Table of Contents
There is an entire segment of the population that can quickly delve into the things that are wrong with design. The disabled community runs up against complications every day that most people would either never notice, or would simply adapt to and move on. Because I was suddenly disabled later in life, I got a crash course in how difficult it is to use the internet when you cannot see. Websites that incorporate best accessibility design practices make my life simpler. Using larger typefaces and distinct color contrasting ensures that I am able to read everything. One thing I hate, and this is likely a bit of me being stubborn, is having to make huge changes to interact with a website. Still, if it’s designed the way it should be in the first place, then I am able to modify a web page pretty quickly by zooming in on what I want to read or using text-to-speech when my eyes are tired.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Universal design is about creating a world that is adaptive and inclusive for people no matter what they need – and without singling them out. In my world, needing accommodations is hard enough, so any design that makes me search for help is pretty frustrating. Still, making sure your website is accessible is about a lot more than just not annoying your users who require accommodations. It’s about allowing them the freedom to choose how they interact with your content, and giving them the ability to do what they need to without feeling different.
Technological advancements can be a huge boost to anyone who needs a bit of extra assistance. However, new tech can also be a barrier dividing people. For example, phone updates can be a huge problem for someone like me. I learn a lot by patterns, things need to be in the same place or I end up pouring orange juice on the floor because someone moved my clear glass just slightly. Yes, this happened, and yes I am naturally a bit clumsy. But on a phone, everything should be where you left it. So when an update happens and there are new apps loaded on my screen or there’s an entirely new font face, I get pretty confused. I spent far too long looking for the new YouTube app when it changed icon images. Just this morning, I went to enter my friend’s birthday dinner into my calendar only to find that everything was shuffled around, smaller, and the font was different. While it only took me a minute or two to get my bearings, it still made my morning just a tiny bit harder. As technology evolves, I need to spend increasingly more effort just making sure I keep up with the baseline. I am, however, happy to see that the companies are clearly catching on. Just recently I noticed that there is a simple button to switch to change your screen’s contrast for iPhones, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Yes, it is tough to adapt content to meet everyone’s needs and as the saying goes, you can’t please everyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and help. The online world should be an environment that everyone can feel comfortable using no matter what their physical limitations are, and following WCAG 2.0 and universal design principles can help with that. Trust me, your users will appreciate it.
Any accessibility wins or losses you’d like to share? Let us know what you’d like to change about the digital landscape in the comments below!