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The importance of accessibility
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importance of


The importance of Accessibility (a11y)

Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The 11 in the middle refers to the number of letters between the first letter of the word "accessibility" and the last letter.

  • #a11y
  • #accessibility

Accessibility vs Usability

Because they have similarities, accessibility is sometimes confused with usability. The two overlap and are important parts of user experience (UX) design, but there are also important differences between them. Usability is concerned with whether designs are effective, efficient, and satisfying to use. In theory, this means that usability includes accessibility, since a product that is inaccessible is also unusable by someone with a disability; in practice, however, usability tends not to focus specifically on the user experience of people with disabilities. Accessibility, on the other hand, is concerned with whether all users are able to access an equivalent user experience however they encounter a product or service (e.g., using assistive technology). In contrast to usability, the focus of accessibility is on people with disabilities.

  • #a11y
  • #usability
  • #disabilities

Accessible Designs Help Everyone

Accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it often benefits all users. That's because accessibility features that help people with disabilities often help other people as well. For example, video captions that help people with hearing problems also help a person who is watching the video on mute (for example, in a social media feed). Legible, high-contrast text that helps people with vision difficulties also helps people with perfect vision who use the app outdoors in bright sunlight. Many users - regardless of ability - will face challenges due to demanding contexts. By designing for all ability levels, you can create products and services that everyone can use and enjoy - or at least find helpful or reassuring.

Although accessibility is a critical factor that influences design, many brands overlook it. However, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report on disability, if you do not make your design accessible, you exclude about 15% of the world's population. In addition, many jurisdictions - including the EU - have penalties for failing to create accessible designs. However, accessible design not only makes sense from a legal perspective, it also brings benefits:

Improved SEO from semantic HTML

Opportunities to reach more users on more devices, in more settings/environments

Enhanced public image for your brand

  • #captions
  • #WHO
  • #EU

Types of Accessibility Issues

You should consider the number and types of potential accessibility issues users will have. These are common barriers:

Visual (e.g., color blindness

Motor/mobility (e.g., wheelchair-user concerns)

Auditory (hearing difficulties)

Seizures (especially photosensitive epilepsy)

Learning/cognitive (e.g., dyslexia)

Incidental (e.g., sleep-deprivation)

Environmental (e.g., using a mobile device underground)

As UX researchers, we often encounter similar - sometimes identical - issues that affect users' ability to interact with their technology; and while the limitations are different for different users and use cases, the design implications are similar. For example, bright sunshine, low vision, or a broken phone display can be factors motivating the need for better contrast ratios.

  • #visual
  • #mobility
  • #auditory
  • #seizures
  • #learning
  • #incidental
  • #environmental

Table of contents
ESCHit Escape to close
The importance of Accessibility •

6/13 topics available

Competitive Audits

  • Introduction to competitive audits


  • Limits to competitive audits


  • Steps to conduct competitive audits


  • Present a competitive audit


Design Ideation

  • Understand design ideation


  • Business needs during ideation


  • Use insights from competitive audits to ideate


  • Use "How might we" to ideate


  • Use Crazy Eights to ideate


  • Use journey map to ideate


Goal statements

  • Build a Goal statement


User flows

  • Introduction to user flows


  • Storyboarding user flows


  • Types of storyboards



  • Introduction to wireframes


  • Paper wireframes


  • Transition from paper to digital wireframes


  • Information architecture


Ethical and Inclusive Design

  • Identify Deceptive Patterns


  • Role as a UX designer


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