The Role of Accessibility in UX Design

by | Jun 9, 2023 | User Experience

Don’t be elusive. Be inclusive.

If you’ve ever broken a bone or torn a ligament in your dominant arm, you’ll know that blowing your nose, making coffee, holding your phone, or even typing an email is difficult and frustrating. But breaking a fixable limb gives you a few weeks of discomfort, whole many people face permanent or semi-permanent conditions. 

These can lead to constant struggles.

Despite what you may think, accessibility doesn’t refer solely to accommodating People with Disabilities (PWDs). An accessibility challenge extends to any condition that makes adjusting to specific activities take longer –  like being clinically anxious, colour blind, epileptic, visually impaired, physically impaired, etc.


If accessibility isn’t disability, what is it?

Have you ever seen an old lady’s text messages? The content measures around one word per scroll. But it’s not just old ladies who need big fonts. The point of accessibility UX design to allow people with diverse abilities to access and use it.

For example, Gary is missing his forearm, Tebogo has a broken wrist and Suzanne just had a baby. What do they have in common? Right now, they all have the use of only one arm. Gary’s arm has been permanently amputated, Tebogo has to wear a sling for the next six weeks, and Suzanne constantly has a baby on her lap, so all three must be able to operate their phones with just one hand. The difference is that Gary’s situation is permanent, Tebogo’s is temporary, and Suzanne’s is situational.

In this scenario, having a text “swipe” keyboard function would be ideal for all three users to text easily with one hand. But this is just one scenario. Digital innovation allows us to create designs that can provide disabled or compromised users with equal enjoyment and accessibility. Here are a few tips…


How to create accessibility UX design

1. Ask yourself four questions It’s impossible to place yourself in every person’s situation during design, but according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAG), you can categorise accessibility by answering four questions:
  • Can people perceive the content in different ways?
  • Can people use it without getting confused or requiring additional hardware or software?
  • Will people understand the website’s user interface, functions, and information without training or extra effort?
  • Is the website compatible with assistive devices, such as screen readers?
Tip: You can use the AXE Chrome Extension to test current website accessibility.


2. Keep the colours simple Instead of relying on users’ understanding of colours to parse your website, use icons, thick borders, tooltips and bolded text, like bold red borders to indicate an empty field or error – instead of only red borders. Also, try to keep the disco lights, pop-ups, and flashes to a minimum. This isn’t the 80s. Even if you have a retro website with retro products.


3. Talk to your copywriter  Many people with low vision use screenreaders to convert text to speech, which means the copy must accommodate the screen reader, via clear, simple language, active verbs, bullet points and lists, and short sentences and paragraphs. Another tip is to add subtitles and captions to video and audio files on your website.


4.Create personas for testing Create personas during the testing phase and use accessibility-measuring tools to help you demo the design and content according to different scenarios. This’ll give you a good idea of how accessible your platform is and what you should tweak.


Want to up the ante on accessibility UX design? Chat with an InteractRDT pro.

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