Accessibility and Why It Is Vital in Your Website Design4min read
Setting accessibility standards in Ireland
National Disability Authority and Kooba partnered to launch the new online presence for the NDA. The aim was to create the flagship website that would set web accessibility standards in Ireland. The National Disability Authority (NDA) is the independent statutory body, providing evidence-based advice and research to Government entities on disability policy and practice and promoting Universal Design. The Kooba team delved into the website redesign with key considerations of thematic restructuring of the site, ensuring the site promoted NDA's own standards and worked as a nonverbal communication tool for the organisation.
View the sitenda.ie
A creative approach to accessible design
It was important to the National Disability Authority that the overall look and feel wouldn’t be thrown out the window - the design challenge for the project was to curate a site with a dynamic and attractive appearance that would still adhere to accessibility requirements. From the onset, accessibility was kept at the forefront. Through an extensive UX process Kooba worked with National Disability Authority to identify pain-points for both NDA staff and site users. The combination of qualitative and quantitative research helped us deliver information architecture and wireframes that were based on data. We started the UX process by auditing the old web presence; this then gave us a good indication of how to approach the new site structure. Further, this enhanced our understanding of the overall digital strategy for the new website and how users were interacting with the content. Given the accessibility requirements and site specialisation, we needed to work collaboratively with the NDA to test and dissect user scenarios.
Stress testing key objectives
We knew the most complex part of the project would be nailing down the UX and providing a clear sitemap. Beginning with a needs analysis that focused on brand traits, user values and anti-values, and NDA’s preferences we were able to pinpoint how the NDA brand and associated online presences were currently seen, and where the ambition was for the future. From this survey we identified key objectives that guided our creative process: convey professionalism and trustworthiness. It should feel high-quality, reliable, and factual. Usability & clarity were critical. We held a number of card sorting workshops, which collectively organised the information architecture based on the analytics and new business objectives. This allowed us to create an initial version of the site map which was then stressed tested with the client. Given the clear data produced in the UX Phase, Kooba and National Disability Authority were able to establish a clear direction for the overall site look and feel.
Innovation at all stages
It was important that accessibility did not hold back our creativity, but rather, would force us to think outside of the box and design in a new way. When it came to implementation, our developers took meticulous care to produce clean code that was tested against requirements such as screen readers, colour ratios/contrasts and alt. text abilities. The new site also incorporates an Irish Language feature and Irish Sign Language videos increasing user potential and experience. For NDA we ensured accessibility was implemented from the onset, starting with accessible design and then bringing this into the build. Given the website needed to be accessible from every angle, the chosen CMS was no exception and was fully accessible as per WCAG AA standards. This then extended to the implementation of the Irish sign language toggle.
What we did
A site built for everyone
Since launch in November 2022 the site is already delivering results. The site is fully responsive and renders beautifully on all devices. Browsability was enhanced with a robust search function and a browse-by-theme section. The search function allows for easy finding of relevant material simply based on keyword(s) while the theme section gives users relevant options that allow them to pinpoint their desired information in a limited number of clicks. Overall, Kooba delivered a website that has set the gold standard for digital accessibility in Ireland. The finished product has been a labour of love, both challenging and strengthening our design and development teams. Key learnings were taken from the project and have been built into the Kooba process given the growing importance of accessibility in web design.