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  • Writer's pictureKayJay McDonald-Ferguson

Designing for Everyone: The Power of UX Accessibility

In the ever-evolving world of digital design, one concept has taken centre stage: UX accessibility. This isn't just about making your website or application more user-friendly; it's about ensuring that it can be used by everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

So, what is accessibility in design? It's about removing barriers so that everyone can access your content and services. This concept goes beyond just helping those with disabilities; it benefits a broader audience, a phenomenon often referred to as the "Curb Cut Effect." This effect occurs when features designed for people with disabilities, such as closed captioning or text-to-speech, end up being used by a wider range of users.

Black woman hands holding an iPhone with the TikTok logo displayed

Accessibility in the digital realm has come a long way. In the early days of the internet, web designers focused on page layout and aesthetics, giving little thought to disabilities. However, as the internet became an integral part of modern life, a shift towards inclusivity began.

Here's a snapshot of the key milestones in this evolution:

  • 1980-1990: This decade witnessed the PC and web explosion, with the World Wide Web gaining immense popularity.

  • 1990: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted, mandating accessibility for people with disabilities in places of public accommodation.

  • 1998: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was amended to include digital accessibility, making it a requirement for federal agencies.

  • 1999: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 were introduced, with 14 guidelines for web accessibility.

  • 2008: WCAG 2.0 brought four new principles to guide web accessibility.

  • 2018: WCAG 2.1 added more detailed guidelines, further expanding accessibility standards.

Ignoring accessibility isn't just a moral concern; it's a legal obligation. When you disregard accessibility, you're excluding a massive chunk of your potential audience. But the benefits of accessibility go beyond the numbers. It's about creating a web that's more inclusive, equitable, and user-friendly.

In the world of web design, there are many elements that need to be considered, which can often be overlooked. These challenges include:

  • Color and Contrast: The right colour choices and contrast are vital for readability and usability. Poor contrast can hinder users' ability to consume information.

  • Focus States: Users navigating your site with a keyboard rely on focus states to know where they are. Inconsistent or confusing focus states can be a major roadblock to accessibility.

  • Legal Implications: Neglecting accessibility on your website can lead to legal consequences. Laws and regulations increasingly require websites to be accessible to all users, and no company is exempt from these obligations.

Creating an accessible user experience (UX) involves considering a wide range of factors to cater to diverse needs. Your accessibility guidelines should cover standards that support various disabilities, such as visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments. Additionally, your design, hierarchy, and functionality should be assessed with accessibility in mind.

Black man standing on the train holding the metal rail

Accessibility isn't exclusive to the primary beneficiaries of accessibility: Mobility disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and visual impairments, it also benefits people outside of those groups. Accessible design makes websites and apps cleaner and easier to use with clear navigation, readable fonts, and consistent layouts. This is helpful for people using mobile devices, multitasking, or dealing with slow internet connections, ensuring faster loading times. It's also beneficial for an aging population, people with temporary impairments, and those using various devices.

UX accessibility is not just a good practice; it's a necessity in today's digital landscape. It's a journey of creating a more inclusive and equitable web for everyone, and it's a journey well worth taking.

King Visuals is here to support you in becoming more accessible. If you're ready to elevate, we are just a click away. Let's turn your vision into a vibrant reality. Drop a message today.

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