Think of the last few times you’ve seen an accessibility ramp on a building. They sometimes seem like an afterthought don’t they? Why not build the ramp first and create a unified experience for those that have difficulty with stairs and those that don’t?
Accessibility is beneficial to everyone. This theory applies to the design of all things. For those of us designing and building software there’s a term for this kind of thinking: universal design. Advancements in technology are making it easier than ever to integrate these adaptations into software design. Here are three easy steps to make your next design accessible by all.
Every element that is added to a screen creates more complexity. Be deliberate with your choices. Create a clear sense of hierarchy. Make sure actionable items are straightforward. You may be able to interact with a small screen quite easily but think of those who lack fine motor skills. Can they easily tap on a particular button without accidentally hitting others? The minimum tap target area recommended by Apple is 44 by 44 pixels. Android recommends a slightly larger tappable region of 48 by 48 pixels.
Color can be a useful tool in creating hierarchy, denoting actionable items and including a brand presence. However, be conscious of your color choices.
About 8% of all men and about 0.5% of all women suffer from color blindness. Particular colors, especially those in the green and red family, can hinder those affected.
Have you ever been out in the sun and were not able to read your phone? This may because the contrast of the text was inadequate. The WCAG 2.0 level AA requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text (14pt) and 3:1 for large text (18pt). Level AAA requires a contrast ratio of at least 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text. Following these guidelines can improve the experience for those with low vision but also for those using their device in varying degrees of light.
A great plugin to test out your color choices is Stark (http://www.getstark.co). It simulates what your interface looks like for someone who is color blind. It also can test your text contrast to ensure you are following the WCAG recommendations.
One of the benefits of using the iOS and Android standard fonts, San Francisco and Roboto respectively, is the dynamic text features built into the operating system.This allows the user to increase type size, make text bolder and increase contrast as needed.
Using text to label actions and important elements can reinforce your design choices. Plus, it helps out users who cannot see at all, who use text-to-speech options built into iOS and Android.
Accounting for text accessibility in your designs will be a game changer for many people!
Design with a purpose. All users can benefit from universal design. Let’s start adapting the world for others instead of forcing others to adapt to an inaccessible world.
Questioning the accessibility of your app? Contact Atomic Robot today.
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