Accessibility is more than just a nice-to-have anymore; it is a have-to-have on the web. There are two ways to design for accessibility (accessible design and universal design). Accessible design considers the needs of people with disabilities, but universal design considers the thoughts of the human population. We want to focus on universal design.
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. This next video breaks down the book, Accessibility for Everyone, by Laura Kalbag, which focuses on a more universal design approach. In just about 3 minutes, we’ll present specific tactics you can implement to make your site a more accessible site.
Accessibility. It’s this big, sometimes overwhelming, initiative everyone in the digital landscape should be thinking about. Understanding what it is, what it encompasses and its impact will not only make you a better project manager, UX designer, web designer, copywriter or developer, it’ll make you a better person.
Hi, I’m Kate Penrod, Senior Visual Designer at Hileman Group and in this episode I’ll be breaking down Accessibility for Everyone by Laura Kalbag.
While there are a lot of content pieces out there about accessibility, we chose this one because A Book Apart, the publisher, is a great source within the industry. They have a ton of great books for anyone looking for a source that sheds light on tricky subjects in the digital space.
But this book, it’s roughly 150 pages, not counting the references, so I’m here to give you the TL;DR version in 3 minutes or less. Our timer is set. Game on.
There are common misconceptions (or, what we call “excuses”) about making accessible sites. Either accessibility is boring (which means our design isn’t cool or innovative), we can’t tell if anyone really benefits, we don’t know what to do, or it’s hard and there’s too much to do. But, isn’t everything we do on the web hard? Why should this be any different? So, let’s stop making excuses and get down to business.
Accessibility is a win-win situation for everyone, and can even increase your potential user base, which is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
We have already made big changes in the physical spaces around us to make it easier for people with disabilities to use (think no more spherical door knobs or how pedestrian traffic crossings making beeping noises). Why should the web be any different? For the sake of this book, we are going to briefly touch on two ways to design for accessibility: accessible design and universal design.
While accessible design considers the needs of people with disabilities, universal design considers the thoughts of the human population. Universal design is the design of products or environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaption or specialized design. This book takes the universal design approach whenever possible.
While there is a ton of great information in this book, we only have 3 minutes, so we want to focus on the specific tactics you can implement to make yours a more accessible site.
Links: Make sure your links stand out. Finding links in a body of text shouldn’t be a cruel game where the reader has to hover over every word to find them. Because of this, color should not be the only indication that linked text is a link. Graphic indicators such as arrows and underlines are great examples of what you can add to help that link stand out.
Link language: Link context is key! “Click here” and “Read More” is not sufficient. Screen readers can scan links and when that is the only thing it says, there is no context as to what that link is actually for. Instead, descriptive linking can help take the link out of context and provides users with a sense of where the link will take them or what will happen after they have interacted with it.
Color: Pay attention to the contrast of your colors Color should never be used as the sole means of displaying information. Sufficient contrast between foreground and background colors can help users differentiate between text and imagery.
PDFs: PDFs are not accessible. PDFs themselves are not accessible because not everyone can open and read PDFs. Instead, this book suggests recreating the content on a webpage and offering print options on that page if you need the page to be printable.
Don’t start without a plan. If I leave you with anything, it is this: Always have a testing plan ready before you build out your site. When your team is on the same page at the beginning and have an understanding of the end accessibility goal, you will end up saving a lot of time, money, and headaches in the long run.
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