Take the GAAD Challenge! Inclusive Design: Strategies for Developing Universally Accessible Digital Experiences

Join the challenge! What is your +1?

May 16th, 2024, marks the 13th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD aims to stimulate thinking, learning, and discussion about digital access and inclusion. This year, we challenge you to engage with digital access and inclusion by selecting and acting upon your +1 (plus 1): the one step or action you can take, whether it involves learning about or deepening your understanding of a niche, watching a video, reading an article, or engaging on social media related to digital access and inclusion. 

New Editions is committed to creating inclusive digital experiences. Specializing in a wide range of programs including Children and Youth, Aging, Disability, Health, and more, we prioritize accessibility in our services. Our expertise in Technical Assistance and Training, Section 508 and Accessible Information and Communication Technology, and Program Management ensures that our solutions are accessible to all. We believe in the power of inclusive design to enhance the effectiveness and reach of digital experiences, reflecting and supporting the diversity of its users. As society progresses deeper into the digital age, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of disability or diversity, can access and benefit from digital technologies is paramount, particularly in designing programs and services for diverse sectors such as health, education, and workforce development.

Inclusive design is an approach aimed at making digital experiences usable for as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. It involves designing products and services while considering the full range of human diversity, encompassing abilities, language, culture, gender, age, and other forms of human difference.

The Principles of Inclusive Design

To effectively implement inclusive design, several key principles are followed:

  • Equitable Use: Providing the same means of use for all users
  • Flexibility in Use: Accommodating the rage of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive: Ensuring ease of use regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible Information: Effectively communicating necessary information to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error: Minimizing adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions.
  • Low Physical Effort: Design can be used with minimum fatigue.
  • Size and Space for Approach for Use: 

Effective Strategies for Inclusive Digital Experiences

  1. Adherence to Accessibility Standards: Implementing standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provides a framework for improving accessibility for various disabilities.
  2. Inclusive User Testing: Engaging users from diverse backgrounds in the testing process, including individuals with disabilities who use assistive technologies enhances the usability of the product or service.
  3. Designing for Flexibility: Creating flexible experiences allows individuals to engage more independently and with their preference in mind, including options like text size adjustments, color contrast settings, and alternatives to audio and video content.
  4. Clear and Simple Language: Using plain language break down barriers to comprehension and ensures that content can be accessed by people with varying language skills and cognitive abilities.
  5. Multiple Interaction Methods: Providing various methods for interaction, such as touch, voice commands, and keyboard inputs, caters to users with different abilities and preferences, enhancing the overall access of digital content.
  6. Consideration for Mobile and Assistive Technologies: Ensuring mobile accessibility is imperative, including making sure that mobile apps and websites are effectively used with assistive technologies and considering mobile design biases.
  7. Continuous Feedback and Iteration: Inclusive design is an ongoing process that requires intentional cycles of improvement. Regular, meaningful feedback from a diverse user base is essential for refining digital products and services.
  8. Real-World Scenario Testing: Understanding how different disabilities are impacted and pain points can provide designers with deeper insight into user experiences, leading to more effective solutions.
  9. Collaboration Across Disciplines: A multidisciplinary approach is beneficial in coalition building to incorporate inclusive design into a company culture. Collaboration between designers, developers, accessibility specialists, and users can foster innovative solutions and ensure that digital products are accessible and user-friendly.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the need and commitment to inclusive design is not just a compliance-based requirement; it is a moral imperative and a best practice that enhances the reach of digital experiences. Through thoughtful design and iterative improvements, we can all engage in the digital world, reflecting and supporting the diversity of its users.

Resources to Explore