Ensuring your website is accessible by keyboard only for users who have a motor disability.
Making sure the visual cues you include in design are sufficient for users who see differently than you.
Providing text alternatives for screen readers.
These are just a few examples of steps you can take to make sure your website is more accessible to the 1 billion people worldwide that have some sort of disability. The world's population is more than 7.5 billion people and growing. When you do the math that is nearly 1 out of every 7 people – or 15% of the world’s population that has some sort of disability.
Disabilities can range from mild to severe, temporary to permanent. Motor, cognitive, seizure disorders, vision, hearing: there are a lot of things to consider for the many varying levels of ability in making design decisions.
But creating accessible digital experiences is about more than the decisions we make. It’s also about the process we follow: an inclusive design process that leads us to those decisions. This process includes considering these different abilities and resulting needs at the beginning of a project, and it’s important to make it an integral step, and not a feature. It includes being responsible as well as responsive.
When we consider different levels of ability at project start, we’ll naturally create better experiences that are more accessible to everyone. Everyone benefits from inclusive design.
There is a lot of conversation and collaboration happening right now on this topic. Companies are creating internal teams dedicated to accessibility and inclusivity. Others, like Pinterest, are rethinking their apps from top to bottom. There are several tools available for testing your website’s accessibility, and organizations like the Bureau of Internet Accessibility that provide accessibility testing as a service. Companies like Microsoft and AirBnB are creating toolkits to use as a starting point to open your mind up and “Embrace a Growth Mindset.”
Creating a great user experience offers a world of information and opportunities, and shouldn’t be limited to select audiences. Instead, it’s about designing useful, intuitive experiences that are as accessible to as many people as possible. Inclusive design is exactly that – the discipline of creating digital experiences that can be shared and enjoyed by all audiences. It opens up your website to new audiences and can help drive stronger results for your business, of course. But beyond that, it’s the right thing to do.
Making it beautiful is just a step along the journey.