Accessibility Guidelines For A UX Designer Part 2- Independent Design

Sshekhar Jha
September 18, 2022

The concept of Design Accessibility has several sub-concepts laid within it to make its guidelines as comprehensive and all-encompassing as possible. Among those sub-concepts is the idea of Independent Design.

The concept of Independent Design posits that it should be equally easy for users to interface with a design structure that is accessible irrespective of the device they use. Seamless accessibility should be a top priority in this era where multi-device use is a ubiquitous practice. 

In this article, we shall have a look at a few points that make up the structure of an Independent Design theory:

Interface Interactions

How your users interact with your interface on different devices should not depend on the device that they use. If a certain design element is necessary to include, then design it so that users can perceive the extra content without disrupting their page experience. 

It benefits people with low vision or certain cognitive disabilities as they get additional time to interact with the extra content and act upon that interaction without distractions.

Sensory Dependence

Try to avoid placing instructions which rely solely on certain sensory characteristics of design components, such as shape, size, colour, sound, device orientation or visual location. This additional information benefits people who are blind or have low vision levels since they don’t have to rely on information relayed by shapes or locations. 

Complicated Pointer Movements

The use of complex pointer gestures should be complemented with a single pointer alternative as well. For instance: If you use pinch and drag gestures for zoom in/out or on-screen movement, also ensure that you include something like simple keyboard navigation that performs the same functions. It helps people with certain cognitive or learning difficulties who won’t have to rely on interacting with complex gestures to use an app.

Device Motion Alternatives

If a certain feature requires the device to be put in some sort of motion, then also allow for an option to disable that motion activation or provide an alternative UI for that particular feature to be used. These alternative benefits users who are physically incapacitated in some form and may not be able to perform motion gestures to access a feature. It also benefits users in situations where they have their hands full and may not be able to move the device physically.

Content Orientation

Unless necessary, try not to limit the orientation of your content display to just landscape or just portrait. Ensure flexibility in that regard. This can benefit people with dexterity impairments, who have to have their device mounted in a certain way to interact with it and people with low vision.

Creating a truly accessible design is an intricate process. Certain elements that are not-so-obvious on the surface crop up during the design process, and it helps to have knowledge of such elements and be duly prepared with solutions to overcome those challenges. User-centricity encompasses true inclusivity, and ensuring that your design is independent of the device it interacts with is a big part of that philosophy.

#uxdesign #accessibility #accessibledesign

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