve all encountered design that has placed colour choice above readability.

In general, dark colours on light backgrounds are more accessible than the reverse. Black text on white background is the gold standard. When working with colours, the best way to check the contrast is to view it in grayscale. This will enable you to see if there is enough contrast.

Other things to pay attention to include writing clearly and simply, and using fonts, headings and lists appropriately. You should also provide documented keyboard access to all and never communicate information by sound alone.

The 7 Principles of Universal Design were developed in 1997 and are widely used. They are:

Principle 1: Equitable use

Design that is useful and marketable to persons with diverse abilities.

Principle 2: Flexibility in use

Design that accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Principle 3: Simple and intuitive use

Design that is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or concentration level.

Principle 4: Perceptible information

Design that communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.

Principle 5: Tolerance for error

Design that minimises hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Principle 6: Low physical effort

Design that can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

Principle 7: Size and space for approach and use

Design that provides appropriate size and space—for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture or mobility.

By applying these design principles, you increase access and usability for all as these are known to increase speed and learning time, decrease errors, and reduce fatigue.

Next time you create a template, a video or web tool, give some thought to accessibility. You’ll be making life easier for everyone.

If you’d like to incorporate accessibility to boost your marketing efforts, get in touch with the team at Ideaseed. We are very proud to be one of the few design agencies who deliver accessibility across all platforms to our clients.

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