Accessibility is where you start

Alastair Somerville
2 min readAug 27, 2019


Diagram linking accessibility as human space to usability as design territory

Accessibility is where all design projects need to start because it is the only way of avoiding huge mistakes and huge costs.

Accessibility is how you recognise the vast breadth of human capacities and needs. Without it, the design space may seem small and manageable but that’s a trick you play upon yourself.

Accessibility is the human space

Accessibility shows how you need to plan for and be prepared to adapt for ways of being that you may not yet have either the skill nor the budget to repond to. The point is that you are aware of and anticipating such adaptions and alternative paths in your designs.

Usability is the design territory

Without accessibility, every project stage will be filled with surprises that seem negative to you. You will always feel like you are failing. You will always feel like you are firefighting. You will always feel trapped by ever expanding human needs and adaptions. By putting accessibility at the front of your project, as the foundation of your work, these surprises will feel less negative. You can be positive, not defensive, about the work. You will find people who want to help, not to criticise.

Accessibility is how you plan projects that help you, help your users and help humanity.

Start in the Human Space.

Start with accessibility.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX