To Make Your Product Accessible, Consider Accessibility at Each Stage of the Design Process

Jessica Ivins
Sep 12, 2018 · 5 min read
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A wheelchair ramp on the sidewalk. Photo courtesy of Tobias Abel.

Make Accessibility Part of Every Step

The best way to make an accessible design is to consider accessibility at each stage of the design process.

User Research Practices Course

When conducting user research, students must include participants with disabilities. This means they recruit people with disabilities, moderate research sessions with them, and observe as other students moderate sessions.

Copywriting and Content Strategy Course

When writing content, students write using plain language. Students learn that simple, clear language is more accessible than jargon or complex words.

Front-End Development Course

When creating prototypes with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, students write accessible code.

Accessibility is for Everyone

An accessible design is not just better for people with impairments. It’s better for everyone.

Accessibility is a Daily Consideration

Accessibility is not something you tack on at the end of a project or do once during a project. It’s a toolbox you pull from regularly throughout the project lifecycle.

Ready to Make Your Designs Accessible?

Here are some of the resources we used to infuse accessibility into our curriculum. Our students found these resources very useful in their project work:

  • Pablo Stanley’s article, Designing for Accessibility is Not That Hard, gives an excellent overview of accessible design, why it’s important, and how to create accessible products with your team.
  • In her article, Planning Usability Testing, Shawn Lawton Henry shows you how to include participants with disabilities when conducting user research. (This is an excerpt from her book, Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design. You can read the entire book online for free.)
  • Katie John and Leon Hubert, two researchers in the UK, published a fantastic article, What We Learned Doing User Research with People Who Have Access Needs. They explain how they conducted research and what they learned about crafting a good experience for the participants.
  • In The Audience You Didn’t Know You Had, Angela Colter shows you how to write simple content that’s easy to understand. She also explains why writing in plain language is not the same as dumbing down your content.
  • Google Web Fundamentals’ Introduction to ARIA resource will help you learn how to use ARIA roles in your code. ARIA roles help make your code more accessible to assistive devices like screen readers.

Jessica Ivins

Written by

UX designer, educator, and speaker. Faculty member @CenterCentre, the UX design school. Formerly @HappyCog. I like veggies, music, and Oxford commas.

Jessica Ivins

Written by

UX designer, educator, and speaker. Faculty member @CenterCentre, the UX design school. Formerly @HappyCog. I like veggies, music, and Oxford commas.

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