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May 8, 2021 | Updated Jun 11, 2024

Prioritizing Accessibility in UX Research and Design

As we gear up for our Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) event on Thursday, May 20, 2021, learn how our UX teams are making accessibility a priority, and how your team can do the same.
“Integrating accessibility into the UX research and design process has immense real-world impacts. It ensures that the digital products we use in our day-to-day lives can be enjoyed by users of all abilities. Knowing that our work has the potential to make even a small difference in the world is really inspiring.”
—Ally Lucas, UX Researcher

As we get ready for our Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) event at the end of the month, we're reflecting on the importance of having a robust accessibility practice in the UX industry. At Blink, we’re dedicated to creating great UX, and that means designing products and services that perform well for people of all abilities.

One way we prioritize accessibility is with the help of our Accessibility Director, Joe Welinske. Joe champions our accessibility efforts by helping team members understand how to apply accessibility best practices to their work, and by making sure the products we create are accessible for everyone, inclusive of all abilities. Learn more about Joe’s role and his take on accessibility in the UX industry today.

The key to a strong accessibility practice is considering digital access and inclusion at every step of the project development process — from strategy to development. “Making this a regular practice allows designers and researchers to build the skill of thinking about accessibility. Innovation requires time and dedication,” says Joe.

Our process for creating inclusive designs

A successful accessibility practice takes time, effort, and commitment. According to Joe, “Applying accessibility to a product development process is optimized when everyone involved in the process has accessibility skills that are relevant to their role.”

We asked some of the researchers, designers, and strategists at Blink to share how accessibility considerations impact their roles. Here’s what they had to say:

Accessibility and project management

At the foundation of every successful accessibility practice is a project timeline that gives practitioners the time they need to ensure all products meet their accessibility guidelines.

“When scoping a project that involves an accessibility component, it’s important to ensure there’s enough time for every phase of the project — from planning, to execution, to delivery. Furthermore, teams should make accessibility considerations for not just user platforms, but also final deliverables.”
—Alexi Glines, Project Manager

Clear communication between the client and project teams — along with a pre-determined timeline and budget — is necessary to keep teams on track and accessibility top of mind.

“Accessibility considerations need to be integrated into the project from the beginning. From a project manager perspective, I’ve found it useful to plan regular touch points between our accessibility leadership and design, research, and tech teams when creating the initial schedule.”
—Shannon Chin, Project Manager

Accessibility and user research

When designing or reimagining a product or service, accessibility practices start in the research phase.

“As a practitioner, you can approach your work with inclusivity in mind at every level of your career. It’s important to be flexible and willing to work with what you have to advocate for accessibility throughout the design process.”
—Ally Lucas, UX Researcher

Finding the right people to participate in research studies helps teams learn what affordances to include in the final deliverable. By applying accessibility best practices from the beginning, you can ensure that the products and services you create meet the needs of the customers.

Accessibility and evidence-driven design

Good UX is intuitive, beautiful, and useful. The same principles apply when designing products and services for all abilities. Things like text clarity and alt text are important aspects to consider, and when teams use evidence-based research to inform designs, they're guaranteed to create something that’s useful and delightful for their customers.

“There are opportunities to blend accessibility into the design of a product along its entire life cycle, but planning and budgeting the additional time and effort for it up front is essential. While items like color contrast and alt text are important to accessibility and can be fixed relatively easily, there are fundamental elements of a design that can be made more accessible if you are thinking about it from the start.”
—Tristin Plank, UX Designer

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our 2021 virtual GAAD event!

This year for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Blink hosted a virtual event and live panel discussions to share how Blink teams are bringing accessibility best practices to user experience.