Accessibility refers to designing devices, products, and environments such that individuals with disabilities or sensory impairments can successfully use them.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) break down accessibility into four main principles:
- Perceivable: Create content that can be perceived in different ways, for example, providing text alternatives for non-text content and content that can be perceived by assistive technologies like screen readers.
- Operable: Enable simple operation by making all functionality available from the keyboard, helping users navigate and find content, and giving users plenty of time to consume content.
- Understandable: Make text readable and understandable, make content appear in predictable ways, and help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Robust: Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
Inclusive design focuses on designing for users of all demographics and abilities, while accessibility is specifically focused on designing for people with disabilities. Any product that doesn’t consider accessibility and equity may (whether intentionally or not) exclude a portion of the population who would otherwise find it useful.