User Experience Impossible: The Line Between Accessibility and Usability


It’s often difficult to determine the difference between a bad user experience and poor accessibility on a web site. Too often, we see user experience and user accessibility as two separate and unconnected aspects of a site. However, poor accessibility can often lead to a poor user experience, even for non-disabled users.

For example, not including alt text for images affects both accessibility and user experience. A lack of alt text can prevent a visually-impaired user from using a screen reader to tell them about images on your site and can also affect users who choose to turn off images due to low bandwidth. In this case, good accessibility leads directly to a good user experience, regardless of the user.

In “User Experience Impossible: The Line Between Accessibility and Usability,” author Angela Hooker argues that the core of all good user experience being able to get to the content, which cannot happen without good accessibility. Providing good accessibility on your site or webpage fulfills federal legal requirements but also ensures that anyone can access your content and makes your content usable and enjoyed by all.

From the Article

Accessibility is a benchmark of the quality of our users’ experience. The two are quite different by definition, but in practice, they’re still separate issues. Accessibility means that your audience can get to the content and message you want them to receive. It’s more than just user experience. Without accessibility, the user experience – good or bad – can’t even happen. So, as the saying goes, “usability depends on accessibility.”


  • Does this article help you better appreciate the need for accessible features on web sites as a service for all users?
  • What other web accessibility features might affect user experience? Can you think of a time when a lack of an accessibility feature kept you from having a positive user experience?

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