Accessibility in Design

3 min read

According to the WHO, there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Knowing that, we can assume that every 8th person on the planet suffers from a condition that affects their life in a way. When developing applications and websites, accessibility in design should be kept in mind. 

There are different types of disabilities. The most common ones are:

  • People with visual impairments

This category includes blind people, people with limited vision, color blindness, astigmatism, and other visual pathologies. According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired: 39 million are blind, and 246 have low vision.

  • People with hearing impairments

This category includes deaf people and those hard of hearing. According to the WHO’s fact sheet on Deafness and Hearing Loss, 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.

  • People with reduced mobility (PRM)

This category includes people whose mobility is limited due to some physical or mental disabilities, age, or other causes requiring special attention and adaptation to their needs. This type of disability affects 1 in 7 adults. 

  • People with cognitive impairments 

This category includes the broadest range of disabilities: mental illnesses, learning, understanding, or concentration difficulties (such as ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc. Cognitive impairments affect 1 in 9 adults. 

How accessibility in design helps people with disabilities

The lives of people with disabilities have become much easier with the adoption of modern technologies. Nowadays, among all of the breakthrough inventions, you can find: 

  • Advanced communication aids that help those unable to communicate verbally; 
  • Robotic limbs that wholly restore the mobility of amputated arms and legs; 
  • Seizure monitoring devices aimed at preventing injuries from happening;
  • Smart wheelchairs able to navigate stairs and other obstacles on the way etc. 

Some of those inventions are incredibly expensive, and obviously, not everyone can afford such devices. But still, there are free things from the tech world that can help people with disabilities—the internet, for instance. Adapting apps and websites for disabled people is a top priority for most developers, putting accessibility in design at the front of modern software development.

Regulations for Accessibility in Design

Digital accessibility is widely regulated around the world. Even smaller companies should make their products accessible and comfortable for everyone.

Here’s a list of acts from different countries concerning people with disabilities:

Companies whose interfaces do not meet international standards pay huge fines, increasing with each claim. For example, in 2022, the average fine for a first claim was $43,000 in America.

JetRuby’s experience in developing accessible interfaces

We can divide our experience in this area into several cases. The first case is us working on a new product and creating an interface. Thus, we created a UI Kit that considered the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. To do this, we check the contrast of colors, font sizes, the distance between words and letters, etc.

03.04 img 8 development

Checking how colorblind people would see. 

03.04 img 2 development

The second case is us conducting an audit on someone’s interface for accessibility. Here, we analyze the current interface and, depending on the rules of the country a customer lives in, describe the critical points, after which we iteratively adapt applications. 

An example of such work: A customer requested that we audit their interface. As a result, we revealed some flaws related to the design and front end. Then, we filed a report on the work done, sent it to the customer, and implemented the changes iteratively.

The first thing we did was select colors that meet the requirements of accessibility:

All interface layouts have been redone using new colors. The result showed that the interface with new colors suits the AAA contrast level, making it comfortable to interact with.

03.04 img 3 development

03.04 img 4 development

Revising colors for people with color blindness showed that there will be deviations in colors, but this is normal. The key is that these colors shouldn’t merge; users can see highlights. As you can see, the colors are significantly different in each segment.

03.04 img 5 development

An example of a page adapted for different types of color blindness and a contrast check.

03.04 img 6 development

The next step was to write the headers for the interfaces so that the developers could add them to the code. We have increased the minimum font size from 12pt to 16pt.

Accessibility in Design

We conducted card sorting for people with cognitive disabilities. Based on that, we changed the menu, transition logic, and other minor things on the development side.

The third condition is that we work with a company for a long time and monitor its relevance to layouts, global requirements, and the market.

In this case, we put the requirements for changes in the Roadmap, considering accessibility.

One of the latest examples of such work is an application that contains a video player. We have added the feature of enabling subtitles in this player, which is essential for people with hearing problems. In the future, we plan to add a description of the entire text as a separate interface element. Read more about our design practices.

The JetRuby team understands and always considers accessibility in design for people with various conditions. In our work, we always seek a positive user experience and encourage others to achieve that. 

Follow our blog to learn more about our professional approach, and don’t miss our next article! 

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