Inclusive web design, how do we keep everybody involved?

Everybody wants to feel included in society. That is of course obvious, but how do we keep everybody involved? And how do we do this in the right way? How do we make web designs accessible for everybody, for example for people with a visual disability? That is what we’ll mostly focus on in this article.

What is inclusivity?

The definition of this word, “ inclusivity” is: “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised, such as those having physical or intellectual disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.” Simply said, we do not exclude people. It is the fact to include all types of people, things and ideas and treating them all fairly and equally. This inclusivity is also known as WCAG, (​​Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is a document where you can find guidelines for websites and content accessibility. There are special rules for government websites, this is called W3G. The rules for government sites are even more strict, because information should be available for everyone.

How does web design play a part in that?

Everybody is found on the internet nowadays. Everybody has access to wifi and can scroll the whole day on the internet if they wanted to. There they stumble upon multiple websites. But what if these websites are not usable for you. In this article we’ll focus especially on people with a visual disability.

People with a visual disability have a hard time reading things or can not see things at all. That is because of the wrong colour of background or lettertype that is used. They have difficulty in finding their way on the internet sometimes because not all websites are accessible for them.

How do we keep everybody involved?

Nowadays the technology has improved and people with a visual disability often use screen readers for them. These are programs that can convert visual text into audio, so people can listen to the text and what is on the website. The most common screen readers are: Microsoft Narrator for Windows and VoiceOver for Mac users. (If you are interested in seeing how this works, click here for a short video). But this way is more time consuming for the person than someone who can just see in one glance if the website page is useful. So, how can you improve your website in other ways?

  1. Provide contrast and texture on your website.
  2. Limit and prioritize color in the interface
  3. Allow manual font size adjustments
  4. Do not rely on colour alone to send your message across
  5. Grand keyboard shortcuts accessibility (mouse only accessibility)
  6. Use explicit and descriptive labels for links and buttons
  7. Provide alt text or descriptions for non-text content (think of pictures)
  8. Use headings to organise the website content
  9. Use specific titles for every page
  10. Add captions to pictures and videos

There are a lot of other ways to improve, but these are the most common ones.

Inaccessible web content means that people with disabilities are denied equal access to information. 90% of websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technology (this number also includes people with other disabilities). “According to WHO, there are 285 million people worldwide who, due to some disability (i.e. they are suffering with low vision), cannot read all content on a website. 39 million of those people are blind and cannot access any of the content via sight.” This is why it is important to have attention for this problem. And not forget these people in our busy society.