What is Design?

Most designers will be familiar with ‘accessibility’ in terms of colour contrast and font size but the Accessible Design process is about considering the needs of people with specific impairments.

  • How will a colour blind person be seeing your design?
  • Will they still be able to identify a link or button when the colour or possible underline is removed?
  • How might a blind person navigate your application? (Yes, this is actually possible!)
  • Or a partially sighted person who has trouble reading smaller copy?
  • Will users with hearing impairments still get the personality of your product if they can’t hear sound?
  • How might you focus the attention of an autistic user or those with attention or sensory challenges, so they can complete specific tasks without getting side-tracked?

These are just a few scenarios but they’re all capable of being accommodated to and allowing yourself to think in this way, helps put into perspective just how many people we might be excluding from the experiences we’re creating, if we don’t at least try to support their needs in some shape or form.

Here’s a tweet from blind veteran Rob Long, venting his frustration as a blind Twitter user…

See full thread and demonstration from Rob

“As accessible as it is personal. The world’s most personal device was designed for every person. So a person who’s blind can take group selfies. A person who’s deaf can call Mom from overseas. And a person who can’t move from the neck down can send text messages to friends.”

– Apple

Experience it for yourself

Try adjusting your native Accessibility Settings on your device — it’s pretty interesting to see which of your favourite apps support them 👏 and those that (sometimes surprisingly 😵) don’t…

iOS Accessibility Settings: Settings > General > Accessibility

Not all of these iOS controls can impact your application but certain aspects can be taken into consideration and built to support them. Configurations such as Large Text, Voice Over and Guided Access can all have an immediate impact on your application if you accommodate for them. A lot of these options will affect the build of the app only, so shouldn’t necessarily impact the UI design itself but to support these functionalities it requires the developer to create custom labels so the content can be translated correctly.

Examples of Large Text being supported within iOS

Try turning on Voice Over (iOS) or TalkBack (Android) and see how this changes your experience. This might seem tricky to navigate if you’re someone without a visual impairment but it should help you appreciate the type of experience you can still offer to someone that you might have otherwise disregarded; and empathise with those that can’t engage in the same way you do.

For Android users, go to: Settings > Accessibility

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