Accessibility, usability and user-centred design

Accessibility and usability

  • Accessibility and usability
    "The delicate balance between accessibility and usability needs more thought. At the moment I don't see any answers, only a few questions, one possible rule, and a potential danger. The rule is 'Accessibility should not restrict usability'. If your site badly needs a few advanced JavaScripts to make the navigation or a form more usable, don't hesitate to add the scripts."
    (Peter-Paul Koch, Digital Web Magazine)

  • Another -ability: accessibility for usability specialists
    "This paper discusses in depth the relationship between accessibility and usability in product design. It presents a definition of accessibility and introduces the concept of 'usable accessibility'."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Usabillity versus accessibility: best friends or worst enemies? (PDF)
    "Some people think usability and accessibility are conflicting design approaches. This paper examines the relationship between the two design fields by comparing and contrasting definitions of each along with the techniques and methods used by their practitioners. The paper defends the view that usability and accessibility are complementary design philosophies and recommends that practitioners in each field embrace the methods and techniques of the other."
    (Dey Alexander, VALA 2006)

User-centred design methods and techniques

  • Accessibility and user-centred design
    A brief introduction with linked resources on accessibility and user-centred design.
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility humanised: a user-centred approach to accessibility
    "Most web developers act in blindness when they design accessible websites, since they know next to nothing about disabled people and the technology they use. Accessibility guidelines and validation tools don't provide this insight. Accessibility for disabled users should be approached from a user-centred perspective."
    (Henrk Olsen,

  • Accessibility in the user-centred design process
    "Addressing accessibility with different approaches and resources from the beginning of design and throughout the design phase results in more effective and efficient incorporation of accessibility into product design. Common pitfalls to avoid in design are focusing only on limited standards and not considering accessibility until the end of design."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility in the analysis phase
    "It is most effective and efficient to incorporate accessibility from the very beginning of a project. When accessibility is only addressed late in product design, it can be very costly to make required design changes. Incorporating accessibility early in the project increases the potential positive design impact, and decreases the time and money required to design accessible products. This chapter provides information on setting usability goals, user analysis, workflow analysis and understanding accessibility issues."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility in the analysis phase: personas
    The purpose of personas is to make the users seem more real, to help designers keep realistic ideas of users throughout the design process. A persona with a disability includes the same specific characteristics, demographics, experience level, and personal details as other personas. Personas that include accessibility considerations also include a description of the limiting condition (disability or situational limitation) and the adaptive strategies for using the product."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility in the analysis phase: scenarios
    "Scenarios, which are built on the information gathered in user-centred design workflow analysis, vary widely. Some focus on the functional level, while others provide task-level detail. "Use case" is used to mean many different things, and some types of use cases are very similar to scenarios as described here. Scenarios that include accessibility provide details on how a "persona" in limiting conditions interacts with the product using adaptive strategies, often including assistive technology."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility in the analysis phase: user group profiles
    "User group profiles describe the characteristics of product users, the people who use a product. Because many designers start out with little or no familiarity with accessibility issues, adding accessibility considerations to user group profiles is particularly important."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry & Mary Martinson Grossnickle, UI Access)

  • Accessibility in user-centred design: design phase
    "This chapter describes approaches to covering accessibility in the Design Phase. It doesn't include design solutions or guidance on specific accessible design issues. When possible, employ an accessibility specialist with first-hand experience with how people with different disabilities interact with your product, and proven experience designing accessible products. It's also best if everyone on the project team has some basic understanding of accessibility issues."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Disabled personas
    Three brief personas representing blind, motor impaired and colourblind users.
    (Gary Thompson, JA-SIG Wiki)

  • Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design
    "Designing for accessibility doesn't require a whole new design process; it generally involves only minor adjustments to your existing design process. For example, accessible design techniques fit well into User-Centered Design (UCD) processes. This book tells you how to integrate accessibility throughout design."
    (Shawn Henry, UI Access)

  • Personas of persons with disabilities
    "I recently presented on disability awareness in building accessible websites to a group of interaction designers. At the end, I was asked about examples of a specific person with a disabilities as well as design considerations for that person. This is what I found."
    (Christopher Phillips, Curb Cut)

  • Planning usability testing for accessibility
    Advice on planning for a usability test that includes people with disabilities. Includes determining participant characteristics, recruiting participants with disabilities, compensating participants, choosing the best location and scheduling the right amount of time.
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Preparing usability testing for accessibility
    Advice on preparing for the usability test for accessibility. Includes ensuring the facility is accessible, setting up and testing the participants' configurations, and becoming familiar with the assistive technology.
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Recruiting screener: questions for usability test participants with disabilities
    "A usability test participant recruiting screener is used to determine if a potential participant matches the user characteristics as defined in the usability test protocol. When recruiting participants with disabilities, ask the usual questions about demographics, frequency of use, experience level, etc. Additionally, include questions that address the characteristics related to disability and accessibility defined in the specific usability test protocol."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Screening techniques for accessibility
    "Screening techniques are simple activities to help identify potential accessibility barriers in product designs. Most screening techniques involve interacting with a product with one or more physical or sensory abilities eliminated or modified; for example, wearing thick gloves to limit your dexterity, and wearing low vision glasses or blindfolds to limit your vision."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)

  • Usability testing for accessibility
    "Usability testing provides quantitative and qualitative data from real users performing real tasks with a product. Usability professionals can evaluate accessibility by using standard usability testing protocols, with a few modifications for including participants with disabilities."
    (Shawn Lawton Henry, UI Access)