Digital Accessibility: Creating Seamless User Experiences


I'd like to share an analogy that highlights the core principles of digital accessibility and its significance in our ever-changing digital world.

Imagine setting the table for someone who happens to be left-handed. For over a decade, I've placed my husbands knife and fork in a way that suits, what I thought, was his preference – a simple yet thoughtful gesture. However, a recent family dinner illuminated a profound truth about digital accessibility (and my observation skills): it's about crafting content that seamlessly adapts to users' needs, resulting in a top-notch experience.

Last night, my daughter cooked our evening meal, she also set his knife and fork the way I do and I commented on how thoughtful she was, she had clearly seen me do this many times and instinctively learnt - only to watch him swap his knife and fork and use them as a right handed person would.

Ignoring the fact it's taken me 11 years to notice this small detail....It did make me think it was an excellent analogy to digital accessibility.

The Heart of Digital Accessibility: An Analogy: Much like setting the table, digital accessibility is all about creating content that accommodates users' individual requirements. It doesn't add extra time or cost; it merely demands understanding. Just as my left-handed husband adjusts his utensils for comfort, digital users adapt content to best serve their needs, and this is what digital accessibility strives to achieve.

Creating a high quality user experience

Personalization Matters: When creating content, remember that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for individuals with disabilities. Not all dyslexic users prefer the same font, and assistive technology usage varies widely. Digital accessibility isn't about rigid rules; it's about providing adaptable content. Consider standards like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 1.4.4, which allow information to be enlarged by up to 200%. These guidelines ensure your content can be tailored to suit the needs of a broad audience.

Creating for All Platforms: Whether you're designing a website, a document, an e-book, a game, an app, or even an ATM, the objective remains the same: create content that caters to everyone's needs.

As a champion of digital accessibility my focus is on how we continuously improve the quality of that content.

Clarity in regulations

For most of my career in digital accessibility in the UK accessibility has been seen as the right thing to do, an ethical argument. The Equality Act 2010 existed, didn't it quite go into the detail or requirements needed for the web passed 'reasonable adjustments' which can be interpreted in so many different ways it isn't helpful for people with disabilities nor those creating digital content, what is reasonable to one person may not to another - all of which creates ambiguity and confusion as well as a poor experience for all involved.

Since 2018 there has been a regulation for the public sector in Europe and the UK which added clarity around the requirements. The full name is 'Public Sector Bodies (websites and mobile applications) (no 2) Accessibility regulations 2018 and and thanks to the European Accessibility Act 2025 this will stretch into the private sector in Europe as well.

In the USA it's been a regulatory issue for a long time thanks to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act 1990), there is a long history of UK companies being sued by people in America under the ADA

Even if you're in the UK, trading with Europe or the USA means compliance is essential.


The debate over HTML vs. PDF accessibility misses the broader picture.

I spent much of my career focused on web accessibility and in the last 2 years become immersed in document accessibility, primarily PDF's

I noticed very quickly that there appears to be a HTML V PDF argument, so many people in the UK champion HTML. They say web accessibility is better than PDF accessibility, PDF is, apparently bad.

Accessibility is about providing options for users. Not all information is suited for web pages. Taking away PDFs eliminates choices for individuals who prefer formats like e-readers or offline viewing. Accessibility isn't about limiting choices; it's about expanding them.

Sadly, those who are creating a battle of HTML V PDF have totally missed the big picture, improving the quality of digital information.

Continuous improvement of quality

Digital accessibility is ever-evolving. Technology, user habits, and information creation methods change rapidly. While PDF accessibility might seem challenging, it's not insurmountable. The goal is to make accessibility as effortless as possible for content creators and as adaptable as possible for users. That's the magic formula for an inclusive digital world: easy to create, easy to consume.

In the dynamic realm of digital accessibility, our mission remains clear: ensure that digital content is inclusive and adaptable. Let's keep pushing for continuous improvement, making digital information accessible to everyone, regardless of their preferences or abilities. Together, we can create a digital world where everyone can enjoy a high-quality user experience. Join me in this pursuit of a more accessible future!