Bookmark: "Do No Harm Guide: Centering Accessibility in Data Visualization"

Sebastian Greger


The (lack of) accessibility of data visualizations has been one of my special interest topics for years (cf. my collection of resources) – while ever more elaborate and interactive representations of data have become a staple in pretty much any digital publication dealing with data, these often are created by and for people with good to perfect vision, a high ability to think abstractly and conceptualize, and often unconfined motor skills to navigate.

The guide “Centering Accessibility in Data Visualization” (PDF) by Urban Institute, “a nonprofit research organization that provides data and evidence to help advance upward mobility and equity” approaches the topic from general considerations on the role of accessibility in process and artifact, diving all the way into specific examples showcasing how things should be done in an inclusive way.

The table of contents for the 100+ pages:

  • Centering Accessibility in Data Visualization
  • The Right Tools for the Job: Learning and Building for Data Visualization and Accessibility
  • Designing Data for Cognitive Load
  • Writing Alt Text to Communicate the Meaning in Data Visualizations
  • Coding Accessible Data Visualisations
  • Creating Better Screen Reader Experiences
  • Practical Accessibility Testing for Data Visualizations
  • Infographic Equity in PDF Documents: Designing with Accessibility in Mind
  • Building Accessibility Best Practices Into Your Organization’s Data Visualization Style Guidelines
  • Nontechnical Barriers to Data Visualization Accessibility in Government

The list of authors and advisors assembles quite some prominent names from this field, and it’s a very approachable document as well – this should probably be a required reading for anyone working with data visualization in any form.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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