Inclusive design: Tips for addressing digital accessibility

Published on 29/04/2022 by Ojasvini

This article will discuss inclusive design in detail and how it works. We will also talk about the fundamentals of accessibility and share some tips on how to address digital accessibility.

Inclusive design practices might help support a more diverse group of people

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), ‘around 1 in 6 (18%) people in Australia —or about 4.4 million— have a disability’. There might be many people with disabilities who participate actively in varied areas such as education, healthcare, employment, and technology. However, some may face some challenges due to factors such as lack of opportunities, assistance, and accessibility to technology. Therefore, many businesses should ideally focus more on digital accessibility as a concept, just like diversity and inclusion. 

Brands should design their software, websites, applications, and tools in a way that ensures that everyone gets fair access to them. Website accessibility software might help businesses in such a case, as it could provide tools to ensure that all digital content is more accessible.

The meaning of inclusive design and its importance

Inclusive design is a process that focuses on creating a product —such as a website or a tool— that might serve everyone, irrespective of their abilities, gender, location, age, culture, and economic background. It can also be referred to as a practice that might intentionally be used by businesses to curate products considering the requirements of all types of users. 

An inclusive product design example could be designing your website in a colour-friendly manner so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities such as colour-blindness, might be able to read the content correctly.  

Inclusive design practices and innovations might support a more extensive and diverse group of people. Another significant example of an inclusive design application is the use of captions or subtitles in videos. This way, people with hearing disabilities can enjoy watching videos. Moreover, implementing such inclusive design principles can additionally help resolve language barriers.

What is website accessibility software and how does it work?

Website accessibility software are tools that help users professionally design and develop websites, tools, and applications so that they becomes accessible for people with disabilities. Such software essentially provide businesses with the required tools to ensure that their content meets compliance regulations and can be well-accessed by everyone.

The three principles of user-friendly design

According to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), three terms —accessibility, inclusion, and usability— work in tandem with each other to create a platform that potentially works for everyone. Businesses could address and focus on these three aspects while designing their websites, tools and applications. We now discuss each of them in detail.

1. Accessibility

Accessibility in this context would mean professionally designing or developing products, services, and tools so that they can be readily used by people with disabilities. It is essentially a method of creating a product that everyone can approach, use, and understand without any biases. 

2. Inclusion

Inclusion here would refer to a concept wherein everyone, irrespective of their physical, emotional or mental capacities is included, recognised, and able to participate evenly without any barriers. It might generally mean celebrating diversity and respecting the right of everyone to have equal access to digital opportunities.

3. Usability

Usability testingcould mean evaluating your product —be it a website, tool, or application— for its effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility. As per an article by Software Advice, ‘usability testing could help you locate obstructions or issues related to the design and performance of your website which may have been overlooked.’ By testing the product or website, businesses can make sure it’s accessible and user-friendly and does not unequally impact people with disabilities. 

Inclusive design tips for digital accessibility

According to a report by Gartner, the number of employed people with disabilities will increase three times by 2023 because of AI and other transpiring technology potentially decreasing obstructions to access. Below we have suggested some inclusive design tips your business can follow for greater digital accessibility.

1. Making text more accessible and understandable

Writing text with clarity could make it more accessible and transparent for everyone. For instance, before publishing your write-up, you should ideally consider how a screen reader would read your text. In addition to this, you should also avoid using jargon and limit the use of emojis and special characters in your text, since a disability-assistive tool could read it somewhat differently. For example, using words that are too difficult to understand might be a barrier for people with cognitive disabilities. 

2. Providing captions and alt-texts for digital content

Providing descriptive captions and alt-texts —short descriptions of an image— might allow people with disabilities such as visual impairments to gain a better understanding of content. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may also have designated options to add alt-text for images and even GIFs. 

3. Including video captions or subtitles

As per a report by 3Play Media, ‘there was a 40% increase in views of captioned videos versus uncaptioned’. Providing video captions or subtitles can specifically help people with hearing disabilities. For instance, movies without captions or transcripts could act as a barrier for people with auditory disabilities. Alternatively, it can help reduce language barriers as captions can be handy for people watching videos in non-native languages. 

4. Adding web-friendly colours

It is ideal to use simple web-safe fonts and colours for text copy and backgrounds. As per an article by Crazyegg, using the right colours can have a positive impact on what perception a user makes when they land on the webpage. Businesses should ideally ensure that the text is placed on a solid high-contrast background for better readability. They should also focus on using web-friendly colours and avoid adding too many elements to their design. 

5. Using an automated accessibility tool

You can also opt for an automated accessibility tool to identify and rectify any potential accessibility obstructions. Some tools can even scan content from a website, helping to ensure that it is user-friendly and can be comprehended by people with disabilities. Such tools might also help businesses keep track of compliance and speed issues and provide recommendations on how to improve websites efficiently. 

6. Adapting design essentials for inclusivity

There are many factors to consider when it comes to following an inclusive design process, such as fonts, text, typography, buttons, slides, and colours. Apart from the ones already discussed, businesses can also include varied design elements that might help increase inclusion. For instance, over-complicated web page navigation can act as an obstruction for people with physical disabilities. In addition to this, strict time limits to complete an online form can also obstruct people with disabilities. 

Final takeaway

For businesses specifically, designing for accessibility and inclusion can potentially enhance reach, brand awareness, audience engagement, revenue, and profit. To begin with, understanding user diversity and focusing on catering to the needs of everyone can help businesses create an equal and accessible experience for everyone. A small step towards inclusion can help bring innovation and benefit a broader range of people positively in the long run.

Looking for website accessibility software? Check out our catalogue!

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.