Accessibility is important to ensure all of your visitors can use the features and content provided on your website. However, good accessibility can’t always be added as an afterthought – it must be built in from the start. Let me give you an example with a simple analogy.
The Benefits of Considering User Requirements From the Start
We recently renovated our bathroom – we took a decades-old, utilitarian bathroom and turned it into a bright, pleasant space with much more convenient features. As we were happily admiring the final results, we realized we had forgotten something. We have aging family members visit and wanted them to have a sturdy handrail for getting into and out of the combination tub/shower. We assumed the contractor could do this easily. Unfortunately, when we asked him to do it he said, “Well, it depends.”
A handrail that will support body weight should be attached to a stud, not just to drywall. Therefore, the handrail had to go wherever the stud was; we couldn’t just put it anywhere. As it turns out, the stud wasn’t in the ideal location.
Because we hadn’t planned ahead, we were faced with a choice. We could either provide a compromise solution, or tear out the work already done and put in a brace, then put the fixtures and tile back (an expensive and frustrating process). So, we learned our lesson the hard way: consider ALL requirements for ALL users from the start.
The Consequences of Skipping Over Accessibility
It may seem like it’s not a big deal to move the brace a few inches one way or the other, but we have to remember that for someone who needs it, proper location can be extremely important – improper placement could lead to imbalance, a fall, and a broken bone. This example is of physical accessibility in three-dimensional space – accessibility in the digital space has similar constraints and similar real-life consequences for those who need it.
In the digital world, some accessibility considerations are easy to provide, such as providing alt text for all images. However, other concerns are much more difficult to implement. For example, presenting content in a meaningful sequence is very different for a vision-impaired person using an audio screen reader, than a fully-sighted user.
Planning for Accessibility in Web Design
So how do you plan for accessibility in your website redesign? Our UX and Design team members are certified Accessibility professionals and can work with you to identify accessibility needs and design them into your site from the beginning.
We offer a free preliminary assessment – call us today to learn more.