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Accessible food for thought

Accessible food for thought

If not now, then when? If not me, then who?

These two interesting questions come from a TED Talk by Mick Ebeling, an entrepreneur who did something amazing and helped “unlock a locked-in artist”. He helped give a paralysed artist who had only the use of his eyes a way to express himself artistically again.

[TEDTALKS MickEbeling_2011A-320k.mp4]

It got me thinking about accessibility, designing and developing for an open and accessible web, and what designers and developers can do to improve user experience today.

While we design our public transport systems and our buildings to be as accessible as possible where ever possible, it’s not always something that always springs to someone’s mind when they ask to have a web page built. So I thought I’d share a couple of important tips and tools, plus some questions to ask yourself when having a website designed or built.

1) Would someone with a hearing or visual impairment be interested in what my website has to offer?

When your website is getting designed or built, it’s important to factor these people into your target audience. Your website or content could be a valuable source of information for this broad demographic and ensuring that it’s accessible could be advantageous to the community and to your business.

2) Have I ensured that my design is readable, logically structured and presented in a way that those with any disabilities or impairments can still enjoy an insightful and meaningful experience?

It may not be applicable in every design you produce but some small seemingly obvious points should be considered when producing a design for web. For example, the use of high contrast navigation for readability. This is important because screen readers read content in a linear fashion, meaning the structure of your content should be designed to flow logically. Sighted users are advantaged in that they can discern content from layout much easier.

3) Has the site been tested during and at the completion of its build to ensure that it has valid HTML, CSS and Web Accessibility tools such as Bobby or WAVE?

There are a multitude of tools to ensure that the sites you build are accessible, but even a simple HTML and CSS validation could dramatically improve the user experience and accessibility of your website.

These simple guidelines share some helpful basic tips. If you’re interested in accessible design and web, please contact Brio Group to discuss or implement web accessibility practices into your site, and help us move toward an accessible and enriched digital experience for everyone. Regardless of how much or little you know, you can help make changes for the better.

Yours in web accessibility standards,

Belinda Vesey-Brown About the author
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