Accessible Design is key to a user-friendly experience

Across the country there are approximately 30.1 million Americans of working age with a disability. Ensuring this group is able to successfully interact with all online and offline content plays an important role in ensuring your organization can effectively reach out to them.

Implementing ‘Accessible Design’ simply means that your organization is considering individuals with disabilities throughout its design process. With that in mind, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) has offered its core principles on the essentials of Accessible Design.

Core principles to achieve Accessible Design

  • Provide appropriate alternative text for all non-text content
  • Ensure links make sense even when taken out of context
  • Videos and live audio should all be captioned
  • All forms should be associated with their correct label, while recovery from errors should not require all data to be filled in again
  • Ensure users are able to download or alternatively access all non-HTML content, such as PDFs, Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents, Adobe Flash content, etc
  • Do not rely on color to convey meaning
  • Make sure content is clearly written and easy to read
  • All online and offline content should be tested to ensure full accessibility

Understanding how users with disabilities interact with the content you produce is essential to delivering enhanced accessibility. Users without disabilities may also benefit as items like the above create an overall user-friendly experience. Placing Accessible Design at the core of content development is therefore a must for all organizations and something that Microsoft has taken the lead in.

"At Microsoft, we are committed to ensuring full accessibility for all our customers. Accessible Design can address issues of exclusion and places people and their needs at the center of the design process. Our goal is to deliver an experience that can be enjoyed by everyone through accessible products and technology.” - Microsoft’s Accessible Design Team

Top tips to enhance accessibility for all

According to PEAT, several minor changes to content design and layout can also improve the accessibility of resources. Changes include:

  • Avoid the use of excessive capitalization - this can be difficult to read for the individual, and can be misinterpreted by some screen readers
  • Differentiate links within body text - the use of underlines or easily-recognizable changes to formatting can help links to stand out, rather than simply relying on a change in color
  • Provide strong contrast - some colors can clash or become indistinguishable to the reader on a webpage if contrast is set incorrectly
  • Consider reading order - reading order for alternative text/captioning should be the same as the visual order of content on a page

By following these helpful tips, you as an employer of educational institution can ensure your resources are created and disseminated in a way that is as easy to digest as possible.

At Getting Hired, we're committed to supporting all organizations in engaging and connecting with individuals with disabilities across the country. You can follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news from the disabilities space, while all those seeking employment can be connected to inclusive businesses through our career portal here.

Contributions to this blog were made by the Sarah Pullano, Account Manager, Getting Hired.