According to Steven E. Brown, the first curb cut in America was installed in 1945. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the president signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. These dips in the sidewalk that now make mobility through cities and towns more accessible have had many added benefits for all, not only those with mobility issues. Thus we have the “curb-cut effect.”
The curb-cut effect is all about how better accessibility benefits everyone. What does this have to do with web accessibility? Similar to curb-cuts, the reasons why web accessibility is important—and the ripple of benefits that accessible websites extend to all internet users—is an example of the curb-cut effect in action. To understand just what this means, keep reading!
Accessible Designs Are Better Designs
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes the web as an information and communication source, making access to it a basic human right. This means ensuring that websites are accessible is an indispensable element of web design. If you’re interested in web design college, you have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with this essential topic and others.
Accessible designs consider a range of abilities with respect to sight, hearing, cognition, movement, and speech. These design strategies overlap with those needed to adapt designs for a variety of devices, and they improve experiences for those with slower internet connections or limited bandwidth. Many also say that accessibility fosters more innovative designs and can open up a business to new markets.
Elements of Web Accessibility and Web Design Courses
Accessibility standards must be incorporated into designs. As you work through color theory, the fundamentals of typography, and other topics in your web design courses, it’s important to keep the elements of web accessibility in your mind.
Some basic elements to consider include the transcription for auditory elements—which is important for deaf or hard of hearing people. Transcription also makes content more accessible to things like search engines. Another element to pay attention to is making sure there is alternative text for images, which lets people who use screen readers or those who have limited bandwidth know what the visuals are. Then there is keyboard input, which allows for mouse-free navigation.
Evaluation and Accessibility Testing
Throughout your web design career, you may get to do user testing for your designs, but if test-users are not available to you, there are other ways to make sure your website is accessible on your own. Basically, you can go through the accessibility elements one by one and see how they work.
For example, you can switch on high contrast mode. This will give you a sense of how users with light sensitivity, people who have a visual impairment, or possibly users with Dyslexia may view the site. If you unplug your mouse and disable your track pad, it will give you a sense of whether navigation is accessible or not. Start incorporating accessibility tests like these into your design flow early, as you learn the fundamentals of web design, and you will make a strong connection between your education and future success.
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