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Making Anthro{nation} accessible: my journey

Accessibility is important to me for a lot of reasons. I spent years as a playworker for Mencap working with children who have disabilities, and it's painful when things aren’t accessible or accommodating. I have endless stories of people who were just really GRIM - making my life and the experiences of the children I was working with awful.


I’m a firm believer that we all need to make changes to the way we work and/or deliver services to accommodate diversity. All people need some form of accommodation, as a lifelong asthmatic with a congenital heart abnormality I’ve always felt a barrier towards physical activities that were never tailored to my needs - despite asthma killing an average of three people in the UK every day. Slight accommodations would have made my experience, and propensity for, physical exercise very different.


The ideal for everyone would be universal design, which Lucy Edwards mentions a lot in her content on life as a blind woman. In the absence of universal design, small amendments to how we design can improve someone else’s experience, and show our commitment to equity.


Well, how many people really need design accommodations?


There are 2 million people in the UK with registered sight loss, and as of 2016 3.8 million people in the US were considered blind or had serious difficulty seeing. As populations age, this number will likely increase, and digital professionals need to consider visual accessibility when creating content and designs. Colour blindness is also very common affecting approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women worldwide.


I'll probably revisit this post, but I wanted to share the accessibility considerations that I took when developing the Anthro{nation} brand.


So, for Anthro{nation}, I considered the accessibility of text, design, and colour. The brand was crafted to reflect my personal preferences, and my desire to be as inclusive as possible in my work. I’ve given an overview of the parameters that I set when creating Anthro{nation}, and some of the resources I used:


Developing my design


The Anthro{nation} colour pallet was developed with the Color Safe - accessible web color combinations as a guide, ensuring that the colours used can be read clearly by as many people as possible. To meet W3C’s minimum AA rating, the background-to-text contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1. I figured the more contrast the better, and settled for 7.1. Dark green is my favourite colour though, so it worked for me. I found typefaces a bit tricker, and I didn’t find many hard and fast rules. I opted for typefaces that were easy to read, large in size, and contrasting from the background e.g. navy text on a white background. I also tried to accommodate people who are colour blind, by incorporating a mix of text, colour, and symbols to convey information. After developing a typeface, font sizes are also important, and for Anthro{nation} I ensured that all text written is size 12 or higher.


Crafting accessible documents and web copy


Websites and documents should follow a particular pattern when designing for accessibility. This layout is also applicable when perfecting SEO for your site.


A few things to mention include:

  • Use proper headings to demarcate information.

  • Don’t use all caps as it’s difficult for screen readers to pick up.

  • Write in short, simple sentences. Hemmingway is a helpful tool.

  • Always use the ALT text in your image captions as this is read by e-readers. Try and make sure the information that you include as your ALT text is useful and conveys what the image is depicting in context.

  • Ensure that your documents and website pages have plenty of white space. This makes information easier to read, so try and not have pages that have a lot of content in them.


Social media


When creating videos, follow the standard best-practice tools e.g. hold your phone camera width ways, and include captions so people can read the text. It’s also a good idea to put captions on a blank (light coloured) background. This makes it easier to read if someone struggles with hearing, if their screen brightness is low or if they’re using their phone in grayscale (think digital wellbeing apps).


Here are some top tips:

Resources


Below are some handy resources that you can refer to when considering accessibility in your own work. As a DOT PROJECT member, I was also fortunate enough to learn from Ability Net (some of their resources are below) when they were commissioned by DOT PROJECT to help support us on the accessibility of our programmes.


For when you’re creating documents:


Things to consider when designing:


General tips and evaluation tools


I’m by no means an expert, and parts of the Anthro{nation} website, including my forms aren't the most accessible, but I do strive to do the best I can. If you spot something that you feel is a barrier to access or have any of your own recommendations - let me know!



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