How to Design for Improved Accessibility

The times have changed for the better, with us being more aware of accessible design. Accessibility refers to a characteristic that allows persons with disabilities to use a product, service, or facility independently. In web and graphic design, designing for accessibility is greatly considered to allow the website and other programs onscreen to cater to all of their users.


To raise awareness of different conditions that can affect how users access digital products and services, interaction designer Karwai Pun created a series of posters illustrating the dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility. Each of the posters features general guidelines and good design practices that take six areas or conditions into consideration: autism, screen reading, low vision, physical or motor disabilities, deafness or difficulty in hearing, and dyslexia.


Users with Autism

When designing for users on the autism spectrum, it is best to use simpler colors and to use plain language and simple sentences. Better if you can summarize the important highlights into bullets. Action buttons should be descriptive – tell the user what the buttons are for, for example, “Attach Files” instead of just “Click Here.” Consider designing simple and consistent layouts. Avoid distracting design such as using too vivid and contrasting colors. As for text, avoid long paragraphs, vague instructions, and figures of speech.


Users of Screen Readers

Those who are visually impaired rely on screen readers to know the text displayed onscreen. When designing for users of screen readers, it is important to describe images properly and provide transcripts for video. Aside from SEO purposes, this is also the reason for putting meta tags on images and the website itself – to provide important contextual information for people navigating the website. However, it’s better that information is not dominantly put on images and videos. Make sure to also follow a linear logical layout, use HTML5, build for keyboard use only (sometimes using the mouse is not an option or can be difficult), and be descriptive and specific with links and headings.


Users with Low Vision

When designing for website visitors with low vision, for obvious reasons, it’s best to make use of good contrasts to make sure that the font size is readable enough and the text is still clear when magnified to 200%.


Users with Physical or Motor Disabilities

Viewers with physical or motor disabilities may prefer larger clickable actions or buttons, and a keyboard or a speech-only option. Shortcuts to actions and design for touch screen are also appreciated. When creating forms, ensure that the fields’ spaces are spacious enough. Do not demand precision, and avoid building an interface that needs lots of scrolling and typing.


Users with Hearing Problems

Improving website accessibility for visitors who have hearing problems is especially important if the design involves sounds and videos. First of all, avoid putting content exclusively in audio or video. When a video is involved, put subtitles and/or transcripts. Also bear in mind to stick to using simple language, with information broken down into simple sentences and bullets, instead of blocks of content. And of course, when giving options for communication, let users indicate their preferred communication support.


Users with Dyslexia

Best design practices when designing for accessibility for people experiencing dyslexia: include the use of images and diagrams and consistently aligned layout preferably to the left. Audio and video can also be used, as well as playing up the contrast between background and the content. Do not include heavy, huge blocks of texts, emphasize content by underlining and using italics or capitals. Provide autocorrect and suggestions when needing users to enter information.


For more information, or if you’d like to start on a project that focuses on better accessible design for your users, let us know by getting in touch with us.