10 Essential Tips for Creating Accessible Web Designs

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The Art of Accessibility Advocacy: Strategies to Sell your Point

  • The idea of advocating for accessibility starts at the distinction between accessible and universal designs.

  • It’s essential to develop the basic knowledge of legal guidelines related to web accessibility, notably the WCAs (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

  • The significance of including the differently-abled community in usability testing cannot be overemphasised.

  • There are practical ways you can prioritise accessibility in your design discussions.

  • Financial aspects can be addressed by highlighting the commercial essence of accessible designs.

  • Using specific scripts can facilitate crucial accessibility conversation.

In the aesthetic realms of web design, there’s an idea that often goes unnoticed or unattended; advocating for accessibility. You see, there's a significant difference between universal and accessible designs. While universal design aims to make products and environments usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design, accessible design focuses on meeting the needs of people with disabilities. In essence, both go hand-in-hand, but that subtle distinction twixt the two is a lesson in itself and a perfect place to kick off the accessibility discourse.Next in line for the accessibility advocator is the need to develop an understanding of the legal backdrop here. We're talking about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAs), the golden standards for accessible web designs. Familiarising yourself with these shows your genuine concern for making a difference and showcases a level of professionalism any organisation would appreciate. Now we all know usability testing is a formidable part of the designing journey, but have you ever involved differently-abled individuals in said tests? It's a crying shame if the answer's a no because incorporating the differently-abled community in usability testing brings about a broader, enriched perspective. This approach paves the royal way to suppressed blind spots and assumptions, producing a design that truly is for all.As we dive deeper, understand this. You can and you should bring accessibility to the heart of design discussions. Instead of treating it like an accessory (forgive the unintentional rhyme), acknowledge it as fundamentally integral. Address potential issues from the onset, demonstrate how aligning design decisions to WCAGs will avoid future pitfalls. Pitch it as prevention rather than a cure, if you will. A huge barrier, or should I say ‘Great Wall of China’, in the accessibility discourse is cost. So, tackle the financials head-on. Ask these questions; What’s the price of non-compliance? Or the financial implications of alienating a segment of your users? Communicate that ethical considerations are not the only forces at play here; it is also a commercial essential. Profit-making companies won’t ignore the potential revenue from a wider, accessible design. It's basic business arithmetic mate. Lastly, how you conduct the accessibility conversation is indeed key. Using specific scripts can help structure the discussion, making every point count. Being an effective communicator is half the accessibility battle. As a Liverpool-grown web designer with years under his belt, tackling potential barriers to web accessibility isn't a 'nice-to-have', it's mandatory. We, as designers, are the gatekeepers of digital inclusivity. When grounded within our discussions, practises, and meetings, addressing accessibility grows beyond mere lip service into actions that resonate and ripple out.Accessibility isn't just a socially responsible practise; it's a business-savvy strategy and a design challenge that pushes us to think beyond the conventional box. Mate, it's about making our digital world just that little bit more welcoming for everyone, complication or not. Electric together, we're able to construct a community where every voice is heard and every hand gets to play its part. And you reckon that's not worth fighting for?

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