The United States government reports that 8 million people over the age of 15 suffer from low vision or blindness. That doesn’t include the 8 million with a hearing disorder or the 35 million with mobility challenges.
With so many in North America alone facing these physical challenges, there is no reason why we shouldn’t design for accessibility challenges as well as functionality and aesthetics.
But how do you go about identifying and tackling accessibility issues for numerous disabilities? Just the thought alone may feel like a monumental undertaking. Yet it’s easier than you might think.
5 Ways to Help You Design for Accessibility Challenges
Whether you’re designing graphics, creating a website, or developing software and apps, accessibility belongs in design. While the level of assistive requirements varies from project-to-project, there are many basic best practices that can help you design for universal user experiences.
Below are 5 ways you can make your digital designs more user-friendly to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.
Don’t Depend on Color to Convey Meaning
Remember the photo of the dress that took the internet by storm as people argued over its color? Some claimed it was white and gold; others swore it was blue and black. No one could agree because people weren’t seeing the same things.
Without diving into a lengthy explanation involving rods, cones, and the mind’s tendency to make assumptions, this internet disrupting challenge brought to light a fascinating reality: not all of us see colors the same way.
This, of course, is especially true for those who are colorblind.
Make it a habit of not designing in a way that depends on color to convey meaning. A great example is online forms. Often, we lean on the color red to indicate an error, but what if someone can’t see it?
The best way to audit yourself is to take a look at your design in a grayscale format. Make indicators and interactive elements clear so that users can identify them even without color.
Allow Users to Control Automated Content
Sliders, videos, and other automated elements look sleek and draw the eye. However, they don’t do you any good if they’re moving too fast for users to read or interact with them.
Instead of finding an alternative, simply add control elements such as a pause, back, and forward button. These are easily integrated into website, software, and application designs. Plus, you’ll likely find that a lot of users will use them!
When you give control over automated content, you allow the user to digest information at their own pace and even go back to portions of your media they want to revisit. This is great for engagement and conversions.
Always Use Sufficient Contrast
When it comes to overlaying text, buttons, images, and other elements, it’s important to consider the contrast between content and its background. You can find more information about contrast minimums through this online resource.
Light gray text on a white background is hard for most people to read, but it can be impossible for others. The key is to provide enough contrast to make readability possible, especially for those whose vision is limited.
Provide Alternative Navigation Options for Your Users
This accessibility practice is something you may have already seen on many sites without realizing its connection. Websites and interactive software should provide easy navigation options, including:
- Keeping your navigation bar or menu design consistent across all pages
- Providing alternative navigation options such as sitemaps or search bars
- Provide orienting clues such as clear, easy-to-read headings and breadcrumbs
Multiple options are always better than one.
Include Alternative Descriptions for Visual Media
Not everyone can see or follow your visual media. Always include alt text with every photo and include transcripts for video or audio related media. If you can, also provide links or options for audio that describes a video as it’s unfolding. This feature allows users with low vision or blindness to still actively experience what the video has to offer.
Another element that people often don’t think about, but is easy to apply, is including text alongside icons or graphical buttons. Like captions, this will help clarify the item’s message or function.
Adapt an Existing Website with Accessibility Tools
These 5 tips are only a handful of best practices for accessibility designs. To learn more about ADA compliance for websites, check out these 12 guidelines.
If you already have a website, you can still adapt your design for accessibility. Talk to us about how we can help you take your existing website and make it user-friendly for every visitor. We’ll provide insight on to how it’s done and connect you with the right resources.
To get started, contact us through our online form or give us a call!