What You Can Do to Make Your Designs More Accessible for Everyone
We previously talked about why accessibility in graphic design is so important. If you haven’t read that article, I’d highly suggest reading it to get a basic understanding of why this stuff matters. If you’re in a hurry, I’ll give you the summary. Accessibility is important because it ensures that as many people as possible can engage with your designs. No matter what you’re designing for, you want as many people to engage with your content as possible.
So, how exactly do you serve as many people as possible without compromising the style and unique features of your design? It’s not as hard as you might think. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to make your graphic design more inclusive and accessible to the viewers of your work.
Think About Your Design’s Final Destination
A great way to improve the accessibility of your design without making a ton of modification to the design itself is to consider where your design will end up. Are you designing for print media or digital media? If your design is for digital media export the design in an accessible format. Offering a PDF instead of a flat image is a great start. Many people use accessibility tools such as screen reading software to assist them if they are visually impaired are have other challenges that make reading difficult. These types of special software can’t read the text of a flat image. Computers just aren’t there yet.
If you need to deliver the final design as an image for something like a social media site, include a description or alt text. Including a description allows people who use screen reading software an opportunity to experience your design. If your design has a lot of text, you can include that text in the description section, caption section or as alt text. Alt text is just short for alternative text. This is the text that you see when you hover your mouse pointer over an image. The alt text is embedded in the image file and get be easily read and processed by most screen reading software.
Inclusivity Is Accessibility
When we’re talking about accessibility in graphic design, we primarily focus on those who have visual challenges or challenges with interpreting different types of information. There are other areas of accessibility that are outside of these realms. There are instances where someone doesn’t have trouble engaging with your content, but rather feels uncomfortable with the content. Using words or imagery that might be harmful to a group of people absolutely limits the accessibility of that design. I can’t state this enough: it is impossible to cater to every single need and every single accessibility request. The key here is just being mindful of how we create and export our designs, and what messages our designs are sending out into the atmosphere.
Contrast Is Key
For people who have some visual impairment, but are still able to read a text and see images, consider adding more contrast to your design. Using a light gray text on a white background can be very difficult for people to read and understand. If you’ve worked hard to create something amazing, wouldn’t you want as many people as possible to experience your design? Of course, you do! And remember, increasing the contrast doesn’t just help people with visual and interpretive challenges. Increasing the contrast is one of the basic rules of good design. It helps people prioritize information and get a better understanding of the desired message. Contrast is one of those things that’s great for everyone!
These are just a few of the things to consider when trying to improve the accessibility of your designs. Everyone is unique, and we all have different needs when it comes to making our world accessible. If you have other ideas for how to add some accessibility improvements to your designs, feel free the share your thoughts!