Are there any guides we can follow during the design process to create a more accessible digital experience?
Put yourself in your user’s shoes (all of your users) - carry out user testing on a diverse group. Don’t carry out six user tests internally all with a group of people who fit a similar description. If you do this, you might as well just test on one person. You have to try and test as widely as possible to get a true reflection of any accessibility issues that you as a designer may not even consider potential problems.
Support keyboard navigation - this is actually law now in the UK, so if you’re not doing this, you could receive a hefty fine. If you’re unsure what this means, imagine I instruct you to throw your mouse out of the window, and then use your company website. Can you easily navigate through the site and access the important content? If not, you’re not being accessible! Many users with motor disabilities rely on a keyboard. Blind users also typically use a keyboard for navigation. Some people have tremors which don't allow for fine muscle control (such as using a computer mouse or trackpad). A keyboard user typically uses the Tab key to navigate through interactive elements on a web page - links, buttons, fields, for inputting text, etc. When an item has keyboard "focus", it can be activated or manipulated with the keyboard. A sighted keyboard user must be provided with a visual indicator of the element that currently has keyboard focus. A basic focus indicator is provided automatically by the web browser and is typically shown as a border (called an outline) around the focused element. However, these outlines can be hidden by applying outline:0 or outline:none CSS to focusable elements.
If you ever get a bit lost, be sure to visit ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ to help you be absolutely clear about what is inclusive and what is not.
Just remember, accessible design is good design. Everything we build should be as inclusive, legible and readable as possible. If we have to sacrifice elegance - so be it.
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