Content Design London: Creating accessible & inclusive digital content

In this Q&A with Sarah Richards, Founder of Content Design London, we discover what makes content accessible and usable.

Title 'Accessibility is usability' with a profile photo of Sarah Richards

1. Content Design London recently joined us for a webinar, and the session was titled ‘Accessibility is Usability’. Why do you feel this topic is so important?

If a site isn't accessible, it can't really be considered usable. An impairment can be permanent, situational or temporary. At the moment, there are over 13 million people with a registered disability in the UK. That's a lot of audience to ignore. 

You can have a perfectly coded, beautifully designed digital service that’s still inaccessible, because the language and context of your content plays a huge role too. If your content isn’t understandable, if people struggle to read it, if they make the wrong decision because you weren’t clear, if you caused them pain because you didn’t get to the point, you are stopping people accessing your product or service.

You are disabling them.

2. What would be your key piece of advice to organisations when it comes to accessibility?

Organisations that don't take accessibility seriously might be under the impression that accessibility is too expensive, not worth it for the audience they are trying to reach and that it is only about screen readers and code. 

In fact, content is usually the cheapest thing to change.There's so much you can do with just changing your language,open up your services and information to the widest possible audience.

(Check out our webinar, where we were joined by Sarah's colleague from Content Design London to explore this in more detail.)

3. Lastly, we've heard you mention before that ‘accessibility doesn’t need to be boring’. What do you mean by this?

Many people think that accessible language means stripping back the creativity of our copy, but creativity doesn’t have a literacy level. It inspires, shocks, sells. But most of all it speaks to people. It serves a need.

People want to understand. They want to act on what they learn. They don’t want to marvel at your language skills.

Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it.”

When we make our content clear by using common words, we’re inviting the widest audience possible to engage with us. We’re showing that we respect their time, and that we want to share. It’s not about dumbing down. It’s about opening up.

Hear more in our recorded webinar titled ‘How to create accessible & inclusive digital content’, where you'll also hear from Daniel McLaughlan, Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet, and Donna Thomson, Marketing Manager at Texthelp.


About the author

Content Design London founder Sarah Richards defined the term ‘content design’ in the early days of GOV.UK, where she led the award-winning content team in the design of the UK government website. Their purpose is to transform how your products and services are understood by your users, by automation, and by the world.

Profile photo of Sarah Richards