Designing with Accessibility in mind

Karun
4 min readMay 12, 2023
Source : Silverline CRM

“The basic thumb rule for designing any product is to not ignore any user. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. This represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us. As a UI/UX designer, one should always keep in mind that accessibility is not something that designers sacrifice to design any product, but it is the most fundamental component to finish any product.

Product should be Universal which can be accesed by wide range of disabilities, characteristics and other abilities. To achieve this target designer’s focus should be these 1.3 billion people who experience difficulties due to their disabilities. while designing a product the basic thumb rule of designing industry is not to ignore anyone and not to put any special features which can be used to access the product more conveniently. The main challenge for a designer should be to design in such a way that same features which are included in the product should benefit both the disable and normal users using the product up to same extent. Disable people should not get any separate type of advantage but design should be build in such a way which values every person using it.

Some designers might thing that removing barriers for disable people is increasing friction for others. I think user friendly design is which remove obstacles for everyone which is also the aim of the UX design.

For example : A voice-controlled virtual assistant, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, may be convenient for an able-bodied person who wants to control their smart home devices hands-free, but it may be essential for a person with a physical disability who cannot use their hands to operate switches or buttons.

Source : Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant

Web design accessibility :

When it comes to designing websites, accessibility refers to adhering to specific established standards and principles to ensure that people with disabilities can effectively navigate and use the site. These documented guidelines are :

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) — These guidelines provide suggestions for improving the accessibility of web content, with a primary focus on enhancing the user experience for people with disabilities, although they benefit all users and devices.

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (UAAG) — UAAG 2.0 provides guidance to developers on creating user agents that enhance web accessibility for people with disabilities. User agents encompass a range of applications such as browsers, media players, readers, and browser extensions that render web content.

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (ATAG) — These guidelines are aimed at creating authoring tools that can be used by people with disabilities, while also making it easier for content creators to produce accessible web content.

Mobile design accessibility :

Mobile devices present unique challenges for people with different impairments due to factors such as small screen sizes, difficulties with zooming, and issues with visibility. Similar set of accessibility guidelines are there for mobile usage and these documented guidelines ensure that people with disabilities can effectively navigate.

Advantages of accessibility :

Target larger audience :

1.3 billion people will leave the website without navigating just because its not accessible due to their disability which results in significant loss of traffic, customers, and audience.
Failing to design products with accessibility in mind effectively excludes a significant portion of the population, potentially resulting in a substantial loss of customers and audience. On the other hand including this portion of the population will result to reach larger target audience, generating more revenue.

Money saving :

Most of the designers might think that designing the product considering accessibility will cost more. It’s not true, Incorporating accessibility features into a website during the initial development or redesign phase is easier and less expensive than adding these features to an existing website as a separate project later. One can understand this with the help of following example :

Source

It’s like building a house with accessibility features from the start, rather than trying to add them later after the house has been built. Making accessibility a priority at the beginning can save time and money in the long run.

If you need further motivation to prioritize accessibility in your design, consider reading this case study, who lost a lawsuit worth $3 million for neglecting to make their website accessible to visually impaired users. This serves as a warning of the legal and financial consequences that may arise from ignoring accessibility in design.

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Karun
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I understand how to put the user at the centre of design. I do this by empathizing with the users and discovering their motivations, needs, and pain points.