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November 4, 2022

Accessibility in Design: how to create an accessible app? – Experts Zone Talks #21

Olga

Olga Vasylenko

Marketing Specialist
Olga

Olga Krzak

UI/UX Designer
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Accessibility in Design: how to create an accessible app? – Experts Zone Talks #21
product design(8)
ux/ui design(11)

Why should we take care of accessibility of application? Watch the video by UX/UI Designer Olga "Accessibility in Design: How to Create an Accessible App?". Have a nice watch!  

Transcription

Olga V
Hi! You are watching the Frontend House YouTube channel. On our channel, you will find many experts who want to share their knowledge from the field of design, software development and business development. Today we will speak with Olga, who is a UI and UX designer, and we will speak about web accessibility and accessibility features. Ready? I'm sure you’re ready. 
Olga K
Let's go. 
Olga V
So let's start our talk about accessibility in web apps and mobile apps. And I wanted to ask you why accessibility is so important and why should we invest in it?
Olga K
Okay, so a lot of teams actually underestimate the importance of accessibility or treat it as an additional feature. We should treat accessibility as some kind of fundamental thing because it helps us. For example, people think that only disabled people or people with some kind of impairments can benefit from accessibility. This is not true. It's because when you create accessible products, you should think of it as about expanding your audience. You will not only reach your base group of users, but you will also gain new ones. That's why accessibility is so important. That's why taking into consideration your users' needs is so important. And you should also think about people who are disabled or impaired. For example, when you think about visually impaired people, you might only think about those who have heavy input. But actually almost 2 billion people have some kind of visual impairment. You just don't know that they are visually impersonal. And you don't want to list yourself of these users. 

That's why accessibility should be important for you. That's why you should invest time into doing it properly.
Olga V
And what should we pay attention to while creating an accessible app? For example, contrast, maybe sound?
Olga K
When you think about accessibility, you think that this is an additional feature. That's how we are used to talking about it. But actually this should be some kind of standard. Accessibility is crucial for creating a good user experience. There can be no good user experience without applying accessibility. For example, contrast ratio is only one of these things. But when talking about accessibility, you should actually start from the basic heuristics of the UX design, because they don't only talk about good user experience, they also talk about accessibility. So, yeah, yes, contrast ratio is one of the things that are associated with accessibility. Possibly the most famous one. 
Olga V
Yeah, that is why I remember about this one.
Olga K
Yes, but I would say that most important thing, the most fundamental thing to accessible design is consistency. 
Olga V
Consistency? 
Olga K
Yes, because keeping consistency in design makes your app more accessible because your user can memorize patterns instead of trying to figure out what is going on in the app. 
Olga V
What do you mean? While talking about consistency? 
Olga K
You should follow some ground truth set in the very beginning. You should follow your style guide. You should basically design in a consistent way which means, for example that might be the simplest example but if you use borders you should use the same borders everywhere in your design. For example, you shouldn't make buttons with border radius and without them because this creates inconsistency. 
Olga V
This is not the most important feature for accessibility. Yes, not exactly. It will not help. But we still do it. We still do it because we are invested in creating consistent design, consistent experience, for example, because consistency of design also means consistency of experience. That's why it's very important. But consistency does not only refer to consistency in your design, it also means creating products that are consistent with the user's cognitive patterns. Basically, you have to understand that your user has already had some experience with the digital world and his experiences are based on what he already knows.
Olga K
That's why you shouldn't invent something that doesn't exist. You should look into what is there and design based on that. This is the best way of designing accessible applications and platforms. 
Olga V
For example, X for closing. 
Olga K
This is a pattern. Basically, if you make a close pattern using some other icon, the user might not understand it. 
Olga V
Maybe it's X trying to run away from you. 
Olga K
But it's not only about the icon. I don't know if you ever noticed it, but the close icon is always in the same place. 
Olga V
Yeah, it's on the top right corner, correct? 
Olga K
Yes. And if you move it to the, I don't know, left bottom corner…
Olga V
Ugh… I’m not feeling good right now. 
Olga K
Yes, that's why you should follow such patterns. You should take it into account. So for me, consistency is one of the most important things when it comes to design and accessibility. But of course, the contrast ratio is also an important thing that helps visually impaired users to read everything. But that's not all. Accessibility also means, for example, size of the elements. For example, you should think if you for example have to use buttons that are very small – below 32 pixels, for example – it isn't recommended, but it might happen in some extreme situations. Then you should probably think about the size of the tappable area around it to make it accessible. Okay, make it accessible. But also you might want to consider your hearing impact with a sneeze. I am such a user for example but when you add captions you have not only me and other impaired people but also all the other people. 
Olga V
Who are in the bus and don't want to use their headphones.
Olga K
You are including a lot of people by making the app accessible. For example who feel shy about making calls or something if you give them the possibility to use chats. For example this will be good for disabled people for sure. But it will also include other users of the younger generation which prefer chat communication. You should also remember about the fact that we'll all be impaired at some point because we'll be old one day and we should think about it. That's why for example we should think about it, while designing architecture for mobility impairments, transport, etc. We will not be young forever.
Olga V
Yesterday when we were talking with Olga and she said impressive things. She said that everybody could become disabled at every moment of our lives and we have to remember about it to create products which will be acceptable for everyone. 
Olga K
Which will not exclude us from life basically if we suddenly become impaired. 
Olga V
We are talking about accessibility in the context of software development but as you said. It is really important for every part of our lives. 
Olga K
Yeah, because you know, user experience is not only about the software, the user experience is about everything. Design is about everything. Design is about people. Software is about people too. 
Olga V
I have to think about it for a minute. 
Olga K
Software is a tool for people too. 
Olga V
What are your favorite tricks to make an app accessible? Do you have any? 
Olga K
I try to live up to accessibility standards. Yeah, these are not tricks for me. I treat it as fundamental requirements of design actually so I'm not using any tricks. These are just some things like for example contrast ratio that I try to always keep in mind. For example I use accessibility plugins to check contrast ratios or things like that but this is a fundamental thing. I want people to perceive it as a fundamental thing. Not additional features. We have to think about accessibility before we start designing the product, not after. 
Olga V
While creating the product you have to keep in mind your user. I'd probably ask some more business questions about why exactly should investors think about accessibility of applications or websites. Who can benefit from accessibility of application or website or anything apart from users? This could be useful for owners of business too, right? 
Olga K
Actually it can be a question of maximizing your revenue by expanding your user base because when you live after the accessibility standards you make the whole experience better for people with physical disabilities and with any kind of impairment. But also for all people who might use it. You have to take into account that people are different and we have different needs and habits. We don't perceive the word in the same way. Some people are shy so they for example don't want to make calls. They want to use the chat and communicate through text. You basically include them the whole experience and you can maximize your revenue this way. That's why it's so important to invest in accessibility because you can basically open your products to all and you might notice that you got more users. Basically. That's why you should always think about accessibility. And another thing that can make your web app or your products accessible is UX writing. 
Olga V
UX writing? 
Olga K
Yes, because UX writing helps you to understand what is going on. And also it helps to keep consistency throughout the design. When you use the same language throughout the whole design, you make it more accessible. Also big players in the industry such as Apple or Google take accessibility very seriously. Apple, for example, hires Haptic designers. We have to stimulate other senses, not just visual impairments. So for example, when you tap on something, you can feel the vibration. And this way you can make your product even more accessible than ever. That's why Apple invests a lot into designing the haptics interactions. That's why we should take an example from them.
Olga V
Yeah, we definitely should. If you want to create software which will keep in mind your end user the product which will be accessible and useful for different types of people, contact us.
Olga K
We often create personas. We always create personas while designing any kind of experience. But even though we still have to remember that our real users are not our personas, they can be similar to our personas. But a persona is actually a construct that helps you design for the main target groups, but inside of these target groups people refer to. That's why accessibility is a tool which can help you reach everyone. 
Olga V
You can reach us via the form on our website to contact our experts and improve accessibility of your app or create your new application. Do you have examples of user experience and accessibility in real life?
Olga K
As I mentioned before, design is about people. That's why it isn't just about specific tools like software, it's about everything. It's about our everyday lives. And that's why we should think about accessibility in everything that we do, even in architecture, even in designing furniture. For example, the example of treating accessibility standards as an additional feature is for example, some kinds of safety tools that prevent babies from getting hard to buy. For example, sharp corners of the furniture, while in fact the furniture should be little fingers. Yes. Why in fact you should consider it while designing the furniture so that you don't have to buy any additional stuff to prevent your kids from getting hurt. You know what I mean? Yes. And that's why, for example, all the buses should have lost role so they are accessible to all the people, but also to you when you are old.

And I can also give you an example of a missed opportunity when it comes to accessibility. And that would be Rubik's Cube. For me, it's a symbol of missed opportunity to make the product fully accessible. Because it was so easy to make it accessible, all you have to do is to add some pattern, for example, for each color, or even braille text for each color of the cube. It was so easy. Can you see that?
Olga V
Yeah, but Rubik's cube wants you to suffer. But there is a version of the Rubik's cube that is accessible.
Olga K
But it's so wrong. There shouldn't be an accessible version of something new. Know what I'm getting at? Yeah, you know what I'm getting at. It's our duty to make something accessible from the beginning. Sometimes it's not possible to make something accessible for everyone. For example, when you have forks or spoons for people who suffer from Parkinson's, there might be some barriers that prevent you from making the same products for everyone. Because spoons and forks for people with Parkinson's should have some kind of stabilizing technology that enables them. But developing a tool with stabilizing technology costs more than making regular forks. That's why in some situations accessibility is not possible to implement. But whenever possible, we should consider it. For example, as in Rubik's cube. 

There is another thing I would like to tell you about, because this is very interesting. While designing user experience, you actually take into account the needs of your users. Because it will make your product accessible to everyone. If your grandma can use it, everyone can use it. That is accessibility to thinking about your users needs by taking into account needs of the weakest group.
A great web accessibility initiative for sites accessible design by world health organization.
Olga V
But now we have to finish, unfortunately. Thank you very much. Thank you for today's talk. You can watch other videos on our Frontend House channel or also visit our website frontendhouse.com and check open positions and contact us via form on our website. Thank you so much. See you next time.

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Meet the authors

Olga

Olga Vasylenko

Marketing Specialist

Olga

Olga Krzak

UI/UX Designer

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