Give it a go: planning for accessibility
You have now heard from our experts and educators on how they have approached designing for accessibility.
As they all discussed, one of the biggest challenges in technology is in finding ways to help people to use it. Earlier, you heard from lead educator Mick Grierson, as he outlined how technology should meet user needs and not impede them:
“Unless there’s a way for people to use it, unless it maps on to people’s expectations of how they think it will work, there’s almost no point in having it, because you can’t do anything with it.”
As we outlined earlier, the UCD process we explored in Step 2.7 puts the user at the centre of the design process. In UCD the user is the most important source of information regarding the use and effectiveness of any product or service. In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability - this could be visual, hearing, motor or cognitive (affecting memory and thinking). This represents a substantial audience who could be excluded from your digital service. It’s therefore a huge opportunity for you to get things right.
The Gov.uk service manual offers lots of advice on where to start in your planning. In summary:
- Think about accessibility from the start:
Finding out earlier if any parts of your service aren’t accessible means problems are usually less costly to fix.
- Take a whole team approach:
Think who might be involved in identifying and planning for accessibility beyond content designers, interaction designers and developers. Product and delivery managers will also need to understand both the aims and requirements.
- Incorporate research with users in your discovery phase:
Find out how people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive impairments might use your service, as well as the barriers they face.
- Develop a clear understanding of what accessibility means:
Try to understand the range of abilities users can have. For example, reading profiles of users with disabilities to understand how accessibility affects individual users. You can find some user profiles in the See Also section.
- Test for accessibility:
You should incorporate testing in the build stage, at alpha and at beta. Consider building in an accessibility audit to review your designs and prototypes for potential accessibility problems, and check you have the right tools to conduct thorough and meaningful tests. It’s also important to continue testing and researching once your service is live, to ensure any new features you add meet accessibility requirements.
- Consider the non-digital parts of your service:
How will users contact you? What alternative formats can you use to contact and communicate with your users? These are all parts of your service that need to be made accessible.
Over to you
It’s now your turn to think about how you would go about planning for accessibility in a design or service of your own. You might have an idea for a new digital product. Alternatively you could look at the product or service you identified at the start of the course in Step 1.2.
Identify a particular area or function of your product, site or service. For example, you could focus on a home page or product listing page, or look at the menu page.
- How might you plan to develop these key areas with accessibility in mind?
- What specific interventions would you use to establish how people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive impairments might interact with it?
Use the Comments section to share with other learners where you might go to begin to plan your project with accessibility in mind.