Consider a gift to AIRSupport tech access for people of all abilities
Skip to Main Content

The Carrot and the Stick: Usability in the Context of Accessible Design

taught by: Erin Marchak


WCAG 2.0 has been out for ten years. That was 2008 — Netflix was mailing DVDs, Apple didn’t sell iPhone apps, and Google wasn’t even a browser company. The technology has changed a lot since then, and the new WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria introduce needed modernizations that consider our current experiences.

In those 10 years, the field of user experience has also expanded alongside technology. Usability is becoming ever more important when building modern applications, and Jakob Nielsen’s “Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design” are some of the guiding principles in interaction design. Upon inspection, these Heuristics and WCAG are surprisingly aligned since they share the goal of a better experience for the user.

We’ll demonstrate how you can use this alignment to shift discussions towards user experience without compromising your accessibility goals. We can use both the carrot of usability and the stick of compliancy to help others discover new ways of improving everyone’s experience of the web.

Practical Skills:

  • An understanding of how the WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria align with Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics
  • Techniques to identify accessibility problems early on in the design process by using the Usability Heuristics
  • Ways of communicating accessibility challenges as usability opportunities to designers and developers
  • Tools to help build empathy between your team members who focus on accessibility, usability, or technology


  • None

Presentation Materials: