The internet has become our lifeline during lockdown. Being online has become a huge part of how we now live our everyday lives.
We must all work hard to ensure our digital offering is accessible to as many people as possible, so no-one gets left out.
“The power of the Web is in its universality.Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
To make our services as inclusive as possible, we need to consider accessibility at all stages of our service design.
Often people only think of sight loss and screen readers when considering accessibility of online services. There are many other conditions which affect people’s online experience. These include colour blindness, hearing impairments, physical disabilities, dyslexia, autism, cognitive issues, learning disabilities and many others.
The accessibility of your service is also affected by many other things:
Good digital design removes barriers that many people face in the physical world. Here is a series of short videos to help you think about bad design and the barriers this can create.
Scope have produced a series of simple infographics and information on best practice in accessibility design for a variety of users. Their website also includes useful articles about how accessibility is good for business and reaching more people.
Scotland’s Inclusive Communication Hub provides a series of case studies and resources on how to make your information accessible. Their concept is simple – make everything easy to access, simple to understand and your message will go further.
Inclusion Scotland is our national disabled people’s organisation. Their social model of disability shows that people are not disabled because of a medical condition, but by barriers put in place by society. They have produced excellent guides on Accessible and Effective Remote Working and Accessible Social Media.
AbilityNet supports people living with disability or impairment to use technology. They provide specialist advice services and information resources.
Here are five easy things to start doing today as you continue working on making your content and services more accessible:
User-testing with a wide variety of clients will give you the best feedback. Yet, it is hard to do good quality user research remotely. This is when using imaginary personas or profiles can help.
A persona is a generalised representation of a user of your product or service. The concept is from marketing but works well for inclusive design. You can name the personas and build up a picture of them, as demonstrated well in this blog post.
Every time you create any new content or service, you should ask yourself “Will this work for each of my personas?”
Looking at persona pairs takes this a step further. One person in the pair has a disability; the other person does not have a disability but is encountering a similar user issue. Solving the issue makes the content more accessible to both people in the pair.
If you are doing user research, it is helpful to think about what research questions you are trying to understand. This blog gives a helpful overview of the three main types of user research.
It is a legal requirement that your service be accessible. There are regulations that apply to public sector websites and apps. Helpful advice on how to meet these accessibility requirements has been published in guidance by both UK Government and Scottish Government.
You are also required to have an accessibility statement on your website and apps.
If you are interested in more detail on accessibility, see The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) published by the Web Accessibility Initiative. This is part of the World Wide Web Consortium which is the main international standards organisation for the Internet. A simpler user-friendly checklist of the guidelines is available at the a11y project.