Why Accessibility?

When designing for the web, it’s important to always keep accessibility in mind. Accessibility means making sure your website or application is accessible to everyone. For example, audio content isn’t accessible for people with hearing difficulties, but if you add a transcript it can be. Text with low contrast might be less accessible for people with vision trouble, but by increasing the contrast you can make it easier for them read. And so on. The “how” of making accessible web pages is a incredibly broad topic, but what I want to touch on here is the “why”.

It’s easy to make excuses for not designing with accessibility in mind. “How is anyone supposed to remember all these guidelines. It seems like a disproportionate amount of work for such a small number of people.” Now, it’s true that designing an accessible site takes some additional effort. But you might be surprised to find out just how many users have some sort of accessibility issue.

If you haven’t read it before, I encourage you to check out the great article, An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues, by Anne Gibson right now. The article illustrates the huge variety of forms that accessibility issues can take. Accessibility affects the lives of all sorts of people.

And that’s not all. The fact is, making a site accessible improves the experience for everyone. Just going back to the earlier examples, adding transcripts for audio doesn’t just help people with hearing difficulties. Now your content is easier to access for people who can’t turn on their speakers where they are, people who don’t have time for audio, and people who would just prefer to read. And improving the contrast of your text can make the site more comfortable to read even for users with perfect vision.