A person with dark hair, a white shirt and black pants rests one hand on an oversized question mark to denote Why Digital Accessibility is Important

The “Why” of Digital Accessibility

Achieve Accessibility by First Understanding Why

The reason why digital accessibility is as important as it is crucial to how to achieve digital accessibility. After all, until we understand why we need to do anything the next logical steps are not always so clear.

So, here’s why, in a nutshell: It is by prioritizing accessibility in design that we remove barriers for individuals with disabilities. But, not only that, in doing so, we also create a more inclusive digital landscape for everyone.

Accessible Fonts

One such instance is the use of clear and intuitive navigation. It benefits all users by making it effortless to find information swiftly and with minimal effort.

Accessible Colour Contrast

Another consideration is plain, readable fonts and high-contrast colours. It works to enhance legibility for everyone. This is especially true in different lighting conditions. Whether indoors or outdoors, or on different devices, it is crucial to consider the user and how they engage with your content.

Colour also plays an important role in conveying information. However, it shouldn’t be the sole means of communicating context (like good/bad, hot/cold, yes/no). Using other means and visual cues, (like icons or patterns for instance) in conjunction with colour best ensures that important information is accessible to all users, including those with colour blindness, for instance

Make Tables Accessible

Tables are often the go-to method to organize data, and rightly so. But tables should always be designed in a way that is understandable when read in a linear fashion by assistive technology, like screen readers. This is achieved by providing meaningful headers and proper labels for table cells. It ensures that users with visual impairments can easily and effectively engage with and comprehend the data. That said, best practice dictates avoiding the use of tables for layout purposes. This greatly helps maintain structural clarity, while also enhancing overall compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Alternative Text, Captions and Transcripts

Additionally, compatibility with speech recognition software and alternative input devices is a must. Particularly when it comes to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can navigate and interact with digital content effectively. Consider this: providing alternative text for images as well as captions for videos and transcripts for audio content empowers users who rely on these technologies in their daily lives.

Digital Accessibility Starts From the Top and Starts at the Beginning

Of course, incorporating accessibility into the design process from the beginning benefits users. But it also simultaneously saves valuable time and resources in the long run. Creating a mindset of inclusivity and empathy spreads wide benefits by encouraging developers, designers and content creators to consider diverse user needs throughout the development lifecycle from the very start. The culture and the mindset can start with leadership. Leaders need to understand the importance of why digital accessibility is important and acknowledge that the very ethos, the strategy and the work come from a top-down approach.

Accessible Design is for Everyone

All that to say: digital accessibility is not just a legal requirement. And it is not just a moral obligation either… it is an immutable and fundamental aspect of good design. By adhering to accessibility principles and incorporating them into our digital platforms and documents, we can ensure that everyone can fully participate in the digital world regardless of ability. It is the golden path to inclusivity for everyone. Your audience, whether customers, constituents, clients, students, or employees is diverse. You can serve everyone equally when starting with why digital accessibility is important, and using this as the baseline for effectively engaging these diverse groups with equity. Your success, compliance with the law, and the ability to attract, engage and delight any audience depends on it.

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