UX Design

The 7 Barriers to Accessibility: What Every UI/UX Designer Should Know


Accessibility is a cornerstone of good UI/UX design, yet it's often misunderstood or overlooked. While designers may strive for visually stunning interfaces, it's crucial to remember that not all users interact with digital platforms similarly. In this article, we'll explore the 7 barriers to accessibility that every designer should be aware of.

Barrier 1: Poor Keyboard Navigation

Many users rely on keyboards for navigation rather than a mouse. Websites and apps that don't support keyboard navigation can be virtually unusable for these individuals.

Key Considerations:

  • Tab Order: Ensure a logical tab order for easy navigation.

  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Implement shortcuts for common actions.

Barrier 2: Inadequate Text Contrast

Low contrast between text and background can make content difficult to read, particularly for users with visual impairments.

Key Considerations:

  • Colour Contrast: Aim for a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text.

  • Font Choices: Opt for readable fonts and avoid decorative or overly stylised text.

Barrier 3: Lack of Alt Text

Images without alternative text are a barrier for screen reader users, as they won't be able to understand the content or context of the image.

Key Considerations:

  • Descriptive Alt Text: Provide a concise description of each image.

  • Functional Images: For images that serve a function, like buttons, ensure the alt text explains the action.

Barrier 4: Complex Forms

Forms that are not designed with accessibility in mind can be a nightmare for users with disabilities.

Key Considerations:

  • Labels: Every form field should have a clear and descriptive label.

  • Error Messages: Provide informative error messages to guide users.

Barrier 5: Inaccessible Multimedia

Videos and audio content without captions or transcripts exclude users who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Key Considerations:

  • Captions: Include captions for all video and audio content.

  • Transcripts: Provide a text-based transcript for multimedia elements.

Barrier 6: Fixed Font Sizes

Fixed font sizes can be a hindrance for users who need to adjust text for readability.

Key Considerations:

  • Scalable Text: Allow users to resize text without breaking the layout.

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your design adapts to various screen sizes and resolutions.

Barrier 7: Overuse of Jargon

Technical jargon or complex language can make content inaccessible to users who are not familiar with the terminology.

Key Considerations:

  • Plain Language: Use simple and straightforward language.

  • Glossaries: Provide explanations for technical terms or acronyms.


Accessibility is not just a checkbox to tick off; it's an integral part of the design process that benefits all users. By understanding and addressing these 7 barriers—poor keyboard navigation, inadequate text contrast, lack of alt text, complex forms, inaccessible multimedia, fixed font sizes, and overuse of jargon—you'll be well on your way to creating more inclusive digital experiences. Cheers!

Author: Mugs (Mugunthan Balakrishnan)

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd. All right reserved

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd.

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd.