Posted 18.07.23

Published by Simon in the “Techniques” category

Accessible Graphic Design

Designing for accessibility means being inclusive to the needs of your users. Accessible graphic design helps ensure that your printed documents and web content are easy on the eyes and easy to navigate for the largest number of users possible.

Accessible graphic design is the practice of creating visual content that is inclusive and easily understandable for all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It involves designing graphics and visual elements in a way that accommodates various needs, ensuring that the information is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for everyone. This concept is particularly important for individuals with disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor disabilities.

Here are some key principles and considerations for creating accessible graphic design:

  1. Contrast: Ensure sufficient contrast between text and background colors to make the content readable for people with visual impairments or color blindness. Colour contrast is an often overlooked web accessibility problem. People who have low vision could find it difficult to read text from a background colour if it has low contrast. When a low-vision or colour blind user can't see colours or perceives them differently, the power of your message can be diminished, or worse, your content may not be understandable. Understanding colour as an element of document design will help you to create content that will benefit all users and make your messages clearer.
  2. Typography: Use clear and legible fonts, avoiding overly decorative or script fonts. Provide options to resize text without loss of functionality.
  3. Alt Text (Alternative Text): Provide descriptive alt text for images, charts, and graphs, allowing screen readers to convey the information to users with visual impairments.
  4. Image Descriptions: Include detailed descriptions or captions for complex images, ensuring that the information is accessible to all users.
  5. Color Usage: Avoid conveying important information solely through color. Use additional visual cues like icons, labels, or patterns.
  6. Keyboard Accessibility: Ensure that all interactive elements can be accessed and activated using only a keyboard, as some individuals cannot use a mouse.
  7. Audio and Video: Provide transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions for multimedia content to make them accessible to people with hearing impairments or visual impairments.
  8. Navigation and Focus: Organize content in a logical manner and make sure that the focus indicator is visible and appropriately styled for keyboard navigation.
  9. Animations and Timed Content: Allow users to control or pause any moving, blinking, or scrolling content, as it may cause issues for some individuals.
  10. Responsive Design: Design graphics and layouts that are responsive and adaptable to different screen sizes and devices.
  11. Testing and User Feedback: Conduct accessibility testing with actual users, including individuals with disabilities, to gather feedback and make necessary improvements.

By incorporating these principles into your graphic design process, you can create materials that are more inclusive and accessible, providing a better user experience for all individuals. Keep in mind that accessibility is an ongoing process, and it's essential to stay updated on best practices and guidelines to ensure your designs are as inclusive as possible.

Software Tools

Software to help with accessible cross-media publication, allowing you to export InDesign documents to ePub, HTML, or accessible PDF. You can apply accessibility features within your InDesign document, rather than having to make major changes in Adobe Acrobat DC. PDF tags, alt tags, and the content order you assign stay with the document as you revise it.

InDesign should be used to create any text + graphic flyers or posters intended for distribution on the web.

Tips for optimising accessibility in InDesign

  • Create your document using paragraph styles
  • Associate each of the styles you've created with specific PDF tag
  • Apply anchors to images
  • Thread text
  • Apply artifacting to paragraph styles for any text elements that should be artifacted, such as page numbers and running headers and footers.
  • Apply artifacting to object styles such as decorative blocks of colour and decorative background graphics.
  • Add bookmarks to long documents
  • Add alt text to images (Object > Object Export Options > Alt Text). After you've added alt text to an image, the alt text stays with that image as you design your layout.
  • Do not convey information by colour alone. Distinguish with tags and differences in size, font weight, styling, etc.
  • Establish content read order with the Articles panel (Window > Articles). Simply drag content from the document into the Articles panel in the order in which it should be read by screen readers.
  • Export to PDF, and be sure to select "Acrobat 6" or higher for Compatibility, and check the "Create Tagged PDF" checkbox. - n.b. Export Tagging cannot be previewed within the InDesign layout, as it only impacts what is marked up in the exported file (EPUB, HTML, or PDF).

Useful graphic design accessibility links

reference: University of Greenwich View Creative Agency

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