Think Tank Thoughts

Accessibility and Design Go Hand in Hand

Accessibility can seem daunting. But in reality, you can think of it like any other design element — and it will only help you improve user experience.

Close up of a user's hands on a touchscreen device

May 18, 2022 | BY Caitlin Abramson , Experience Architect

Color palettes, font choice, content hierarchy — so much thought goes into how a website looks and functions. And yet, designers and developers sometimes overlook the most crucial experience element: accessibility. That might be because accessibility can seem like a behemoth of a topic to tackle. In reality, it goes hand in hand with design best practices and inclusivity — because even the most beautiful mockup isn’t going to work if it doesn’t accommodate all users’ needs.

We had the pleasure of bringing our accessibility expertise to light at the 2022 Fair Housing Fair and by sharing our knowledge in a free Self-Guided Website Accessibility Audit. Here are some important lessons every organization should consider while building their websites.

The Importance of Accessibility and Inclusivity for Website Design

Although you might have a target audience in mind, it pays to accommodate everyone with your user experience. About 20% of Americans — nearly 57 million people — have some kind of disability. That means you can count on one in five of your users having difficulty with their mobility, hearing, vision, cognition, or any number of other challenges.

 

Collage of a cognitive impairment statistic and users accessing websites in different ways, one of them is frustrated

 

For that matter, practicing inclusivity and accessibility elevates your overall user experience because it enables everyone. Anyone interacting with your website should feel they belong there — that the text is clear enough for them to see, the design and imagery reflect a world that they can relate to, and using interactive features feel like second nature. It’s also worth ensuring your word choice and delivery are suitable for anyone.

It’s Easier Than You Think

Design is a powerful (and subtle!) accessibility tool when you think about it. Contrast, for example, is a standard part of any creative’s toolbox, whether we’re talking about graphic design, painting, or writing. It also happens to be vital for making your content both legible and coherent for any audience. After all, there needs to be a certain level of contrast between your text and its background for users to read it.

 

Collage of a color contrast example and a user attempting to read content

 

Taking this example further, let’s consider users with excellent eyesight – it’s still challenging to see yellow text on a white background. Trying to fill out a form or submit information when the text is illegible makes for a stressful user experience.

Where to Get Started

Fortunately, these issues are 100% amendable — and avoidable.

Guidelines crafted by accessibility enthusiasts and design experts can help you get started,
including that handy-dandy self-guided audit we mentioned. It’s based on the WCAG guidelines that government websites must follow and it covers ways to accommodate disabilities and practice inclusivity, no matter your audience.

Remember, accessibility is for everyone. You don’t need to be a programmer or take giant leaps
to get started. Start small instead, using our self-guided audit and other resources to help lead the way.

We at LookThink are passionate about how we implement accessibility across all our projects. Tune in next week to learn more about how we demystify, teach, and implement accessibility.
 

Extending accessibility knowledge into fair housing.

Read about our approach for our 2022 Fair Housing Fair engagement and watch the session.

Watch the session
LookThink and Multifamily NW collage

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