How to Design With Accessibility In Mind

Accessibility in design involves creating digital content that individuals with visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor disabilities can use. Neglecting accessibility poses legal liabilities for businesses and means missing out on potential customers. This blog post provides insights on how businesses can prioritize accessibility and inclusion when designing their digital content. It covers topics such as user-centered design, key accessibility principles, color and contrast, typography, etc., and the future of accessibility in design.

User-Centered Design

Adopting a user-centered design approach is crucial for designing with accessibility in mind. This process involves understanding user needs, goals, preferences, and challenges and involves four main stages: research, design, testing, and iteration, incorporating various methods and techniques.


User research involves interviews, surveys, personas, scenarios, and journeys to understand users’ needs, goals, web usage, barriers, and difficulties, including disability recruitment and assistive technologies.


Wireframes, prototypes, and mockups can be used to outline ideas and solutions while adhering to accessibility guidelines and best practices for minimum standards.


We can conduct usability testing, user feedback, and heuristic evaluation to assess the effectiveness of our design and utilize accessibility testing techniques to identify potential issues.


We can assess the outcomes of our testing and feedback sessions, make necessary adjustments, and repeat stages as needed until we reach a satisfactory level of accessibility.

Key Accessibility Principles

When designing for accessibility, there are some key principles that we need to take into consideration. These principles are based on the four main categories of WCAG: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (P.O.U.R.).

Perceivable: Web content should be available to users through different senses like sight, hearing, etc., depending on their needs or preferences. For example:

  • Offer text alternatives for non-text content like images and videos, and provide captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions for multimedia content like videos and podcasts.
  • Utilize appropriate color contrast, font size, and spacing for text content. Additionally, it makes use of various colors, shapes, icons, and labels to convey information effectively.
  • Provide multiple ways to access content, such as menus, searches, etc.

Understandable: Web content should be understandable, clear, simple, and consistent to ensure easy comprehension and interaction with users. For example:

  • Use a consistent, predictable layout, navigation, and functionality while avoiding jargon or technical terms.
  • Ensure the content has clear and meaningful headings, titles, labels, and instructions.
  • Provide user feedback and confirmation, as well as error messages and suggestions for correction.

Operable: Web content should be user-friendly and accessible through various input methods like keyboard, voice, etc. 

For example:

  • Ensure that all functionality is available through the keyboard.
  • Provide keyboard shortcuts, skip links, and landmarks for easy navigation and a clear focus order for interactive elements.
  • Ensure that the page does not contain any elements that may cause seizures or physical reactions (such as flashing or moving content).

Robust: Web content should be compatible and adaptable with different browsers, devices, platforms, and assistive technologies so that users can access it in various situations and environments. 

For example: 

  • Utilize valid and semantic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code while utilizing progressive enhancement and responsive design techniques.
  • Follow web standards and best practices.
  • Test your design with different browsers, devices, platforms, and assistive technologies.

Color and Contrast, Typography, Navigation, and Structure

Designing with accessibility in mind is crucial for the visual presentation of web content. The choice of color, contrast, typography, navigation, and structure can significantly impact how users perceive, understand, operate, and enjoy the content. To ensure accessibility, it is essential to use tools such as Color Contrast Analyzer, WebAIM Color Contrast Checker, and Color Oracle to simulate the appearance of colors for different color blindness types.

Typography is crucial for legible web design, but it can be challenging for those with dyslexia or low vision. Proper font size, font family, weight, line height, letter spacing, word spacing, and alignment are essential. Tools like Type Scale and Dyslexie Font can help create suitable fonts.

Navigation and structure are essential for creating a user-friendly and intuitive web design, but they can also pose challenges for people with cognitive impairments or motor disabilities. Clear and consistent navigation menus, links, buttons, tabs, and proper headings, subheadings, lists, and tables are essential for organizing and structuring web content logically and hierarchically.

Multimedia Accessibility and Interactive Elements

 Designing with accessibility in mind is crucial for enhancing the web experience. Multimedia content and interactive elements, such as videos, podcasts, and animations, can provide rich information and entertainment for users. However, they can pose barriers for those with hearing, visual, cognitive, or motor disabilities. To ensure accessibility, accessible alternatives should be provided.

For multimedia content, text alternatives like captions, transcripts, or audio descriptions should be provided for users who cannot see or hear the content. Controls like play, pause, stop, and volume should be provided for users who want to control the playback of the content. Avoid using multimedia content that may cause seizures or physical reactions, such as flashing or moving content.

For interactive elements, clear labels, instructions, and feedback should be provided for users who want to interact. Keyboard access and focus indication should be provided for users who cannot use a mouse or touch screen. Avoid using interactive elements that may cause confusion or frustration, such as pop-ups or timers.

Testing and Evaluation

 Testing and evaluation are crucial steps in designing with accessibility in mind. They check if the design meets accessibility standards and user functionality, identify issues, and improve or modify the design using various tools and techniques.

Accessibility Testing Tools

 Web accessibility tools like WAVE and Lighthouse can detect code accessibility errors like missing alt text and low contrast but can produce false positives or negatives. Therefore, we need to use them with caution and manual verification.

Accessibility Testing Techniques

Web accessibility testing techniques like keyboard testing, screen reader testing, and color blindness testing help us understand how our content works for different users. However, these methods should be used with empathy and diversity.

User Testing And Feedback 

User testing and evaluation methods like usability testing, feedback sessions, surveys, and interviews help collect valuable insights from users about their preferences, challenges, and suggestions for improvements but require time and resources for planning and preparation.

Accessibility Tools

Here are some of the tools and resources that we recommend:

  • WebAIM: This website provides detailed information and guides you towards the best of web accessibility. It covers accessibility principles, guidelines, techniques, laws, evaluation tools, training materials, articles, blogs, newsletters, etc.
  • A11y Project: This is a website that provides practical and easy-to-follow tips and tricks on web accessibility. It covers topics such as accessibility checklists, patterns, resources, myths, FAQs, etc.
  • A11ycasts: This YouTube channel provides video tutorials and demonstrations on web accessibility. It covers Web accessibility audits, aria attributes, focus management, color contrast, etc.

Inclusive Design Beyond Compliance

Inclusive design aims to provide accessible goods and services to people of all backgrounds and abilities. It considers factors like globalization, localization, readability, interactivity, prejudice, and ecological effects. Inclusive design acknowledges each individual’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and motivations and works collaboratively with various organizations to provide the best possible service. It goes beyond legal and ethical requirements by integrating users throughout the design process, recognizing their unique needs, preferences, and experiences. The ultimate goal is to ensure everyone can fully engage with and benefit from the final product.

The Future of Accessibility in Design

Virtual reality developers must prioritize accessibility to avoid impeded adoption or delays in assistive technology. Research shows that AI that understands language and can speak with humans could save up to 40% of working time, and generative AI can amplify human capabilities by drawing on language. This “copilot” could help in finding jobs, understanding complex situations, and completing language-based activities. Accessibility in design is a dynamic concept that evolves with technological advancements, user diversity, and product complexity. As accessibility awareness and advocacy rise, demand for inclusive products and services will rise, necessitating designers to utilize creativity and innovation for accessibility and enjoyment.


Designing with accessibility is always the best way forward, as it ensures that more people can access and enjoy your products and services. Hopefully, our article helped you understand the impact of digital accessibility and why it is essential to develop an accessible design mindset. Accessible digital content improves the user experience, expands reach, and enhances reputation. Ignoring accessibility can lead to serious consequences, including legal risks and negative user impacts. Therefore, designers and companies must prioritize all users in their designs.