Creating an Accessible and Inclusive Web Design: Why It Matters

In today’s digital age, creating a website that is accessible and inclusive is essential. Inclusive web design ensures that every user can navigate and engage with your website regardless of their abilities. This article will discuss the importance of inclusive web design, the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and practical tips to make your website more accessible.

The Importance of Inclusive Web Design

Inclusive web design refers to creating a website accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Accessibility ensures everyone can access information and engage with your website regardless of their abilities. An inclusive design can help reach a wider audience, including:

  • people with disabilities (visually impaired users, hearing, cognitive, or motor disabilities)
  • seniors
  • people with limited literacy skills

The Business Case for Inclusive Web Design: Why it Makes Good Sense

Inclusive web design is not only about social responsibility but also a smart business decision. By creating an accessible design, you can expand your market share, increase customer loyalty, and enhance your brand reputation. Moreover, an accessible website can help improve your search engine optimization (SEO) by providing relevant content to search engines.

While accessibility does not directly affect SEO, the two complement each other. Accessibility helps search engine algorithms understand the content better for improved searchability and higher search engine rankings. –

  • Inclusive web design can expand your market share by reaching a wider audience that includes people with disabilities, seniors, and people with limited literacy skills.
  • An accessible website can increase customer loyalty by providing a positive user experience for all users.
  • Creating an accessible design can enhance your brand reputation by demonstrating your commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • An accessible website can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) by providing relevant content to search engines and making it easier for search engines to crawl your website.
  • Inclusive web design can help you avoid potential legal issues related to website accessibility and compliance with regulatory requirements.

The Challenges Faced by People with Disabilities

People with disabilities face unique challenges when accessing websites. These challenges can include difficulties with vision, hearing, motor skills, and cognitive abilities. Websites that are not accessible can exclude people with disabilities from accessing important information, products, or services.

Graphic depicting percentage of US adults with disabilities. Source: Ballard Brief,

Graphic depicting the percentage of US adults with disabilities. Source: Ballard Brief,

Designing for Different Disabilities: Understanding and Meeting Users’ Needs

To create an inclusive website, it is important to understand the needs of different disability groups. For example, people with visual impairments may require screen readers, while people with hearing impairments may need captions and transcripts. People with motor impairments may need keyboard navigation, while people with cognitive impairments may need simple language and clear instructions. Therefore, designers and developers (like us) strive to create user experiences that adhere to accessibility standards.

Inclusive Web Design Best Practices: Tips and Techniques to Improve Accessibility

Designing web pages for accessibility involves ensuring all users can access and use a website’s content, regardless of their abilities. Here are some tips and techniques to improve accessibility/UX design:

  1. Use descriptive alt text for images and videos
  2. Ensure that website content is easy to read and understand 
  3. Use high-contrast colors for text and background (accessible color palette)
  4. Provide captions and transcripts for audio and video content
  5. Make website navigation clear and easy to use

The Legal Framework for Inclusive Web Design: Understanding Your Obligations

Web designers have a legal obligation to ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide legal guidelines for website accessibility. Section 508 compliance is also required for websites that receive federal funding.

ada flowchart

As a very high-level summary – we can first look at the overall scope of how accessibility affects websites and the persons that manage and use them in this way.

What is ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act)?

Does adding an accessibility overlay to my website help prevent my business from litigation?

Adding an accessibility overlay to a website will not prevent businesses from litigation. 

With an overlay, fully automated testing using an overlay cannot be done. To get a full scope of website issues, people with disabilities and a web team are required to do the work. Overlays may claim to fix most or all accessibility issues automatically, but they amend HTML elements using an overlayed component that serves the user an edited version of the code from a third-party server. This means it does not do the job you think it does. Overlays can only account for 20-30% of accessibility barriers (source: 

how it works with an accessibility overlay

This image depicts the breakdown in the flow of communication when an accessibility overlay is used.

Moreover, overlays can remove the connection between the user and their assistive technology. WebAIM survey results show that most respondents rate overlays as not at all or not very effective. According to UsableNet’s 2021 ADA Digital Accessibility Lawsuit report, over 400 lawsuits were filed against companies using widgets or overlays (source: UsableNet). Additionally, most overlay companies broadly disclaim any responsibility for privacy and security. Read more about the common myths about accessibility overlays.

Going Beyond Compliance: How to Create Truly Inclusive Websites That Serve Everyone

Compliance with legal guidelines is just the beginning of inclusive web design. To create truly inclusive websites, designers and developers must go beyond compliance and adopt a user-centered design approach. This involves understanding the diverse needs and preferences of different user groups and incorporating them into the design process. By doing so, designers can create websites that serve everyone, regardless of their abilities.

Making Your Website More Inclusive

Inclusive web design is essential for ensuring that everyone can access and engage with your website’s content. By following the tips outlined in this article and testing your website for accessibility, you can make your website more inclusive and accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Remember that creating an inclusive website is a legal and ethical obligation and a smart business decision that can enhance your brand reputation and increase customer loyalty.

Contact us to learn more about how your website can be more inclusive.

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