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Global Accessibility in Tech: Designing with Users in Mind

By 05.16.19
Reading time: 2 minutes

By Emily Saka, UI/UX Designer and Sean Ward, Instructional Designer R&D

Here at Silverline, we build Salesforce solutions that are used by thousands of people around the world. It’s a big honor, but also a big responsibility. As our user base grows, we need to ensure that our solutions not only help our clients work faster and smarter, but are also usable for everyone who needs to work with them. To support these clients, we also need to provide a working environment that supports anyone who loves our mission as much as we do, regardless of ability or circumstance.

Both of these responsibilities require a commitment to accessibility, and here at Silverline, we’re just beginning our education of what this entails. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we wanted to bring you along on our journey and provide an overview of accessibility and highlight some of the initiatives and resources we look up to, especially from our partner Salesforce. Our goal is to build awareness of the importance of accessibility and by sharing tools and resources we hope to inspire you to leverage them in order to improve the services we provide, and products we build.

“We need to provide equal opportunities and access to the experiences we craft in both the physical and digital worlds.”

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility has recently taken on new prominence in tech as the industry has felt the (much-needed) pressure to promote diversity and inclusion in their people and products. At a high-level, it means that we need to provide equal opportunities and access to the experiences we craft in both the physical and digital worlds.

There are many different areas of focus within accessibility. Accessibility initiatives and best practices are most commonly discussed in terms of users with specific disabilities. But keep in mind that there are also conceptual, economic, cultural, and social reasons that can form barriers to access (David Benyon, “Designing Interactive Systems”). Working in technology, we should strive to understand our users’ circumstances and contexts in order to solve problems no matter their complexity — even something like a a sluggish Internet connection can create pitfalls.

To kickstart our journey into learning and understanding accessibility, we explored how Salesforce provides a better experience for all people:

Accessibility within Salesforce

As we’ve set out to learn more about accessibility, we’ve looked at our partner, Salesforce, and how they champion accessibility within both their product and their people. For those of us who spend a lot of time building within Salesforce, the Lightning Design System is built with accessibility in mind. Here are some highlights to look out for:

  • The Lightning Design System provides accessible markup so that page components can be easily identified by assistive technologies like screen readers.
  • Colors are not used as a standalone method to convey information to support users with color-blindness.
  • Guidance for making components keyboard-accessible for users with limited mobility and vision impairment are included in the Lightning Design documentation.


More information about Lightning Design and accessibility is available here.

Within the organization, Salesforce also has an Ohana group called AbilityForce (co-founded by  Daniel Sonnenfeld) that champions ability inclusion, as well as designers and developers who focus on product accessibility.  

More Ways to Jumpstart Your Accessibility Knowledge

Today (Thursday, May 16th) is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so even if this is your first real exposure to accessibility, you’re in luck!




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