Web accessibility and usability are often synonymous from a designer’s point of view. When a website is inaccessible, it will be missing the essential usability traits, such as effectiveness, efficiency, engaging, and devoid of errors. Therefore for designers, solving accessibility problems and usability problems are often similar. That is why to make an accessible and usable website, companies need skilled and educated designers. They can ensure that UI and UX meet the website accessibility standards, which makes them automatically usable.
For business owners, hiring designers who are skilled and knowledgeable of accessibility standards is cost-effective, since they can achieve two goals together. No doubt, it is more expensive than using AI-powered solutions like accessiBe. But for companies that prefer manual methods, it is probably the next best alternative. It ensures that the accessibility problems are addressed at the designing stage before it goes into development. If the errors get detected after the completion of the website, designers would have to redesign the website. So companies that still use manual methods for website accessibility should make sure that their designers are implementing these accessibility principles to ensure optimum UX.
Optimum Color Contrast
According to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, there should be an adequate contrast ratio between the text and the background. For regular text sizes, the contrast must be at least 4.5:1. For text larger than 18pt or 14pt bold, the contrast ratio must be maintained at 3:1 or greater. The text inside images is not accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies, so it is not advisable to use them. But if used, it should also maintain the same contrast ratios.
Distinguish Text Links
Links appear on websites in two distinct ways. Some links are associated with specific sections of a page and are part of the navigation. These can get easily distinguished from the rest of the content and elements. However, some links get embedded in the text content of a webpage. Designers often make the mistake of using only colors to distinguish the text so that the link is visible. However, that is not convenient for people who are color blind. That is why designers must use other visual forms of attracting notice, such as underlining the text.
Support Colors Used as Information
Designers often use colors to convey several other kinds of information on a website. For example, they might use colors to define the variables on a chart. Once again, such information might be rendered useless to people who are visually impaired. Therefore designers must use other visual forms of reinforcing the data, such as patterns. A person who is unable to differentiate one color from another will be able to use the other visual cues to process the information.
Understand Semantic Roles
Designers are required to have the basic knowledge of the uses of semantic roles according to the WAI-ARIA stipulation. They need not memorize each role, but they must recognize when an object in their design is trying to fit itself with multiple roles. If that happens, there can be severe usability issues. For example, when a person tries to check on one option, another might get selected too. It might be easy for a regular person to spot it, but a blind person may not be able to see that. So if that happens, they must delete these objects and try to find ways where each of them gets linked with a specific purpose.
They can assign a semantic identity to essential design elements, such as headings, navigational areas, buttons, images, and footers. It will prevent a lot of confusion and enable the developers to implement your designs for a better user experience.
Designers must create a sequence according to which a user will be able to access the components that you have designed. The sequence will ensure that users come across the information in a specific order. Otherwise, for people using screen readers or assistive devices, it can get confusing if they read part two of an article before reading part one.
Designers need to identify which images need to get optimized for website accessibility. To do that, they need to segregate the informative images from the decorative ones. An easy way to do it would be to imagine removing the picture. Can they still make sense of the information?
Assistive technologies cannot read images unless the developers provide text alternatives, so it is their responsibility to give appropriate alt-texts for the informative ones.
Designers have to identify and document the interaction of each part of the design. They need to ensure that each element behaves similarly to the use of keyboard navigation, as it would for a mouse. For example, any element that gets highlighted on the hover of a mouse must behave similarly for focus.
UX and UI designers need to get the first step in designing correct for accessibility. Otherwise, the design of the website might be inaccessible to people with disabilities and also unusable by others.