Creating Word documents that can be read and understood by a diverse range of people, is just as vital as creating accessible, inclusive websites and online content. Imagine going to a recruitment website and downloading the Position Description as a Word document, or being sent it as an email attachment, only to find that you cannot access the document using your screen reader (if you are blind or vision-impaired) can’t listen to the linked podcast (if you are Deaf or hearing impaired), or simply can’t understand large sections of it because the document is full of industry jargon that is not explained.
By designing products, interactions and websites for people with a disability, we’re not just designing for a minority – we’re actually designing for everyone. Before I try to convince you that accessible design is better design, let me begin by correcting some myths about accessibility.
There are two myths that I want to bust; the first one is that being accessible means that a design must be boring, daggy, clunky or boxy. And the second myth I want to debunk is that you need to shelve your big ideas when ensuring that what you are doing is accessible to as many people as possible.
Accessible design isn’t just designing for a minority group who identify as having a permanent ongoing impairment. At its core, accessibility is about designing for diverse user needs and it benefits everyone, because everyone has disability.
With the increased awareness around user experience, most newly-developed products, applications and websites undergo usability testing throughout the design process. Yet, there is a significant limitation to this testing, if it’s not done across a diverse range of people.