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12 Apr 2024
  • Website Development

Ensuring Accessibility: How to Design Dashboards for All!

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro

Imagine sitting courtside at a major basketball game, but with a massive pillar blocking part of your view. Frustrating, right? This is how it feels when dashboards are not designed with accessibility in mind—some users get a full view, while others miss critical action. Designing accessible dashboards ensures that every user, regardless of ability, has a front-row experience, fulfilling both ethical responsibilities and legal requirements.

Understanding Accessibility in Dashboard Design

Accessibility in dashboards means creating interfaces that can be used equally by people with a wide range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive abilities. This not only broadens the user base but also enhances the user experience for everyone.

Why Accessibility Matters

Imagine a team where only some players could access the game plan. The performance would naturally suffer. Similarly, inaccessible dashboards can alienate parts of your workforce or customer base, impacting both morale and productivity.

Legal Standards and Guidelines

Staying within the bounds of the law is as crucial as playing by the rules of the game. In many regions, including the U.S. and the EU, accessibility isn't just nice to have; it's a legal requirement under laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and directives like the Web Accessibility Directive.

Compliance Requirements

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are often used as a benchmark for digital accessibility, including dashboards. These guidelines provide a framework for making digital content accessible to all, including those with disabilities.

Design Principles for Accessibility

Color and Contrast

Ever watched a game in black and white? Not the same, right? Similarly, using adequate contrast and color differentiation in dashboards can help people with color vision deficiencies or low vision engage fully with the information presented.

Text Size and Readability

Just as a clear scoreboard is crucial in a sports arena, clear text is essential on a dashboard. Ensuring that fonts are readable and scalable helps users with visual impairments or reading difficulties easily understand the data.

Interactive Elements and Navigation

Keyboard Navigation

For many users with mobility impairments, navigating a dashboard with a mouse isn't an option. Keyboard-friendly design ensures all users can navigate effectively, much like ensuring all fans can access the stadium.

Screen Reader Compatibility

For users who rely on screen readers, compatibility is key. Designing with screen reader accessibility in mind is like providing a play-by-play announcer for someone who can't see the game directly.

Testing and Validation

No coach would send a team onto the field without a solid game plan, which is exactly why testing for accessibility before launching a dashboard is crucial. Utilizing tools like the AXE Accessibility Checker or WAVE can help identify and rectify barriers in a dashboard’s design.

Incorporating User Feedback

Gathering feedback from users with disabilities is like reviewing game tapes with the team—it’s essential for improvement. This direct feedback can guide further refinements, ensuring the dashboard is as accessible as possible.

Case Studies

A major healthcare provider redesigned their patient management dashboard to be fully accessible, resulting in a 30% increase in user satisfaction among their staff, demonstrating the profound impact of inclusive design.

Another example from a tech company showed that after revamping their sales dashboard for better accessibility, sales team engagement increased significantly, proving that good design is good business.


Just as no player is left behind in a well-coached team, no user should be left behind in dashboard design. Ensuring accessibility is not only a legal mandate but a moral one, enhancing usability for everyone and driving better business outcomes.

It’s time to step up the game in dashboard design—make it accessible, make it universal, and watch as everyone, regardless of ability, gets to enjoy the full view.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the design of digital products, such as websites and software applications, including dashboards, to be usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. This involves ensuring that these products support various technologies used by people with disabilities, like screen readers and alternative input devices.

2. Why is accessibility important for business dashboards?

Accessible dashboards ensure that all team members, regardless of disability, can access, understand, and utilize business data. This inclusivity not only broadens the potential user base but also enhances the overall decision-making process within an organization, ensuring all perspectives are considered.

3. What are some common accessibility issues found in dashboards?

Common issues include insufficient color contrast, lack of keyboard navigation support, missing text alternatives for images, and reliance on color alone to convey information, which can all restrict users with visual or physical disabilities from fully engaging with the dashboard.

4. How can we test dashboards for accessibility?

There are several tools available for testing the accessibility of dashboards, such as the AXE Accessibility Checker and WAVE. Additionally, engaging users with disabilities in the testing process can provide invaluable insights into the practical challenges they face.

5. Are there legal consequences for not making dashboards accessible?

Yes, depending on the jurisdiction, there can be legal consequences for failing to make digital products accessible. For example, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may apply to digital products, and failure to comply can result in lawsuits and fines.

6. How often should accessibility be reviewed in dashboard designs?

Accessibility should be an ongoing concern throughout the lifecycle of a dashboard. It’s advisable to review accessibility compliance regularly, especially when updates are made to the dashboard or when new features are added, to ensure continuous accessibility.

Tyrone Showers