Graphic Design for a More Accessible World
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is understanding (web) accessibility important for designers?
It is the law. Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), public sector organizations, and private and non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees must ensure that new websites or significantly refreshed websites conform to the guidelines outlined in WCAG 2.0, Level A. But, also, by understanding web accessibility, you are learning how to design better for all audiences.
What are some of the biggest issues faced by people who use accessible technology?
There are two reasons users access the web. One is to get specific information, and the other is to explore. Sites that use interactive sidebars, colours, pictures and maps to convey information can make it difficult for someone using assistive technologies to effectively explore the web. Another barrier is having multiple choices on forms that are not clearly defined, which can make them difficult to fill them out. All data needs to be accessible while using the tab key, or those with low vision may not be able to locate it.
How do you know if your website is WCAG compliant?
There are many tools to help test their websites for accessibility. Please see the Additional Resources section for a list of available tools. You may also consider conducting focus groups with people who have various types of disabilities to evaluate a website’s accessibility.
Won’t making my website accessible make the design bland?
Accessibility does not mean black and white, or using one specific font. In recent years, designers have moved away from the linear view that accessible websites will lose their uniqueness. Creativity does not have to be sacrificed in the face of accessibility. Creativity can be balanced with the needs of the audience, what the client is looking for and the designers’ need to be innovative.
What is the best way to approach your client about making their website accessible?
Start by helping to educate your client about accessibility so they know what it is, how it affects them, and how it can help their audience and their business. Manage their design expectations so that they understand what is possible, and what is not, in an accessible website. Finally, help your clients to prioritize their accessibility efforts, focusing on the most important challenges first.
How do you prepare clients for the fees associated with accessibility?
Context is important. Ensure you break out the fee so that your client is aware of the time and planning that will need to go into making a website accessible, both for the design as well as the back-end development. Many clients see web accessibility as an afterthought, and are often shocked when they see prices. Let your clients know what the costs are to fix an existing site or to start from scratch by pricing out both options.