Designing Accessible Experiences at Scale

When we talk about scale, we think about systems, organizational patterns, and ways to optimize design. We want to make it easy for everyone who works in product to contribute. Most organizations use a single source of truth to organize components known as a design system.

Design systems are the secret sauce to scale and develop experiences with speed and consistency. They include reusable components and well-documented requirements for buttons, colors, typography, voice, and tone, and anything that your brand stands for.

A single source of truth keeps all brand and UI components in one location, so teams can stay in sync. A design system isn’t created in one shot. It’s a living document that gets updated as teams add features, products, and interface components. One thing is certain – accessibility should be baked into every design system.

Google has over 250 products and services. Everyone who works at Google references Material Design, their design system. Although Google went through extensive tests to meet accessibility standards, designers who use Material should still take the time to test for accessibility. We shouldn’t leave it up to defaults. We have to be proactive to make sure that our designs reach a broad audience of people, not just people who look and act like us. We do this by embedding accessibility into the foundation of our design practice.

We have to be proactive to make sure that our designs reach a broad audience of people, not just people who look and act like us.

Nathan Curtis, a design system advocate, makes a good point when he says that just because there is a single source of truth doesn’t mean that everything has been tested for universal access. It’s up to individuals to know the rules and test components to meet standards.

A rendered illustration of an accessible pedestrian signal in the form of a textured crosswalk being used by a visually impaired pedestrian.

Learn the basics of accessibility

All designers should learn the essentials of accessibility so they can make sure their products are usable by everyone. Matt May, head of inclusive design at Adobe, trains Adobe designers around the world to build and implement accessible experiences. He ensures that everyone at Adobe has a role for inclusive design. May leads full day training workshops on how assistive technologies work, informs designers about types of bias relating to, for example, geography, race, gender and economic status, and how it affects their ability to use Adobe products.

Curated by Lifekludger via Source

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