Accessible Web Design

Accessibility isn’t a feature, an up-sell, a trend, or a passing phenomenon. And yet so many agencies treat it as such.

At 5forests, we take accessible web design seriously. We believe that all websites should provide the same level of usability, functionality, and enjoyment to all people, regardless of their level of capability. Our websites not only meet minimum standards, they exceed them. Because accessibility is not merely good for business, it’s just plain good.

Georgia O'Keeffe's tanned hands wrapped around a bleached horse skull.
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe – Hands and Horse Skull, 1931 (adapted). Original from The Art Institute of Chicago.

Designed for real people

5forests takes a ground-up approach to accessible design driven by how real people use the web. We go beyond the basics of WCAG guidelines to ensure that a technical “pass” doesn’t interference with practical site use. And then we take it a step further, and help your inhouse team understand how they can make better decisions for a more inclusive web.

Tested by real people

Accessibility audits often rely on automated scans on your website to find what we call “low hanging fruit”. These can be very helpful to find and fix common mistakes, but they are far from comprehensive enough in the real world. We rely on the feedback from real users using real assistive technologies to enhance our web site builds.

Without accessibility overlays

You’ve seen these before: the “little man in a circle” icon floating on the bottom of a website. This is an accessibility overlay. At 5forests, we don’t believe in using these, and industry experts agree with our point of view. While overlays can be convenient as a temporary measure, they are not adequate for long term compliance, they do not help real people, and they do not make your website accessible.

We’re always improving

Accessibility is a moving target, and that’s not a bad thing. The web is always improving it’s understanding of assistive technologies, how they react to real world scenarios, how they can improve real user experience, and what guidelines need to be in place to ensure an equitable experience for all users. 5forests follows these changes and we work to improve our own offerings every single day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your approach to accessible web design at 5forests?

We don’t see accessibility as just a feature. We believe every website should offer the same usability, functionality, and enjoyment to everyone, no matter their capability level. We don’t just meet minimum standards, we go beyond them. Because accessibility is not just good for business, it’s just plain good.

How do you ensure your web design is accessible at 5forests?

We start from the ground up, considering how real people use the web. We don’t just aim to pass technical guidelines, we make sure our sites are practically usable. After launching a new website, we help train your in-house team to edit the website and to understand how to make better decisions for a more inclusive web.

How do you evaluate the accessibility of your websites at 5forests?

We don’t rely solely on automated scans. While they can be useful for catching common mistakes, they’re not comprehensive enough. We gather feedback from real users using real assistive technologies, in partnership with an independent auditing company. This way we can enhance our website builds based on real-world experiences.

What is your stance on accessibility overlays at 5forests?

You won’t find those “little man in a circle” icons floating on our websites. We believe, along with prominent industry experts, that while overlays might be convenient temporary measures, they don’t truly make a website accessible (and in some cases they can make things worse). We are committed to long-term compliance, and that means doing things the right way.

How do you stay current with accessibility standards at 5forests?

Accessibility is a moving target, and we like it that way. As the web continues to improve its understanding of assistive technologies and user experience, we follow these changes by staying in touch with industry experts, attending accessibility related talks, reading accessibility oriented literature, and using these learnings to enhance our offerings every single day​​.

Need help meeting accessibility requirements?