The Importance of Accessibility in UX Design

Student learning to create ux design for accessibility on a tablet

UX (or user experience) design is the process of conducting user research and generating ideas to craft the way a user interacts with a digital product or service. UX designers decide how a mobile app, website, or chat feature looks, feels, and functions. They provide a meaningful and interactive experience for everyone — and that means everyone.

Accessibility in UX design helps set the expectation that a good experience and easy functionality should be made available to all users. By meeting certain requirements, UX designers can ensure proper navigation and interaction for people who may have speech, auditory, visual, or motor impairments.

UX Accessibility Matters

At its core, UX accessibility ensures people with disabilities, impairments, or limitations are able to access and use digital products and services. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an organization that works with governments around the world to create web accessibility policies. In its guidelines, the W3C considers accessibility essential for people with:

  • Visual impairments
  • Auditory impairments
  • Motor impairments
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Environmental issues
  • Incidental situations such as slow internet

To provide accessibility, UX designers must empathize with the people who may be excluded when using a website. They set out to understand these users and discover the roadblocks they may experience when navigating a website. In doing so they can take that research to build an accessible website, application, or feature that meets user needs.

The Challenges

UX designers can face several challenges as they attempt to meet UX accessibility standards. These challenges can vary from organizational issues to fundamental disability considerations. They can also include:

  • Costs: Designing for accessibility often requires additional resources companies may not be prepared to provide.
  • Time constraints: Tight project deadlines can make it difficult for designing with accessibility in mind.
  • Lack of understanding: Designing for UX accessibility requires great awareness and understanding of users and the best practices employed to enhance their experience, something not all design teams are equipped or familiar with.

UX designers addressing the challenges of accessibility need knowledge, skills, and tools such as guidelines, user tests, and dedicated software. They can learn to create inclusive and accessible user experiences through resources like courses and training.

Meeting Accessibility Needs for All

As UX designers work to provide an enhanced user experience for their users, they must consider the intertwined elements of usability and accessibility:


  • Ease of use for seamless navigation
  • Efficiency to help users complete tasks with no issues or delays
  • User-centric design to provide a product that looks and feels right


  • W3C standards are met
  • Design is compatible with assistive tech
  • Access to all content for everyone

While countries like the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom have accessibility policies governed by law, most companies around the world use W3C standards to guide their accessibility efforts. The W3C outlines 3 levels of conformance that organizations can meet:

  • Level A: Ensures all basic accessibility requirements are met
  • Level AA: Addresses mid-level requirements and is the one most companies seek to meet
  • Level AAA: Serves as the highest level of conformance

UX designers must also account for assistive tech compatibility. For instance, screen readers can help users with visual impairments. This technology converts on-screen text into synthesized speech or braille. So, a website’s structure must be well organized, content should be easily accessible, and transcripts and descriptions need to support visual media. While these efforts may be costly and time-consuming, they go a long way to ensure accessibility and inclusivity.

Designing for UX Accessibility

When ideating and executing a digital product’s user experience, UX designers abide by common design principles such as visual hierarchy, simplicity, and appealing aesthetics. When further designing for accessibility, UX designers need to keep these best practices in mind too:


  • Text clarity

    Content needs to be comprehensible to everyone and readability must be top-of-mind To achieve this, UX designers focus on factors such as pixels, line spacing, and sizing.

  • HTML content hierarchy

    Screen readers scan and read out every element of a webpage, including text, tags, links, and even visual media. But if HTML elements are poorly labeled or arranged, the screen reader experience can potentially suffer.

  • Link text

    If a link reads “learn more” or “enter,” anyone using a screen reader may not know exactly where the link leads without additional context. To avoid this issue, UX designers may use hyperlinks that tell exactly what can be expected once it’s clicked.

  • Accessible media content

    Pictures, graphs, videos, and audio can bring out the best of a webpage. However, they can also exclude certain visitors. Using descriptive alt text, transcripts, and captions can enhance accessibility.

  • Keyboard navigation

    Keyboard navigation lets users navigate a website using shortcut combinations, without the need for mouse movements.

The Benefits of UX Accessibility

Accessibility-focused organizations can increase the usability and engagement of their website, which can positively support retention. Increased accessibility also helps organizations meet compliance requirements.

Some additional benefits of UX accessibility include:

  • Improved SEO: Websites that provide an accessible UX experience tend to be prioritized by Google and other search engines and are more likely to improve their search rankings.
  • Expanded audience reach: A website designed with every user group in mind can reach an even wider audience.
  • Social responsibility: Organizations can join the movement of inclusivity and accessibility.

UX Design Certificate Program

As a UX designer, your skills and inventiveness can be integral in building an inclusive and accessible experience that helps level the playing field for all users. If you want a career in tech just as much as you want to enact progress in the tech space and society at large, UX design can help you get there.

The Kenzie Academy UX Design certificate program from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) can be completed in 9 months and prepares learners to enter the tech industry. If you’re a natural creative who is considering a future in tech, UX design may be your calling.

As a Kenzie learner, you’ll learn how to understand and empathize with your audience as part of the curriculum. The hands-on training you receive will put you in the driver’s seat as you conceptualize usable and accessible user experiences and find solutions to the roadblocks. The program is intensive and can present you with organic challenges similar to the ones you can expect in the real world — this is by design. Our focus is to better prepare you for a UX design job after graduation.

Visualize Your UX Career

Tech careers are popular due to the potential to earn a higher salary, high demand, and flexibility. Yet some aspiring tech professionals feel they wouldn’t make it in the industry because they can’t code, aren’t good at math, or can’t express creativity. UX design is the answer to all those reservations. Get creative with your future in the Kenzie Academy program from SNHU! Apply today and get the skills you need to begin your new career.

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