Nothing to fear
Over 2022-23, I have been working on a project for a Council where web accessibility was a central focus. I learned a great deal and have continued to. You could say I’ve caught a bit of an accessibility bug, picking up a W3C certificate in accessibility and planning further studies and accreditations.
I find it fascinating. But the most important thing I have learned is that accessibility isn’t a stumbling block to good design and pleasing aesthetics – it is design. Because, at its core, accessibility is simply an extension of two design principles we use as the foundation of our craft – information architecture and typographic hierarchy.
Information architecture is the blueprint, shaping how users navigate and interact with content. Within accessibility practice, it’s the guiding force ensuring a seamless and understandable user experience for everyone, regardless of their abilities. The structure of information, the clarity of navigation, and the simplicity of pathways all contribute to a design that welcomes and accommodates diverse users.
Typographic hierarchy allows us to segment and signpost information, transforming impenetrable content into legible and coherent messaging. The strategic arrangement of fonts, sizes, and styles is crucial in making content digestible, and with added attention to contrast and spacing, we can speak to users with varying needs.
In essence, accessibility is not an arduous checklist but a philosophy that should be woven into all communication. It’s about recognising how users engage with information and tailoring the structure to embrace these differences. As designers, we should be architects of inclusion, utilising information structures and typographic hierarchies to create an environment for everyone.
Digital communications allow accessibility to be an ongoing project – to acknowledge the dynamic nature of technology, user needs, and societal shifts. As we navigate, let’s remember that accessibility isn’t an add-on; it’s the very essence of design, a commitment to ensuring that our creations resonate with all, leaving no user behind.