IDYeah had a Voice

UX, Usability and Design

Usability Dimension: “Accessible”

ACCESSIBLE.

We discussed findable a couple of days back in our series of features on various dimensions of usability. We arrive at a lesser adopted yet very important aspect of “accessibility.”

Wikipedia defines Web accessibility as the inclusive practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. All users should have access to information and functionality. For example, a good site/app with textual equivalents for images and with meaningful links would help blind users using text-to-speech software. Sufficiently large text/images or enlargeable makes it easier for users with poor sight to comprehend. Making hyperlinks prominent with underline and not just by a color change, would help color-blind users. Similarly, making clickable areas large enough would help users who cannot control mouse with precision. Users with dyslexia and learning difficulties would appreciate when content is presented in plain language and illustrated with instructional diagrams and animations.

Disability symbols 16.png

If some practices are followed, all users in fact can be accommodated while not sacrificing the overall usability of the web site. The needs that accessibility aims to address include:

  • Visual: Visual impairments – blindness, low vision, color blindness;
  • Motor/Mobility: Difficulty/inability to use hands, muscle slowness, lack of muscle control;
  • Auditory: Deafness, hard of hearing;
  • Seizures: Caused by visual strobe or flashing effects;
  • Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, poor memory, lack of problem-solving and logic skills.

Few examples of almost accessible sites:

This site exemplifies how web elements can be designed to be accessible. It puts forth the most common items together on one site that can make a site accessible. Things like: choosing a proper color contrast, alternative text for images, separating the structure (navigation, heading, subheading) and presentation (words, fonts, images), allowing users control over re-sizing of content, etc. For overall guidelines, please refer to: WCAG 2.0.

Just as our buildings have elevators and ramps, our web sites and products should be accessible to people with disabilities (10% of the population). Today’s it’s good business and ethical thing to do. Eventually, it will become the law.

Next dimension in line: Credible.

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta is a usability professional who loves to play chess and has a strong eye for details. He's also the CEO of IDYeah Creations, a UX practice in Pune, India. Vishal is also a guest blogger on UXBooth, Technorati, BlogCritics, and SAP Community Network.

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4 Comments

  1. Very touching. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Expecting more to come.

  2. Vishal Mehta
    vishal

    January 11, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Thanks Manish. I’ll attempt to touch on the remaining few aspects, hopefully with more relevant examples. Glad you found this useful.

  3. To let you know, there are so many podcasts, videos, webinars that are not accessible via proper captions and transcripts that put many hundreds millions of deaf and hard of hearing people at disadvantage. More issues and solutions are discussed on audio-accessibility.com.

    Regarding laws, Plato said: “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

    Also, Jesse Robredo said: “All of us have the moral duty to break barriers for people with disabilities. For societies to truly function, no one should be left behind.”

    Non-disabled people should not to wait or fight against laws – they should have good moral values and good conscience not to leave people with disabilities behind and make them feel like second cass citizen.

  4. I completely agree and feel sad about the double-standards. I wish each of us contribute towards a singular vision of equality without waiting for others to follow or join hands.

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