I view it as a responsibility to ensure accessibility standards are brought into all of my work.

Graphic design is an important communication tool; made stronger when inclusive efforts are carried out to ensure information is available to everyone as much as possible. A graphic designer is involved at the nexus of a project: working with writers, clients, and stakeholders… as such, they are uniquely positioned to implement accessibility standards.

I first started working with accessibility at the same time I was learning about user experience and audience personas. These ideas strengthen each other and really shaped how I think about effective communications overall today.

What is accessibility?

WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), an organization whose mission is to “empower organizations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities,” categorizes accessibility concerns into four areas:

  • Visual (blindness, low vision, color-blindness)
  • Hearing (deafness, hard-of-hearing)
  • Motor (inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control)
  • Cognitive (learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information)

Accessibility is making your content and communications available and useful to as many people as possible. Accomplished through many adaptations, such as captioning, adequate color pairings, testing, tagging, and configuring, accessibility benefits not only those with a disability, but nearly everyone who you are trying to reach. WebAim sums this up by saying “Almost everyone benefits from helpful illustrations, properly-organized content, and clear navigation. …While captions are a necessity for deaf users, they can be helpful to others, including anyone who views a video without audio.”

Accessibility is not only a digital endeavor. As with most efforts to improve for one thing, another also benefits. For me, the digital learning influenced my print work, in areas such as color palettes, information design and architecture, and stock choices (for Braille projects). I also have changed how I write emails; bullet points are easier to understand and digest, but also lead to a better answer rate to a list of questions.

Websites, PDFs, Word documents, videos are all communication vehicles that can only be improved with accessibility. I am always eager to learn more and understand how what I do fits into this endeavor.

I apply some principles to all work (print and digital), always seeking out ways to learn more about what is possible, and how people use devices and navigate; always looking to learn more and apply it.

Talk about why accessibility is important, what it says about your business, who it benefits, some free resources, how I incorporate it into my projects, related resources.

Talk about the responsibility designers have to ensure accessibility and user experience is employed in work.

Talk about business cards and braille.

Seizure triggers, etc.

Accessibility links

  • WCAG
  • Browser plugins
  • Color contrast download
  • WAVE

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