Considerations for Design Specifications

There are some universal issues when it comes to accessible design. This section tackles those issues by offering a set of design specifications that can double up as a checklist.

Generally applicable top-level issues

While there are hundreds of specific issues related to accessibility, the following list represents what is considered a contemporary professional effort. These can be built into design specifications and also be part of a checklist for quality assurance. 

  • Follow best practices for WCAG 2.1 AA.
  • Develop a content/development model separating information from visual presentation.


Keyboard Access

Provide standards for

  • Logical tab order
  • Enabling focus to UI elements


Screen reader support

Provide standards for 

  • Alt-text for images
  • Labels for UI elements
  • ARIA (semantic tagging) for navigation elements
  • Proper use of heading styles


Color and color contrasts

  • Avoid color as the only way to communicate meaning.
  • Check the final palette for acceptable color contrast ratios.



  • Generate closed captions and transcripts for any audible content.



  • Consider touch target size of UI elements.


How to Meet WCAG (Quick Reference)

This reference covers the Web Content Authoring Guidelines (WCAG) with interactive detail. You can filter, expand, and explore in a way that is not possible in the basic reference. 

International Legal Requirements

This helpful list on Lainey Feingold’s site provides links to international standards. 


axe for Chrome

axe is a platform developed by DeQue to assist with accessibility testing during development. There are free and paid forms of it. The free apps are browser plug-ins/extensions. 


ARC for Chrome

ARC from The Paciello Group is a similar extension to axe.


Narrator – Embedded in Microsoft Windows

Narrator is a native screen reader installed with every version of Windows. It provides good audible support. It’s platform-specific nature limits its use in devices beyond Windows. 



An alternate screen reader choice that’s cross-platform is NVDA. It works well for testing and has a suggested non-profit donation for use. 


WebAim Color Contrast Checker

The WebAim Color Contrast Checker provides a simple interface for comparing colors against the recommendations of the WCAG.