By considering accessibility and inclusion from the start of a project, it is much easier to integrate accessibility features into the design of the final product or service. Multiple modes of interaction and access are best considered from the beginning of the process.
When designing a building, multiple modes of physical access (stairs, ramp, door widths, etc) must be considered in the early planning stages. The same approach should be taken in other fields. For example, when designing a website, the visual impact of the interface often takes priority; the experience of a screen-reader user, a keyboard-only user, and someone who may not use a keyboard or mouse at all should also be considered from the start. In addition, visual preferences like high and low contrast need to be taken into account early on in order to successfully integrate these alternatives into the visual aesthetic. By integrating accessibility into the design, the segregation of “special” solutions as well as expensive future retro-fitting can be avoided.
As designers, developers and others active in the design process, it is important to become aware of our limited personal perspective (e.g. prioritizing the visual impact of an interface), as this helps us to understand and overcome our biases, which in turn keeps us open to new ideas and innovative solutions.
- Develop personas and use-cases with a broad range of needs and preferences
- Practice co-design
- Test your designs early and often with a broad range of users