Product designers’ perspective on WCAG implementation

Net Content material Accessibility Pointers – we checked our dependable sources, and it’s not as unhealthy as most declare. WCAG appear overwhelming firstly however the important thing to giving them an opportunity is knowing WHY they’re necessary. 

Whereas accessibility depends on the entire crew: salespeople, builders, testers, and designers, on this article we’ll focus on the designer a part of the WCAG implementation course of (and accountability).

We’ll additionally provide you with a first-hand peek into the ideas and expertise of our personal designers who’re motivated to discover and implement WCAG – even when it means a little bit of a struggle.

WCAG – it’s about together with everybody – together with you and me 

The speculation of social incapacity says that incapacity is constructed by society and is brought on by the way in which society is organized. 

Our society is made by and for non-disabled folks and anybody who can not match into that mannequin is disabled.

A easy instance is that if an individual is unable to climb stairs, the medical mannequin makes the person bodily unable to climb stairs. The social mannequin says – it’s the issue with the constructing, not the individual. 

The constructing ought to have a ramp.  The identical goes for digital merchandise. 

When a blind one that makes use of a display screen reader can not test profession alternatives on our web site as a result of there is no such thing as a direct hyperlink from the homepage and there are not any correct labels, it’s an issue with the web site, not the individual or the display screen reader. The “why” of accessibility is most necessary right here.

WHY not create options which might be good for everybody? 

We’ve narrowed down the accessibility to solely disabled folks, however it is a completely fallacious strategy. Accessibility is about all customers. How? 

Have you ever ever tried:

  • Going by means of an app in full daylight whereas on the bus?
  • Establishing a go to together with your medical supplier whereas holding your child in a single arm?
  • Filling out authorities paperwork on an app or coping with a financial institution in your grandma or grandpa?
  • Going by means of the web site of your organization with a display screen reader to check if it may be truly utilized by somebody who’s visually impaired? 
  • Watching a tutorial video while you forgot your headphones whereas on a prepare to get to a enterprise assembly?

All of us face these issues, relying on the place we’re in life, or what we occur to be doing in the mean time!  

wcag implementation

From the mouths of designers – a firsthand peek into their strategy

I’ve performed interviews with two TSH designers – Kinga and Marek, who work with accessibility and talk with builders. They’re the those that already perceive WHY and show to me that with this perspective it’s potential to face the challenges of WCAG pointers. I feel it is going to be attention-grabbing to see what they need to say about WCAG and their understanding of how designers match into implementing it. 

Designers have numerous accountability with regards to a11y. They appear to be the primary hyperlink in the entire chain and course of. 

Nevertheless, the method ought to begin method earlier than it will get to a designer. To all CEOs, CTOs, Product House owners, and Managers on the market – all of us could make an affect by letting ourselves perceive the large worth accessibility brings. Then ought to proceed with correct implementation and testing. 

In case you’re studying this and also you’re both a developer or designer, you recognize the particular bond that occurs between you and builders. That is positively the case the place opposites ought to entice. Customers largely don’t see the distinction between design and frontend or backend builders.

You see – customers use the entire complete product. Typically, that is laborious to recollect when working “from the within”. If the designers and builders don’t talk, then it’s normally straightforward to identify. Coming into an app is loads like coming into a room the place two folks simply had a struggle – you possibly can simply really feel it within the air. 

implementing wcag color schemes


That is how our designers see it. Think about it relationship recommendation. 

Marek Talbierz – the advocate of small adjustments. 


Marek talbierz product designer TSH

Marek has labored at TSH for a yr and a half. He has been coping with graphics for 10 years and has been a Product Designer for about 4 years. He beforehand labored in advertising and printing, so he comes from an skilled place of design usually – and has a broad tackle accessibility. 

He acquired hooked on A11y a yr in the past at a coaching course and determined that it could possibly be an attention-grabbing area of interest and a helpful development wherein to develop his abilities. He’s most desirous about constructing Design Programs primarily based on A11y.


How did you begin with a11y? What impressed you?

I by no means got here into contact with this topic earlier than I began working at TSH. One in every of my colleagues within the design crew was evangelizing a11y right here. We had some coaching with Piotr Zrolka, and my eyes had been opened: it is a big and necessary subject. It not solely presents a solution to be extra inventive in product design, nevertheless it provides further high quality, and worth as a method of producing enterprise for shoppers. 

Understanding WCAG – how and when to begin?

At first, this is likely to be overwhelming… There are tons of pointers not just for designers but in addition for builders, and so they don’t at all times overlap. However understanding that a number of the issues are for us (designers) and a few for builders, is useful. On this method, you possibly can summary data useful for you. I feel it’s price it to see the entire doc (for higher understanding) but in addition begin choosing the hints helpful for your self. A lot of the suggestions are fairly clearly written down. Then it turns into much less scary. 

Not all the pieces is about design. Additionally, implementing a11y isn’t solely our – designers’ – accountability. Different events need to be concerned as effectively. And most significantly – as you utilize it, you’re beginning to study it by coronary heart and it’s changing into a lot simpler. 

What was essentially the most difficult half – at first? 

I discovered it difficult that it’s essential perceive some code, not less than on the fundamental degree. With the ability to perceive the issue within the code itself. 

The most important problem of all is convincing the shopper that a11y is necessary, and useful and promoting this to the shopper.

Aside from this, one simply must additionally change the mind-set about accessibility – begin understanding why it’s necessary and that we are able to implement it at each stage of the undertaking, that we are able to constantly enhance – in a course of. 

Is a11y changing into a normal for designer’s work? If not, why is it nonetheless so unusual? 

I’d say it’s nonetheless fairly unusual however increasingly more designers need to become involved and leap on this topic. It’s a scorching subject within the social adjustments which might be occurring on the earth as a complete. Extra folks need to be inclusive and need to make inclusive designs. The truth is, extra folks acknowledge that you simply have to design like this.  

What’s crucial rule of a11y for you? One thing that everybody can simply observe?

Each component must have its personal focus, and distinction for every new element. These are the very fundamentals that we are able to implement in Figma. Additionally preserving the semantics of many parts…  

Instruments  – is Figma okay?

Figma is okay nevertheless it wants plugins that assist to test issues. Distinction checkers as an example. an accessibility toolkit for Figma can also be obtainable. So far as others are involved: there’s Wave (which I don’t advocate), Tota11y Plugin, and ANDI – however typically it’s additionally useful to only “examine component” and see what’s fallacious with the code itself. There’s additionally a chrome simulator for a11y. 

Is it higher to implement a11y from the start or when the product already exists? 

I can solely inform from the designer’s perspective, and it’s positively simpler when it’s carried out from the start! We will have it in thoughts and construct the product on this floor. We’ve extra management over this. 

For the undertaking that we’re coming into into, typically we don’t have the supply file and must design it from the start anyway. 

Then we’re doing precisely the identical job, however the hardest half is that since we don’t know this product, we first must get to realize it, search by means of it, and skim within the earlier designer’s thoughts. We have to discover options for parts, that weren’t even meant to have accessibility options. Due to this, discovering an answer could be laborious and time-consuming.

After we begin from the start, we are able to additionally determine on which degree of accessibility we need to use (A, AA, AAA). Typically nonetheless it’s about compromise – you possibly can change the distinction colour, however don’t have sufficient time to alter fonts. However then, the results normally chase us. Font happens to be too small for customers. 


What about branding, design programs, and all of it? Does it have to be modified first, earlier than you truly begin implementing WCAG? 

Each system could be adjusted to a11y. By way of branding, essentially the most problematic would be the set of colours – however that begins on the branding stage, with graphic designers or entrepreneurs.

Ultimately, it’s largely about time – we have to sacrifice a much bigger period of time for designing and growing based on a11y pointers. And time equals cash. 

In case you had been about to hitch a crew that’s simply beginning to construct a brand new product with accessibility in thoughts, what would you begin with? 

I’d say it’s the method is just like constructing some other digital product. 

  1. First, determine if it is sensible. Speak concerning the goal group. Clearly, in a great world, all the pieces ought to be accessible. However we ought to be life like. By making a persona, and consumer journey, we are able to preserve asking ourselves questions, whether or not the individual with disabilities or any dysfunctions would be capable to observe this journey. 
  2. On the similar time, it’s necessary to visualise the way in which we wish the product to look – a beginning imaginative and prescient. From then on, we are able to work on the accessibility and design it in a method we wish it to be seen or felt. 

Is implementing a11y  crew works? Designer + devs? Who else must be concerned?

It’s necessary to bounce concepts off one another – it creates a greater product. Additionally – don’t be afraid to make errors. 

The entire crew ought to have not less than fundamental data about accessibility. It’s not a one-man present. Enterprise takes the choice. The designer must know learn how to design correctly. The developer wants data about implementation, and QA has to check it and confirm it. 

My workload is determined by how a lot expertise the developer has – if the developer has some expertise, I as a designer, don’t must spend that a lot time describing each single component. 

With regards to editorial work, it’s essential have some data about UX writing – it’s useful as an example for inputs or creating Various texts. However editorial work could be executed by QA – he ought to assist us discover errors within the documentation or assist us create inputs or error messages.

Design is one factor, however with out correct implementation, a11y received’t exist. Any tips about communication with builders? 

Builders’ work is normally about doing issues shortly. There’s not a lot time to do one thing higher inside an extended time period. Everyone knows that typically it’s higher to take a position extra time and do it effectively, however from a enterprise perspective, it isn’t at all times potential or welcome. 

A well-liked mistake can also be not following the semantics. What’s a tab, radio button, and many others? We may help one another as an example by including correct descriptions to given parts of the design.

One final piece of recommendation from you?

To all designers – even when it isn’t written down in your duties, making small adjustments in colour, font, and descriptions can have a huge impact on the ultimate model of the product. Don’t wait for somebody to let you know to implement accessibility. Take into consideration your potential colleague – possibly somebody desires to use for the job however has some type of impairment. Will probably be a pleasant shock to know that he might truly use your web site.

Kinga Olszewska – designer at TSH 

kinga tsh product designer

Kinga began working at TSH a number of months in the past however has labored as a product designer for over three years at numerous firms. She has labored on many tasks, largely within the public sector, the place accessibility is required by regulation. She is acquainted with the ideas of implementing accessibility (WCAG) usability and dealing with analytical instruments. 

Over Zoom and occasional, Kinga notes promoting accessibility from the designer’s perspective: 


How did you begin with a11y? What impressed you?

Once I was a junior designer, I had an excellent UX mentor. She was desirous about WCAG – she had low imaginative and prescient, and a11y was necessary to her personally.  She positively impressed me loads, and I noticed why this was necessary on a first-hand foundation. 

To not point out that since 2019 creating accessible web sites for the general public sector and NGOs is required by regulation, and designers ought to be knowledgeable about it, though… shoppers normally don’t exit of their solution to implement accessibility. 

Public sector apps are required to be accessible by regulation. Have you ever had an opportunity to take part in a industrial undertaking the place folks actually needed to implement a11y?

I’ve positively tried to “smuggle” accessibility into tasks – in comparatively easy methods. Shoppers don’t at all times need to implement a11y, particularly in tasks that contain updating older merchandise. Evangelizing a11y also needs to be necessary to builders. 

When the digital product already exists, how are you going to implement WCAG? Does it imply turning the entire undertaking the wrong way up? How do you begin? 

With regards to implementing new WCAG pointers in older merchandise, the design/UX/UI is normally created from scratch.

Does this extend the method? It is determined by crew data and expertise. When a shopper hires a crew, they need to depend on the crew’s expertise. . This nonetheless means a shifting scope.

As traditional, “it relies upon” – on the kind of undertaking and on the crew’s expertise. 

WCAG pointers doc is big. It’s been additionally always altering. Updates, new guidelines. How do you retain up with this?

The Seen Basis in Poland is an instance of a corporation that gives updates about accessibility.  There are numerous foundations – internationally, and on nationwide ranges that educate folks about practical accessibility, not solely about legal guidelines. 

Within the UK, you possibly can take a look at organizations like AbilityNet. Within the US, check out Net Accessibility Initiative.

There are authorities sources but in addition non-profits and different organizations obtainable. Templates are additionally obtainable. 

Nothing will nonetheless exchange the potential of simply checking the code and seeing the origin of the issue there. 

Design is one factor, however with out correct implementation, a11y received’t exist. Any tips about communication with builders? 

Communication is essential – even when a designer doesn’t have sufficient expertise in accessibility. Speaking the WHY is invaluable. Not simply with design however with phrases – meet with them, and speak about why that is necessary. Make them see the sense of what they’re doing, (in the event that they don’t realize it but). 

It’s additionally the worry that one thing will fail throughout audits due to the data barrier. You may’t simply assign a job and depart it as much as them, assume that they’ll simply do it. No less than not but – when folks nonetheless lack the data to execute a11y correctly.  

Have in mind the truth that if folks don’t perceive one thing, they received’t like the thought of implementing it. Sadly, this additionally consists of shoppers.

As a designer do it’s essential get a bit of data about code? 

Not fully. Utilizing a plugin helps – designers don’t normally have extreme data or expertise with code, nevertheless it actually helps when you recognize the fundamentals, and know learn how to use instruments and plugins that provide help to with accessing code. 

Any suggestions for instruments for accessibility for designers?

Data, not plugins or “useful” instruments – as a result of more often than not you’ll be working as a mediator. 

What about graphic designers who create firm design briefs in the course of the model design stage? How a lot do you assume ‘model designers’ power their imaginative and prescient on product designers/web page/app designers? 

Model designers are unlikely to power something, however they need to have at the back of their minds that their design shall be utilized in numerous media, together with many varieties of screens – not solely on paper. It might assist if model designers had accessibility in thoughts when creating the design, however this isn’t at all times potential.

It appears to me that it’s price making model designers and shoppers conscious that this would possibly accuse a difficulty.  If a shopper has a model that has been available on the market for a few years, and the colours that distinguish that model is just not appropriate to be used in net design, possibly it’s time to think about rebranding. Shoppers ought to be conscious that some colours can’t be utilized in design due to their usability.

WCAG is price combating for 

As Marek mentioned: it’s higher to work on accessibility and make errors, slightly than don’t do it trigger you’ve some worry. 

All of it begins with understanding the WHY. In case you let it movement, it can deliver you to the following degree of creativity and professionalism. Paradoxically, it is likely to be cheaper to begin the design from scratch, even for those who’re ranging from “the center”. 

It’s little doubt that implementing a11y means extra money and time, however ultimately, you’re opening your product to extra customers and also you’re constructing a model that offers some worth. 



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