This month, we’re taking a look at accessibility in design. Accessibility, of course, refers to how easy it is to use something. In design, this means making a product that can be experienced by a full spectrum of people.

One of the biggest opportunities in design today is adopting practices to make your marketing materials open and accessible, expanding access to as many different disabilities as possible.

Achieving Accessibility in Design

Frequently, making design accessible requires only minor changes. Something as simple as adjusting contrast or increasing font size. Or it’s something you’d want to do anyway, like adding captions to a video. It is no great burden to make design accessible, and in fact, it’s often more than worth the effort.

For instance, with digital video marketing, the ADA recommends adding captions to accommodate deaf people and people with limited hearing. And while adding captions makes videos accessible to people with auditory limitations, it also allows people with full hearing to experience the product while it is muted. If you’ve already written the copy, it’s a simple matter of putting this text in the video or including it as a transcript in the video description. With a little extra work, you’ve made the design accessible to more people, garnering more exposure for your clients.

A Few of Our Favorite Tips

We as an agency are always looking for ways to make our design more inclusive, and wanted to share these techniques and practices we are currently exploring to increase accessibility in everything we do.

Here are a few quick things you can do to increase the accessibility of your design:

Including Transcriptions & Closed Captioning

As previously mentioned, these are helpful for hearing impaired and deaf people, but also helpful for folks watching on mute. This is the classic double whammy. Even if you didn’t take into account the benefit of opening up your design to people with hearing impairments, you’re already increasing your audience by allowing folks the option to watch without sound. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Add Alt Text

Alt text is text hidden in the code of a website that can be read by screen readers. Typically, it is used to describe pictures and videos for blind and vision impaired people. Also, whenever an image fails to load on a page, the alt text will be displayed instead.

Not only does this benefit people with low vision, it also helps with page rankings on search engines by providing more organic opportunities for keywords on your page.

Adjust the Contrast

People with limited vision benefit from design with high contrast between different components. Using distinct contrasting colors for important design elements, especially text, allows for people with vision impairments to more easily read what you’ve written. It’s also a more appealing design!

Be Mindful of Font Choices

We very recently became aware of the fact that certain fonts are better suited for folks with dyslexia. Alarmingly for designers, Comic Sans is one of the best fonts for folks with dyslexia; the fact that every letter is an entirely different shape actually helps their processing centers recognize them as distinct letters, as opposed to the mirror images of other fonts (i.e. for most sans serif fonts, q, b, d, and p are the same shape in 4 different directions)

It’s Not Just Ethically Good, It’s Good Business Too!

We hope you’ll agree that inclusive, accessible design is the right thing to do ethically, and worth doing for its own sake. However, it’s also a good thing to do from a business sense, too.

Consider this: 26% of the US population is disabled, or lives with an impairment that affects their ability to navigate daily life. Inclusive design is critical to reaching these folks who make up a quarter of the population.

So, from a purely numerical viewpoint, accessible design can account for a 30% increase in the audience you are marketing too. What other 5-minute task can claim the same?

Accessible design is the right thing to do, can increase profitability in the long run, and it is an easy philosophy to adopt in design. It is simply a matter of being cognizant of the different ways viewers experience the world.