These are eight of the many highlights and corresponding notes made by me—a typographer, mostly for print—upon reading Laura Kalbag’s book Accessibility for Everyone released last fall by A Book Apart.
1. “…everyone uses the web quite differently.”
Perhaps obvious. But we all know about what happens when we assume and assumptions are at the root of problems related to accessibility.
2. “Whereas accessible design creates products that are usable by those with disabilities, universal design creates products for the widest possible audience, which includes, but isn’t limited to, people with disabilities.”
Accessibility is inclusive. Perhaps if we could get this right inclusivity might become the norm in design.
3. “Writing simply will broaden your audience—and chances are, it’ll make automatic translations better, too!”
K.I.S.S. (keep it seriously simple) First we shouldn’t confuse simple with thinking we have to dumb something down. Simplicity can mean avoiding too many cliché phrases or too much marketing speak or even being too quick to access the thesaurus just to fluff the text.
4. “Accessibility isn’t a line item in an estimate or a budget—it’s an underlying practice that affects every aspect of a project.“
If it is part of your methodology you will never have to explain the line item. Accessibility will be a part of the conversation from day one. The desire to both include and enable as many potential customers should be something everyone is interested in doing.
5. “…providing alternatives for accessibility reasons has the side benefit of working for a much wider audience.“
Make no assumptions about how people are accessing your site. Even just considering the viewports possible exponentially increases how one must consider the way in which they handle the typography and this is just one small part of the larger puzzle.
6. “…an unusable site is already an inaccessible site….”
It is alienating and a sign of privilege to assume we are all equally abled.
7. “Testing is really another kind of research.”
I have done research but I’ve never been involved in testing beyond a handful of people from the client’s team. Testing from within is sort of like designing for designers. But doing initial research and testing with a wide range of potential users can prove or disprove the choices you’ve made in a way that both your team and the client’s team cannot deny.
8. “Remember, you can stick to laws, standards, and guidelines without feeling restricted by them.”
Instead of thinking that these things keep you from doing certain things, consider the things they do allow you to do. Just as a flexible grid can help a wide variety of content feel cohesive, the standards can be used to support your choices and decisions.
Ultimately, I am a typographer. I do concern myself with things like readability of text online. But, this book opened my eyes to so much more of what I can be doing to be a true advocate for the customers of my clients. It reminded me that just because I think something is working doesn’t mean it is working for others. It really drove home that if we all take on accessibility as how we work that the web would really be a more inclusive place and isn’t that what we should all want?
Find Laura Kalbag on Twitter.