More than 14% of Canadians live with some form of disability.

Many of those disabilities make it difficult for users to interact with online environments, print content, signs and displays. As a firm committed to diversity and inclusion we are working to make sure all of our content is accessible to as many people as possible. There are good business reasons, when we design for the most challenged member of our audience we create an environment that is a pleasure for the more able audience members to interact with. Accessibility compliance is also one of the criteria that search engines use to rank search results, so accessible design can boost our website traffic.

We also have legislative compliance requirements. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that all our online material reach Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) level AA compliance by January 2021.

DID YOU KNOW?

Assistive Technology are devices, processes, and software that enable people to overcome a disability barrier to effectively access and utilize a product or service.

Source: Access Ability: A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design, Second edition

What kind of challenges can we design for?

To create an accessible environment, we need to think about what the experience will be like for people who experience a sensory barrier that requires accommodations or for people who rely on assistive technology such as screen readers or mobility aids. A few of the possible disabilities to bear in mind include:

Users with visual impairments might:

  • Be hypersensitive to light
  • Be colourblind – unable to distinguish between different hues
  • Have diminished vision
  • Be blind

Users with hearing difficulties might:

  • Be hypersensitive to sound
  • Have diminished hearing
  • Have no hearing
  • Be unable to hear or see

Cognitive considerations

  • impact the ability to process, understand, and communicate information

How can we design for these challenges?

Visual impairments

  • Keep designs clean and clear without unnecessary lights and distractions
  • Don’t rely on colour alone to differentiate content. For example, this infographic uses a thin line to indicate which piece of the puzzle the centre content relates to, in addition to the coloured text
  • Ensure all text and navigational elements have enough contrast to be easily visible, and allow users to adjust the size of text 
  • Ensure webpages and pdfs use proper text tagging and hierarchy, and offer alternative text for image-based content so that the text can be read out loud by a screen-reading app

Hearing difficulties

  • Don’t allow audio to autoplay
  • Provide captioning for any video or audio content

Cognitive

  • Keep language and navigation as plain, clear and uncluttered as possible

Ever wonder what the BDO palette looks like to people who are colourblind?

Normal

Our next steps

We’re taking another look at all of our design processes and standards to see how we can build accessibility into our projects right from the start. We will be testing content with screen reading apps, evaluating our use of the BDO colour palette to ensure only the high contrast colours are used to communicate critical information and building structural elements into pdf documents to improve their accessibility.  This is only the beginning of our accessibility journey. Watch for many more adaptations to come.

Incorporating
accessible design

Reaching a wider audience

DESIGN AND MARKETING TRENDS

More than 14% of Canadians live with some form of disability.

Many of those disabilities make it difficult for users to interact with online environments, print content, signs and displays. As a firm committed to diversity and inclusion we are working to make sure all of our content is accessible to as many people as possible. There are good business reasons, when we design for the most challenged member of our audience we create an environment that is a pleasure for the more able audience members to interact with. Accessibility compliance is also one of the criteria that search engines use to rank search results, so accessible design can boost our website traffic.

We also have legislative compliance requirements. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that all our online material reach Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) level AA compliance by January 2021.

DID YOU KNOW?

Assistive Technology are devices, processes, and software that enable people to overcome a disability barrier to effectively access and utilize a product or service.

Source: Access Ability: A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design, Second edition

What kind of challenges can we design for?

To create an accessible environment, we need to think about what the experience will be like for people who experience a sensory barrier that requires accommodations or for people who rely on assistive technology such as screen readers or mobility aids. A few of the possible disabilities to bear in mind include:

Users with visual impairments might:

  • Be hypersensitive to light
  • Be colourblind – unable to distinguish between different hues
  • Have diminished vision
  • Be blind

Users with hearing difficulties might:

  • Be hypersensitive to sound
  • Have diminished hearing
  • Have no hearing
  • Be unable to hear or see

Cognitive considerations

  • impact the ability to process, understand, and communicate information

How can we design for these challenges?

Visual impairments

  • Keep designs clean and clear without unnecessary lights and distractions
  • Don’t rely on colour alone to differentiate content. For example, this infographic uses a thin line to indicate which piece of the puzzle the centre content relates to, in addition to the coloured text
  • Ensure all text and navigational elements have enough contrast to be easily visible, and allow users to adjust the size of text (show some high contrast examples, show BDO colours (charcoal, burgundy, new red) that allow sufficient contrast)
  • Ensure webpages and pdfs use proper text tagging and hierarchy, and offer alternative text for image-based content so that the text can be read out loud by a screen-reading app

Hearing difficulties

  • Don’t allow audio to autoplay
  • Provide captioning for any video or audio content

Cognitive

  • Keep language and navigation as plain, clear and uncluttered as possible

Ever wonder what the BDO palette looks like to people who are colourblind?

Normal

Our next steps

We’re taking another look at all of our design processes and standards to see how we can build accessibility into our projects right from the start. We will be testing content with screen reading apps, evaluating our use of the BDO colour palette to ensure only the high contrast colours are used to communicate critical information and building structural elements into pdf documents to improve their accessibility.  This is only the beginning of our accessibility journey. Watch for many more adaptations to come.

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