Inclusive Design

New tools for designers from IBM Accessibility

Share this post:

For Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022, let’s give a shoutout to designers, who play a critical role in accessibility. IBM Accessibility is proud to offer new free tools for accessibility in the everyday work of designers. The tools support both applications and web content.

Accessibility topics designed for designers

The IBM Equal Access Toolkit is both an introduction and handy reference resource for practicing inclusive design. This major new release is based on user feedback. We have edited our original content from 121 topics down to 54. We’ve added new visual examples, simplified the navigation, clarified the language, improved the search, and added review checklists.

The design topics cover user experience, visual and content design. Each topic provides a short explanation, together with visual examples to illustrate core concepts, and links to more information. Instead of the technical language of accessibility standards, we use concepts familiar to designers, with an emphasis on who benefits.

Error message design topic from the Equal Access Toolkit

Topics are divided into three levels of advancement. If you’re a designer new to accessibility, get started at Level 1  then build up from there. The Review tab provides an at-a-glance checklist of accessibility tasks for each level. We’d love to hear from designers everywhere where you’d like the toolkit to go next.

New IBM Accessibility Design Kit

IBM designers also wanted tools that fit within their workflow. With all the different topics within accessibility, it can be a challenge to keep them all in mind while designing. In response, we created the free IBM Accessibility Design Kit, available for both Figma and Sketch. It provides checklists, bite-sized guidance, examples, and handoff assets. Using this kit, designers can learn as they work. Annotated designs support effective communication with developers, leading to accessible implementations. The kits are available from the Design Tools section of the IBM Equal Access Toolkit. They link directly back into the toolkit topics for more information.

For example, designers can annotate non-visible information such as the intended heading structure, the page regions that support efficient navigation, or the keyboard operation of a custom component.

Example of heading annotation

Everyday accessibility

Accessibility awareness, carried throughout a project from planning to release, is the key to success in creating inclusive products that can accommodate a wide range of users.

The job of a designer is so important – to keep in mind all the different people who are going to use your products or process the information that you’re sharing. A designer has the ability to allow them to have the same experience as everyone else. That’s just a gift you can give to your users to make them feel included and make them feel empowered to do their jobs, and do their jobs well.

Ashley AuBuchon, Executive Assistant to the CEO, IBM

At IBM, accessibility is an important design skill. Make it a part of your design work, not just on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, but every day.

IBM Accessibility Program Director

More stories
By Shari Trewin on May 17, 2022

New tools for designers from IBM Accessibility

For Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022, let’s give a shoutout to designers, who play a critical role in accessibility. IBM Accessibility is proud to offer new free tools for accessibility in the everyday work of designers. The tools support both applications and web content. Streamlined designer guidance in the Equal Access Toolkit Accessible Design Kit […]

Continue reading

By Alexandra Grossi on December 3, 2021

Accessibility offers the Ultimate User Experience

Today is International Persons with Disabilities Day, which provides an opportunity to further reflect on IBM’s contributions to accessibility and inclusivity when it comes to the ever-evolving world of technology and design. I am the Lead UX Designer for IBM Accessibility. I am an inclusive design advocate. I also happen to be a profoundly deaf, […]

Continue reading

By Shari Trewin and Yves Veulliet on December 3, 2020

Designing AI Applications to Treat People with Disabilities Fairly

AI solutions must account for everyone. AI-based applications can treat people with disabilities fairly by embedding ethics into AI development from the very beginning.

Continue reading