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Accessibility Design Myths – Busted!

Catharine McNally, Associate Product Manager
#Accessibility | Posted

Accessible design is the act of creating a website or application that is optimized to assist individuals who have difficulty seeing, hearing, or physically interacting with a device.

Although an important facet in web design, accessibility is frequently misunderstood, and consequently overlooked or disregarded. But it is still crucial – and, what’s more, easier to implement than many believe.

So, in this blog post, we’re going to bust four common accessibility myths.

1. Designing Accessibly Will Reduce Design Options

There’s a pervasive myth that if you design accessibly, then the site is going to look ugly – or that the act of designing accessibly will greatly reduce your design options.

It’s true that accessibility standards like WCAG dictate certain design standards – like having high color contrast and ensuring that text is rendered in code as opposed to images. But these kinds of design standards are also usability and SEO best practices.

If you design accessibly, you will improve the usability for all users, and you can boost your SEO. So yes, accessible design will reduce your design options – but only by eliminating a number of bad design options.

2. Accessibility Will Break the Budget

Like everything else, accessibility takes time and effort, so it does cost money. However, if you begin designing your site with accessibility in mind, it should be a small portion of your overall budget. Many accessibility strategies are incremental and in some cases completely free (YouTube’s free captioning service, for example).

Accessibility becomes expensive when it’s ignored at the beginning of a project, and then a requires major retrofit. If you’re about to embark on a new website implementation, prioritizing accessibility from the beginning can save your team a lot of effort.

3. We’ll Adapt for Accessibility in Version 2

Seriously. Start with accessibility.

If you design your site with accessibility in mind, building in accordance with best practices, the job can be painless. Developers can take advantage of “out of the box” features in Drupal 8, which are detailed in our Web Accessibility Playbook.

Adding on accessibility after a site is built will usually demand some redesign and rebuild work. What’s more, it will make the daily work of content admins and editors more difficult.

4. Accessibility is All or Nothing

Accessibility isn’t a binary state; it’s a matter of degree. Every bit of accessible design you squeeze into your site will help your users and improve your SEO. The key is to set accessibility goals, review the best practices with your team, and decide what level of rigor make sense for your business and your users.

It’s more important to start adopting accessible best practices then it is to achieve accessibility perfection. Remember that creating an accessible website is like taking steps towards a destination you’ll never officially reach. The journey is never over — but at any given moment, accessibility can be improved. Think of it not as a continual investment in your site’s overall quality.

Learn More Accessibility Strategies

Catharine McNally and I delivered a talk about Easy Accessibility in Drupal 8 at DrupalCon New Orleans. We covered a number of accessibility topics that are relevant to Drupal 8, Drupal 7, and web design in general.

And we’ve written a white paper based on the talk to cover the topic in more depth! You can download it here.

Catharine McNally

Catharine McNally

Associate Product Manager