Design for Accessibility Covers a Lot More than Just Color Blindness

design
usability

#1

Accessibility is ignored by designers, as they often relate it to boring designs, text only websites, monochromatic colors, and static content. But accessibility should not be vetoed from your discussion just because you think it’s either complex or boring, because it’s not.

A true digital experience is actually incomplete without an amalgamation of creativity, usability, and accessibility. Yes, you heard it right, and there are a few reasons to support this. As much as 14% of the population consider themselves to have some kind of disability, this counts for one out of your seven potential customers. But wait… there’s more, over 10% people have color blindness, 4% people with troubled vision and over 20% of the elderly population struggles with mobility and vision issues.

Whoa! that’s a whopping 50% of your potential customer base, now can you afford to ignore them? Nope, then how to make your design accessible, it’s not as complicated as rocket science, we’ve got a few easy tips for you to make a switch.

FOLLOW THE RULES

There are some industry standards for website accessibility, compiled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and called as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and most popularly known as POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust). The website is evaluated based on these criteria and accorded A, AA, AAA success categories to support different levels of accessibility. Level A stands for basic accessibility standard, while AAA for advanced.

For example, Guideline 1.4.1 is about the use of color and it highlights, “Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element (Level A).”

This is my story and I have published complete post on Inkoniq blog. Design for Accessibility Covers a Lot More than Just Color Blindness


#2

@neonester great post
my consideration:

I don’t agree on that.
Accessibility is a huge investment during the product design process and is even bigger when the project is alive in terms of maintenance. It’s not something that can be decided by designers, it’s a strategy for the company. In my personal experience I worked on several project according the accessibility laws (ex. Stanca law 4/2004 for the Italian public sites). We delivered the full platform according the guidelines, after few weeks, back end and front end were not accessible anymore due to the fact that the owner was not able to maintain such standards.
Everybody in the team should be involved in developing and maintaining the accessibility and, in my opinion, the company should invest the right budget on it.

It’s always a good exercise, for designers, face with guidelines and I hope that in the future more and more web pro will be engaged on delivering accessible pages


#3

A post was split to a new topic: Do you follow WCAG when you design?


#4

@dopamino… I agree with you completely. Accessibility is no doubt pretty big on maintenance, but just look at the people suffering from one or the other disabilities, it can be as simple as weak eyesight or could be a bigger deal like blindness. I know its time taking and resource heavy to follow WCAG guidelines, but taking care of small things like contrast, font size, backgrounds can make a huge difference and this won’t hurt the budget too. I too hope more and more people try to implement these guidelines in their designs.


#5

@neonester
fully agree with you. I strongly believe web technologies should be a leverage to fill the gap between diversities.
But…

It always depend on the size of the project and its own history. I worked on some projects built without any style guide and, believe me, was a nightmare.


#6

@dopamino I understand you … I had my share of miserable projects too :frowning:


#7

Sort of a side question in relation to accessibility…

In my role I create Axure wireframes, I make sure the colour ratios and font sizes etc are accessible, make sure click targets and nice and big etc. For some projects I then create the basic HTML (we use bootstrap) so I ensure I use ARIA, roles, and that all the HTML is semantic. This then gets handed over to AngularJS developers. I have noitced that sometimes the HTML gets pulled apart so much that it is no longer as screen reader friendly, so if I have time I go back in and add in any bits I can.

Whos responsibility would you say is it to implement accessibility? Am I doing this the correct way, or should we look at making sure the developers are making the code accessible?

Another side question - How does everyone test their sites for accessibility? How do you know if your site is A, AA, or AAA rated? I use Wave to give me an idea of what is wrong but I wasn’t sure if there was a better way?

Thanks in advance


#8

UX and Accessibility need to together. I agree that it is everyone in the team that need to work towards maintaining accessibility. However, I disagree that it is not a UX or Visual Designer ignore it. I have been working as UX Designer/Analyst for more than 15 years and working on government projects and universities, I always had to make sure the solution we design is not only is geared toward great user experience for general population but also people with disabilities - It is the law.

That said, ARIA is only one part to resolving the accessibility issue. If you are required to support old browsers, you cannot rely on ARIA alone. In lot of government contracts, believe it or not, they want us to support IE 7 and 8.

One thing I do when I create HTML/CSS pages, I comment and put it “do not delete or change - this is to satisfy 508 compliance/ WCAG AA compliance.” Developers respect that and they can focus on backend development rather than UI. We also before the start of the project, as a team get together and go through technical specifications for WCAG AA/ Section 508 compliance so the entire team is on the same page and clearly define what I can do in front end and how they need to implement in the backend. This is just the process I have started doing at our company and developers have actually appreciated because they know what needs to be done up front so they can give more realistic LOE’s because at the end, executives are all about #s.

Section 508 (https://www.section508.gov/content/build/website-accessibility-improvement/WCAG-conformance) has changed quite a bit this past March and refers to WCAG AA compliance :slight_smile: I have found out if we follow that we pass 508 compliance. Also, we cannot just rely on automated compliance checker because lot needs to be done manually to make sure we pass WCAG AA level (at least this is for government and universities). Some companies might be okay with level A implementation.

We use WAVE as one of the tools to check online for WCAG conformance - http://wave.webaim.org/.

Hope this is helpful.