Help Your Business Adopt An Ethical Design Mindset

Make sure accessibility isn’t an afterthought. Integrate ethical design thinking to evolve how your business thinks so you can tackle web accessibility like never before.

Here is how I guide my clients to take an ethical design mindset and put true customer-centric thinking – that includes all of their customers – at the core of how we build websites.  

Persona development

You’re probably already familiar with brand personas. They’re a standard feature for any business-building strategy and a core feature in how to build websites that will resonate with your intended audience. 

But that’s just the beginning. My goals are to set a standard for building accessibility personas as part of our regular requirement gathering.

With many of the most common types of accessibility needs to be represented – including permanent and non-permanent to positively impact the greatest number of accessibility users – an integrated approach with accessibility personas helps ensure your website is designed from the very beginning with accessibility ingrained in the process. 

Create a purposefully areas within your personas and journeys that help to bring attention to all users’ needs, including both ethical and accessible.

Work together with Usability Designers to ensure a strategic solution include the most up to date design considerations and that their creation and implementation are fully baked into their entire process. 

Audit with impact

Accessibility user testing, by persons with lived experience of a disability, is a key method to ensure accessibility compliance and QA. 

But when it comes to an ethical design mindset, and truly grasping the importance of accessibility, building opportunities for everyone in a business to have close, real-life experience of what it’s like to use your website with a disability can supercharge your team’s feelings of awareness and empathy.

Reading about accessibility and truly experiencing it are completely different. They can be key to creating a true sense of ownership and a full realisation of why web accessibility is so important. 

  • Audit all of your video content with the sound off to test closed captioning
  • Use a colour blindness filter to test the contrast ratios and colour usages throughout your site
  • Try navigating through all features of your site using an assistive tool or site reader
  • Use your site without a mouse and use keyboard only to get a sense of how users with physical or motor skills experience your site 

Make it easier with templates and automatic processes

Many of the factors that impact accessibility feel invisible. Usually, that’s intentional, but with so much of the work happening behind the scenes, it can be tricky to track it accurately and make sure it’s working.

For example, as sites become increasingly image- and video-heavy, the closed captioning, alt text and other descriptions that make them readable to assistive devices become more important than ever. But the process of sourcing visuals, particularly for larger global brands with offices in multiple countries, is varied and can make ensuring that videos and images show up accompanied by their required accessibility information can be difficult, if not impossible. 

Creating processes to operationalise when an image is “final,” being sure to include that it’s not only the approval of the image itself but of the copy and alt text that should come with it, is a major step to making accessible web development smoother for everyone involved. 

All of these intricate steps (and the possible delays they can cause if not followed correctly) can impact scheduling and budgeting around the entire project. 

Get a second (and third-party) opinion

Over time, it’s understandable (and to be expected) that your natural biases will creep into your own ways of thinking and affect how you view the effectiveness of your work. 

While it’s not realistic to easily eliminate bias, accepting that they’ll occur and finding proactive approaches to address them is easier than you might think. 

Internal audit and review processes are an integral part of business, and those should remain. But for factors as important, and commonly misunderstood, as web accessibility, this is where bringing in a second opinion from an expert third-party audit can have an incredible impact. 

On top of that, clients can sometimes, and understandably, be driven by internal business opinions or other emotional factors at the cost of accessibility needs, user experience best practices, or a combination of both. 

An external audit can not only be an effective way for both us and our clients to view our work together with a fresh eye, but can help give an independent voice of reason for why decisions are being made the way they are. 

While approvals are always ultimately up to the client, when it comes to signing off on web accessibility conformance, particularly for clients with regulatory requirements, a third-party audit gives an extra sense of security that everyone can confidently sign off on the work. 

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