Designing for Accessibility: 4 Tips To Keep In Mind

Designing for accessibility simply means that you’re mindful and inclusive of the various needs and disabilities of your users. It’s really important to make sure that everyone regardless of their condition can access any available content. Therefore, making content that everyone can readily interact with is the ideal goal. 

And by everyone, we mean your target audience, those outside of your target audience, those with disabilities, the elderly, etc. 

While this may be hard to implement in some parts of the world, countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have laws in place that make designing for accessibility a legal requirement especially because of those with disabilities and special needs. 

But designing for accessibility can be a vast subject to cover and so in this particular blog, we will focus mostly on tips for designing visually accessible marketing creatives and material. 

We will discuss more as we go through these helpful tips about being mindful when designing for accessibility. 

Let’s begin with tip no.1

1. Choose Animations and Effects Thoughtfully

Animations are one of the more fun parts of a video or a GIF. We love how some animations can add more value to some types of content. For example, an animated logo design or an animated social media post is surely more interactive than a static one. And statistics confirm this by showing that social media videos generate 1200% more shares as opposed to text-only or image-only posts. 

So animations and effects are all well and good. But there arises a problem with the type of animations and effects you use as some of them can be harmful to certain people.

Let’s look at some things to be mindful of when choosing animation and effects when designing for accessibility:

  1. Avoid Excessive and Rapid Visual Changes

It’s best to avoid transitions that use glitch effects and flicker effects as they can be difficult to view for some people. 

Also, be mindful of the pacing and avoid rapid changes in visuals, which could potentially trigger epilepsy or migraines in susceptible individuals. Like the rapid transitions in the below animation: 

Instead, organize the content using clear transitions in a structured manner, you can enhance comprehension and inclusivity for all viewers.

This video by Apple feels more accessible because of its clear and concise flow and slow pace:

  1. Avoid Flashing Effects and Animation of Patterns with High-contrast

To ensure the safety of individuals prone to epilepsy and migraines, it’s crucial to avoid excessive flashing in your animation. Any elements that flash more than three times per second should be eliminated. 

Around 3% of individuals with epilepsy can get seizures triggered by exposure to flashing lights at specific intensities. 

With this condition, (known as photosensitive epilepsy), it’s important to also avoid certain visual patterns, such as animated stripes or polka dots of contrasting colors, which can end up inducing seizures or trigger things like Trypophobia. 

Some types of effects also can cause motion sickness in some individuals. 

Flashing effects like the one in the below animation can be uncomfortable to some. 

Flash Sale GIF by Rising Gym - Find & Share on GIPHY

Whereas, the video below is a better example of an accessible video that uses moderate animations:

By adhering to these guidelines, you can create a safer and more inclusive experience for viewers in all sorts of conditions. 

2. Facilitate Soundless Videos

Videos are an all-important part of marketing and this blog by WebFX lists 100 powerful video marketing statistics to consider in 2024.  

But in terms of designing for accessibility, there’s a key thing to be mindful about:

  1. Provide Captions

A lot of people opt for soundless videos now. While the audio of a video may help consume the video wholly, 81% of consumers tend to mute video ads according to statistics

This is where captions come in handy. Captioning is invaluable for enhancing video accessibility in various ways. It enables individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to engage with video content. It also aids in improving focus and retention of information for all viewers and facilitates viewing in environments where sound may be a concern. 

Here’s a video by Dansky that uses captions:

As you can see the captions help us know what he’s saying even without hearing the video. 

3. Accommodate Those With Color Related Difficulties

Color is a significant element in design, as it can evoke emotions, feelings, and ideas, and can strengthen a brand’s message and perception all due to the psychologies behind color. 

However, the effectiveness of colors is diminished when users cannot see them, have trouble looking at some colors, or perceive colors differently as shown below.

There are nearly 300 million people across the world who suffer from color blindness and that throws a major wrench into those relying solely on color for effective communication. 

Let’s look at some things to think about in terms of color when designing for accessibility. 

  1. Adjust the Contrast of Colors

Various forms of color blindness exist as seen above, with extremely rare cases where individuals are unable to perceive any color at all. However, the majority of color-blind individuals struggle to distinguish red, green, or blue light fully.

While this can be challenging for brands using these colors to navigate, finding solutions and designing for accessibility is important. 

To that end, adjusting color contrast can be a top solution for this. Improper contrast levels can affect the legibility of texts and can be a major issue for those with vision impairments. So both groups of people – those with color blind issues as well as others with vision impairments can benefit from contrasting color usage.

For example, contrast is important when it comes to interactive elements like CTA’s as they play a major role in conversions. 

According to WCAG 2.0 level AA standards, normal text must have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1, while large text requires a ratio of 3:1. But the WCAG 2.1 extends this requirement to graphics and user interface components, such as form input borders, which must have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1. For WCAG Level AAA compliance, normal text should have a contrast ratio of at least 7:1, while large text requires a ratio of 4.5:1.

WebAim offers a contrast checker that can help you with selecting high-contrast colors. 

It’s important to consider all of these when designing for accessibility. 

4. Use Accessible Fonts and Improve the Readability of Text

When designing for accessibility, font usage and typography play a crucial role in ensuring readability and usability for all users. 

Here are some considerations for font usage and readability of text:

  1. Choose Readable Fonts

Opt for fonts that are easy to read, especially for users with visual impairments due to disabilities, age, etc. Sans-serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana are often preferred for digital content due to their clarity and simplicity.

  1. Consider Font Size

Use a sufficiently large font size to ensure readability, particularly for users with low vision or older adults. The recommended minimum font size for body text is typically around 16 pixels or equivalent for digital content.

  1. Keep Ample Line Spacing

Increase line spacing to improve readability, especially for users with dyslexia or attention difficulties. Adequate line spacing prevents text from appearing crowded and helps users distinguish between lines of text more easily. 

  1. Avoid Decorative Fonts

Designing for accessibility aside, there’s a time and place when you can use certain types of fonts like decorative fonts and script fonts. Those types of fonts have their uses but in different contexts. In cases where accessibility is concerned, narrow, italicized, and cursive decorative fonts can hinder readability and comprehension, particularly for users with cognitive or learning disabilities.

Conclusively, use clear typography when designing for accessibility. Emphasize clarity and legibility by including consistent font styles, weights, and alignment. Avoid excessive use of italics, underlining, or all-caps, as these can impede readability and comprehension. 

Follow these guidelines for font usage when designing for accessibility because you can then create designs that are inclusive and usable for all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Let’s Bring Things to a Close

We live in a time and age where everyone has access to digital devices. However, the inability to view content on these devices can be a real struggle for those suffering from serious medical conditions. This calls for being inclusive of such people and designing for accessibility, making content available for everyone. 

Some believe that designing for accessibility can lead to a restriction on creativity. But that’s far from the truth. You just need to be creative and at the same time mindful of those who need that extra care. 

We believe that these tips and the related points we discussed will surely come in aid when you embark on designing accessible material. Take the time to test your material and be known for being pro-accessible. Research shows that 82% of consumers love it when brands share the same values as they do. And creating accessible material can put you forward as a brand that has praise-worthy values. 

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