Accessibility

Today

Accessibility should be at the forefront of creating user experiences; the more people that can use your product, the more impact your product may have. Considering alternative methods of interacting with content is challenging, requiring a new lens to view product design as more than visual.

For designers, color contrast pairings are a common exercise and tools exist to support this work. Legibility is also a factor; choosing typography that is readable while maintaining a certain aesthetic can be a worthwhile exploration.

One of the most challenging aspects of accessibility is the additional attributes on markup that could be required to provide more context for assistive technologies. Specifications can be misinterpreted and confuse when used incorrectly. Furthermore, the development process of ensuring a technique is effective can be exhausting as we attempt to ensure all assistive technologies support the approach. One example of this is screen reader announcements which can differ based on the methods used. Developers are responsible for testing the same experience across multiple platforms. They listen to similar phrases over and over and make small tweaks that could be interrelated. Each fix could cause a new break. Multiply this exercise for larger experiences and this could hinder minimal viable products from launching.

Tomorrow

Browsers continue to expose user preferences to applications for more personalized experiences. Color scheme and font size were early settings in this space but there are further customizations to include, such as adjusting the colors chosen by the product designer by the user. On the surface, this may seem like a design disaster but in reality, users benefit from these decisions where designers fall short in accessibility. Remember, attempting to cover all users is an expensive feat. Designing an experience for customizations could be more helpful and require less curating.

For supporting the efficient development of accurate screen reader announcements, we should assert messaging through automation. In this way, we can account for variable change and validate the results using assistive technology.