Accessibility testing our inclusivity report
A guide to following accessible design guidelines
If we’re truly to be advocates of inclusivity and accessibility, we have to practice what we preach when it comes down to our own communications. So we produced our Inclusive Communications Report using the latest best practice accessible design guidelines.
Here are our top tips and advice for designing with accessibility in mind.
1: Colour and brightness contrasts
In the UK there are approximately 3 million people with some degree of colour vision deficiency (around 4.5% of the entire population).
All the colours we use in our report adhere to AAA accessibility standards - the best possible experience for all users.
2: Font size and legibility
There are almost 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss that may affect their ability to read.
Our report uses sentence case with a minimum point size of 12pt - considered the smallest size at which most people can read comfortably.
3: Figures and graphs
Graphs are tricky as they have to:
- Present the data in a way which is simple to understand and digest.
- Use consistent, contrasted colours.
- Ensure data labels are large enough and legible.
We used simple bar charts and new, accessible colours were added to our brand colour palette. Every chart is readable in black and white (using texture where needed) and we added the data in a tabular format.
4: Layout and imagery
Best-practice says text should be left-aligned, non-justified and arranged in short, simple paragraphs to give a clean, uncluttered layout.
The imagery we used represents the diverse range of people we spoke to in our research.
We used a tinted overlay on the images to improve legibility and the contrast for the quotes used. Descriptive, alternative text was added to all images in the report to assist those using screen readers.
5: Set up unique text layers and export tagging
Each unique text style was added to the paragraph styles panel in Adobe InDesign – this enables it to be tagged and read out by screen readers.
Export tagging creates a hierarchical structure between headings, subheadings and paragraph copy. This structure helps assistive technology when content is read out loud.
6: Set the reading order
Each layer has to be added in chronological order in the articles panel in InDesign.
With print layouts, it’s not obvious for screen readers to know which paragraph comes next. By manually defining the reading order, we ensure the content is read out in a logical order.
7: Testing the document
Even when best practice has been followed, always make sure there’s time to test your design. Testing highlights issues and quirks that are often easily missed within the design process.
We used three different testing methods on our report.
Method one: Screen reader testing
We use a screen reader to run through every page of our report. This allows us to:
- Check the reading order is correct.
- Estimate the report reading time.
- Pick up on any final spelling and grammar mistakes.
Method two: Acrobat accessibility checker
Acrobat has a built-in feature that performs a thorough accessibility check. This ensures every element of our report conforms to the highest accessibility standards.
Method three: User testing
Always remember to test your design with users. We completed two rounds of internal user testing to gather feedback.
Both rounds of testing threw up issues we’d failed to spot and are difficult to test for using the other methods. User testing allowed us to pick these issues up and fix them.
CDS' Accessible Design Checklist
If you want to make sure the PDFs you produce are accessible, here’s what you need to do:
- Ensure you use accessible colours, fonts, layout and imagery.
- Make sure graphs can be easily understood and make sure data is available in a tabular format.
- Tag your PDF.
- Include alternative text for all images.
- Set a reading order to ensure those using screen readers can navigate the content.
- Always leave time to test with real users and refine your creative
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