What is accessibility?

In the world of digital technology, accessibility ensures that all users— from people with permanent disabilities to those with temporary and situational challenges— can perform work as efficiently as possible, with or without assistive technologies.

So, why is accessibility important? Designing flexible applications allows users work in any environment, on any device, with any browser at any time. Accessibility ensures that each user, no matter their ability level, is set up for success with your application. And it’s an opportunity for organizations to deliver more human-centered, natural, and contextual solutions.

Cosmos aims to target the international WCAG 2.1 AA standard for accessible software. Following these guidelines, Cosmos strives to offer patterns and components with accessibility already built-in. As a result, accessible application-building is becoming simpler, upgrades are easier, and users of all ability levels can successfully work within Cosmos.

Below are a few examples of Cosmos features with built-in accessibility best practices.

Cosmos provides a predesigned Sketch library with built-in instructions, user messages, CTAs and many more assets created with accessibility in mind. We also educate designers on accessible UX — for example, we promote clear language such as "Submit" instead of "Click the blue button on the right."

Cosmos also promotes contextual error messaging. For example, form-level error messaging lists the items that need addressing and what is wrong. Control-level errors are clear and tell the user exactly what they need to do.

To empower all users to successfully use your application, it is critical to offer accessible user interactions. This is necessary for people who use screen readers or rely on keyboard-only navigation, for example. Cosmos supports familiar interaction patterns that are accessible and easy to use, including keyboard, mouse, voice, and other behaviors.

Cosmos encourages the following interaction practices for an accessible application:

  • Keyboard — Enable users to navigate all apps using a keyboard only
  • Display — size all interactive areas to be big enough for larger fingers
  • Mouse
    • Use single clicks to select / activate items
    • Hover to reveal more information
    • Press to activate, pan, or drag items
    • All mouse clicks trigger an enter/return action

Clear labels help users complete tasks with more confidence and fewer errors. This is especially important for ensuring that the application is accessible for people who have varying cognitive abilities, use screen readers, are non-native speakers of your application’s language, etc.

Cosmos recommends the following to ensure proper labeling:

  • Use only one method to label a field
  • Ensure labels are associated with fields
  • Ensure language is descriptive text, not technical terms
  • Use simple, clear language
  • Position labels above associated input fields

Learn more about accessibility on the Pega Community Blog:

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