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Design for All: Crafting Accessibility into Every Pixel


Today, I’m focusing on a crucial aspect of design for wide audiences: accessible design, a core part of my work. It’s not just about ticking boxes on an accessibility checklist; it’s about weaving inclusivity into the very fabric of our digital experiences.

Accessibility: More than just compliance
When I first dipped my toes into the design world, I thought accessibility was about following guidelines – like sticking to a recipe. However, my experiences with government agencies have profoundly expanded my understanding. While working in the Aboriginal health sector, I didn’t really bump into issues with accessibility. But looking back now, I see how important it was. It becomes real when a client needs an accessible PDF, and it’s not ready – maybe it’s missing clear headings for screen readers, or the tagging is off. This one time, a board member from a different agency needed an accessible PDF for review. The project hadn’t been set up with accessibility in mind, so a colleague and I had to redo the whole document to make it accessible and then resubmit it. This experience was a big eye-opener – you never know who might need accessible content, so it’s best not to assume and always ensure everything meets accessibility standards. It made me realise that some of my designs were shutting out people without me knowing. Understanding and valuing the different ways people use digital applications is critical, and it’s about more than just ticking boxes on a checklist. It’s about ensuring everyone can understand what we’re creating.
Every pixel counts
In accessible design, every detail counts – from the tiniest pixel to the choice of colours and where each element sits. It’s all about fitting pieces of a puzzle together, making sure each one has a reason to be there. This means thinking about colour contrasts so everyone can read easily and creating navigation that’s a breeze for all users. It’s these little things that make the digital world inviting to everyone. I remember working on a booklet for an art prize program for lifetime care patients. The challenge fibbed in optimising typography: ensuring the body text was sufficiently large at 12pt and the headings even more prominent at 18pt. This task made me rethink how to use space – not just to make it look good, but to make it work for everyone. It’s not just about pretty designs; we’re building solutions that real people use daily, which can make a big difference in their lives. As designers, we have a lot of influence. We need to get it right because our choices can open up our world to others or keep it closed off.
WCAG: My guiding stars
Sticking to the WCAG standards for my PDF projects has been both challenging and rewarding. These guidelines are like my roadmap, helping me create PDFs that are not just accessible but also engaging and easy to use for everyone, regardless of their abilities. For this, Adobe Acrobat Pro and its built-in accessibility checker are indispensable tools in my workflow. This tool helps identify any accessibility issues I address in the Adobe InDesign source file. After making the necessary fixes, I re-exported the document and ran it through the checker. Achieving a result with zero errors in the checker is a testament to the document’s accessibility, ensuring that it can be used effectively by a broad audience, including those with disabilities. This painstaking approach ensures that the content is compliant with standards and practical and user-friendly, making a real difference in how people access and interact with digital resources.
Real people, Real experiences
Remember, behind every screen is a real person. Someone who might rely on screen readers or prefer larger text sizes. Designing with empathy means putting ourselves in their shoes, understanding their challenges, and creating solutions that cater to their needs.
Final thoughts
Let’s not forget the human element as we continue to evolve in this AI-assisted design era. Technology is a fantastic tool, but our empathy and understanding truly bridge the digital divide. Let’s keep crafting these inclusive digital experiences, one pixel at a time.

Design for All: Crafting Accessibility into Every Pixel