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Boost Brand Accessibility
with Kelly May

“My favorite part of a project? Watching a brand come to life,” said Kelly May, CEL Design Director. “After all the hard work of research, brainstorming and focus groups, watching the brand develop and grow is incredibly rewarding.” 

Whether it’s a rough sketch on a napkin or refreshing an existing brand in need of expansion, no challenge is too big (or too small) for Kelly. With her unique perspective and passion for user-friendly experiences, Kelly brings a fresh approach to every design and branding project that comes her way.

Branding Beyond a Logo

For Kelly, a brand extends far beyond a logo; it encapsulates the very essence of an organization. From visual identity to internal culture and social media portrayal, each aspect contributes to how the brand is perceived and recognized. But Kelly’s secret ingredient is accessibility—the key to unlocking a brand’s true potential.

“Accessibility is vital,” says Kelly. “In broad terms, accessibility means that everyone has equal access. Accessible design is making sure everyone can interact with your brand and in the way you intend.”

Kelly believes even the most minor design elements have power. “It’s easy to miss small details, like adding appropriate alt-text to an image when you upload it to your website. But that small mistake means some people can’t engage with your content at all. Design is not just about aesthetics but ensuring your message is received, that your audience is able to interpret the message you intend, and that everyone can interact with your design.” 

Attention to Detail

Kelly’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in her work. “Kelly has the ability to see a brand from a broad perspective and then narrow in on the smallest details, ensuring every single element aligns perfectly with the overall brand,” said Cindy Leines, CEL Founder and CEO.

To Kelly, it’s these details that elevate a brand. “A simple thing, like adding or removing a period at the end of a word can completely change the feeling or interpretation of a graphic,” Kelly explains. “It’s also important not to assume anything about the audience engaging with your content—everyone comes to a design with different abilities, expectations, backgrounds, etc. What one person sees in a design, someone else may interpret it differently.”

An Eye for Accessibility

For example, Kelly explains that using color to convey information is common but problematic for individuals with color blindness. “For example, using red to indicate ‘no’ or ‘bad’ and green to indicate ‘good’ is a common tactic, but for those with colorblindness, they may not be able to differentiate between the two colors and miss out on essential context to the information.” By thinking about accessibility, you can enhance the overall user experience for all.

Kelly stresses the importance of considering numerous aspects of accessibility to improve the overall reach of your content, making it more inclusive for a broader audience. Some of these considerations include:

    • Adding alt-text to website images, enabling people using screen readers to comprehend the image’s context and relevance to your content
    • Providing subtitles in videos for those who are deaf or hard of hearing
    • Ensuring your website offers easy keyboard navigation, catering to users who may not be able to navigate with a mouse and rely on keyboard accessibility
    • Selecting fonts and font sizes with readability in mind
    • Using appropriate color contrasts for legibility
    • Making an accessibility commitment in your organization

The Future of Accessible Design

Kelly envisions a more inclusive future for the design industry, where accessibility is at the forefront of design discussions. “I do my best to incorporate accessibility in my designs every day,” said Kelly. “I wish it was a larger conversation because it’s so important. When I first started learning about design, accessibility wasn’t in the curriculum. But everything you create—your website, your printed materials, your signage—should take accessibility into account.” 

With the increase of machine readers, AI, and voice-command software (like Siri or Alexa), having messages that can be interpreted in multiple ways is becoming more and more essential. Embracing an accessible approach improves user experiences for all, as it allows information to be consumed in various formats tailored to different preferences and needs. As technology continues to evolve, designers like Kelly recognize the significance of adapting to these advancements, ensuring their designs are not only aesthetically pleasing but also inclusive, user-friendly, and able to interface with various technologies easily.

Kelly observes that accessibility is often overlooked not due to deliberate neglect but rather a lack of awareness. “Many individuals may not have received proper training on the subject. They don’t know what it means or how to effectively implement accessibility features using their website tools. By making accessibility a central part of design discussions, we can work toward creating a more inclusive and user-friendly experience,” said Kelly. “Accessible design benefits all users.”

Update Your Brand for Accessibility

For Kelly, accessibility is more than a checkbox to meet legal requirements; it’s a moral imperative and a design philosophy. “I think many people would be surprised at how large of an audience they aren’t reaching if they disregard accessibility in their work,” said Kelly. “Beyond meeting legal standards, meeting accessibility standards is vital because it’s the right thing to do, period. We love to help clients increase their accessibility and improve ADA compliance.”

Expanding a brand for accessibility is an exciting prospect for CEL designers. “Clients are sometimes worried it means a total brand overhaul. But for example, when your brand colors aren’t accessible, it’s usually a very minor tweak. Sometimes people say ‘Oh, I can’t use our yellow at all because it’s hard to read.’ Instead of eliminating the color, we create guidelines on how to use the yellow in your brand and which colors to pair it with to resolve accessibility concerns effectively.”

With extensive expertise in accessible design, Kelly effortlessly incorporates accessibility principles into her projects. According to Kelly, accessibility has become second nature to her. As she explains, “Once individuals understand the significance and practical implementation of accessibility, meeting accessibility standards becomes an inherent and streamlined part of the design process.”

From comprehensive accessibility solutions to elevating your visual identity, CEL’s expertise ensures your brand resonates with all. Let’s collaborate and make your brand come alive!


Published on: July 26, 2023