Accessibility as a design goal worked well in the past when specific design strategies and practices were implemented to cater for people with special access needs to the content or materials on websites. These days, with the diverse range of devices, user behaviours and usage context for mobile devices, many designers are using the principles of inclusive design as a starting point for creating user experiences.

Is the current thinking to advocate for an expansion or extension of design guidelines around accessibility to look at a more inclusive range of users and usage behaviour (and is it more practical)? Or is it better to start from inclusive design principles and that way you naturally also cater for people with specific accessibility requirements?

UPDATE: Given that 'inclusive design' is the new buzz word these days and has already largely replaced accessibility as the new favourite of managers and C-suite folks, hopefully I can close this question once we actually design on this basis rather than just talk about it.

1 Answer 1


It has always been my view that if you cater for accessibility issues, everyone else benefits.

If you make font sizes adjustable, then not only the visually impaired, but also the tired, the hung-over, the elderly, the long-sighted will benefit.

If you provide audio versions of content, the blind and visually-impaired will benefit, but so will other groups. And so on.

The problem (it seems to me) is actually one of persuading people to implement accessibility. When developers thought (back in the bad old days) that they could afford to ignore accessibility issues, it was because they were perceived as only affecting a small number of users (whom developers often didn't care about). Once the whole issue (accessibility and usability) was repackaged as user experience, it became much more "sexy" because it affects all users.

Disabled access in other areas of life might benefit from this repackaging exercise - by convincing people that disabled access issues affect everyone.

However, I am not convinced that starting from inclusive design principles would mean that you naturally also cater for people with specific accessibility requirements... I think it is the only way to "sell" accessibility to reluctant developers.

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