Accessibility addresses discriminatory aspects related to equivalent user experience for people with disabilities. Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can equally perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools. It also means that they can contribute equally without barriers.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Accessible Design

Accessible design focuses on the outcome or end result of a design project. It’s based on accessibility guidelines published by various governmental and industry groups, which aim to make sure people with disabilities can access websites and other digital products effectively.

Source: Toptal

Adaptive Design

Adaptive design is more like the modern definition of progressive enhancement. Instead of one flexible design, adaptive design detects the device and other features, and then provides the appropriate feature and layout based on a predefined set of viewport sizes and other characteristics.

Source: Mozilla Developer Network


Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a set of attributes that define ways to make web content and web applications (especially those developed with JavaScript) more accessible to people with disabilities.

It supplements HTML so that interactions and widgets commonly used in applications can be passed to assistive technologies when there is not otherwise a mechanism. For example, ARIA enables accessible navigation landmarks in HTML4, JavaScript widgets, form hints and error messages, live content updates, and more.

Source: Mozilla Developer Networks

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology enables and promotes inclusion and participation, especially of persons with disability, aging populations, and people with non-communicable diseases. The primary purpose of assistive products is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being. They enable people to live healthy, productive, independent and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life.

Hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, prostheses, pill organizers and memory aids are all examples of assistive products.

Source: Mozilla Developer Network

Conformance Level

There are three levels of conformance. In order for a Web page to conform to WCAG 2.1, one of the following levels of conformance must be met in full.

  • For Level A conformance (the minimum level of conformance), the Web page satisfies all the Level A Success Criteria, or a conforming alternate version is provided.
  • For Level AA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria, or a Level AA conforming alternate version is provided.
  • For Level AAA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A, Level AA and Level AAA Success Criteria, or a Level AAA conforming alternate version is provided.

Although conformance can only be achieved at the stated levels, authors are encouraged to report (in their claim) any progress toward meeting success criteria from all levels beyond the achieved level of conformance.

It is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Content Designer

Content designers can significantly improve the experiences of users with disabilities. Besides writing clear headings, instructions, and labels, they can indicate text equivalents and flag other content for proper implementation.

Source: IBM

Design Phase

Here, interaction, visual, and content designers have specific tasks to perform. Between them, they can capture considerations addressing almost all aspects of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Source: IBM

Develop Phase

Once accessibility considerations are incorporated into the design, a front-end developer’s job becomes simpler. They can focus on implementing the design specifications using the most effective coding techniques. Effective unit testing is also key.

Source: IBM


Developers are often called on to inject accessibility into a design that did not take the needs of diverse users into account. With planning, almost every aspect of accessibility can be considered by designers before developers begin working. Developers can then shorten the path to accessibility by understanding and addressing some key considerations. First, they can reduce build effort through some simple strategies. Then after implementing, they can surface issues earlier through unit testing, reducing future remediation effort.

Source: IBM


Disability refers to the interaction between individuals with a health condition (e.g. cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and depression) and personal and environmental factors (e.g. negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports).

It refers to a mismatched interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live.

Forms of disability:

  • Visual
    (Blindness, low vision, color blindness)
  • Auditory
    (Deaf and hard of hearing)
  • Motor
    (Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited motor control)
  • Speech
    (nonvocal means of interaction)
  • Cognitive
    (Learning disabilities, distractability, inability to focus on large amounts of information)


  • Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability, This corresponds to about 15% of the world's population
  • The number of people with disability are dramatically increasing. This is due to demographic trends and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes.
  • Almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability ─ temporary or permanent ─ at some point in life.

Source: World Health Organization


Electronic accessibility, or E-Accessibility, refers to the ease of use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet, by people with disability. Web sites need to be developed so that disabled users can access the information.

  • for people who are blind, web sites need to be able to be interpreted by programmes which read text aloud and describe any visual images;
  • for people who have low vision, web pages need adjustable sized fonts and sharply contrasting colours; and
  • for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, audio content should be accompanied by text versions of the dialogue. Sign language video can also help make audio content more accessible.

Source: World Health Organization

European Accessibility Act

The Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102) has been in force since 22 December 2016 and provides people with disabilities with better access to websites and mobile apps of public services. The rules laid down in the Directive reflect the Commission's ongoing work to build a social and inclusive European 'Union of equality', where all Europeans can take a full and active part in the digital economy and society. The Directive obliges websites and apps of public sector bodies to meet specific technical accessibility standards. There are a limited number of exceptions that include broadcasters and live streaming.

Source: European Commission

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information (FOI), or the right to information, can be defined as the right to access information held by public bodies. It is an integral part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as recognised by Resolution 59 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1946, as well as by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Source: UNESCO

Guidelines (WCAG)

Under the principles are guidelines. The 13 guidelines provide the basic goals that authors should work toward in order to make content more accessible to users with different disabilities. The guidelines are not testable, but provide the framework and overall objectives to help authors understand the success criteria and better implement the techniques.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium


Inclusion is about diversity, and ensuring involvement of everyone to the greatest extent possible. In some regions this is also referred to as universal design and design for all. It addresses a broad range of issues including:

  • accessibility for people with disabilities;
  • access to and quality of hardware, software, and Internet connectivity;
  • computer literacy and skills;
  • economic situation;
  • education;
  • geographic location;
  • culture;
  • age, including older and younger people;
  • and language.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Inclusive Design

Inclusive design is closely related to accessibility, but rather than an outcome, it’s a methodology for how to approach design. It’s a process for creating a design that can be used by a diverse group of people.

Accessibility is one of the primary outcomes of an effective inclusive design process.

Source: Toptal

Launch Phase

Hereby, release managers, QA leads, and accessibility focals ensure that accurate accessibility reports are available for the delivered product. These team members work with the product managers to ensure future releases can continue to improve.

Source: IBM

Plan Phase

Project managers, architects, and team leads have key parts to play initiating projects and planning for releases and sprints. They make sure that decisions early in a project support an accessible outcome.

Source: IBM

Principles (WCAG)

The guidelines and Success Criteria are organized around the following four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. They lay the foundation necessary for anyone to access and use Web content. If any of these are not true, users with disabilities will not be able to use the Web.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Project Manager

Product managers have two critical planning considerations. They first need to assess the relative risk if their product is inaccessible. Then they need to understand how to reduce the cost of creating accessible content by shifting effort into the design phase.

Regarding releases managers and architects have three key tasks to consider. First, they need to establish accessibility targets for each release and communicate those targets to the team. Second, they need to plan for video content. Third, they need to understand both how a partially compliant product can be viable and how to show clear improvement between releases.

For their sprints managers and team leads have three key tasks to consider, all focusing around team preparation. They need to encourage designers and developers to adopt habits that lead to more accessible outcomes. They need to consider ways to better incorporate accessibility in processes. Finally, they need to consider how the information in this toolkit can best align with their team structures.

Source: IBM

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a Web development concept focusing on making sites look and behave optimally on all personal computing devices, from desktop to mobile.

Source: Mozilla Developer Network

Success Criteria (WCAG)

For each guideline, testable success criteria are provided to allow WCAG 2.0 to be used where requirements and conformance testing are necessary such as in design specification, purchasing, regulation, and contractual agreements. In order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations, three levels of conformance are defined: A (lowest), AA, and AAA (highest).

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Universal Design

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Source: North Carolina State University


Usability is about designing products to be effective, efficient, and satisfying. Usability includes user experience design. This may include general aspects that impact everyone and do not disproportionally impact people with disabilities. Usability practice and research often does not sufficiently address the needs of people with disabilities.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

User Experience

User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.

Source: Interaction Design Foundation

User Experience Designer

User experience (UX) designers should consider the different ways users with disabilities interact with an application. This includes making it easier for users to navigate, ensuring that they can notice and act on error messages and support users who need simple pointer interactions. Another important factor is to ensure that everything users can do with a mouse can be done with a keyboard.

Source: IBM

Verify Phase

A tester’s key role is to verify the accessibility of the product. The traditional approach of discovering accessibility problems at test time is costly. It is also less sustainable and unpredictable.

Source: IBM

Visual Designer

Visual designers can make it easier for users with disabilities to see and understand the content. They should ensure colors achieve sufficient contrast for text, components and graphics and create content that minimizes distractions and is not harmful to users. Further, they should think about text style considerations for accessible implementation and make sure that their designs are planned so that users reliant on screen and text adaptation are supported.

Source: IBM


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations; but will not address every user need for people with these disabilities. These guidelines address accessibility of web content on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Following these guidelines will also often make Web content more usable to users in general.

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Web Accessibility

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:

  • perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
  • contribute to the Web

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including:

  • auditory
  • cognitive
  • neurological
  • physical
  • speech
  • visual

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities, for example:

  • people using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and other devices with small screens, different input modes, etc.
  • older people with changing abilities due to ageing
  • people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  • people with “situational limitations” such as in bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
  • people using a slow Internet connection, or who have limited or expensive bandwidth

Source: World Wide Web Consortium

Web Accessibility Directive

The Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102) has been in force since 22 December 2016 and provides people with disabilities with better access to websites and mobile apps of public services.

The rules laid down in the Directive reflect the Commission's ongoing work to build a social and inclusive European 'Union of equality', where all Europeans can take a full and active part in the digital economy and society.

The Directive obliges websites and apps of public sector bodies to meet specific technical accessibility standards. There are a limited number of exceptions that include broadcasters and live streaming.

Source: European Commission