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Universal Design for the Web

Universal design means creating products, services, and places that a variety of people can use. In other words, when something is universally designed, creators are thinking about people’s accessibility needs during the design process. Similarly, more people can use websites when web designers, developers, and content creators design with accessibility in mind. Therefore, this mindset could be called universal design for the web.

Universal Design for the Web

Web developers should start using universal design for the web by complying with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), level AA. For example, these guidelines include criteria that make the web easier for many people to access, such as:

In addition, WCAG 2.1, a more up-to-date list of criteria, includes guidelines for:

Our next series of articles will describe other common features of websites that make them accessible to a variety of people. For instance, some of these features are:

  • Colour contrast
  • Headings
  • Alternative text (alt-text)
  • Image descriptions
  • Hidden decorative objects
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Visual styles, such as:
    • Font and font size
    • Colour
    • Highlighting, bold, or italics
  • Accessible links and buttons
  • Audio narration
  • Accessibility statements

Moreover, many of these features of universal design for the web also make other communication more accessible, such as:

  • Messages, including:
    • Emails
    • Internal workplace messaging
  • Documents, including:
    • Portable document format (PDF) files
    • Microsoft Word files

Most of these programs or types of files have different menus or processes. As a result, the exact steps to implement some of these accessible features are slightly different. Nonetheless, it is possible to use most of these features in all forms of communication. Therefore, people who communicate online in any way should know about and use features of universal design for the web.