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Inclusive Design Practices: Making Websites Welcoming to Everyone

Inclusive design practices are the key to making websites welcoming to everyone. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of inclusive design, its benefits, and practical tips for creating accessible websites.

Understanding Inclusive Design

Inclusive design, also known as universal design or accessible design, is an approach that aims to create products and environments that are accessible and usable by as many people as possible, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or limitations. In the context of web design, inclusive design means making websites that can be easily navigated, understood, and interacted with by everyone, including people with disabilities such as visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, or neurological impairments.

The concept of inclusive design goes beyond just complying with legal requirements like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It is about creating an inclusive and welcoming online experience for all users, ensuring that no one is left behind.

10 Reasons to Use Inclusive Design for Schools and Nonprofit Organizations

Inclusive design ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and use the web. It encourages equality and prevents discrimination based on disabilities. It also offers numerous benefits for schools and nonprofit organizations, as it promotes accessibility, diversity, and equity. Here are some of the key advantages:

1. Accessibility: Inclusive design ensures that products, services, and facilities are accessible to all individuals, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. This is crucial for schools and nonprofits as it allows them to reach a wider audience and serve a more diverse population.

2. Diversity and Inclusion: By adopting inclusive design principles, schools and nonprofits create an environment that values diversity and inclusion. This not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also promotes a culture of acceptance and respect among all members of the community.

3. Equal Opportunities: Inclusive design helps level the playing field, providing equal opportunities for participation and engagement. This is especially important in educational settings, where students of all abilities should have access to the same learning experiences and opportunities.

4. Compliance: In many countries, there are legal requirements and regulations that mandate accessibility and inclusivity. By implementing inclusive design, schools and nonprofits can ensure compliance with these laws and avoid potential legal issues.

5. Improved Learning and Engagement: Inclusive design in schools can enhance the learning experience for all students. It accommodates different learning styles and needs, leading to improved academic performance and engagement.

6. Community Engagement: Nonprofits benefit from inclusive design by engaging a wider range of stakeholders. When websites, events, and materials are designed with inclusivity in mind, they can attract more supporters and donors from diverse backgrounds.

7. Cost Savings: Contrary to the misconception that inclusive design is expensive, it often leads to cost savings in the long run. Building accessibility into designs from the beginning can be more cost-effective than retrofitting inaccessible infrastructure.

8. Innovation: Embracing inclusive design encourages creativity and innovation. It challenges designers and educators to come up with new solutions that benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.

9. Positive Reputation: Schools and nonprofits that prioritize inclusivity and accessibility build a positive reputation within their communities. This can attract more students, volunteers, and supporters who appreciate their commitment to social responsibility.

10. Long-Term Sustainability: Inclusive design is not a short-term trend; it is a sustainable approach that future-proofs organizations. As demographics change and awareness of inclusivity grows, schools and nonprofits that prioritize inclusive design are better positioned for long-term success.

10 Practical Inclusive Design Tips

Now that we understand the importance of inclusive design, let’s dive into some practical tips for making websites welcoming to everyone.

1. Prioritize Accessibility from the Beginning

Inclusive design should be integrated into the entire web development process, from the initial concept to the final launch. Make accessibility a core part of your design philosophy, and involve designers, developers, and content creators from the start. Using a tool like Equalize Digital’s Accessibility Checker plugin makes it easy to identify errors and warnings during development.

2. Use Correct Heading Order

Semantic HTML elements provide meaning to the content on your website. Heading styles/tags are used to appropriately to structure your content logically. Screen readers rely on this structure to convey information to users with visual impairments. This means you should not apply an H3 tag before an H2 tag on a page. HTML headings are not about font style and size. You can have an H2 heading that is smaller than an H3 heading, but and H3 heading should bot be used before an H2 (nor an H4 before and H3, etc.)

3. Provide Alternative Text for Images

Images play a significant role in web design, but they can be a barrier for users with visual impairments. Always include descriptive alt text for images to provide context and meaning. Avoid using images with text that is not duplicated in text format, and make sure your alt text is an accurate description of what is shown in the image.

4. Ensure Keyboard Accessibility

Not all users can use a mouse or touch a screen. Make sure that all interactive elements on your website, such as buttons and links, can be easily accessed and navigated using only a keyboard. Test your site’s keyboard navigation thoroughly by clicking the Tab key when the web page loads, instead of using your mouse.

5. Caption Videos and Transcribe Audio

If your website includes videos or audio content, provide captions for videos and transcriptions for audio files. This ensures that users with hearing impairments can access the content.

6. Use Descriptive Link Text

Using descriptive and non-ambiguous text in website links enhances accessibility by providing clear and meaningful information about the destination or action. This practice ensures that all users, including those utilizing screen readers or navigating via keyboard, can easily understand and interact with the links, improving overall usability and inclusivity of the website. Links that say “Learn more” should have a class of “sr-only” applied in code with additional description added which is only visible using a screen reader, for example: Learn more<span class=”sr-only”> about our services</span>. If you are not able to add the code, then the link should say “Learn more about our services.”

7. Avoid Opening Links in A New Tab

This accessibility improvement goes against a previously recommended process of opening external links in a new tab to keep users on your website. With an increased emphasis on accessibility, and new accessibility requirements, the best practice is now to avoid opening links in a new tab, or to warn users when this is the case. Avoiding new tabs enhances accessibility by preserving users’ control over their browsing experience. For individuals with cognitive or motor impairments, managing multiple tabs can be challenging, and forcing new tabs can disrupt their navigation flow. Maintaining consistency in browsing behavior allows users to maintain control and easily navigate through content without unexpected interruptions.

8. Follow WCAG Guidelines

Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and implement them on your website. WCAG provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for creating accessible web content.

8. Provide Adjustable Text Sizes and Contrast

Allow users to adjust text sizes to accommodate their preferences. This is especially important for users with visual impairments or reading difficulties. Using rem font sizes (a size relative to a base siz,e which is usually 16px) instead of px makes it easier for users to view an increased text size if their browser is set to a larger size.

Text your website text to ensure there is enough contrast between the text color and the background.

9. Avoid Autoplaying Media

Autoplaying videos or audio can be distracting and disorienting, especially for users with cognitive or sensory issues. Provide users with the option to play media manually.

10. Regularly Update and Test

Websites are dynamic, and content changes over time. Regularly update and test your website’s accessibility to ensure that new content remains accessible.

11. Avoid Using Overaly Widgets

Regarding the accessibility overlay, our recommendation is that you should not install an accessibility overlay like Userway as an attempt to correct intentional decisions to add accessibility problems to the website. It’s better to create an accessible website.


Inclusive design is not just a trend; it’s a fundamental aspect of creating a welcoming and accessible online world. By prioritizing accessibility in web design, we can ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can fully participate in the digital age. Moreover, inclusive design benefits businesses and organizations, improves user experiences, and fosters a more equitable and inclusive society.

As web developers, designers, and content creators, it’s our responsibility to embrace inclusive design practices and make the internet a place where everyone is welcome. By doing so, we can create a better, more accessible online experience for all.

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