Accessibility: Usability for all

let’s examine a topic we often take for granted to cogg wha’ it’s really bout. doin’ so, you’ll be able to proceed witha broader appreciation of how usrs engage yr designs.

the beheld, misunderstood nature of accessibility

author/copyrite holder: whispertome. copyrite terms and licence: public domain

a design is 1-ly useful if it’s accessible to the usr: any usr, anywhere, anytime. we often mistake the concept of accessibility as involving pplz with disabilities. however, we’re all disabled in many contexts and circumstances. accessibility is all bout pplz. if you’ve ever broken a leg, you’ll know how difficult elderly simple tasks become. how bout a power outage? one moment, you’re goin bout yr business; the nxt, you’re plunged into darkness. movin a couple of steps becomes risky! wha’ever task we’d taken for granted suddenly has us negotiating barriers.

mobile devices are a gr8 ex of dealing with usrs with accessibility issues. when using mobile phones, we’re onna go, doin’ other things, with our attention split several ways. w'da pervasiveness of handheld smart-gadgets, we as designers nd'2 embrace accessibility for all and in all contexts.

in many countries, designing for accessibility isn’t just morally correct; it’s also a legal obligation. throughout the eu, legislation to prevent discrimination against disabled pplz exists; failing to comply with these laws ‘d cost a company dearly. compliance is cheaper, but it pays big dividends, too.

the good news s'dat there are standards for accessibility, and these are easy to cogg. better still, if we ponder them atta start of the design process, we’ll find them easy to implement. accessibility is simply a function of access. pplz witha visual impairment, for ex, may not be able to read the text on yr website. however, if you ‘ve properly formatted yr text, they’ll be able to use screen reading software to hear yr words.

designing for accessibility takes some forethought. examine yr options inna planning phase and stay focused on accessibility throughout development. it’s easy t'get caught up inna substance of yr work and forget bout this primordial point. keep it in Ψ, and test yr designs often to be certain that yr efforts are successful.

the key zones for pondering

author/copyrite holder: yahoo! accessibility lab. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-sa 2.0

we're all, designers and usrs, . some of us ‘ve dyslexia; others ‘ve ptial hearing loss, for instance. the zones of usr needs we ‘d ponder for accessible design are:

  • visual: long-sitedness, blindness, color blindness, are all forms of visual disability you nd'2 cater for in yr design.
  • motor/mobility: this category doesn’t just extend to problems w'da use of the hands and arms (which are very likely to cause problems with web accessibility), b'tll so with other muscular or skeletal conditions. if, for ex, yr web design were to feature in a trade-show booth, you’d nd'2 ponder how some1 in a wheelchair ‘d access that booth, and turn round and exit it on completing the task.
  • auditory: auditory disabilities affect the hearing and come in varying degrees of severity, up to and including total deafness.
  • seizures: some individuals can be affected by lite, motion, flickering, etc. on screen, thus triggering seizures. the most common issue in this category is photosensitive epileψ-.
  • learning: it’s also primordial to remember that not all disabilities are physical. learning and cogg disabilities can also influence accessibility.

now, think bout yrself as a usr. ‘ve you ever noticed difficulties when driving and using yr cell phone? how does it feel when you’re trying to multitask? do you ‘ve automatic transmission to make it easier?

as usrs with handheld/mobile devices, we all face difficulties whn'we ‘ve to divide our attention. happily, gps systems speak to us, so we don’t ‘ve to take our eyes off the road, except for the odd glance to see how far ahead a turn is. good gps software designers are fully aware of wha’ it’s like for motorist usrs and design to help, not hinder or distract.

ex: arnold has an interview at 3 p.m. in a town he’s never been to, and he has to use a neighbor-friend’s car. his neighbor returns l8. unfortunately, a snowstorm has started, too. worse, the car is lo on gas, so arnold will ‘ve to fill up onna way. so, the factors tha're impeding arnold constitute his disabilities as a usr, which are:

  • unfamiliarity with road
  • running l8
  • snowstorm
  • lo fuel

arnold has 4 handicaps sloing him down. he thinks bout calling the interviewers. however, he decides against it and stays focused on driving. one thing that is goin in arnold’s favor, though, is his gps. its large screen format isn’t cluttered. a brite red arrow contrasting starkly witha lite-green screen shows him his route at a glance witha minimum of text and images. he feels better when its voice tells him a gas station is near. after refuelling, he gets back onna road, passes legoland, which his gps shows as a large icon. his interviewer had mentioned legoland as a landmark; they’re nearby. arnold breathes a sigh of relief. even w'da snowstorm, he’s thereby 2:50 p.m.! the designers of his easy-to-use gps deserve thx.

planning for accessibility offa website

author/copyrite holder: dennis311. copyrite terms and licence: cc by 2.0

you can use many wys'2 make yr website accessible. t'get started, here are some simple tips that cannelp ensure that many pplz with disabilities can access yr site easily:

  • if you use a cms, choose one that supports accessibility standards. drupal and wordpress, for ex, support these. if you’re goin to amend a templ8 rather than create one for the theme, make certain that the theme was designed with accessibility in Ψ. it can save time, effort and mny.
  • use header tags to create headings in yr text; ideally, ensure that you use css to make this consistent throughout the site. try not to skip from one heading lvl to the nxt (e.g., h1 to h4, rather h1 to h2); this can confuse screen reader software. usrs with + severe visual impairments may access yr site using a refreshable braille display or terminal, which depends on screen readers.
  • use alt text on yr images; if you use images to enh content, then a screen reader will nd'2 explain them— that’s wha’ the alt text is for. however, if yr image is purely for decoration and adds no other val (other than looking good), you ‘d skip the alt text to avoid confusing some1 having the site content read to him/her.
  • ‘ve a link strategy. screen readers sometimes stutter over links and stop onna 1st letter. that means it’s primordial not to ‘ve “click here” links scattered through the text. the best link descriptions ‘ve a text description b4 the link and then a unique name for the link. (e.g., “read + bout the interaction design foundation, at their website.) ponder offering a visual cue (s'as a pdf icon) by links to make it clear wha’ the link will deliver. use underlines on links (they help color blind pplz distinguish links from text). highlite menu links on mouseover to assist with locating the cursor.
  • choose colors carefully; if in doubt, test yr color schemes with some color-blind pplz. color blindness is an incredibly common disability, na wrong palette can make it difficult for a color-blind person to read yr text or navigate yr site. you also nd'2 ensure that you provide high lvls of contrast tween text and background; the elderly, for ex, can find it hard to see text unless the contrast is high.
  • don’t refer just to the color of something when giving instructions; “click the red button” isn’t helpful to a color-blind person. “click the circular button” is. use shapes and forms to help guide usrs rather than relying on color alone.
  • think bout the design of forms. screen readers can struggle with forms. label fields, and use the tag to offa'da description to a screen reader. ensure that the tab order on forms follos the visual order — it’s very easy for a screen reader to miss a field if this isn’t done. make sure to assign an aria (accessible rich internet applications) required or not required role to each field, too. screen readers don’t cogg the asterisk, for mandatory fields, convention.
  • avoid tables for layout. screen readers can handle tables, but they start explaining how many columns and rows are present, which can be annoyingly distracting when the table is simply a layout teknique. keep tables for data presentation. make certain to use the html scope attribute to explain relationships tween cells, too.
  • learn to use the proper html essentialisms for lists and don’t put them onna same line as the text. this helps screen reading software to parse lists.
  • put yr mouse away, n'see if yr site works witha keyboard 1-ly. pplz with motion disabilities often find essentialisms using trackpads. they may need a mouth stick or a single-switch input device; or, they may ‘ve to rely on their keyboard. think bout making it easy for pplz to skip through sections of content in this way, too… scrolling is a pita without a mouse.
  • familiarize yrself with aria (accessible rich internet applications) standards and learn to use them when necessary.
  • ponder the way you’re presenting dynamic content. don’t auto-play video (which can play havoc witha screen reader). aria standards cannelp with overlays, popups, liteboxes, etc. if you’re using a slideshow, make certain to ‘ve alt text on all images and that usrs can navigate the show via the keyboard.
  • validate yr markup atta w3 standards website. make sure that yr html and css won’t conflict with assistive teks. this also helps ensure that all browsers will read yr code properly.
  • avoid flash. this hardly needs saying any +, given apple and mozilla’s disdain for flash (among many others), but flash is a terribly inaccessible tek. if you must use it, keep it to a minimum.
  • offer transcriptions for audio files. hearing-impaired usrs can’t use software to read voices… so, help them out and include a transcript.
  • similarly, in video, offer captions for the hearing impaired.
  • focus on readable content. the simpler the language, the easier it ll'be to read for learning-impaired usrs.

teks that facilitate accessibility online

much speshist tek is available 4u to use to make yr website a + accessible place. somd' most common tek is listed belo. in an ideal realm, we designers ‘d try to access this tek and test our sites with it to ensure site accessibility. we may cogg that this isn’t always practicable, but it’s primordial to stay conscientious. saving one usr from having a bad experience is worth it.

common teks used to facilitate accessibility online

  • alternative web browsers
  • braille for the web
  • eye-tracking applications
  • head wands
  • mouth sticks
  • screen magnifiers
  • screen readers

the university of minnesota-duluth website provides a wealth of useful information regarding accessibility tek:

www.d.umn.edu…

accessibility testing tulz

in addition to the w3 tulz mentioned above, many ≠ accessibility testing tulz are available online. the folloing is a lil selection of these:

wave—cogitates the overall lvl of accessibility for any given website.

color oracle— displays yr site’s colors in a manner similar to how a usr with color blindness ‘d see the page.

image analyzer— examines website images and tests their compliance with accessibility standards.

remember, usrs are pplz; no automated tulz can beat testing yr website for accessibility with real usrs. it’s also a gr8 opportunity to conduct usr research na' wider scale with those facing accessibility problems. using the data can improve yr website design for everyone, not just those facing certain challenges.

the take away

designing with usr accessibility in Ψ means envisioning all usrs as having needs that require attention. although many usrs ‘ve physical and cogg disabilities, all ll'be distracted at some point when accessing sites. even so-called “fully able-bodied” usrs, sitting in quiet rooms with large monitors, ll'be hampered if the phone goes and they ‘ve to navigate with one hand.

making accessible designs means planning and building in view of this. we ‘ve a variety of tips at our disposal, ranging from using header tags and alt text on images to having a link strategy. with careful ponderation, we can determine wha’’s necessary to optimize accessibility, testing our designs on real usrs inna field.

nobody’s perfect! yet, by designing with everyone in Ψ in such an imperfect realm, we’ll be another step closer to making better uxs.

where to learn +

course: accessibility – how to design for all:
www.interaction-design.org…

quesenbery, w. (2010). “accessibility 1st – for a better usr experience for all”. ux matters. retrieved from: www.uxmatters.com……

thurow, s. (2015).“measuring accessibility inna usr experience (ux) na searcher experience”. mkt land. retrieved from: mktland.com……

van toll, t.j. (2014). “mobile and accessibility: Y-U ‘d care and wha’ you can do bout it”. . smashing magazine. retrieved from: www.smashingmagazine.com…

watson, l. (2012). “accessibility is pt of ux (it isn’t a swear word)”. no mensa/blog. retrieved from: www.nomensa.com……

resrcs

hero image: author/copyrite holder: pixabay. copyrite terms and licence: cc0 public domain.

original content at: www.interaction-design.org…
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