Why is accessibility important for Not for Profits?
In all areas of life, people make important decisions based on the information available to them. An accessible product or service is one which meets the needs of all its intended users, by considering their different capabilities. For Not for Profit organisations accessible design is something that should be considered as part of all communications.
Whether you are using a designer or not, you need to try to make your design as accessible as possible. Accessible design brings a better experience to a wide range of people, including individuals who have visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive disabilities.
It’s important to consider that colour blindness is among one of the most common and widespread disabilities in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment. This means many people will face challenges with inaccessible print or digital information.
Organisations are becoming increasingly aware that their websites must be accessible to people with a disability, the elderly, people from non-English-speaking backgrounds and with varying levels of literacy. Documents available on websites, like annual reports and fact sheets, also need to be designed in a way that everyone is able to access them.
While it is potentially beneficial for both users and businesses, designing for as many users as possible can be a daunting prospect. Accessibility doesn’t mean you have to make a product that is ugly or boring. However, it does mean you need to follow a set of constraints as you consider your design.
Below are seven tips to help make design accessible to more users
- Make sure there is enough contrast between text and its background, as people with low vision or colour blindness are less likely to see the contrast between certain colours. High contrast colour combinations in general make it easier for all users to see and read the text on your screen or in a document. There are various tools across the internet which can help you test and select a colour palette.
- Use a larger font size. Ever struggled with reading the fine print? Frustrating isn’t it? Imagine how hard it would be to read if you also suffered from vision impairment.
- Use clear headings to mark where the content starts and show the order of the page. Titles with big font sizes help a reader understand the order of the content better.
- When you’re communicating something important, showing an action, or requesting a response, don’t use colour as the only visual cue. People with low vision will have a hard time understanding your content. Think about other visual aspects you can use to communicate information like shape, labels, font weight and size, or underlined text styles to make different content stand out.
- Use alternative text to describe images for people who use screen readers to convert text to speech so that they can hear the words on a site.
- Consider using Easy English, also known as plain language, to help people with cognitive disabilities, those from non-English-speaking backgrounds, varying education levels, and older members of the community understand your content more easily.
- Remember when designing for web, people have access to multiple devices with different aspect ratios and dimensions. To maintain a consistent user experience, make sure your design is responsive and optimised to scale appropriately.
An important thing to remember overall is that you are not normally designing for other designers or a minority. Try to design for everyone who will potentially interact with your content and it will reinforce your commitment to inclusion and ultimately benefit both your users and your organisation.