As a part of web design and user experience (UX), accessibility is important in writing for the web to make sure that people can enjoy your content in different ways. Accessible websites take into account the experiences of people with different abilities and use them to improve use experience for everyone.

What does it mean?

W3 defines internet accessibility as “websites, tools, and technologies [that] are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:

  • perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
  • contribute to the web.”
A 60 second introduction to accessibility from Women Techmakers.

How can you use this?

User experience is an important part of a website’s design. When planning your website, think about how accessibility can improve your design.

Consider some real life accessibility examples. Automatic doors work for everyone regardless of ability and make shopping with a cart of full arms easier. They also make stores accessible to those who need it.

Lower curbs in sidewalks make crossing the road easier at intersections, but they are essential for people in wheelchairs or with varying levels of mobility.

Accessible design can also be universal design– something that improves the experience for everyone.

Incorporating accessibility does not have to be hard. The professionals at UX Collective pulled together examples of accessibility from their work that you can learn from. Some quick ways to improve accessibility and usability are:

Accessibility Quick Tips Info graphic- Full text below
A graphic showing a few easy ways that you can improve accessibility. For more tips on alt text, read Making Web images Accessible to People who are Blind or Penn State’s Image ALT Text guide.

Accessibility Quick Tips

Use high color contrast. This helps people who are colorblind or otherwise visually impaired read your website. It also helps people in environments with poor lighting quality.

Use alternate text. Use the alt text function!This will describe any media – photos, videos, or GIFs – for people who cannot experience it in its original form. Be as descriptive and as concise as you can.

Provide Transcripts or captions. This not only allows people who are hard of hearing or deaf to enjoy your content, but also lets people read a video or an audio embed when they do not have headphones or a quiet area.

Differentiate data. Don’t rely on color alone to design your visualizations; use lines and shapes to contrast information. This helps people who are colorblind and differentiates data when color is not available.

Try your hand at improving web accessibility by completing this demo from W3. The demo shows examples of a website before and after accessible design. Go through the demo and give your own recommendations to improve accessibility.

Additional Resources

Web Accessibility Initiative has extensive documentation and examples to guide your design.