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How AI Empowers a Future of Design That is Accessible for Everyone

By Danesh Ramuthi, Nov 30, 2023

It’s high time we shatter the conventional mold of graphic design and embrace the groundbreaking role of AI in fostering a more inclusive and accessible digital world.

Gone are the days when accessibility in design was an afterthought or a compliance checkbox. Today, we stand at the cusp of a new age, where AI doesn’t just supplement design endeavors; it leads them, ensuring that every digital creation is not just aesthetically pleasing but profoundly inclusive.

A world where design is not just seen or heard, but experienced universally, transcending the barriers of ability, language and culture.

Let’s get into it..

What are you going to learn:

Redefining accessibility: A mandate, not a choice

Accessibility is more than a mere concept; it’s a fundamental right and a design mandate that demands utmost attention and dedication. 

In a diverse world, designing products, services and digital spaces that are universally usable isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s an absolute necessity. It extends beyond digital realms, impacting every physical product and environment.

Let’s be clear: accessibility laws aren’t just guidelines; they are essential frameworks that compel us to extend creative boundaries to include every individual, irrespective of their physical or cognitive abilities. The real goal here transcends compliance; it’s about crafting a world where every interaction, every digital encounter, is as inclusive as it is innovative. 

This isn’t just about supporting those with disabilities; it’s about enhancing the experience for everyone, from mobile device users to those grappling with slow network connections.

Accessibility in design

In the context of design, accessibility is not just a feature; it’s the very ethos that should drive creative processes. It’s a staunch commitment to ensure that every design, be it a graphic product, a template or a digital service, resonates with every user, regardless of their unique abilities or life circumstances.

As designers, you’re not just creators; you’re ethical stewards of a future where design inclusivity isn’t an option, but a non-negotiable standard. The moral imperative to create accessible designs is as strong as any legal requirement, if not stronger. 

Your work must echo the essence of inclusivity, recognized globally as a human right by entities like the United Nations.

Source: Screenshot from Priestman Goode

To illustrate, consider the “Scooter for Life” by PriestmanGoode. It’s not just a mobility aid; it’s a testament to how design can be both aesthetically pleasing and functionally empowering for individuals with mobility challenges. 

AI in accessible design is also a lifeline for the elderly, the injured and those with temporary disabilities. 

It also empowers those with minimal or no graphic design experience to create visuals and designs that were once the exclusive domain of professionals. 

Right now, this is not just about creating designs; it’s about empowering creators and unlocking a new realm of possibilities for all.

It’s time to embrace this level of thoughtfulness and innovation in every design endeavor.

Related: AI and Design in 2024: Cutting-Edge Trends to Watch

Viewing AI as an unsung hero of design accessibility

A group of designers discussing on design accessibility

Source: Stock photo from iStock

Let’s get real here: AI isn’t just playing a role in accessible design; it’s the silent powerhouse changing the game for everyone, especially those who’ve been sidelined in the design world. 

We’re talking about a multifaceted powerhouse that’s blasting open doors to create more inclusive, user-friendly digital experiences. 

Here’s the lowdown on how AI is shaking things up:

1. AI as the ultimate checkpoint for accessibility

Look, AI isn’t just helping with accessibility; it’s the new sheriff in town. It’s automating accessibility checks, using machine learning to spot issues like poor color contrast, tricky text readability and keyboard navigation hassles. This isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about making sure your designs aren’t just beautiful but brilliantly accessible.

2. Streamlining design like a boss 

AI-powered tools are like the Swiss Army knives of design, automating everything from content generation to layout creation. This isn’t just about saving time; it’s about liberating designers to focus on pure, unadulterated innovation. Routine tasks? AI’s got them covered, bringing precision and consistency to every pixel.

3. The AI magic in image editing and templates

AI’s transforming image editing from a chore into a breeze. It’s not just tweaking images; it’s taking them to a whole new level of awesome, especially for big-time projects. And accessible templates? AI’s making sure they’re not just good-looking but are also usable across all devices and by all kinds of users.

4. Reading and seeing through AI’s eyes

AI’s not just about the looks; it’s making sure everyone gets the picture. By analyzing color palettes for readability and whipping up alt-text for images, AI’s making sure that content isn’t just seen but is also experienced by visually impaired users.

5. Toolbox of the future 

Think Adobe Sensei for rapid workflows, Adobe Firefly for those complex designs, DeepArt for turning photos into art and Khroma for color wizardry. These aren’t just tools; they’re AI’s gifts to designers, turbocharging creativity and iteration speed.

6. Champion of cognitive accessibility

AI’s not leaving anyone behind. It’s tailoring interfaces for those with cognitive challenges, learning disabilities or neurodiverse conditions. Personalized experiences aren’t just a nice-to-have; they’re a must-have and AI’s making sure of that with its savvy analysis of user behavior and preferences.

Related: How To Make Social Media Content Accessible

Not just a feature, it’s a revolution: AI-driven accessibility

AI-driven accessibility

Source: Stock photo from iStock

Here’s the hard truth: AI-driven accessibility isn’t just enhancing design; it’s flipping the entire script on what design can and should do for everyone. You’re not just dabbling in inclusivity here; you’re spearheading a full-scale revolution. 

These AI-driven features aren’t just add-ons; they’re core components that are reshaping the digital world into a place that’s truly for everyone.

Let’s look at some of the AI-powered solutions for inclusive design and compliance that enables anyone to create accessible content with ease:

1. AI-based visual simulator or color blind simulator

Visual simulator is a feature that allows you to apply various filters like black and white or blur effects to your designs. 

You can find out how your website appears to users with color blindness and various visual impairments and develop accessible designs that your entire audience will value.

Because it is harder for people with visual impairments to distinguish between different, non-distinctive visual elements.

Source: Screenshot from Pilestone

Pilestone offers a color blind vision simulator that allows users to apply various filters (like Deutan, Protan, Tritan and Black/White) to images to simulate different types of color blindness.

This tool is designed to help individuals understand how the world is perceived by those with color vision deficiencies.

2. AI-Integrated Color contrast checker

Far beyond a basic color tool, the Color Contrast Checker is vital in ensuring clarity and legibility.

It’s a tool that automatically assesses the color contrast in designs to ensure text and design elements are easily distinguishable.

High contrast between text and background colors significantly improves readability. People, especially those with visual impairments like color blindness or low vision, find it easier to read text when there is a stark contrast.

Good color contrast helps users easily distinguish different elements on a page, aiding in navigation. This is particularly important for users with visual impairments who rely on contrast to identify buttons, links and navigation menus.

Let’s look at a real life example below.

Source: Screenshot from Nasa

NASA’s website sets a benchmark in color contrast for web design.

NASA’s use of captivating background images, paired with clearly distinguishable text overlays, strikes the perfect balance between aesthetic appeal and readability.

In web design, overlaying text on images can be challenging. NASA excels in this aspect by maintaining a high contrast ratio, ensuring their content is accessible and easily readable, even for those with visual impairments.

A high contrast between text and its background is essential for clear readability, adapting well to various screen sizes and lighting conditions.

By prioritizing high contrast in their web design, NASA aligns with universal design principles, ensuring their website is welcoming and navigable for all users.

3. AI-Generated alt-text

An AI-powered feature that generates descriptive text for images and graphics, known as ‘alt text’. 

Alt text is essential for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers to understand visual content. It ensures that the information conveyed by images are accessible to everyone. 

Alt texts usually consist of a succinct phrase or a few words that offer a brief description of the image.

Designed primarily for assistive tools such as screen readers, alt texts are incorporated within the image tag in HTML.

The primary goal of alt texts is to communicate the critical content and role of the image to those unable to view it, aiding in their comprehension of the context and intent.


Source: Screenshot from CSS Tricks

Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision API utilizes AI for generating alt text. This service analyzes images and returns a description, which can be integrated into various applications like CMS plugins or browser extensions.

4. AI chart summaries

Important in simplifying complex graphical data, like pie charts and graphs, by generating easy-to-understand summaries.

Complex data visualizations can be challenging to interpret, especially for individuals with cognitive impairments. 

AI chart summaries make these data points accessible to all by simplifying and clarifying the information.

Let’s look at an example.

Source: Screenshot from ChartEye

ChartEye is a Google Chrome extension that automates technical analysis for any chart with our AI model. 

It is capable of swiftly detecting important patterns, design trends and potential signals for trading that might not be readily noticeable to human observation and will provide you with a summary of the chart. 

Read also: How Can AI Use Data to Predict Design Trends?

5. AI-Powered Accessibility checker

With an accessibility checker you can fulfill all your accessibility testing requirements. Conduct automated checks for compliance matters, such as contrast, document language, text tags, among others.

It ensures that your digital content meets various accessibility standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

.

Source: Screenshot from Microsoft

One example of an accessibility checker tool is Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker, integrated into the Microsoft 365 suite. 

This tool is essential for creating content that is accessible to individuals with disabilities. It is available in various Microsoft applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. 

When you run the Accessibility Checker, it reviews your content for issues that might pose barriers for people with disabilities.

It provides a list of identified issues, categorized by their severity – such as ‘Errors’, ‘Warnings’ and ‘Tips’.

For each issue, it provides detailed instructions on how to fix it, like adding alt text to images or ensuring proper color contrast.

Create accessible designs with Venngage’s Accessible Design Tool that your whole audience can appreciate, regardless of circumstances, disabilities or impairments by utilizing all the features that I mentioned above.

 

A Goldmine for visionary designers

AI-driven accessibility isn’t just a good practice; it’s a goldmine of opportunities for designers. It’s where ingenuity meets empathy, where your designs leap off the screens and into the hearts of users everywhere. 

  1. More than just a buzzword: Here’s the kicker: designing for accessibility doesn’t just help a niche; it revolutionizes experiences for everyone. Take text messaging, born from the need to communicate non-verbally and now it’s everyone’s go-to. That’s the kind of universal impact we’re talking about. 

When you design with accessibility at the core, you’re ensuring that every interaction is clear, comprehensible and downright user-friendly. This isn’t just design; it’s design with a superpower.

  1. Raising the bar on design quality: Think about it: accessible design isn’t just about meeting standards; it’s about setting new ones. When you bake accessibility into your work, you’re not just creating something usable; you’re creating something exceptional. 

You’re talking about intuitive, user-centric designs that stand out in a sea of mediocrity. This is where the real magic happens in design – where innovation meets practicality.

  1. Inclusive mindset: Embracing an inclusive mindset isn’t just nice; it’s a necessity for groundbreaking creativity. When you start designing for a spectrum of needs, you open up a world of possibilities for innovation. 

You’re not just making things look good; you’re making them work brilliantly for a diverse user base. This is where true creativity blossoms – in the rich soil of inclusivity and understanding.

  1. Diverse perspectives: Here’s a reality check: if you’re not including people with disabilities in your design process, you’re flying blind. These perspectives are the secret sauce that makes good design great.

By involving a variety of users in the design process, you’re not just making your products better; you’re making them resonate with a wider audience. This is how you create products that don’t just function – they sing.

AI’s game-changing role in design

AI in design isn’t just about making things a bit easier or a tad more inclusive; it’s about blowing the lid off the traditional limits of what design can achieve. AI isn’t just a tool; it’s a game-changer, a boundary-pusher, a rule-breaker.

Take a look at platforms like Venngage. They’re not just handy tools; they’re torchbearers showing us how seamless and intuitive creating accessible content can be. This isn’t just a step forward; it’s a quantum leap for designers and content creators everywhere.

You’re not just tweaking pixels and playing with colors; you’re crafting experiences that speak to everyone, that open doors, that change lives.

Let’s not just ride this wave; let’s lead it. Let’s use these incredible tools to build a world where design isn’t just beautiful; it’s universally empowering.

Show that design isn’t just about looking good; it’s about making a real, tangible impact on every user’s life.